Wednesday, April 19, 2006


What to do about illegal immigration?

Make illegal immigrants felons?
Build a wall?
Allow a guest worker program?
Flat out amnesty?
More border patrol agents?
Fine employers?



Alex said...

I suppose its safe to say I'm an incurable insomniac. I just can't sleep, no matter how hard I try... or maybe the case is I sleep at the wrong times. Whatever it is, I figure, since I'm up, I might as well get to work on solving the difficult dilemmas that affect the world. Tonight I want to tackle the controversy that came along with the passage of HR 4437, dubbed as The Border Protection, Anti-terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005, which attempts to tackle the problem of undocumented immigration.

I do agree that the issue of large scale undocumented immigration is in its own right, a long-standing controversy, however there are aspects of the controversy that I think have not been widely recognized. The fact that enormous numbers of people have entered and currently reside in America without legal documentation creates a problem for Americans in terms of maintaing a sustainability of our resources, and it is a problem for many Americans who are constantly falling victim to indentity theft.

In terms of sustainability of resources, the argument can be made that undocumented immigrants drive up the costs of public services, like health care, public education etc. Urban sprawl, traffic congestion, and overcrowding of schools are other problems that are magnified by the residence of undocumented immigrants. I believe the loud anti large-scale immigrationist, Roy Beck said California has to build a school every day just to keep up with the rate of admission for documented immigrants. However, the same argument can be made concerning the large numbers of documented immigrants who enter and inhabit America. They also contribute their share to the problems of sustainability and they come in larger numbers. If these problems are to be solved, then it seems to be more a problem of public policy. A problem of setting immigration quotas. Should we return to the "golden age" of immigration during the 1950s when the rate of immigrants entering America was sustainable? It's a question I'm not necessarily prepared to answer, especially since my Dad has immigrated from Mexico and literally everyone I know has either immigrated from somewhere, or has immigrant family members.

I think the issue of identity theft is a problem that makes undocumented immigration unique from those who are documented. Undocumented immigrants need social security numbers to obtain employment. Where do they get 'em? Over 9 million people have officially been recorded as victims to identity theft. It is an unfortunate circumstance for these victims. However, according to the Red Tape Articles written on MSNBC, the Social Security Administration has a Suspended File of returns worth over $500 billion dollars! This is money that comes from earnings of workers in agricultural jobs, factory work, and other low-wage jobs that are predominantly filled by undocumented immigrants. Undocumented immigrants obtain random social security numbers identifying American kids, and adults alike and use that for employment. Their returns don't go to them, nor do they go to the American identified by that number. $$$Free money$$$. No wonder the government has been so slow to attack the issue of undocumented immigration. They have a billion dollar incentive! Whether or not this is true, it should be noted that $500 billion dollar's is a hell of a lot of money. Perhaps, this is a virtue of undocumented immmigration?

These problems that conern Americans are unfortunate. But I say, there are people with BIGGER PROBLEMS that Americans either don't understand, or which they just don't give a damn. There are people in other countries that don't have enough money to feed themselves, to provide for their families, to buy simple crap that Americans can easily take for granted. They in turn look for jobs that just aren't available locally. It has been estimated that there are at least 12 million undocumented immigrants, although there is no official number since, of course, they are undocumented. That's a lot of people. There's a lot to be said by such a large estimate, but there's a lot to be said about this administration's approach to solving the "problem".

HR4437 looks upon undocumented immigrants unsympathetically as if they are "terrorists" and criminals.The installation of a wall to block undocumented Mexican immigrants, felonizing them and people who aid them, increasing border patrol agents, seem to be propositions that don't attack the problem of undocumented immigration but hurts the undocumented immigrants themselves. If, according to data coming from the U.S. Census, the average Mexican makes only 1/10th of what the average American makes, I think large numbers of immigrants, documented and undocumented alike, will consistently enter America seeking economic opportunity.

If I couldn't get a job in Mexico, if I didn't have enough money to start with and to provide for my family, I'd be obligated to go somewhere else where I could earn enough money. Buf of course that would require paying, for a visa so that I could enter a country "legally", which is money I probably wouldn't have as a Mexican or it would take a long time for me to earn; time that I need to support my family.This seems like the standard situation to which the majority of undocumented immigrants would fall victim. Yet, America, the democratic, "land of the free", a nation comprised almost entirely of immigrants, would felonize me.

It seems to me that the undocumented immigrants who are already here have provided such an economic contribution to America, that they are anything but criminals. Undocumented should be looked upon as productive citizens, and live in this country as if they were second rate citizens even though they fulfill the same obligations regular citizens do. Undocumented immigrants provide the arduous labor that most legal Americans are unwilling to take. It can be argued that undocumented immigrants even pay taxes, assuming they own homes, they pay property taxes which is a large chunk, out of their income. The only anomaly is that they can't vote. But then again, in all seriousness regarding low turnout in America... who does?

My thesis: this bill sucks. Yes I myself am very pleased with the way I articulated that. Believe it or not it didn't take very long for me to think it. But I would think any logical, humane person who looks at the actual proposals offered by HR 4437 (as it is currently being reviewed by the senate), would, if anything be shocked to think that this legislation is the real solution to the problem of undocumented immigration.

