You may want to lie down after I say this...
Illegal immigration is at best a modest problem which has been cynically re-manufactured into a national crisis by extremists on the right wing fringe, with fabricated statistics, xenophobic rhetoric and contemptible lies.
A path to a perfectly rational, practical, humane solution to this modest problem is easily within reach. But we aren't going to take that path as a nation because at the end of the day, the extremists aren't really looking for solutions. And most Republicans in Congress, terrified of losing their jobs to candidates on the far right, are going along with this whole, pathetic charade.
There. Take a couple of ibuprofen, lie down for a few minutes and maybe the room will stop spinning.
In a June 26th interview, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer pretty much summed up the course of the right wing hysteria:
"Well, we all know that the majority of the people that are coming to Arizona and trespassing are now becoming drug mules," Brewer said. "They're coming across our borders in huge numbers. The drug cartels have taken control of the immigration.
"So they are criminals. They're breaking the law when they are trespassing and they're criminals when they pack the marijuana and the drugs on their backs." (my emphasis)
Listen Steve, every nation has a right to secure borders and reasonable laws governing citizenship and immigration. But, once and for all, we're not being overrun by a horde of illegals who are just coming here to sell drugs, steal our jobs and rape our women. So long as we have people in positions of leadership poisoning the well with that kind of inflammatory rhetoric - rational solutions are virtually impossible.
Now what is happening, and has been happening since I was a kid, is that we are experiencing a steady stream of illegals, largely from Central America, and nearly all of whom are just coming here to work hard and build a better life for themselves. Unlike Americans, they aren't covered by the same workplace rules we take for granted. If they get injured on the job, or get sick and can't work, tuff noogies. If they get assaulted or are victims of theft, they can't report it. Studies have shown they pay far more in taxes than the value of services they will ever get back.
Furthermore, the border between the United States and Mexico really is safer than it has been in years. From the Dallas News:
"The top four big cities in America with the lowest rates of violent crime are all in border states: Austin, El Paso, Phoenix and San Diego , according to a new FBI report. And a U.S. Customs and Border Protection report shows that Border Patrol agents face far less danger than street cops in most U.S. cities.
The Customs and Border Protection study, obtained with a Freedom of Information Act request, shows that 3 percent of Border Patrol agents and officers were assaulted last year, mostly when assailants threw rocks at them.
That compares with 11 percent of police officers and sheriff's deputies assaulted during the same period, usually with guns or knives.
In addition, violent attacks against agents declined in 2009 along most of the U.S-Mexican border for the first time in seven years."
In this context, the context that is of the real world, "amnesty" is a whole lot less frightening a term. I believe I've said before here on this very blog that one of the better pieces of legislation to reach Congress during the Bush Administration was The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006. As you know, it proposed amnesty for the roughly 12 to 20 million illegals residing in this country, as well as a tough but fair path to to citizenship. Among its co-sponsors were Republican heavy weights Hagel, McCain, Graham and Brownback. It passed in the Senate but not the House, and since then the 22 Republican Senators who voted for it have been repeatedly hung out to dry in hundreds of viral e-mails.
From a 2007 NYT article:
"Polls show that most Americans would let illegal immigrants get right with the law and become Americans, too, if they have clean records, learn English and pay back taxes and fines. Weighed against keeping the shadowy status quo or deporting 12 million people, a citizenship path strikes them as a proper blend of justice and common sense. Last year’s stalled Senate bill took this approach, and it will surely be central to any new legislation.
But the idea sticks in the craws of the members of a vocal, mostly Republican faction that wants every door to opportunity for illegal immigrants shut and locked, except the one marked “guest workers.” Those they would keep because they don’t mind having an underclass of docile, ill-paid foreigners who do America’s dirtiest jobs and then go home." (again, my emphasis)
Steve, frankly, the American Way Of Life (if it ever really existed) of quiet, tree lined streets, sidewalks, and every house owned by a Ward and June Cleaver, is gone for good and there is no way we'll ever get it back. Hispanics aren't like you and me. First of all they're, well, Hispanic. They speak Spanish and most of the new arrivals among them come from radically different backgrounds than yours and mine. So what? They want a piece of the American Dream just like you and me. I say let them have a crack at it.