As the people of the United States continue to find themselves shy of elbow room the question of who belongs here evolves. However, the reasons for much of the protest do not, although much has been deemed contradictory if not incorrect. A few mantras of those proposing to seal the borders from invasion include
1) Theft of US citizen’s jobs
2) Theft of Welfare benefits
3) The tax payer burden of incarceration
Perhaps some words of reason might render these arguments less pertinent if not obsolete, allowing the debate to move forward, into a new light.
First, much of the work that is done by the immigrant population is the labor-intensive hand harvesting of agriculture. The Center for Immigration Studies has stated that the need for guest worker programs is due, at least in part, to the “slowing of progress in harvest mechanization and anti-mechanization policies since the Carter administration.” As of 1980 the US government decided hand labor was preferable to machine harvesting. Inexpensive laborers have been invited and exploited for decades, beginning with the Chinese and Asian Indians, and continuing with Hispanics. It worked well at getting difficult, sometimes dangerous jobs done. But as history has shown, people tire of co-existing with cheap labor, especially when they are of different color, race, language and religion.
Second, according to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), it is not the immigrant population that is eating up the welfare. Their statistics show the racial breakdown of food stamp recipients is as follows:
-2% Native American
-1% unknown race or ethnicity
A favorite anti-immigration petitioner’s description of himself is as an “honest, hard-working, tax paying citizen.” Yet, while Whites take the lion’s share of welfare benefits, they continue to blame immigrants for shortfalls. That blame is misplaced.
Several years ago, Congress did attempt to render immigrants ineligible for most forms of welfare. However, subsequent backpedaling by Congress and the executive branch has undone most of those reforms. It was the United States Congress who decided that the American people would serve as sponsors for immigrants.
Third, although Hispanics are incarcerated at a rate twice that of Whites, it is African-Americans that are the majority in the prison culture. Most Hispanics in county jails are not in the country illegally. However, most of the illegal immigrants jailed as a result of immigration-enforcement efforts are Latino. Experts say this is mostly due to population trends along with recent laws and policy decisions targeting illegal immigrants.
As to the imbalance of justice the nation’s first African-American Attorney General, Eric H. Holden, has stated he has “heavy expectations of righting wrongs such as disproportionate prison terms for people of color and racial profiling.”
There are convincing and well considered arguments on all sides of the immigration table. There should be; it has been fiercely debated ever since the first men gazed across a field at each other and pondered how to eradicate the other guys from their hunting ground.
However, we appear to have fallen into an age-old chasm of opposing forces, from married folk to world leaders, that of the same old argument. Where nothing ever changes except the tone.
As Michael Shermer, Editor-in-Chief of the Skeptics Society, so aptly said
“Repeating something incessantly and in a louder voice does not make it true.”