By Richard E. Noble
This is a difficult subject. I told myself that I would not get into it. My goal these days is to win friends and influence people and not make enemies - if it could be avoided. But since my wife and I have traveled all of these United States picking fruits and vegetable for a number of years, it would be logical to conclude that I have an opinion on the current controversy. Of course, I do.
By the way, if you would like to read about our adventures as migrant farm workers, you can find the whole story in my book, “Hobo-ing America” - contact me via my e-mail for more information.
If you have already read Hobo-ing America you realize that illegal immigration is more than a physical problem at our borders. We have people here from all over the world who have come by one legitimate method or another, but once here have violated that agreement and taken up illegal residence. Not only that, but we have governmental immigration services that are not only inadequately staffed, but are also permeated with corruption. In my travels I learned from illegal aliens from all parts of the world that all the legitimizing paperwork to bring a person from an illegal status to a legal status can be purchased directly from unscrupulous government employees working at those agencies. This is what I have been told; I have no personal experience with the practice. I was born in this country and therefore qualified to work any lousy job this country has to offer.
A green card can be bought for “x” number of dollars; a social security card can be purchased in the same manner; and any other paperwork that one might need guaranteeing permanent residence can be bought for a price. This is what I was told by any number of illegal aliens. Some freely showed me their papers. They were very proud that they had earned enough money to buy them.
Many illegal aliens come here on student visas, or as a part of a political asylum. The U.S has been involved in so many corrupt governments and revolutions around the world that it would be difficult to determine how many illegal aliens are here with our government’s permission - in a sort of protection program.
Many of them were working at jobs procured through employment agencies, some head-quartered right in Washington D.C. They showed me their paperwork. Employers around the nation were signed up for this service and the workers paid large sums of money for the privilege of working in a chicken factory or a meat packing house somewhere in “anywhere USA”.
This is a big business, not only for the placement agencies involved but for the corrupt employers as well. You can be sure that these businesses have their butts protected via sub-contractors and other phony or not so phony agencies. When confronted they will deny any knowledge of the illegal nature of their practices – but they know. This is big business - and the government agencies along with the business community are in it up to their ears. This is my opinion based on what I have seen with my own eyes and heard from the people who are the customers involved in this racquet - and it is a racquet in my opinion.
To say the least, the illegal immigration problem is more than rounding up a few poor Mexicans at our southern border. It is systemic. It won’t be solved overnight by one bill being passed in the Federal legislature. You can pass all the laws that you want but if they can’t be enforced or you’re not ready to spend the money necessary to enforce them - it won’t happen.
I shouldn’t have to say this because it should be obvious, but illegal Immigration is illegal.
If I said to you; Are you against people illegally withdrawing money from banks? Your answer would be simple and unqualified. I doubt very much if you would start telling me about all the economic advantages provided to the community by bank robbers. I also doubt that you would tell me that the bank robbers or illegal withdrawers are just poor people who need those funds. You wouldn't you tell me about all the good that has been accomplished by past bank robbers who have invested their illegal withdrawals wisely, either. The same can be said for any illegal activity whether it be drugs, prostitution, or organized crime.
But, you say, an illegal immigrant isn’t a bank robber. True. A friend of mine said to me a while back; Your problem is with the word illegal. Just eliminate the word illegal and then what is your gripe?
If this is your attitude, then I must assume that you are for an open immigration policy. I can only imagine what the United States would look like in a few years if we did away with any restrictions on immigration. My god!
I’m sure that right at this minute there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of people in Poland who would like to migrate to this country if they were allowed. I’ll bet that there is no shortage of Russians, Chinese, Croates and whatever. Is it fair to deny these eager, enthusiastic folks; these huddled masses yearning to be free; these poor hard working struggling folks who simply want to be a part of the American dream; these honest, decent, hard working people - is it fair to deny them this opportunity to be free?
Of course it is. If you want to have a Nation or a Country, it is. It is unfortunate, but it is necessary.
Now we come to the more practical arguments. What do we do with the eleven million illegals who are here right now? And secondly what about all these jobs that Americans refuse to do?
