Immigration and the confusion of the Right

Obama recently talked about immigration reform:

A friend of mine has written an interesting post (funny and not serious) on immigration. His political ideology is clearly to the right of center. He is a businessman who has done well and unfortunately has bought into a lot of the rhetoric of the Right. He and many others in the conservative movement have charged that Obama has no intention of protecting Arizona and other states from economic refugees. (This is the term that I use for illegal immigrants because it more precisely defines why they’re here and why they’ve been allowed to stay here). The attack on the Obama administration has come from a two-pronged approach — First, the president has failed to protect the country from a growing threat. Secondly, he does not listen to us, the American people, who have cried out to have something done.

Let’s take the second allegation first. My friend has followed the lead of other conservatives and has looked at polls. Polls? Conservatives are suggesting that the president should not lead, but instead should follow American public opinion. I love this myopic view of American political life. It was less than four years ago when these same conservatives were telling us that we needed to follow Bush and not look at the polls. As a matter fact, just before the invasion of Iraq, a country that did not attack us was never a threat to us, Americans favored continued weapons inspections by a vast majority over a military invasion. It was okay for President Bush to ignore the polls, but Barack Obama must follow them.

What threat? (Like an Al Qaeda threat or a Soviet Union take over the world kind of threat?) Economic refugees have been allowed to pour into our country because it’s beneficial to business. Both Democrats and Republicans have had opportunities to stem the tide but they have failed. Why? It isn’t like these economic refugees are a solid voting block for Republicans or Democrats — they can’t vote! Therefore, they have no political power. The businesses that hire them — they have the political power. Whether it is agriculture, construction or the restaurant industry, a large segment of our economy depends on cheap labor. Cheap labor is like crack to business. They simply cannot get enough of it. If they can’t find enough cheap labor here in the United States, they will move manufacturing to Mexico, Thailand or China. We have seen this. We all know this to be true yet, for some reason, conservatives are bashing Obama for something that was already in place before he took office.

Of course, this brings me to President George W. Bush. He was in office for eight years. Where were the calls for his impeachment over his immigration policy? (He didn’t develop one until he was in office for over seven years.) During the go-go years of the housing bubble, millions of immigrants poured into this country and most conservatives said nothing. Why? Immigration was a problem then and it’s a problem now.

Conservatives want it both ways. They want the federal government to spend money on things that they want money spent on and they still want to shrink the size of government. The Obama administration has deported more economic refugees in this first year than any other administration in history. The Obama administration has set aside over $400 million to strengthen border security and hire more border agents. Conservatives whine about Barack Obama being weak but when he stands up and says the Constitution has given border security to the federal government, conservatives whine about states’ rights. Which is it? Defend the constitution or not?

Fixing the problem with immigration is easy. For the most part, economic refugees come here to get jobs. Clamp down and increase fines on businesses that hire economic refugees. Continue to enforce the current laws. If economic refugees cannot get jobs, they will not come here. This is extremely simple and it will work, but there is no political will on Capitol Hill to do this. The business lobby is too strong. If Congress begins to listen to the people instead of the lobbyists and comprehensive, meaningful immigration reform is passed, we will have one less hurdle in order to completely fix this problem. This last hurdle is clearly the toughest. What do you do with economic refugees who are already here in the United States? To me, the answer does not matter. We just have to come up with an answer. No matter what the answer is someone is going to be furious.

The problem is that conservatives are not serious. Once conservatives walk into the offices of the American Chamber of Commerce and demand that they began to clamp down on members who are hiring economic refugees, then I’ll believe that they are serious. Once the American Chamber of Commerce comes out and openly denounces businesses that are hiring these illegal immigrants, then we will have a chance to get meaningful comprehensive immigration reform passed through Congress and signed by President Barack Obama.

0 Responses

  1. Interesting analysis. Immigration policy raises a whole bunch of issues, including re-victimization. I saw a great article on the subject of US visa regulations, and how it women with a “checkered” past. While the focus is on Thailand, the article gives a good overview of the challenges mixed couples (US-Thai) face getting visas to the US. It also provides the wider context immigration policy, and the inconsistencies among the different government agencies working on these issues.

    Everyone has a history, and despite the challenges it important to remember that most couples can successfully receive travel visas to the US. Maybe this article can help others interested in the subject.

    Yearning to be Free: US Immigration and Thai Sex Workers

  2. Dr Thompson wrote:

    “This is the term that I use for illegal immigrants because it more precisely defines why they’re here and why they’ve been allowed to stay here”

    Cute euphemism, designed to ignore the fact that these people have broken the law, and continue to break the law.

    Instead, your euphemism is an attempt to put the blame for their situation on someone else 'They are REFUGEES. They are oppressed or put in danger by someone else. It's not their own choice to be here, they have no other choice.'

    The fact is they DO have a choice to immigrate illegally, or LEGALLY as many others in fact DO.

    I'm all in favor of increasing LEGAL immigration.

    Illegal immigrants need to go home and stay there. Let them break the laws of their own country.

    You want to discuss 'why' they broke the law.

    The 'why' doesn't matter.

    Criminals shouldn't be allowed to steal if they can come up with a 'good enough' reason.

    These people are stealing opportunity from those who immigrate LEGALLY, and they are stealing jobs from American citizens. (And that's before we get into the tax free bennies they steal from the public trough).

    Also the smugglers who got them here are criminals, and by refusing to deal realistically with illegal immigrants, you also let these criminal smugglers get off scot free.

    And then there are the American employers who steal from the immigrants, paying them sub-par wages, working them long hours without overtime, refusing to pay Unemployment and other taxes on their labor — basically re-establishing the foundation for sweatshops and slavery by employing others and locking them into a 'no way out' situation.

    Your euphemism is enabling crime on multiple levels. Let's talk honestly and use plain language on this subject instead of skirting the issues for political gain. Democrats only see future voters, not the oppression that these people are held under, nor the laws that they and their masters are breaking.

    Why would Democrats, who claim to 'stand up for the little guy' be interested in soft selling such a dehumanizing system?

  3. b/c for the last 20 years, Dems have become Republicans-lite. They suck up to big business just like R's. Business is #1 everything else in this country is #2.

  4. So are you going to oppose Obama's amnesty package and actually demand that he enforce immigration law?

    Obama supports giving drivers licenses to illegals and allowing the growing human smuggling trade to continue so that businesses can employ illegals under sweatshop/slave conditions.

    These aren't 'refugees' , they are slaves and near slaves, tricked into risking their lives (saving their masters the nasty expense of chains, many even fooled into paying for the 'privilege' of coming) on the promise of freedom, and ending up indentured to The Man.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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