Sunday, July 15, 2007

First-Come, First-Served

I generally shy away from blogging about hot-button political issues. I'm not sure why, since I tend to enjoy writing about issues from a new perspective. Oh, right, because I cater to my readers, and generally stick to Jewish issues. Well, maybe it's time I pulled out the stops...

I made a trip to Ellis Island today, and as you might guess (actually, as you should expect) it forced me to think twice about immigration in this country. Basically, as a country of immigrants, I'm ashamed at those periods in our history where Americans have exhibited anti-immigration rhetoric, including now.

It's a complicated issue, and a number of policies in place today make any simple systematic change difficult. For starters, we have a two party system, entrenched in special interests on both sides. Unions or corporations, don't think either one has justice in mind.

Driving into the city, I passed a man hawking cold water bottles in the middle of traffic in the Holland Tunnel approach. Teetering between insanity and entrepreunership, I couldn't help but reflect on the impressive choice of a person who chose to earn a couple of honest dollars over a number of other easier possibilities. Still not a simple case, but just remember, that if somebody hadn't given your ancestor the opportunity to push around a cart of goods, we wouldn't be voicing any opinion on immigration.

But in addition to opportunity, those who came to this country lived with purpose and sacrifice. As our ferry floated past the Statue of Liberty, a sortie of fighter jets flew overhead in formation, and a granfatherly veteran seated behind me rose from his seat in contemplative respect. It became instantly clear to me why the language of immigration has become bitter to so many tongues. Purpose and sacrifice are two ideals that have been fading in our increasingly selfish culture.

What you write is clearly true when you say that purpose and sacrifice are fading. But there are other points to consider - our grandparents didn't sit around and collect welfare checks. They didn't loiter on street corners opening fire hydrants and playing backgammon or dominoes (and that's on a good day). And that's not even addressing the issue of ILLEGAL immigrants. What don't people understand about illegal? Illegal means in-legal, i.e., NOT legal. Not only is it ridiculous that we are letting people in against the law, but we want to give them benefits! Why should we be paying them millions of our hard-earned dollars? Why do they deserve driver's licenses, an ID that can accomplish almost anything effectively nowadays?
Maybe because they too are willing to work for food....
"collect welfare checks"---my friend, do your homework--your facts are off.Why are people not even willing to consider the other view--how does one get so certain about things in life....a little compassion & a humble approach tends to make us more open.....
WWFF - I guess I shouldn't be shocked at your bias, coming from LA, where you are exposed to a lot more immigrants. But I think you are making assumptions. Do poor immigrants collect public assistance (legal and illegal)? Yes. Does that mean that we should close the gate on those more active just porch-sitters? I don't think so. One approach I advocate is a probationary Visa, which would allow aliens to work in the country and remain indefinitely, so long as they don't commit a crime, but disqualify them from any public assistance. Essentially, they would have the opportunity to work hard, but if they get to the point of putting their hand out to take, they'd be sent back.

Beka - Well said. The lesson is that we can't lump all immigrants together, and like all complex issues, we have to be brave enough to come up with complex solutions to sort the good from the bad.

Anon - I don't know if his facts are off, just biased. There are definitely lazy immigrants out there. But I agree with you that I'd rather err towards the side of compassion. Even if it doesn't spread more wealth, perhaps it will engender a more understanding society.
It's funny that you mention LA, because I had the Heights in mind.

I also find it interesting that because someone espouses one side of an argument then it is automatically assumed that he does not see the other side, or, alternatively, that he has not even taken it into account. What makes you think that I have not considered the other side? You don't think my heart goes out to the guy who stands on the street in the hot sun peddling oranges? Does that mean I should give every guy on the street peddling oranges $100 from my paycheck? I think you'll agree that those are two disparate points.

People don't seem to understand nowadays that there is a need for law. And that law must cut across all categories and situations, unless dispensations are given by a court. In a society whose morality is breaking down and whose reverence for law is waning, it is not hard to understand why people don't recognize this desideratum. Lines must be drawn. And this is something lost on some people nowadays. I would be very happy if there would be no poor people in the world! But taking the money of the entire country and dividing it evenly among its populace is, I hope you will agree, unfair. Welcome to a capitalist society; has anyone noticed that the other models have failed miserably?

I am still not fully understanding your counter-claim. Granted immigrants should come in and revel in the greatness of America (even if that greatness is very underappreciated by its youth nowadays), but why should they be doing so illegally? Sometimes waiting in line is annoying, and sometimes it is downright disheartening or depressing, but there is a process for a reason (be it security, etc.).

A related issue that must be addressed: what happens to terrorists who come to America with your probationary visas and then unleash a catastrophic attack on America? What are you going to say, "oops"? How do you defend the country against such a situation when you let anyone come in and only kick them out when they commit a crime?

One last point. Assuming they don't commit a heinous enough crime, you suggest that we should then send them back. Look around and you'll find out that it actually costs money to deport people from the country. It costs money to do just about anything. There are no free lunches.
"There are no free lunches."

well, there certainly wont be any affordable 'lunches' if you send them back.. blog about this
WWFF - Just to clarify, we are on the same side of the argument as far as handouts and illegals. I'm not for either. I am looking to create legal opportunities though for those willing to make something of themselves. Any visa program participants would be ineligable for government handouts (ending those for citizens would be part of my next mission, at least in some circumstances). As far as terrorists are concerned, they will have a much harder time planning any attacks under our scrutiny than in the caves of Pakistan. And those that want to execute their plans will do so anyway. I'd rather have them where I can track them. Of course, I'm also in favor of injecting everyone with ID chips...

Mookie - No affordable lunches...or no variety!

Anony - No comment. But feel free to share your own thoughts, since you seem so passionate about it.
That last anony post wasn't mine--so at least you chose my name here ---PASSION--thanks
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