Friday, October 23, 2015

Not From Around Here Are You?

With very few exceptions, we are all descendants of immigrants, people who are not from around here.  My father's mother was born in London, her father was English, her mother was Welsh. The Godfrey clan is most likely English or Irish.  My mother's family has an Irish last name, but claimed to be german, her mother we believe was half native American - but records are scarce - my maternal great-grandmother died young and the family nearly erased all traces of her existence.  But clearly most of my ancestors are not from around here, some go back to the Mayflower - undocumented immigrants and religious fanatics at that.

There is a lot being said about immigration by Presidential candidates and most of it is troubling.  I was surfing by and caught one of the entertainers on Fox "News" pummeling some guy trying to put words in his mouth that immigrants are rapists and murderers - he was not skilled in Aristotelian logic - and was not succeeding at changing the subject.  Sorry - sometimes you have to admit the ugly truth and classify it as true but a minority of the minority.

All of us have moments when it would be so much easier if the rest of the people perceived the world as we do, spoke the same language, dressed the same, acted the same, and smelled the same.  Before the politically correct movement made it racist it was  acceptable to blurt out, "in English - you are in the USA" as I have been told "in French - you are in France you know" a time or two.

I have entered 15 other countries.  Most are concerned about who enters, how long they are going to stay, and want assurances that the person is going to leave. A couple didn't seem to care, to get into Mexico I merely walked past the policeman with the machine gun - no one asked to see my passport, and you can walk off a plane into Iceland and no one cares what your passport looks like.  I guess they are not concerned about millions of people going there and staying forever. I suspect that even in Mexico or Iceland if I go to get a job, or buy property, someone will care - there will be some legal standard for working or living that I would need to meet.  Most countries have laws to assure that foreigners don't become a burden on society by taking jobs, and consuming public services.

The US has immigration laws. Foreigners who want to legally move here for a long term, or who wish to work here and want to do so in compliance with the laws, face a steep but not insurmountable task.  Traveling around the world, to places I consider to be pretty nice, I am surprised that people still see the US as the land of opportunity. Immigrants from places we consider nice, face the same hurdles as  people from not so nice places.  I had a friend who moved here from Iceland, it took her over 6 years to get permission to remain permanently and work.

Many people ignore the immigration laws. It is not hard to do, show up looking prosperous, with a hotel reservation for a couple of weeks, and a return airline ticket and be admitted as a tourist and never take the flight home.  Enforcement of immigration laws is unlikely to effect you, unless you get caught working illegally, break the law, become a political dissident, or have other legal issues.  You can own property here without having legal immigration status, it is getting harder to have a driver license. You could buy a million dollar apartment in Trump Tower and ride the subway for decades and never hear from ICE.

If I ignore the laws and break criminal  laws I am committing a crime.  The politically correct movement says we can't call these people illegals, actually more accurately, they are criminals. The scope of the situation is almost unimaginable, someplace between 10 and 20-million people are in the US, not in compliance with immigration laws.  We really don't know how many people - as long as they stay off the radar - they can hide in plain sight.  In many ways we are one of the easiest countries in the world, because we don't issue a national ID card, we don't require proof of who people are for housing, utilities, we are lax on employment, and health care.

How do we fix this?  Taking 10,000,000 people out of the workforce could be devastating to our economy. We are facing a shrinking labor pool, we will face a serious shortage of workers over the next 20 years as we baby boomers retire, even without uprooting 10-million people. Many of the people have been here for decades, some arrived here as children and have grown up here.  It is hard to imagine uprooting them and sending them away (to where?) At the same time I am bothered by allowing people who have ignored and thereby broken our laws to stay.  What message would it send to the millions who have waited in line to immigrate legally if we allow the illegals to stay?

I don't know what the answer is here.  Ignoring the laws that we haven't bothered to enforce bothers me, enforcing the laws bothers me.


  1. one of my co-workers (from india) is currently doing the green card dance. oy, expensive and so much damn paperwork! his wife already has her green card and his son was born here 3 years ago.

    we "natives" take much for granted; it is a privilege to be born here.

  2. Ann Coulter is *not* a descendent of immigrants...she is a descendent of 'settlers.'

    She said so herself.