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Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by zimv20, May 17, 2006.
link to story. direct .mov link.
I saw this earlier and couldn't help but wonder about my mother's 4 grandparents who emigrated from Finland. Finland at the time was under Swedish rule and the Swedes wouldn't issue passports to Finns who wanted to emigrate. It's very possible that they came over illegally.
Albie G. is a slimeball of that there's no doubt, but the conditions of 50-100 years ago aren't the same as those of today. It's too bad that he can't be upfront about it and it's probable that this issue prevented him from being nominated to the USSC.
I wonder how many of us on these boards or in government for that matter can lay claim to a clean immigration pedigree?
Quite. But even more to the point, the definition of legal immigration changes constantly. It's flexible, arbitrary and is based on nothing more than the politics of the moment. This is one major factoid that nobody who bloviates over "illegal immigration" seems prepared to acknowledge.
Both sides of my family came over legally via Ellis to make better lives for themselves after the wars. Dad's Parents and Mom's Grandparents. But things were a little different back then. I doubt it would be as easy for them now.
The hypocrisy in this situation hasn't gotten past me though.
Sounds pretty clear to me.
So did mine. But again, what was the definition of legal immigration back then? When my grandparents and great-grandparents arrived at Ellis Island about 100 years ago, the definition of legality was having $50 in your possession, and if you didn't have $50, to have someone vouch for you, and to not have a serious communicable disease. If you met those qualifications, you were put on the ferry to Battery Park. If not, you might be held for hearing, or stuck in the Ellis Island infirmary, or even (though rarely) sent back.
Can you imagine an immigration policy like that today -- where people are able to come to the U.S. simply because they want better lives for themselves, their families, and those who'd come after? Many of us are products of that system. What exactly was so bad about it?
That's a small oversimplification of the problem. The Chinese were excluded in 1882 and there were de facto quotas by the US and by some European governments.
It's interesting to note that the massive waves of emigration from Europe in the late 1800s took a lot of pressure off goverments or more aptly kings and emperors to enact any serious reform. When immigration to the US was cut back at the turn of the century, the economies were unable to deal with the explosive population growth. This in turn was one of the root causes of WWI. Had Gavrilo Princip and his ilk been able to emigrate, one can only wonder how different the world would be today.
I think there are a lot of parallels to be drawn in the Americas. The pressure to change south of the rio Grande has been lessened by the relief valve of immigration to the US. If we were to suddenly close that valve, the pressure build up south of the border could become explosive.
I'm not sure I get the oversimplification. These were the immigration rules during the first decade of the 1900s, when my forbearers arrived here. Yes, the Chinese were excluded, and treated unequally under the law even when they did manage to immigrate. And after World War I, the immigration requirements became far tighter, in reaction to the flood of immigrants seen during the 1900s and 1910s. This makes my point, really, which is that the definition of legal immigration is political, and often as not, is based on bigotry and fear. Absent any other more rational elements in the discussion, which I think should include considering the demands for labor in this country, and the contributions immigrants have made historically to our economy and national culture, then I believe this debate begins to take on some of the same character it did after World War I, or during the 1880s. I don't sense any logic in this debate, and "the law is the law" is not logic, given what we know about the history of immigration laws.
The Chinese were brought over to build the railroads and once they were mostly finished was when they became persona non grata. I would argue that it's business that has as much say in immigration patterns to the US as politics.
It doesn't take much searching to see which companies are quietly but forcefully pushing for low cost labor and these companies are the ones hiring the bulk of legal and illegal immigrants.
I'm all for immigration because as you say, it has made this country what it is but, it does need to be controlled. The backlashes I've mentioned are a direct result of periods of unlimited immigration to the US. If the economy is headed for a downturn as some economists are warning, then the backlash will become real, not just political.
I think what is needed is a constant flow of immigrants in good times and bad, but one that is ultimately sustainable. Any economy, even the US economy can only expand so quickly.
Overhaul the INS and bring it out of the stone age into the computer age.
Commit to a certain number of refugees per year.
Immigration levels should be kept to a strict number per year.
Allow neighboring countries citizens to work in the US for x number of years just as the EU does. But, ensure that Americans are allowed the same rights throughout the Americas.
Require language and citizenship classes. Most immigrants suffer from not knowning how to deal with the system because of their lack of English. I've seen a fair number of immigrants who get beaten down because they can't communicate. It's in their best interest.
The "numbers game" is at the heart of this debate, isn't it? We call all argue for strict control of the number of immigrants, but doesn't reason suggest that the when the clear demand for immigrant labor far exceeds the legal supply, that the numbers ought to change? They aren't changing now, because of the political debate refuses to acknowledge these basic facts of economic life.
As for cheap labor, immigrants have always fed this pool. But they quickly become upwardly mobile, especially in the second generation. Some industries probably prefer their cheap labor to remain illegal. So much easier to exploit. Once the same people have their green cards, are on the path towards citizenship, and not subject to expulsion, they are much more difficult to pay minimally. I say, get them out of the shadows and give them a chance to improve their lives. That's why they're here in the first place.
They weren't brown people.
People are racist, somebody had to say it.
Race, ethnicity, religion... these have always been the hidden-in-plain-sight reasons for restrictive immigration laws.