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APRIL 25, 2012 10:22AM

Immigration Law as Firebell in the Night, & Case For Reform

Rate: 5 Flag

For Megan, Eric, and Barry, and our dinners at the Malvern Meeting House, and the tutoring of the Ecuadorans afterward.

But first a real joke: Two Mexicans in a bar offer to do a shot of tequlia with me, and not wanting to offend, I say, "Por supuesto, sure."

One Mexican spills part of his shot, and the other Mexican says, "Como un estupido Ecuadoreano!" Like a stupid Ecuadoran.

I turned to the one Mexican and said, "Do they say that in Mexico, about Ecuadorans?" 

"Por supuesto, of course. Everyone has to kick someone."

As to personal observations, when I was a store clerk at Wawa, the Latinos used to come to my register when they wanted money orders, to pay bills here or send money to Latin America for family and such, since the word got out that  I spoke Spanish in the apartments near the store. 

Practice, practice, practice is what language learning is about, if some people have more free time and free energy especially to do that: work 80 hours a week cleaning houses and doing yardwork, and see how that dream of learning French is going.

Most of the Latinos in the store were either construction laborers, hotel workers, or landscapers, like the guys doing the office next door right now. The guys in Mackinzies in Malvern were a step up the chain, as masons.

El Ejercito Mexicano, the Mexican Army of landscapers comes in, and "Poof," it's done. People take that for granted a lot lately.

At the store in East Whiteland, Pennsylvania on Route 30, suburban America par excellence, I met a family of Ecuadorans who wanted to learn English.

I thought that would be good for the kids, and so when I had the children on Saturday nights, we had a meal at the Malvern Meeting House, very PA heavy American cuisine, but very special to spend any time with them as a divorced father, and then went over tutor the Ecuadorans in English.

As in my experience with other tutoring of immigrants in English (mainly down in Kennet Square, and so if you liked the mushrooms on your pizza, thank a Mexican), it's not easy for people like that to learn English, partly since the educational system in Latin America often stops rather early.

Their Spanish was eighth grade level, living two families to drafy apartment flat, long and frankly dangerous when icy, people on couches, a really tough existence.

That's something in my deliberately started ( as to the Democacry in America in Hard Times project) conversations with non-Latinos that comes up a lot, as to differences in lifestyle that seem threatening in a competitive sense to some people, beyond just being alien to personal experience, especially to the white and black working class and poor that you talk to, and something that the capitalists on the Right and the multiculturalist son the Left don't seem to take seriously enough as to why people in those classes often object to the level of immigration we have seen in the last thirty years.

Not everyone can be an office worker, and there are plenty of whites and blacks who work in landscaping for example, and for all the talk of "Americans won't do those jobs," that's not always the case, as the accustomed standard of living matters, as to the effect of greater labor supply on wages, ceteris paribus.

The extended family style of living more common in Latin America, and therefore among immigrants here, is perceived, and to a real point correctly so, as putting some strain on wages of those on the other side of the tracks who aren't in offices, but are working class blacks and whites. Demonizing people who raise questions about immigration isn't helpful in that context any more then is demonizing immigrants.

As to why I tried to tutor ESL over the years in PA, that was because the immigrants I met did try to learn English, if under very difficult circumstances, and they do work, and work really hard sometimes, like to near death for your average American sitting at a desk, and which was enough for me, or if you like this from Mathew 25-40:


"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

Its's also the case when you see it at the ground level, and know the social science of immigration, one can see that like everything in life, there are not unmixed blessings either in immigration.

That's why the state immigration laws before the Court today are like a firebell in the night, and argue very strongly for a reform of immigration laws, whatever the Court decides about Arizona's law.

The existence of such laws is the signal of the need to settle some things about immigration, like a firebell in the night.

Day of Empire by Amy Chua tells the tale of immigration as a source of national power, and its limits.

Immigration is a source of national power, because it brings in new blood, that by definition of flwo of people who have been willing to move far from home, on average is healthier and more ambitious, and therefore on average benefits the society receiving immigration, even as it raises questions of what Chua rightly calls "social glue."

In the real world, unlike some liberal dominated academic seminar, immigration at some point challenges social stability, and therefore political stability, because as a factual matter, human beings aren't just individuals, but programmed to see themselves as members of groups, a form of tribalism.

Thus, when the previously existing population groups in any country are exposed to enough levels of immigration, although economically that is a benefit on average, socially it cause strains too, like it or not, that have to be weighed too when assessing when immigration is a good thing, and when it's not: costs and benefits change depending on the rate and the history of immigration in terms of altering fundamental demography.

