April 09, 2006
Your Papers, Please - Then kindly get back to work, thanks
A decree went forth, and it said, “The big, flag-waving issue of the 2006 midterm elections shall be immigration.” Whence this decree? We don’t know. The effects are evident, though their cause is not. Might as well settle in and figure it out, though, since that’s what the plan is. With March Madness returned to April Acumen, or so one hopes, we may possess just enough calm to get through a few discussions.
“Illegal aliens.” “Undocumented workers.” “Amnesty.” The war of words over the illegal immigration problem has certainly seen an escalation in volume. Emotion-packed salvos rip across the airwaves and through the silicon mazes, and that’s just over which words we’re supposed to use. The feelings brought up by some of the actual dilemmas inherent in this whole thing run deeper and lead to even louder shouting matches. Who wins a shouting match?
The Congressional posturing (that surely is due to the aforementioned decree) simply adds to the noise. We can see right through it, folks. I know that there are some earnest actors sprinkled among the lot, and they deserve to be heard. The rest are just knee-jerking to the media’s rubber mallet. That hammer swings hard, too. Remember the Dubai ports scandal, and how many unfortunately placed or deliberately misleading phrases made their way to our ears? It would take an army of full-time analysts to keep up with all of the misdirection that’s spouting from the TV heads this time around. (That’s what bloggers tell me their jobs are, but most don’t get paid for doing them.)
Hey, but can we blame the media? If it were my aim to distract the populace, I’d choose fear and confusion as my number one and two six-guns. If we peel back these messy, noisy layers and get to a few sober questions, we might make progress toward resolving some of our internal conflicts.
Why do people take such risks to come here? This answer’s easy. It’s trade. People are here to barter skills – manual, in most cases – for dollars. They make a good offer: hard work for not a whole lot of pay. That’s nearly impossible to beat. Where do they find someone willing to overlook their lack of proper paperwork? With a deal like theirs in hand, they needn’t look far. And I challenge any one of you “native-born” readers to imagine not at least considering leaping after an opportunity to come to the United States, where such work is available, if you had been born somewhere else.
Why does the Federal immigration service seem so out of touch with the reality on the ground? Oops, you caught me leading with an assumption there, but let’s walk it down a little further, and we’ll let it go if we need to. Many, many people want to come here and work, pay taxes, raise families and pursue the ever-fabled American Dream. We have a process for making that happen. Why aren’t we processing people? We don’t have to be rude and call someone a felon; it should simply work more like the polite security guards at a corporate office. You can get into the building. You’re supposed to go in a certain way and get documented – but say you don’t. When you try to walk down a certain hallway, a person appears and says “excuse me, you forgot this one part” and sidesteps to block your path. Needless to say, this person is armed and is highly trained in the use of deadly force, but this expertise is not broadcast. Instead, the security guard gets you processed, and now you’re in the building as a legitimate guest. If you cause trouble, then there are the necessary remedial steps – and they know who you are and have you close at hand.
The oversimplification in the above should give away the fact that it’s not a proposal. It’s a “straw dog” to get us thinking. Thinking will help so much more than protests (not that there’s anything wrong with that) or Vogon choruses of “learn English!” (learn Spanish, cracker) ever will. The recent immigrants (I say “recent” because, you know the drill, aren’t we all?) are here. There are frankly too many to process out if indeed that is our will. But I submit that mass deportation is neither what we want nor what we need.
We need to check our anxiety, accept facts and deal with the future in a well-thought-out manner. If you ask me (and several people have), the reaction upon discovering an undocumented worker should be to get him or her documented. Employers should work with the government to ensure this step is being taken or, yes, face penalties. This is not to say that we should look the other way when people are crossing the borders outside the system. We need secure borders. But if we adjust the process so that it draws would-be stand-up society members through it, as opposed to forcing them around it, there is hope that the guard’s job will get a little easier, and will be able to focus on the criminal element.
The necessary steps toward a workable solution are not easy ones. I don’t pretend to have the answers. Woe to the politicians who do pretend to, just to boost their re-election numbers. Shrill cries in the street are good for raising awareness; but now that we’re alerted, let’s take a deep breath, look our new neighbors squarely in the eye and sit down to talk.
[Cross-posted from the Pulse.]
Pulsations | By joe lance | 02:22 PM