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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Immigration Reform

Posted Monday, November 12, 2012, at 8:28 PM



Our Republican friends (not to be confused with conservatives) are running scared after the election just passed. As they scan the horizon for potential voters to give them power, their eyes inevitably settle on "Hispanics."

Hispanics is politispeak for Mexicans; the term seemingly doesn't include the Spanish, Puerto Ricans, Cubans or the rest of the Caribbean, Brazilians, Argentines, etc., etc., etc.

Ever seduced by conventional wisdom and stereo types, the Republican Establishment seems to have settled on the idea that our friends in Mexico long for the economic opportunities available here in the U.S. and share their family values. Presumably, Mexicans could be a natural fit for the Republican Party. Therefore, they conclude, immigration issues are the way to convince these potential voters into becoming Republicans.

But let us look at immigration history.

Labor unions were illegal in the U.S. until early in the 20th Century. There was no federal income tax until 1913. There was no "welfare" until the 1930s. Virtually the only restrictions on foreigners from immigrating to the United States were health issues and a having a citizen who promised to be financially responsible for the immigrant if he fell on hard times.

From roughly 1620 until roughly 1932, approximately 25 percent of all immigrants either returned to their native land or pursued opportunities elsewhere. During this period, for all intents and purposes, our borders were open to anyone who wanted to come here.

However, between 1946 and 1968, things changed. During this period, 20- 25 percent of all employees were unionized factory workers. Manufacturing was expanding and new people were being hired all of the time. Cheep immigrant labor could hurt unions.

From the New Deal to the Great Society, the federal government implemented a broad and expanding "safety net." Food stamps were invented to reduce the number of poor rejected from the military draft. Foreigners didn't get drafted. With our currency then tied to gold and silver, impoverished immigrants could stretch the safety net to the breaking point.

Therefore, ever-restrictive immigration laws were passed by Congress. Now, it can easily take five to 10 years to legally immigrate to the U.S. and become a citizen.

My grandmother was an immigrant. I love meeting people from other places. When I learn that they immigrated here, I habitually welcome them. We are a nation of immigrants. We have assimilated the best that other cultures have brought here while leaving the worst in their native lands.

But we are not the same nation we were in 1900. The majority of union members today are government employees, not factory workers, and immigrants are overwhelming not taking factory type jobs. Unions now have limited interest in immigration per se.

In Clay County today, easily 50 percent of all our residents receive some benefit from the federal government. If we include federally backed mortgages and student loans, the number would be approaching 100 percent. Clay County did just fine before all of these federal handouts. Some would say that the boom times were some 50 or 60 odd years ago. But that is the environment in which we now live and no rational person would decline the reduced interest rates or subsidized housing, food, and medical care.

It is now considered to be unconstitutional to restrict government "benefits" to citizens only. Therefore, if you come from some impoverished place and the U.S. government is providing more than you ever could have had at home, if you have no long-term relationship with or interest in the U.S., why would you not vote for more of the same. After all, from that perspective, it is only rational to vote yourself money from the national treasury.

Although I am a Libertarian at heart, I am glad that drugs are illegal. I am glad because I don't want welfare benefits, tax dollars, to subsidize drug use. If there were no welfare, I would be one of the first demanding that they be legalized right now. After all, the wasted bodies and ruined lives would be a daily reminder to our young people to "just say no."

However, these destroyed people nearly universally have some form of roof over their head, food in the cupboard, and free medical care. If drugs were legal under these conditions, it would explode the federal budget.

The same is true with immigration. If I were to live in Mexico, or, Heaven forbid, some third world hell-hole, why would I not be willing to take any chance necessary to come to the U.S. Here, at a bare minimum, I will have some form of home, plenty of food, and free medical care; probably more than I would ever have had at home.

Until we address the welfare system, opening the borders to the poor tempest tossed huddled masses will simply explode the federal budget.

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