Thus, as a factual matter, immigration causes social tension that if there is enough immigration can become really problematic, and not just here, but around the world: look at Indian immigration in Africa, of Chinese in Malaysia, or Tamils in Ceylon-Sri Lanka to see that point, or even the Han in Xinjiang or Russians in the Caucasus or the reverse flows to Moscow.

Ethnic Groups in Conflict by Donald Horowitz and the work of Thomas Sowell are among the best accessible resources for the comparative understanding of immigration.

In the United States, the State immigration laws like the ones before the Court are a warning that enough people are unhappy with immigration rates prior to this moment  in time to be a real issue that can't be ignored.

The reason is that immigration is so obviously a Federal question fundamentally, if States have some functions in that field too as to policing, that to so openly put such an issue on the table is to hint at real political tensions, a firebell in the night.

Thus, whatever the Courts decide, it is vital that for one time, the political class get over its proclivity to use issues to score points, and actually make policy in terms of a bipartisan immigration reform, that if to work, has to have some dirty word in it that starts with an A: Amnesty.

You can't deport 11 million people, even though obviously 11 million in political terms is about enough for a little while, which is what is happening in this economic climate anyway.

You could however do what Michael at Parkside said in one of my conversations about immigration, which is "fine" them for the right to stay and work here, to humor some sentiments without antagonizing what is now a large demographic component of the United States: Latinos. Michael has been in the food and service busines for forever, and he thought it nutty that you could just empty out the kitchens and dishwashers, although he did agree with the Eastern European immigrants I talked with that to be fair to immigrants from other places, you need to have some sense that everyone has to play by the same immigration rules: a fine, regularization, dare we say "amnesty," and a real "no mas" on future illegals does that.

Big picture or little picture, the need for a real immigration reform, with a lot of amnesty, is obvious.

Big picture, when you look at the end of the Soviet Union, you see why you don't want to antagonize people, even as you don't want to undo you social glue either, whereas to little picture, the Trayvon Martin case and its potential to generate ethnic conflicts not just among whites and blacks, or the actual nature of the breakdown of public order in Los Angeles after the first Rodney King trial tells the tale too of why immigration reform that isn't anti-immigrant in perception or substance makes the most sense.




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I think we should have a special immigration program for Iranian Shia militants...give them jobs at Walmart where they can pilfer ammonium nitrate fertilizer and make their 'mark' on 'Merikan society...kablooie...wink
As usual AC Jejeune, I defer to your superior ability to take serious subjects with the right gravity. Hugs.
Reall well-argued and personalization here is really useful r.
Thanks Johnathan. Personal can be "participant-oberserver" research in effect, although that's not how that started. :)
Common sense approach to a problem that could be managed more efficiently, more humanely, and to greater economic good.
So far that is the case Baltimore, although I have talked to average people who made good suggestions, like pay a fine to fund the regularization, and some tax for a period of like five to seven years, good conduct blah, blah, and there you go.
Than you Onislandtime.
And yes Fifth Element, :), great movie that is btw, a stable Mexico and Latin America in general, in which we export to there, works both ways as to what Onislantime said about interests being best served.
I liked Fifth Element too. But Ms. Fifth Element was wrong when she said that NORK is a bigger problem than Iran, just becuz the society in NORK is So-O-OO totalitarian und krazy, and there is SO-O-OO much stret life in Thran, wid scooters and stuff goin' on. NORK can be bought off cheap, with just some more groceries...they're krazy but a dumb cheap date, and giving them some more peanuts will keep them quiet. Iran IS an ancient proud civilization and wants REAL hegemony in the Middle East...that's the key difference.
Koreans are very proud people Jejeune, and although I know you are lobbying hard for that great war in the Middle East, and like love, war always finds a way, like Brecht said, so don't get too worried, but, don't forget the best laid plans of mice and men, and the fact that Korea and Iran go together, like peanut butter and jelly.
Iran is the pistachio king, and North Korea is the jellied petroleum product called fuel air explosive for the DMZ. If one goes down, the other will support it. That's my theory.
Donny, you have nailed down our fundamental difference. You are a Koreano-phile. Focusing so much on that pitiful ragamaffun of a peninsula zombie kingdom. If you're right, and NORK actually proves as important as Eye-ran, I vill buy you a stake, er, steak dinero sumtime. Kross my artificial heart pump an' promise....wink
Rated. An interesting turn of events:

(Pew Research Center "Net Migration from Mexico Falls to Zero, Perhaps Less" should OS remove part of the link)
Thanks Samasiam, as its really ironic, if predictable too.