Monday, July 3, 2006

Immigration 2006

From a 2006 e-mail I wrote:

How is it we have so many illegal immigrants in this country? We have a powerful jobs magnet - people are lured to the States by low-wage jobs that pay better than anything they might get back home. It's easy to get a job here because people either don't ask for documentation or they forge such high-security documents as a Social Security card.

With the powerful magnet, we then have a large population of immigrants. I didn't really notice the immigrant population in Huntsville, AL in 1999, but I noticed when i was there in 2005. The population is growing, and it frightens (oh... the search for the right word... uneducated - simple - monolingual - hmm...) some folk to be in the company of people with different background. The fear can be a call to action.

On the other side of the same coin, there are many new citizens or 2nd generation immigrants who will vote for a candidate because he says he will do something for immigration, regardless of what ludicrous foreign policy and gross mass deceptions he might implement or have implemented prior to his re-election. Helping immigrants is good for the ballot box.

Why is it so powerful at the ballot box? Because the department formerly known as INS is woefully understaffed, hopelessly inefficient, and only barely tolerated within the legal immigrant community. It takes years for any kind of application to wind its way through the system. Just last month, they were working on green card applications from the Philippines from 1984! People put their lives on hold for these things! The base of citizen immigrants is ready to do whatever they can to improve the system, and the naturalized fraction of them are very likely to vote because they have worked hard to earn the right to vote.

Yes, it's broken. It's broken because there are 11 million people violating the law in this country. But the law is out of step with reality, and the system for enforcing the law and allowing legal immigration is just as badly out of step. People are reacting to the discord, and whatever resolution comes of it won't be a very tidy one because the problem has gotten so far out of kilter before anyone bothered to pay it any attention.