Greetings and Salutations;
Everywhere I turn there are interesting topics to explore! There is not a dearth of topics, there is a tsunami of interesting issues to explore! It has been a while since I touched on the issue of undocumented workers, or immigrants, so, when this question came up on social media…it seems to have kicked in an interesting examination of the whole subject. It has been a while since I discussed this issue, so it seemed appropriate to expand on it here.
The question that got posted was this: “ Question? ? Opinions only no fights please, where do you stand on immigration…???”
I, of course, am going to skip over the other replies, although they did range from some fairly thoughtful ones, to “Don’t sneak in”. My blog, so, MY answer (with some expansions) is as follows:
Wow…how about you ask an EASY question – like ” Breakfast- Bacon or Sausage” (which, by the by, my answer is “both”). This is a challenge to answer, as it is such a hot-button issue for many folks.
In general, I am all for it. The waves of immigrants we have had over the years have brought diversity and strength to America. The various cultures that have added to the mix in America have expanded our cuisine. We have the options now of going from the “good old, Steak and Potatoes”, to Italian Pasta Dishes (Cacio e Pepe – which is Spaghetti, with a lot of melted cheese and pepper, and is VERY tasty), to Ethiopian dishes (Can be heavy on Meat, but some really spectacular Vegetarian dishes), to English cooking (One of my favorites, the “Cottage Pie” – which is beef and vegetables and spices topped with mashed potatoes). And of course, many OTHER societies have brought pretty wonderful dishes to expand our food options.
The immigrants have brought their philosophical views, which have expanded and modified our understanding of our own beliefs. Now my ethical and moral basis was formed by growing up in the Lutheran Church. As a child, I understood as a child, and often thought that what Luther was writing about was the “One True Way”. Well, when I became a man, I put away childish things. My exposure to Islam, Buddhism, Native American beliefs, and alternative Philosophies have expanded my understanding of things spiritual, and of the many, possible, “paths to God”. There are too many folks, who, I believe, are clinging to their childhood. They reject the beliefs of these societies, out of fear that it will destroy their own beliefs, or something like that. While learning about other beliefs and philosophies has, indeed, evolved my beliefs, it has hardly destroyed them. Common threads I find running through almost all of these belief systems are concepts like we should treat our fellow humans with kindness and tolerance. That we should help the downtrodden and needy. That we should work as hard as we can to examine ourselves, and exercise our spiritual connection with ourselves and others, to become a better person, and to gain depth of character. I believe that without the alternative views that other cultures bring to our society, this spiritual growth is much more difficult, and far less likely to happen.
Immigrants have brought their art to add to our society. Life is more than work, sex, food and sleep. Art is a vital part of life for me. It adds joy to our lives, it brings interesting experiences, it shows us a point of view that we might ignore. Not all art is for everyone, however, I find that as I have gained in age and maturity, I am able to appreciate the messages of art that I completely missed when I was younger. Look, for example, at Disney productions. Their films are very accessible to a child – which makes sense because children are their target audience. However, the films also appeal to adults, as they include very subtle humor, and layers of meaning that speak to issues on the adult level too. Walt Disney was, of course, the child of immigrant parents. On a broader view…In my life, I have viewed Kabuki Theatre, films made by foreign immigrants, and a variety of other artistic works that had a different view of reality, and, were good for me to see. As a matter of fact, the influence of the world on American Arts is pervasive and intimate. Here is an interesting article that looks in greater detail at these influences.
Immigrants have also brought an amazing work ethic to the country. We, who are privileged enough to have been born here, often compare badly with it. More on that later…
I am not attempting to claim that immigration is a source of the best of the best, or that it is totally trouble free. It is true that along with all the good that has been added to the country by immigrants, it has brought a few criminals and problems with it. This is, after all, real life. Real life means that we will have that close relative that is abusive to their spouse and family; that are alcoholics; that are drug dealers or junkies; that are pedophiles. However, that does not mean that every member of the family is evil, and to be ignored or shunned. All we can do is help the folks with problems overcome their issues, or bring them to Justice. In addition…while the politicians really LOVE to scapegoat the immigrant population for crime, in general, their comments are lies, pushed for their own agenda, not because of any evidence that immigrants are a danger. Here is a fairly dense, but detailed analysis of the issues of immigrant crime and such. In short, it says “We do not know for sure, because the data are not good. However, it does appear that at worst the immigrant community has the same percentages of crime as the rest of the country…and may have a LOWER percentage”.
One of the big issues today is the topic of terrorists entering the country via immigration. This is an amazingly ignorant view. The fact is that the last time foreign terrorists attacked on American Soil with any success was 2001/09/11. And…THOSE 19 guys were in the country legally! Every so-called terror attack since then has been executed by natural born citizens, and so would not have been stopped by ANY immigration rules in force. Again, I am sorry to say that the appearance is that the claims of immigrants being a danger are nothing more than the mindless racism of a population filled with propaganda based fears.
I believe that the rules for achieving citizenship in this country are profoundly broken and MUST see some radical reform, if we really want to cut back on the problems.
