An Educated Proposal For Immigration

The color that interests me most is gray. I do not see it anywhere in most of the discussions regarding education or other important issues that are profoundly effecting our society. Since Arizona passed its racial profiling predisposed law to address the presence of undocumented workers in this country, all I have heard is that it is racist -- which it most surely is. Whether a law is ill-conceived or not, I think one must also raise some of the following points if one ever hopes to find a fair solution to immigration that is highly problematic.

Some points to consider:

1. One reason that so many people are crossing our southern border illegally is because the euphemistically named North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA) has bankrupted the Mexican farming sector without providing the alternative high paying manufacturing jobs that were supposed to put many Mexicans into the middle class. Highly mechanized American agra-business can produce a staple crop like corn far more cheaply than Mexican farmers, which has made ghost towns out of the villages where this form of agriculture used to take place in Mexico.

2. Mexican governmental corruption continues to make the very small percentage of Mexicans who own the wealth in Mexico richer -- the richest man in the world is now a Mexican. The Mexican government, which is controlled by the upper class, does little or nothing to more equitably disseminate this wealth among an incredibly hard working Mexican population that remains locked out of the dream for a better life in Mexico. While it is bad enough that the Mexican government fixes election and brutalizes its own people, what makes it worse is that the United States government and those agencies within it that carry on covert operations actively assist the Mexican government while doing nothing effective to address the American fed drug trade and the arms of American origin that are terrorizing Ciudad Juarez and other places in Mexico where the government has little or no control.

3. While LAUSD and other public entities refuse to either ask for or give out accurate figures about undocumented students, some conservatively have estimated the number of undocumented students as 1/3 of the 740,000 students presently attending LAUSD schools. While I do not advocate the removing of these students from public schools, doing so would easily balance the $640 million budget shortfall this year at LAUSD, but it would also put out of work a great many Americans whose job it is to educate or provide costly services to these students and their families.

4. People who are undocumented are here because we want them here as a source of cheap labor. While it is probably too late now, some of those screaming the loudest to get the "illegals" out of this country are some of the same people who have benefited the most by having them here. Who would: pick our food, bus our dishes, make our pizzas, mow our lawns, take care of our children, or build and remodel our homes if we removed these folks from our- wasn't it theirs until 1848- country? And if you really wanted to succeed in doing this, why have a Latino witch hunt, when locking up a few factory owners might be a much more efficient way of addressing illegal immigration if we really wanted to address this issue in a more equitable manner.

5. While we always seem to hear about how much "illegals" are costing this society in medical care, accidents without insurance, welfare (even if the parents are illegal, the native born American children still have a right to it), and education, you can be sure if these collateral costs to undocumented labor were not a small fraction of what undocumented people bring to this society in terms of the value of their labor and the goods and services that they buy, we would have figured out a way a long time ago to stem this tide.

6. Like undocumented workers who come to this country in the same spirit as my grandparents who came here to avoid oppression and institutional poverty, I do not want to live in Mexico or any other country that does not have a constitution or society based on the respect of my civil rights and the right for me and my family to succeed based on the merit of what we do as opposed to our ethnicity.

Whether it is education reform, global warming, or undocumented workers, there seems to always be a pattern of an unwillingness to address certain key issues that preclude a just resolution of these problems without certain core issues being discussed and resolved.

-With education, it's the unwillingness to deal with the subjective level of the students we have by giving them appropriate and timely education and remediation by those qualified to do so.
-With global warming it is a complete and utter unwillingness to factor in the continuing over-population of this planet and the unceasing pressure it puts on the limited resources of the earth. It would take 4 earths to allow all inhabitants to live at the standard of living that Americans live at and yet nobody is willing to factor runaway population as the sine qua non issue of any program to meaningfully address global warming.

As for immigration of undocumented workers, the United States must seek a solution in Mexico and the rest of Central America to deal with the conditions involving work, drugs, and more democratic governments than we have negatively impacted since Teddy Roosevelt first proposed a Latin American policy of "Walk softly, but carry a big stick." It would seem to me that a Marshal Plan for Latin America that is more akin to what we did in Europe after WWII might be far more effective in stemming the tide of undocumented workers if they had even a moderate chance of living well in their countries of origin. Many of my friends who have come from Latin America live in families that are torn between two countries. Many of the parents who came to make money or for a better life for their children miss their homes in their country of origin, but now are stuck in the United States, because that is where their grandchildren are. That is what you get when you make a political football of an incredibly important and complex issue that is clearly threatening the social fabric of this society while pushing Mexico more and more toward being a failed state..

Fix Mexico and you'll fix the United States immigration and go a long way toward fixing our public schools.


05 2010

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