They say that there are eleven million illegals here, my guess is that the number would be closer to twenty million; and I would not be surprised if after and actual count, it was found to be even higher.
I don’t know. This is going to be a big, big problem. If I was here illegally and it was announced in some newspaper that I should go down and register, I wouldn’t do it. Unless the penalty if I got caught was extremely severe, or the reward to my advantage,
I wouldn’t register. I’d take my chances. What the hell, I have been illegal for all these years, what’s a few more?
Whether it is the right or wrong thing to do, I do not think that all illegal aliens can be rounded up and deported. Some method of incorporating these people into the society will have to be devised. But this is going to require thousands and thousands of new government jobs. These people are going to have to be recorded and processed.
If the stern Republican approach is taken, this will require the same monetary outlay. The Republicans who are asking for this type action will not be willing to pay for it. I think that they are putting up a big show. If they get their way I doubt if anything will be done to change the situation at all. And that would be in tune with their traditional point of view - help the Bosses.
If the Democrats get their way it will be another kiss and make up amnesty deal and when they try to get the regulatory jobs and the border enforcement jobs it will all turn into political mush. The final product will have no teeth. Nothing will be accomplished, nor will the situation be changed.
So to tell you the truth, I don’t take any of this debate seriously. It is a political campaign issue, and nothing more.
But, let’s pretend.
On the issue that there are jobs that Americans just won’t do - I take serious issue. This is totally bogus. Anybody who says this in my opinion is (pardon my French) full of shit.
Americans have always been willing to do any jobs that have been offered to them - but they have never been stupid.
The problem is not with the American worker, the problem is with the jobs themselves. There are jobs in this country that are difficult to find workers to do. For the most part these jobs are very limited. They deal almost entirely with the harvesting of seasonal crops in Agribiz. All the other jobs in all of the other industries are simply jobs that employers are unwilling to pay a living wage or a decent respectable wage to their workers. They want the money or they are being pressured out of business by foreign imports and virtual slave labor, overseas conditions.
The employers have some legitimate reasons for this complaint. One is world free market competition. I’m sorry but the advocation of this policy is a paved road to disaster.
If one accepts the logic that better wages, fair wages, higher wages automatically means higher prices and eventual inflation and vanishing businesses, then the same principle must hold true for greater profits, higher dividends, and bigger pays for CEOs and CFOs and Doctors, Lawyers an accountants and Indian Chiefs who now own gambling casinos. If this principle holds true for the lower income jobs then it should also hold true for higher income jobs - and profits and dividends from the stock market. In which case, poverty is the goal and success or a better life means destitution. This is pure horseshit and obvious class prejudice.
This argument advocating lower and lower wages for the poorer hard working folks in our society is illogical. If it were true then it would also be true that more people making more money on any level would eventually lead to the collapse of the Capitalistic, free enterprise system. The principle is not valid. If more competition and lower wages means a better more prosperous world, then why did we ever do away with slavery; why did we have the 1929 depression? This logic is just plain and simple stupidity.
This country has not become the greatest, wealthiest nation in the world because we have a few very wealthy, smart people. All countries have a few wealthy, smart people. This country has become the greatest economic nation in history because it provided a means for more and more people to become modestly well off and for the average worker to have, at worst, a roof over his head, food on his table, and a hope for the future.
It took a combination of economic philosophies to accomplish that. It took a little Capitalism, a little mercantilism, a little socialism, a little protectionism, a little foreign trading, a little free marketing, even a little communism. It took a number of strong leaders in government and in private enterprise, and a good dose of moral economic conscience - provided by labor unions, churches, charities, environmentalists, suffragettes, and fearless champions of every type of minority right. This Country is not great because we adhered to inflexible dogmatic notions of anything and not because we have always had the most powerful military in the world. We have always been like the Universe around us, a nation in flux, steeped in change, a people willing to do and try anything.
Most of the businesses around this country who depend on illegal workers could have all the legal workers they want - they simply have to offer a living wage. If there are legitimate reasons why they cannot - other than simple greed and more and more for the bosses - then the legislature should enact policies accordingly - whether they be called projectionist, or nationalistic, or even isolationist. If we let middle-class America go down the tube, we can forget the American dream altogether.
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