Friday, May 28, 2010

"Illegal" Is Not Monolithic

From living in Arizona, and visiting Mexico, China, and a dozen other countries, I've come to understand that "illegals" as the Conservatives like to call them, and "undocumented persons" as the Liberals like to call them, are not a homogeneous, monolithic, stereotypical block. There's a wide variety of illegal aliens in the US, Away from the SW border states, if the illegal alien is not of Hispanic origin, they are likely here from over-staying a student, tourist, or work visa. As you get closer to AZ, CA, TX, and NM, and to some of the distribution hub cities along interstate routes that coyotes travel, the illegal immigrant demographics change considerably, tending to be more from Mexico, Central America, NW South America, or from China - from poorer, less economically advanced countries of origin. These Hispanic and Chinese illegal immigrants are more "desperate" in nature, taking more risks to be in the wealthiest democracy in the world, brought in by human smugglers, organized crime, and other dangerous means.

Some arrived here in the last dozen years. Some have been here their whole life, have families, and have American children - born here, you're an American, even if you were conceived 9 months prior in Guayaquil Ecuador. Some of these life-long undocumented persons have built businesses, meet payrolls, pay payroll taxes (albeit often through shell company accounting set up in a legal relative's name), and contribute to GDP. Most of these illegal aliens are law abiding, hard working citizens eager to work for any wage, in miserable conditions, that most legal American citizens won't apply for. Some of these illegal aliens are part of the smuggling human traffic rings, narco subculture, down right evil. To lump them all together, is easy, and makes good sound bites. To say "throw them all out, Deport now!" is ridiculous. First, because it is would be impossible to find them all. Second, because there's no funding to find them. Third, because they have families, the social services networks could not handle millions of children being dumped into it when their parents are suddenly deported.

Fourth, and most difficultly, entire sectors of the US economy would collapse (farming [that would be bad], industrialized food production [not so bad for me, but bad for most Americans], construction, etc) if there was a sudden vacuum of workers willing to work for dirt wages in terrible conditions. College graduates aren't going to put down their cell phones and PSPs long enough to work for $3.50 an hour, or want to do something 'awesome' with their new degree. High School graduates will demand higher wages, better working conditions, and improved working environments - all of which are good things, but none of which are cheap, or which can over-come financial inertia required to implement the improvements. Especially not when banks are refusing to lend to small businesses. "Oh, you want to make improvements and need capital because your workers refuse to work in your sh*thole?" - yeah, I can see that conversation happening at B of A, Chase, Wells Fargo, and Citi loan desks all across the nation. Good material for a SNL skit maybe.

So whenever I hear Liberals ardently defend all illegal immigrants as a monolithic block, I cringe. They're not helping. When I hear black-and-white Conservatives demand instant deportation to free up jobs for Americans, I have difficulty not laughing, do to the absurdity of this concept. I did a poor job expressing this in my last post, and hope that today's more detailed and nuanced entry helps visitors to understand my perspective more clearly.

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