The current “discussion” about immigration reflects deep confusion about the issues and about what we want.  Who are we allowing in, and trying to keep out, of the country? There are basically three classes, Despite what is often felt they are not in conflict with each other.  We are able to let all three groups in if we want, or keep any or all out.

First are family members.  It may seem puzzling that we are in the process of adopting polices to keep children separated from families.  This involves a small number of people and should not be a major issue, Do we really want children apart from their parents? Yet doing so is necessary to get conservative support for a bill. Conservatives aim in politics, as seen so clearly so often, is to hurt people, make them suffer.  Thus for them to support reform they must be assured that there will be people who are hurt, even if only children.  This is especially true for a law that will help people, something that makes conservatives deeply uncomfortable. They are more likely to go along if they know that that there are at least some who will be hurt.

Another group is well educated, computer scientists say. It is clear that we need them and they are rather uncontroversial. These we will let in.  The morality of that is, unfortunately, not controversial. But we are taking people badly needed at home, in their often deeply impoverished homelands. Of course it is not unusual in the US to take from the poor and give to the rich. This reflects a failure of the US to inspire and educate the intellectual workers that we need.  We should not have to take from those who have almost nothing to satisfy our needs.

The last group, the least attractive, are the impoverished, the farm workers, the others in the food industry, those who clean, and so on. It is really these that the debate is about. Do we really want them here? They are not only impoverished, but ethnically different, being often of (at least partially) Indian descent, somewhat darker than us, swarthy, illegal.  Do we really want them here?

What do they do here? Work. Hard, unpleasant, dangerous, monotonous, often backbreaking work. They do not go through the dangers and difficulties of sneaking in to stand around and starve to death.

No we don’t, do we? Suppose that we were to kick several million of them out. What would happen? Since they produce much of our food that would become much more expensive and quite scarce. The food in this country is too cheap so we eat too much of it, undermining our health. Kicking all the farm workers out would thus end the obesity epidemic much improving the country’s health. Public health organizations should give Rep. Tom Tancredo, who has long fought against immigration, medals for his leadership in the fight against the obesity epidemic.

Why should we allow those people who have violated the law stay here with us upright, law-abiding citizens?  Because is has been the de facto US policy to have them here. However difficult it is for us to admit we need them and we want them. It is because we are unable to accept reality, and our own wishes, that the people we want are officially illegal. Occasional raids do not change this. They can’t. We need these people. Why these rather those we admit legally? We don’t admit the people we want legally; we force them to enter this way. However we have created a test. Only the motivated, enterprising, strongest will be able to pass by going through the dangers and difficulties of getting here. Aren’t these the people we want?

The unworkable, convoluted “reform” proposals are not rational attempts to solve the problem, but rather symptoms of our inability to accept what we need and want.

How can we keep them out? The highest, most impenetrable barrier is a lack of work. They take jobs that we do not want. We can keep them out by making these jobs more attractive to those already here. This means, for example, increasing the minimum wage quickly, perhaps doubling or tripling it. That will result, among others, in making food much more expensive, and scarce, ending the obesity epidemic. If we do not want to do this then we must accept that we want them here, and find workable, organized ways of bringing them in.


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