This bill, in effect:
Divides parents from their U.S. citizen children, and husbands from wives. The government will send back countless families seeking safety from war, persecution adn violence. Makes thousands ineligible for "legalization" programs. The bill contains hidden bars to legalization which would affect the very people who are supposed to qualify for these programs. Deports lawful permanent residents (Green card holders) for increasingly minor criminal offenses. Offenses, I might add, that watchful racists and xenaphobists are quick to point out to police officers so that subsequent arrests are made. Expands immigrant detention, a costly and overcrowded system that is already rife with abuse and allows U.S. military bases to be used for detention space. Enacts more "mandatory" detention. Whole classes of people will be mandatorily detained with the government having the sole power to decide on release, with no way to challenge its decision.
Turns local and state police into immigration agents, which will inevitably deter victimes of crime from reporting it to authorities, for fear of themselves being deported. Overturns Supreme Court decisions by legalizing indefinite detention. People who have final orders of removal who can't get deported won't be able to get out meaning that they could stay in jail for as long as it takes, even years. Currently, 1,500 people are being indefinitely detained. You can be sure that thousands more will be affected. Constructs a massive boder fence. This bill expands the current $30 billion border enforcement strategy which has already failed to deter illegal entry. It has failed, because like I noted, ff you need the money for your family, you're going to do what it takes to get into this country. The current border plan has thus, been the result of the deaths of nearly 4,000 migrants attempting to cross over, within the last 10 years. Plans are being made for a guest worker program similar to the likes of the Bracero program installed in the 1960s. This is a selfish solution to providing minimal economic gainfor third world peoples while at the same time exploiting Mexican labor for the American economy. Why confine the paths of labor that undocumented immigrants make, only to work that other Americans won't take?
This is the output of the current administration, written by Republican James Sensenbrenner, yet voted upon democrats and republicans alike. I know I'm only a student at UCLA, but I think its important to think about problems practically and look at the feasable solutions that are available when first considering your own resources. Let me offer my solution.

Help the poor, by installing a pragmatic plan for long-term economic recovery, based in their country not in ours. Is it not feasable to implent an economic program in the country where these people are migrating from? If jobs were available for Mexicans within their own country, why then should such large numbers of people have any need to enter America illegally? There wouldn't exist such a need, if the economic gains were local.

My proposal specifically calls for the implementation of a committee that oversights several different economic programs in a way that contribute to long-term investment in the country of Mexico. This committee and the programs they implement would serve as economic generators for the country so that other corporations would be welcomed to invest in the country.This would be in the best interest of Mexicans as well as Americans. Mexico would have an economic investment program, whereby jobs would be created for its citizens, consumerism would rise and so would the standard of living. America would then solve its own "problem" with undocumented immigration.

I could see several reasons for why my program would be advocated, and for why it would be discredited.

I simply advocate this idea because its a practical solution to an increasingly complex problem, it is feasable within America's economic resources, and it is also a selfless act. A good analogy that shows the pragmatism of this idea can be seen in looking at the the current situation of the 80,000 people who are homeless in Los Angeles County. I know that in Westwood alone, homelessness is a lingering problem. If I wanted to help just one homeless person, what could I do? And more specifically what would I mean by help? If somebody asked me for a buck or two, say for sustenance, I wouldn't have much of a problem dishing out some pocket change. Those are obviously the few resources that I can offer to someone who doesn't have any resources. Because of the law of diminishing marginal income, a few bucks would present more utility to someone who has nothing as opposed to someone who is living on a sustainable income. However, the few bucks I gave the poor person would only allow him/her limited access to a few resources that he/she could subsist on. It would only be a band-aid approach to their long standing problem. If I directed the individual to a center that had access to more resources and the proper capabilities, then that would be a pragmatic approach that offers long term recovery to that person with nothing. This is just an analogy that describes poverty on a micro-scale, but the same principles of solving poverty on a macro-scale apply between nations of people. The rich country helps the poor country by installing a pragmatic long-term economic program, using the resources the rich country has.

There are many possible reasons for why this program wouldn't be implemented. It could be that the Federal government wants to collect on other Suspended Files incurred by undocumented immigrants. It could be that America just isn't interested in aiding the economies of the third world. That perhaps, it is better left to people like Bono, and the G8 to solve extreme poverty. It could be that the "single-issue" president is just focused on changing the governments of other countries, so that they're democracies. It perhaps can be seen that there exists an indirect economic return to the United States, in the conversion of Iraq to a democracy, in terms of securing oil interests. However, my plan for economic recovery of Mexico would bring immediate and direct results.

I dont know... Maybe my bleeding heart liberal philosophy is becoming outdated, maybe I'm delusional from a serious lack of sleep, maybe I just need to get a girlfriend, but this is my take on the issue and my honest solution to the problem.

I would definitely appreciate your thoughts, and since I wrote a lot I think I might send some of this to the Daily Bruin.

Your now tired, insomniac, bruin dem,
Manuel Alex Moya

Feel free to email me at
or IM me at Alphacentauri010.

Anonymous said...

Guest worker program! It's a win win situation! Other than that, I'm not sure. This is such a tough issue. Oh, and that felony thing is complete crap. What will Republicans think of next?

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