Saturday, July 9, 2011

Illogic in immigration

Victor Davis Hanson:

Recently, in symbolic fashion, spectators of Mexican ancestry in Pasadena's Rose Bowl did not merely cheer on the Mexican national soccer team in a game against the U.S. national team -- such nostalgia is natural and understandable for recent immigrants -- but went further and jeered U.S. players and references to the United States.

Which was the home team? Was the United States to be appreciated for accepting poor immigrants, or resented for not granting them amnesty? Is the idea of the United States to be conveniently booed or opportunistically thanked -- depending on whether you are watching a soccer match or, for example, entering an Los Angeles emergency room with a life-threatening injury?

This otherwise insignificant but Orwellian incident reminds us that illegal immigration in the 21st century is becoming an illiberal enterprise. Consider the prevailing myth of Mexico as the United States' "partner."

Aside from the violence and drug cartels, an alien from Mars who examined the relationship would characterize it as abusive. Close to a million Mexican nationals annually try to cross illegally into the U.S., aided and abetted by cash-strapped Mexico -- in a fashion the latter never would permit on its southern border with Guatemala.

If Guatemala had published an illustrated comic book instructing its presumed illiterate emigrants how to enter Mexico illegally -- as Mexico did -- the Mexican government would have been outraged.

So is the surreal logic of Mexico City summed up by something like, "We value our own people so much that we will help them break laws to go elsewhere"?

In the immigration narrative of the 1960s and 1970s, affluent, profit-minded white U.S. employers exploited cheap workers from Mexico. But that matrix is often superseded. So-called whites are no longer a majority in California, where large Asian and black populations often object to illegal arrivals from Mexico who cut in front of the legal immigration line or tax social services and raise costs to the detriment of U.S. citizens.

Even the notions of "white" and "Latino" are becoming problematic in today's intermarried and interracial society. Does one-quarter or one-half an ethnic ancestry make one a member of the "minority" or "majority" community?

For hiring or college admission, should we apply one-drop rules from the Old Confederacy to measure our racial purity? Poverty is no longer so clearly delineated either. In an underground economy where wages are often in cash and tax-free, and entitlements easier than ever to obtain, far more than $20 billion a year in remittances are sent southward to Mexico, and maybe double that sum to Latin America as a whole.

Something here again has proven illiberal: Does a liberal-sounding but exploitative Mexican government cynically encourage its expatriates to scrimp and save in the United States only to send huge sums of money home to help poor relatives, so Mexico City might not?

In turn, do an increasing number of illegal immigrants count on help from the U.S. taxpayer for food, housing, legal and education subsidies to free up $20 billion to send home?

The paradoxes and confusion never end. Do today's immigration activists work to grant amnesty on the basis of legal philosophy and principled support for open borders, or just because of shared ethnic identity? If there were 11 million East Africans here illegally, would today's Latino immigration lobbyists seek amnesty, bilingual services in Swahili, and more illegal immigration from Kenya and Uganda? Would they seek racially blind legal immigration into the United States, based on education and skills rather than point of origin?

The yearly arrival of hundreds of thousands from Latin America, mostly without English-language skills, a high-school diploma and legality, has challenged old ideas of everything from the assessment of U.S. poverty rates to affirmative action.

Once an impoverished resident of Oaxaca crosses the border, does his lack of education and his modest income help cement the charge the U.S. Latino population has not achieved economic parity? Or, in the nanosecond after illegally crossing the border, does a Mexican national or his family in theory become eligible for affirmative action, on the basis of historical underrepresentation or present-day discrimination or poor treatment in Mexico -- in a way not extended to the Arab-American or Punjabi-American citizen?

Why does the present administration oppose anti-illegal immigration laws in Arizona and Georgia that are designed to enhance existing federal law, but not "sanctuary city" statutes that in some municipalities deliberately contravene federal law?

The old liberal ideal of a racially blind, melting-pot society in which the law is applied equally across the board has descended into the postmodern practice of enforcing many laws selectively -- and based entirely on politics, matters of race, ethnic chauvinism and national origin.

In sum, yesterday's immigration liberals have become today's illiberals.


Moronic British airport security

Prime Minister David Cameron has been warned over a loophole in immigration which could potentially allow terrorists to enter the UK without having their passports checked. The gap in security was noticed by Conservative MP for Harlow, Robert Halfon. He voiced his concerns during Prime Minister’s Questions.

Special branch officers and immigration officials have said that they are worried that extremists could be using the Common Area Travel Channel to slip past security. The way this typically happens is for a passenger to fly into London carrying a separate ticket for travel into the capital from another airport in Britain. This is then shown in the common area where officials rarely ask to see any other form of documentation.

Mr Halfon asked Mr Cameron if he was aware that special branch and immigration at Stansted were worried that the current common area was open to abuse from those entering the UK illegally as well as terrorists and extremists.

He added that the issue urgently needed to be addressed because the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympic games were just around the corner. Mr Cameron described Mr Halfon’s point as an important one. He said that he accepted that common areas were subject to abuse and that steps would be taken to resolve the issue.

Mr Cameron added that passport-free travel offered a number of social and economic benefits and that any tightening up of the rules should not impinge on those who use the Common Area Travel Channel in a legitimate way.


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