Friday, July 30, 2010

Rejecting American Values (updated August 1)

The champion of modern conservatism and hero of the Republican Party, President Ronald Reagan, who, nevertheless, on the issue of immigration had liberal views, once said, “America is really many Americas,” composed of virtually every race and religion. He said, “All of the immigrants who came to us brought their own music, literature, customs, and ideas. And the marvelous thing, a thing of which we’re proud, is they did not have to relinquish these things in order to fit in. In fact, what they brought to America became American. And this diversity has more than enriched us; it has literally shaped us.”

And so it has, but with immigration, as with war or combating drugs and disease, there is someone somewhere who is exploiting a human being to enhance their profit, or exploited by politicians for political gain. Employers become more profitable by employing low-wage immigrant workers without providing them benefits, nor are they afforded legal rights. While Americans benefit from lower prices at the supermarket because of the low-wage labor of illegal immigrants, on the other hand, many Americans want to deport them. And, the fear of illegal immigration has made enforcement, detention, and deportation booming industries, each unto itself, which only takes more out of the American worker’s paycheck.

The inferences coming out of the immigration debate has influenced many Americans into thinking the United States perhaps does not need low-wage immigrant workers. However, Reagan, who is admired by many Americans, a conservative’s conservative, implicitly acknowledged a need for low-wage immigrant workers, he said, “One thing is certain in this hungry world, no regulation or law should be allowed if it results in crops rotting in the fields for lack of harvesters.”

An American majority support some form of immigration reform. And, very disappointingly, they support Arizona’s new immigration law, increasing Border Patrols and other law enforcement on the Mexican border, while supporting a plan that allows illegal immigrants to remain legally in the United States if they have a job and pay taxes.

Additionally, contrary to Reagan’s view, those Americans are asking immigrants who brought their music, literature, customs, language, and ideas “to relinquish these things in order to fit in.”

So what would President Reagan’s view be in the current immigration debate? Reagan’s speechwriter Peter Robinson expressed his opinion by saying "Where he would have differed is his welcoming attitude toward immigrants.”

Robinson said, “In a private meeting with then-President Jose Lopez Portillo of Mexico in 1979, Reagan wrote that he hoped to discuss how the United States and Mexico could make the border "something other than the location for a fence."

Also, Robinson described what “Reagan's attitude toward the growing Hispanic influence in American life” would be. He said, “When announcing his bid for the White House in 1979 he asserted plainly, ‘I favor statehood for Puerto Rico.’ And Reagan again and again declared that a basic, even radical, openness to immigration represents a defining aspect of our national identity. Describing America as ‘a shining city’ in his 1989 farewell address, for example, he said, ‘and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.’"

It seems apparent that Reagan would be livid over a militantly staffed border. Moreover, one thing also is certain; he would be vehemently opposed to any exploitation of illegal immigrants.

Immigration reform, as it has been presented so far, rejects American values by not upholding human rights and by denying others an opportunity to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. Reform coupled with militantly staffed border enforcement not only obstructs freedom but is an impediment to a free market operating in accordance with the laws of supply and demand as it relates to jobs, wages, and opportunity.

So, I believe the only satisfactory and prudent way to “fix the borders” and to make the border "something other than the location for a fence,” would be to make our border with Mexico, as well as with Canada, an open border allowing unrestricted entry and exit, which would be “open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.’"

Moreover, open border legislation would eliminate the need for risky clandestine border crossings in a “no man’s land” that results in injury and death for so many. Immigrants would no longer be required to separate from their families.
Open borders would eliminate the wasteful, extremely costly, and ultimately ineffective expense of intense policing of our borders, or the procurement, installation and maintenance of fences and other security devices, and there staffing. It would allow border patrols to concentrate on drug trafficking and real security threats as opposed to illegal immigrant border crossings. Human trafficking would be eliminated as it is related to illegal immigration -- “coyotes” would essentially be out of business. And it just might reduce racism and ethnic tension.

It would uphold those American values we so endear: human rights and providing other human beings an opportunity to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.

Of course, as I said, we would still need border security, but reducing homeland security cost would help to reduce our much-criticized deficit.