I have mixed emotions about the whole illegal immigrant debate.
And from the onset, I want to say that the current debate is essentially about Mexicans (and possibly some other Hispanics from our own Western Hemisphere, coming over the border to take our jobs and avail themselves of our social programs paid for by legal taxpaying citizens, but then again also many or most of those illegals via their withholding in their pay checks).
On the one hand, I have written many times that the oft-cited truism that illegals perform the work regular Americans (usually that means white folks in the context of the discussions) is nonsense — it is a myth.
The fact is that if you ask older people (of whom I guess I am part of the group at 61 — but you should ask others who are older) legal white folks (and of course legal black folks and all other kinds of folks who are in this country, the good old US of A, legally) have done all kinds of work — dishwashers, maids, fruit and vegetable pickers, farm labor crewmen (and crew women), nannies, and the whole gamut.
In general, when any kind of work is available, the jobs are taken up by anyone, regardless of ethnic or even immigration status, who is willing and able to perform the tasks.
As I recall from my reading and from what my own folks told me, Mexican labor in the U.S. got its start primarily during World War II when there was a shortage of manpower due to so many men (and some women) being in the military. At that time we had the Bracero program by which unaccompanied men came over the border to do farm work.
That got the ball rolling, and they have been coming over ever since, even though the Bracero program was discontinued. These days they bring their families.
I think that most of these people are hard workers and are far superior to those able-bodied loafers who may well be here legally, but by way of fraud draw on the government social system.
But among any group, illegals included, there are those who prefer to get something for nothing or who rationalize that since they have a hard time finding work, or steady or high paying enough work, or have other problems, that society owes them its support.
But let’s don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. The fact that some people prefer to live off the sweat of others is just that, a fact of life. It’s one of the reasons I have never been drawn to the idea of communes.
But back to the subject of the blog post. On the one hand, I think border security needs to be enforced and I think legal citizens should get first crack at jobs, and furthermore, I think many who now draw on our social programs via fraud should make themselves available for work many of the illgals do now, although it is doubtful employers would want to hire the lazy louts, but maybe the lazy louts would change their ways it if meant survival because their gravy train would come to an end if welfare regulations were enforced. And that reminds me. Once upon a time my late wife worked for a time as a food stamp eligibility worker. When she first began the job, she actually went out and made house calls and saw what was up. But that aspect was soon cut out of the job. And I think you can see that is why people who should not be getting government help get it — there’s little to no oversight.
And at the risk of going off the subject, as I often do, I believe one of the biggest rip-offs of hard-working tax-paying folks is the program called Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).
There are whole generations of welfare multi-baby producing moms who draw AFDC and turn it over to non working guys and there is little to no enforcement against this.
Again, back to the subject.
Regardless of what I have just written, the fact is there is a demand for labor, even in this Great Recession. Mexicans perform one heck of a lot of that labor and they do it quite well.
Case in point: For most of the past 15 years, primarily Mexicans have been loading and unloading trucks that I have driven, saving me the work, and making it possible to get down the road and make money (such as it is).
I don’t know which ones are legal (and probably most of them are) and which ones are not. And you know? I don’t really care. And you know? I think a lot of employers don’t rally care. They just want the job done.
A fact in all of this, I think, is that most of us realize that individual employers and employer groups may say they don’t knowingly or actively recruit illegal labor, but the opposite is true. Another fact is that the government is somewhat split on the matter, with the end result being that while there are some show raids of workplaces, in many instances the authorities turn a blind eye — I mean that has to be the case. If you and I know illegals are working here and where they are working, then the authorities have to know — so just go out and get them.
And that reminds me of an incident many long years ago. And I warn any faithful readers of my blog with a long-term memory that I may be repeating myself here, but here goes:
As a young man I was working for a farmer who grew sugar beets and beans. My job was to move sprinkler pipes in the fields. There were some Mexican illegals working on that place.
One day I was by myself out in the middle of a sugar beet field. I saw a Border Patrol vehicle pull up out on the public roadway adjacent to that field, and this was some 700 miles or more north of the border (and this was back in the early 70s, so I can‘t say immigration does not do some enforcement and they have been doing it for a long time). Anyway, a tall and fairly rotund man got out wearing what looked like one of those Southern sheriff hats, the kind of which the wearers of usually say: “you in a heap a trouble boy”. He walked way out into that field. At the time he came up to me I was bent over a water valve. I may have looked like a wetback (excuse the term), wearing an old felt hat with brim turned down, and my skin is somewhat dark. But when I raised up, he seemed to recognize the fact that I am not Mexican. He said to me: “you got any Mexican boys working here?”. I answered: “I don’t know” (and if anyone wants to arrest me for lying to a public official, maybe I did not know until after the fact, maybe).
I was also told by a Mexican kid, born and raised in the USA, that the Border Patrol raided his home across the street in a little enclave that was at that time my then home community’s only Mexican town (just a few modest cabins)and pushed folks around, no warrant presented (I’m told immigration does not need one — don’t know).
Fast forward to the present:
As I left a grocery distribution center in Southern California the other day in my 18-wheeler, the older Mexican security gentleman (whom I assumed to be a U.S. citizen) jokingly (I think) asked me if I had any “lumpers” (unloaders) in my trailer.
He further said: “They’ve been going somewhere … I think Oregon and Washington — they’re staying away from Arizona”.
By the way, by saying what he said, he made a tacit admission that illegals were working there. In this case, the grocery warehouse management has an out. The lumpers work for a separate outfit that is an independent contractor.
And so it goes.
I have no understanding of the process of becoming a U.S. citizen, having been born here. I don’t know why it takes so long and why some groups have an easier time of it and why some do not.
I’m currently thinking that it would be impossible logistically to simply kick out all the illegals and that the process of splitting up families is detestable and immoral.
Bureaucracy-hindered amnesty programs are inefficient and are simply a tool for blood-sucking opportunists to make money off of government programs, and they also simply draw in more illegals.
I’m thinking that anyone who can show he or she has a job, and perhaps a reasonable history of employment here, should be granted a green card and a quick path to citizenship.
If people come here to be productive and tax-paying members of society, why do we want to discourage them? There is strength in numbers.
We should go after those who are non-productive by choice and who are a tremendous drain on society, regardless of whether they are legal or not.
Non-productive illegals should be deported. Non-productive by choice legals should have their government meal tickets cut off. Hungry people tend to get motivated. No, they won’t just turn to crime. Criminals tend to commit crimes, regardless of the economic conditions. At times of desperation good people might resort to crime for survival, but we should continue our social programs for those folks (all of us but for the grace of God and the economy could find ourselves in that number).