Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Politically Inconvenient History of Immigration

I am currently taking American History II which spans from 1850-1914 at the local Community College. My book is highly uncensored, talking about all the major aspects of American History, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the politically inconvenient. I have read about my ancestors over the past few weeks, the Irish and German immigrants who settled in the Midwest and East Coast. They also hated the Chinese and Japanese immigrants in the West. According to The Irish Americans: A History 5 million German and 4.5 million Irish immigrants immigrated to America, with concentrations in the Midwest and New England. This was fiercely opposed to by the American "Know-Nothing" party. They used the arguments "steal our jobs," "take over our government" sending us all to the lower class. They wanted a ban on Irish and German immigrants to prevent us from destroying American culture. They didn't work in 19th century business jobs, they worked on farms, and if they were in a city they worked in factories or other low paying hard labor jobs. Their descendants now include most of the powerful people in America who are also descended from people who have been here for hundreds of years.

Fast forward 150 years. There are many immigrants from Mexico and Central America. Many come to work on farms where native-born Americans do not work anymore. They do not work in high-paying jobs and live in poorer areas of America. People opposing these immigrants use the arguments "steal our jobs," "take over our government" sending us all to the lower class. They want a ban on immigrants if not a strict quota to prevent them from destroying American culture.

This is not a new issue. People have been immigrating to America for years to escape poverty and famine or political turmoil in their homeland. Because of this, I am firmly opposed to laws that prevent hard-working people from moving to America. These are recycled arguments, and they are not running out as they should. Somebody in power needs to make this connection in a gigantic speech and destroy the racism that is prevalent in our nation.

There is one difference though between current immigration and historical immigration and it has to do with American foreign policy and economics. In the 1970s America started to cut down on the supply of drugs in America, but people who made the drugs in Central America kept making them. Because the demand didn't drop the cost of the drugs went sky high. In order to fulfill the demand for the drugs drug cartels are transporting drugs at high prices to fulfill the demand. They are the perfect capitalistic businesses, doing anything to fulfill the demand and make a profit. Not to say that drugs are not dangerous, because they are, but the economies of Mexico and Central America are not diverse or strong enough to stand up to the great demand for their dangerous resources. The governments of these countries do not have enough resources to cut down on the cartels and they run rampant.

This would be bad enough, but because we have strict immigration quotas that prevent good workers from migrating on a visa to work here that then as perfect capitalists fulfill the unfilled demand for work here in America they have to come over at places where they will not get their visa. Racist people in the media who oppose any immigration then make a false connection between the drug dealers and the farm workers which causes people to believe that their false connection is the truth. This makes political clout that prevents any reform to fix the problem. That is just what that side of the issue is, racist hence unamerican.

Another issue of this is that the workers on the farms who do not have visas then are not paid the same as their native born competitors which as businesses many farms will want the cheapest  worker to expand their personal income. They do not get any benefits and if any abuse happens they cannot go to any authority to report it because they will be returned to Mexico jobless and impoverished, back to square one.

How do we solve this problem? I think what we need to do is rewrite our immigration policy to allow workers to get visas to do farm work. Another bonus for everyone would be that the workers on visas would pay into social security and income tax, eliminating the argument that they do not pay for their government services. This would allow workers to report abuse on the farms and end their need to come across at unguarded and dangerous spots on the border. The only people who would come across at those spots would be drug dealers. If we write the law so that people coming across who are suspected to be drug dealers have to get their car sensed for drug fumes and then arrested than the problem with the drug trade would diminish. This would make the dangerous parts of Mexico and central American safer because the cartels would not have the money and power that they currently have. Everybody wins, except for the drug cartels.

America, the fate of the hemisphere is in your hands.

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