I am not entirely happy or comfortable with the arbitrary limits for migration from a given country to the United States. Most of these laws seem more oriented towards ensuring that people of color are kept out, in preference to White folks. Also blocked are those people whose beliefs are NOT those of the Fundamentalist “Christian” community. Our Founding Fathers were Deists, or Agnostics…they were NOT Christians. The founding principle of America are based on the idea that a diverse society is a strong society, and that a Theocracy is, by definition, a bad thing that will (sooner rather than later) destroy that society.
For people wanting to become permanent residents of the country, or naturalized Citizens, the process is horribly complicated. It can take decades, and require the citizen-to-be to expend large amounts of money and time. I would change this by speeding up the process a bit, and, increasing the number of locations where the prospective citizen can go to get their paperwork, etc, processed. More on this later…
We have, over the decades, promised tens of thousands of people automatic citizenship if (for example) they worked with our troops in a war zone, acting as interpreters and facilitators. Many people have put themselves in harm’s way to make our soldier’s lives easier and help make sure they came home in a seat and not a coffin. We have a shameful record of discarding these people like used tissues when we walk away from a war zone. We did it in Vietnam and every war through today’s excursions in the Middle East. I would require that we, as a nation, live up to our promises. If we agreed to give citizenship to these people, they should get their papers, and be brought to this country.
I mentioned the issue of a work ethic in America…which brings up the issue of temporary workers. This is “THE” hot button for a lot of people. We do not have a “Guest Worker” program in America to speak of, and the only available visas really only benefit the ultra-rich. While there are H-1B visas that are used to bring in foreign workers for high-tech jobs, that is not only a very limited number, but, it is often subject to abuse, turning the workers into indentured servants, not valuable resources.
I would change the rules so as to make it easier to get a “Guest Worker” visa, and minimize the cost of that Visa. By giving these Guest Workers legal status, we would cut the costs involved in enforcing the complicated laws we have now, and, would help improve America’s image in the world. We would help the Guest Workers too, in that it would stop many of the abusive actions they suffer from now.
Would this take jobs away from Americans? I rather doubt it. Most undocumented workers in America are doing the work that Americans will NOT do. They are spending 12+ hour days out in the fields, picking produce. They are working long, dangerous hours building structures. They are quietly moving through the halls of hotels, hospitals and other places, cleaning the bathrooms, changing sheets and ensuring that the place is comfortable and clean for the next resident. They are doing the hundreds of thousands of hours a year of shit jobs, for minimum wage or less, with no benefits, that Americans will NOT do. They are trapped in this role because even minimum wage in America is better than they can make in their home country…allowing them to send money home to keep their families alive. They work under abusive rules and actions because they know that they can be turned over to ICE by their employer…they will be sent back to their home country, and their employer will not only suffer no penalties, but, will simply hire another undocumented worker to take their place.
Sorry for the length…if you have hung in there, but, it is a complicated issue with no simplistic answers (such as are presented by people all the time).
I mentioned, a bit earlier, the amount of time it takes to get permanent resident visas for foreigners. This last Friday, the president elect signed an Executive Order blocking the entry to the country by citizens from a short list of Middle Eastern countries. Now, This has had many, many bad effects….but, let me tell you about what has happened to one family.
For 14 years, a fellow named Assali has been working to get the rest of his family out of Syria. HERE is the original story – http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2017/01/30/syrian-family-pennsylvania They are people, just like you and me. They are Christians. They have families that they love and care for. His father and brother are artisans, who create beautiful Crosses and chandeliers for churches. However, Syria is a war zone, and they are likely to die every day. Finally, though, he succeeded. He got all the paperwork done successfully. He paid all the fees. He jumped through all the hoops the government puts up to make it harder to emigrate to America as a permanent resident. His family in Syria sold their home, shut down their business, packed up the possessions they did not sell, and boarded transport to America. They had already bought a nice, little house with that money, located just outside Allentown, PA. However, they were supposed to arrive in America on Friday night. Friday afternoon, the donald signed his E.O. which took effect immediately. So…this family arrived at the airport, was detained, and put on a flight back to Syria that night. Even under the best of circumstances, it will be 90 days before they can come back and present their VALID paperwork, allowing them to enter the country. Even under the best of circumstances, it will cost this family a big chunk of cash to return. They will have to find a place to stay for 90 days. They will have to purchase more tickets for the flight. If they had contracts for work in the United States, those contracts will be long gone, so they will have to start over from scratch. Then, there is the issue that the president elect has already said that he is going to make the ban on emigration from Syria permanent! We, as a country have screwed this family over, who played by the rules, and who were not an enemy. I hope they are better people than I am, because if this happened to me, it would leave a bitter taste in my mouth that would last for a long time. I would never be able to trust America again.
This is a concrete example from the hundreds of lives which have been turned upside down over the past few days. It is a stain on what little honor America has left, and has hurt our standing with billions of people in the world. the donald is proving again that he is either the most foolish sock puppet to hold the Office, or he has such terrible judgment, driven by unending ignorance and prejudice that he is going to destroy America in less than four years. his decisions have already done damage that will take decades to repair.
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