One of the most polarizing issues in our country today is the debate on immigration reform. The passion is stirred in us and makes us push away our logical thoughts and this is what made me ask the question: What effect is immigration reform having on our core values as human beings that we cannot come up with a suitable solution? Political posturing, fear mongering, and humanity appeals, are just but a few examples of what legislators, columnists, and political analysts are using to persuade us to view this issue as they see it.To look at this phenomenon, I read two blog articles, Byron Williams’s “Immigration Frenzy Points Out Need For Policy Debate” and Victor Davis Hanson’s “The Global Immigration Problem”.
In his article, Williams examines the reactionary and political aspects of the issue, blurring the line for a clear and civilized policy debate about immigration reform. Williams points out how politicians use 9/11 as a convenient tool to bolster their argument for better border security.He also very effectively tears apart that argument, because as he points out, the hijackers entered the country legally. The author argues that politicians and ethnocentrisms fan the flames of fear into the African American community by virtue of the potential job losses to the Hispanic community; this is done in order to receive their support in pushing forth an isolationist immigration agenda. However, he does state that part of policy debate should be on how African Americans can compete with immigrants’ for certain low level employment.He also argues that there are legitimate concerns with the issue, but it does more harm than good to pit two or more minority groups against each other. Williams argues that a debate on the policy of immigration would not be complete without holding the businesses that continue to hire undocumented immigrants accountable.
Finally, Williams concludes that the only way to have a logical policy debate is to exclude the stereotyping of immigrants as well as the pitting of minority groups against each other and fear mongering.In his blog article “The Global Immigration Problem”, conservative columnist Hanson examines the potential reasons why immigration is a global problem. Hanson believes the standard of living, free market growth and other economic pluses that are part of the norm in stable democracies, lends to the migration from poorer countries by any means necessary. He argues that the immigrants native countries do not care about them until the immigrants start sending money to relatives in their native country therefore improving the economic outlook by bringing in needed monies.He believes that American employers have an agenda to keep the current immigration issue as status quo since they are able to pay a lower wage to immigrants than to American citizens.
These employers rationalize their point of view by arguing that the immigrants are making more than they “ever earned back home”. The author believes that immigrants are a drain to the host country because if the immigrant does not assimilate by learning the language, or becoming legal, they end up either in “welfare or jail” in which the host country has to foot the bill.Hanson concludes that in order to fix the global immigration problem is for the host country to pay more to native lowest wage earners since in the long run it will be a cheaper solution. Although Byron Williams and Victor Davis Hanson identify the key problems in creating immigration reform legislation, Williams sees the potential for a fair and equitable solution and Hanson’s solution takes more of an isolationist approach. After reading the two articles, it made me think how closed minded we can become, that we cannot see the effect it is having on our values as human beings.Both authors raise good questions about the immigration problems facing us and the steps required to be undertaken to fix some, if not all, of the issues. However, the authors are writing to different audiences and they both inject their own personal views in the articles that in turn provide us with two very different viewpoints.
For example, Williams’ writing focuses on the African American community and how they should support the plight of the immigrant fight for amnesty since it parallels the African American fight for civil liberties.He also believes the media encourages vigilantes who are “viewed as patriotic by taking the law into their own hands allegedly protecting America’s borders”. In contrast, Hanson writings appeals to the conservatives in this country since he writes that the free market enterprise is the culprit of the current immigration problem. He also believes that immigrants get angry when the American dream is not as they imagined it to be causing them to protest against their new country by waving “the flag of the country he would never return while shunning the culture of the host country”.Even though Williams and Hanson both agree that businesses are accountable for hiring undocumented immigrants and until that is resolved, the problem will continue, the tone in Hanson’s writing is one of confrontation and degrading to the immigrants.
This is evident in his proclaiming that immigrants are ungrateful, which is unfair as he is singling out the minority. For the most part, I found Hanson’s article to be extremely negative. Williams on the other hand points out that there is indeed a problem, but his tone is softer and makes a more appealing argument.His examples of fear mongering and scare tactics provide a perfect contrast to the argument from Hanson that American citizens will have no jobs if this continues. I could not find find any writings relating to the human aspect of this issue in Hanson’s article, which makes it hard to digest as his examples focus strictly on how immigrants hurt this country. I think that Williams’ take on immigration reform are logical and free of the passion that limits our ability to see things clearly.He encourages dialogue free of rhetoric and grandstanding and he believes a solution can be had if these two unnecessary emotions are removed from the dialogue.
After reading these articles, I have come to the realization of how powerful the effects of immigration reform have on our values and how difficult it will be to come to an agreement. For example, how can we believe that everything will be better if we shut these people out as Hanson suggests? Is it okay to condone the shooting of people whose only crime is one of trying to provide a better way of life for themselves and their families?How is it possible that we can blame the illegal immigrants for terrorism when the main culprits in the incidents in this country were from legal immigrants and from United States citizens? The two authors generated these important questions in my head. Reading these articles raised my awareness to the sensitive and divisive nature of the immigration issue. Prior to reading the articles by Byron Williams and Victor Davis Hanson, I did not have many thoughts in regards to the debate on immigration, which is curious since I am an immigrant to this country.Reading these articles raised my awareness to the sensitive and divisive nature of the immigration issue. For example, a few days after reading the articles, I was driving and I saw a large gathering of Hispanic “day laborers” and it reminded me of both Williams and Hanson’s articles. It made me think that this sight would appall Hanson since the “day laborers” highlight his angle of vision of immigrants taking jobs from the American workers. It also made think that Williams would have been looking to see what kind of people would be doing the “hiring” of these workers.
I immediately remembered that I had seen reports in the media that cast the day laborers in a negative light because they were taking jobs away from legitimate workers and I asked myself, that if the day laborers where from another race, black, white, or Asian, would there be the uproar that these poor people are generating. The answer would be no, why, because they are not illegal immigrants. The more I thought about it, the angrier I became. In reviewing American history, it is important to note that the first immigrants to this country, the Pilgrims were here illegally, since the original residents were the Native Americans.
The only difference is that the Pilgrims were not escaping economic issues but religious prosecution. How would the people who are now taking such a strong stance against immigration feel if their ancestors were harassed and made a scapegoat for issues that involve more than one ethnic group? What if they were greeted with derogatory names such as wetback or FOB (fresh of the boat)? The immigrants are for the most part honest, decent people trying to better their lives and take care of their families and are doing anything it takes to accomplish it.There is no reason other than pride that other ethnic groups do not do the same thing. There is no law that states that only Hispanic immigrants can gather to get work on the street. Although we live in a very dangerous world now, the argument by the conservatives in this country is that we need to close our borders to keep the terrorists out by erecting fences, and cutting down on immigration quotas. This is not a valid argument as the World Trade Center and 9/11 terrorists were here legally.
For example, in an article by James C.McKinley and Julia Preston titled “U. S Can’t Trace Foreign Visitors on Expired Visas”, they write ” about 40 percent of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States came on legal visas and overstayed” and in which “a 19-year-old Jordanian who had overstayed his tourist visa, was accused in court of plotting to blow up a Dallas skyscraper”. What about the Oklahoma City Bombings? American citizens were culpable, so it’s a moot point to believe the terrorist attacks occurred as a direct result of illegal immigration.
Williams and Hanson illustrate the problems with coming up a solution to the immigration issue. It would be wise to remove the passion from the debate so that clear, logical thinking can take over. Agreement over every single issue is not necessary, there has to be an attitude of give and take in order to come up with a fair piece of legislation. In conclusion, I strongly believe a solution can be achieved without compromising our values as decent human beings if we just logically focus on the issues and leave our passion at the door.