Sunday, May 07, 2006

Immigration, Political Correctness, and You vs. You

So today, I will attempt to touch on a number of subjects. First, immigration. I have been thinking and reading about this for a while and am hesitant to definitively opine on the subject. This mostly has to do with political correctness, which is another issue I have been thinking about.

With all of the rallies and op-ed pieces and discussion going on about immigration rights, I can only say the potentially offensive following:

I bristle when I see people who have immigrated here illegally asserting their rights. What rights? You are here illegally, and your assertion of these rights only detracts from those who have come here legally and are also pursuing the "American Dream," legally. This probably comes from irrational personal resentment at seeing my own parents come here, legally, after working their asses off in their home country to get here, legally. They came to New York, worked their asses off there, dealt with racism in a po-dunk college town (because they had no other choice), learned English, moved to Chicago, lived in cockroach-infested apartments and assimilated, and didn't complain (that I know of). They worked, saved, paid taxes, bought a house in quite possibly one of the whitest suburbs near a major U.S. city (no easy task), and raised two kids. Legally. So, when people come here illegally and raise a stink, I just can't help but feel that they do so at the peril of legal immigrants who are also pursuing that American Dream. This guy (scroll to the bottom) sums up my opinion pretty well. Also, the bill being protested is, for all intents and purposes, dead and without support in Washington.

That being said, those who are here are merely people who escaped shitty conditions and want to work hard, pursue their dreams, and live here. The people who work those awful jobs are honest, hardworking people who simply want a better life. I can't think of anything more quintessentially American than that. The solution is not to ship them out or send them to jail. I can't think of anything more quintessentially un-American than that.

The solution is not to grant blanket amnesty. The solution is not to grant guest worker visas that only benefit businesses who would want nothing more than a cheap workforce who cannot vote (to borrow a line from Paul Krugman). I don't know what the solution is. It is far too complicated an issue to come up with an easy one. For good reading, try Eric Zorn's columns on this and this wonderful op-ed piece by Krugman. If you have problems accessing it, I'd be happy to e-mail it to you.

A few more things: the unholy relationship between companies who benefit from employing illegal immigrants at unacceptably low wages and the hapless illegal immigrants who accept the jobs, without rights, without benefits, and without hope, is one of the driving forces to why there has been no true immigration policy. The K Street lobbyists are doing everything they can to make sure this is tabled after we are sufficiently distracted. And distracted we are from the real issues at hand: Iraq, Iran, China, the trade deficit, global warming, and the state of education (to name a few).

Now for a story. I rode my ass off this morning and burned my thighs out for a time because I heard what I thought were other cyclists behind me. I just could not let them pass me, for some reason. Turns out those other cyclists were just my back tire hitting gravel, making me think there were people behind me when there weren't. Still, I was able to sustain a good clip for a long time and probably wouldn't have without the perceived competition. So in sports, so in life.


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