Thursday, April 20, 2006

CUUMBAYA on Immigration

I agree with much of what Joel has to say here. As I discussed in one of my earlier immigration posts, people are saying the same things about central American immigrants now that they said about European immigrants. (An old boss of mine who had a German last name once railed against immigrants for their lack of education, etc. The temptation to say "That's what Ben Franklin said about the Germans and you came out all right" was huge, but I managed to refrain.)

I honestly don't think that racism is at the root of it, I think the dislike of immigrants is rooted in exactly the same impulse that makes yuppies who built a beach house someplace rail against further development. People fear the tragedy of the commons. And they feared it just as much when the immigrants were white.

That said, "racism" is a very powerful word, and if we are willfully misusing it to harness its power to do some good, I can certainly understand that, but I think we should leave the more underhanded political tactics to activists, who are doing just fine with them. (From an underhanded tactics standpoint, I'm still pissed when I think of the UUAWO email I got that said the filibuster was about freedom of speech. My own religion should not be (a)lying to me or (b) assuming I never had high school civics.)

Sinkford's statement, is worth a look if only for the God-awful picture of him. (I think I saw Janice Dickenson make that pose on "America's Next Top Model" last night.)

My guess is that he takes the standard "let anyone who wants to have citizenship immediately" stance, though I don't actually know for certain what he thinks since he doesn't actually talk about laws, but ideals. That's actually OK and the proper place for a religion to be speaking from. At the same time, I agree with Joel's take that "everybody who has a conscience agrees with me and sees the issue as I do" is a rotten way for a liberal religious leader to be talking.

And I also agree with Joel that pretending that the immigrants are appearing out of clean air is sort of silly. They are coming from countries that are either (a) very poor, (b) very corrupt, and often (c) both. To say "let's let everyone into America" is to cry "band-aids! We need more band-aids!" at a gaping wound. Students who come here to study, people who love American culture, etc, might well want to be Americans. But people who are just coming for a job would probably just as soon stay with their families in central America if they could afford it.

To me, a more permanent solution would be greater foreign aid and sustainable development projects in central America. We should be putting greater economic and diplomatic pressure on other countries to take care of their poor and educate their people.

If everybody is eating, then far fewer people will want to come here. If far fewer people want to come here, then we can take care of the immigrants we get all the better.


1 comment:

LaReinaCobre said...

There are some interesting ideas about European immigration, race and American identity that this post brought up from me. One thing it prompted me to recall was the Slavery in New York exhibit I visited in February. Towards the end of the exhibit, there are quite a lot of statistics about black workers and the newly arriving Irish immigrant workers. I don't have the numbers on me, but easily within a decade, white New Yorkers replaced their black domestics with Irish domestics. While xenophobia is quite strong, for whatever reason (actually, I'm sure there are many), Irish immigrant workers were preferred over black American workers who had been doing those jobs for years.