Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hispanics in your back yard at 3 am

Let's get this straight up front: George Will is a curmudgeonly old stick who has managed to lose whatever common sense and humanity he ever had toadying to the power brokers in today's GOP. He's become Rush Limbaugh in a tweed jacket.

Still, the man is what passes for an "intellectual" of the Right. I can only assume that this is the only reason that today's Oregonian ("We're the Worst Newspaper In the World But We're The Only Newspaper In Portland!") was willing to front up his appalling screed on the Arizona "Papieren, bitte!" immigration law.

As usual, Will takes his little conservative sawed-off shotgun of Deep Conservative Thinking, aims it at the Godless Lib'ruls, and blows off his own foot. And, no, I'm not going to link to the sunovabitch. Google "George Will" and "Arizona immigration" and you'll find his worthless ass.

Specifically what he does is he manages to completely miss the whole point of those of us who find the new law so frigging stupid.

It doesn't have anything to do with racism. Or fascism. Or anti-Mexican prejudice. Or the damn Tea Party idiots and what they do or don't believe is true.

Nope. It's in the process that's stated in S.B. 1070 in these words: "For any lawful contact made by a low enforcement official or agency...where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a resonable attempt shall be made, when practical, to determine the immigration status of that individual."

"Where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States..."

Do you see the problem here?

Let's say that I am Canadian. I slipped across the border into Oregon, applied for a state ID (which in my state does not require proof of citizenship). I have a job, a house, am in all ways indistinguishable from someone born in Portland or Gresham except that I'm not a legal U.S. citizen.

How is a Maricopa sheriff's deputy going to know that?

Should I wear a Canucks jersey? Go around saying "eh?" a lot? Wear snowshoes in Tempe and run gallumphing away when the county cruiser drives by?

Let's cut through the bullshit being spouted about this and man up to the fact that there are only two ways to enforce this law:

1. Target groups or individuals who are "likely" to be in the U.S. illegally.

This is clearly what the law intends. It is designed to smoke out Latinos; Mexicans, Salvadorians, Hondurans, Guatemalans, who are in the country without their papers. Will's column admits as much. He describes it as a "cry for help" because the feds have failed to control passage through our southern border. In the process he also makes the fairly specious claim that Democrats and liberals who are objecting to this are doing so only to win Hispanic votes, but, nevermind, it's George Will. Will makes the assertion that this is merely federalism at work, and that we who know Hispanics only as people with leafblowers in our front yards at noon - rather than in our backyards at 3 a.m. - need to get over it and let Arizona get on with the job.

(Let me also observe the nasty implicit racisim in the notion that because the Arizonans who like this law are more "familiar" with brown people they have more reason to suspect that many of them are criminals. But, nevermind, it's George Will.)

If this is the intent - which it is - the law is clearly both wrong in intent and illegal in practice. If it becomes obvious that Arizona lawmen are stopping hispanic-looking people and asking for their papers the disparity and prejudicial intent of the law will be legally unavoidable. When the first Hispanic U.S. citizen unable to produce the appropriate papers is arrested (and at least one will be - the Border Patrol and the USCIS, charged with enforcing immigration law, do this all the time) the violent and debilitating payout of taxpayer funds in lawsuits will begin. How many deputies and librarians will Arizona counties have to lay off before realizing that this is a mug's game?

2. Begin asking random individuals for their proof of citizenship.

Game over. The "Papers, please!" chestnut is the oldest shorthand for dictatorship we know. When and if this happens, Arizona will have officially become the rubber bobo head for all the dumb nativist beliefs spouted everywhere in the U.S. And yes, I'm looking mostly at you, conservatives. You've embraced this tarbaby all on your ownselves.

More to the point, none of this really has anything to do with dealing with the problem of controlling our southern border and why it is so difficult.

I have no doubt that this law has something to do with hating on some Mexicans and something to with the a certain type of person's approach to a problem being to find the biggest stick possible and beat on it. But that's not the problem.

One problem is that this law is an unenforcibly bad law; it requires Arizona cops to choose between racism and authoritarianism. It's said that hard cases make bad law. Well, bad law makes for hard cases, and this one is going to be as bad as can be. But that's not the problem, either.

The problem is that this law is a symptom. The problem is that this is a symptom of the kind of bad, stupid, things that people do when they have no patience and no intelligence to come up with a complex solution to a complex problem. The problem is that this law isn't all that much different than doing bad, stupid things like launching land wars and occupying lands in central Asia in retaliation for an act of civilian criminality by a handful of raggedy-ass guerillas. It's not all that much different from doing bad, stupid things like passing legislation that let slicky-boys run financial Ponzi schemes and then refusing to change anything when their greed and dumb stupidity impoverish others.

Back in June of 2007 I talked a lot about this. About how the "illegal immigration" problem isn't really an "illegal immigration" problem but a multi-car pileup of social, economic and political ills in Central America, economic imbalance across the Border, pig-stupid U.S. drug and labor laws, wishful thinking and reality-avoidance on all sides wrapped up in the bone-deep simplicity of the sort of people like Arizona's governor and her fellow thumb-hammerers in the state legislature. About how this does nothing more than punish people desperate to help themselves and their families while doing nothing, less than nothing, about the problems and structural instability that brought them there.

I have no hope that the sort of people in Arizona who thought this law would work will suddenly get smarter. In fact, I have little hope at all that my nation as a whole can avoid the long slide into magical thinking and stupid answers to difficult questions that this law represents. All I can do is repeat to Governor Brewer and the idiotic legislators of Arizona now what I said then:
"The real issue - the one Which Dare Not Speak Its Name - is that the institutional poverty, misgovernance and social maladjustment of most Latin American countries is so profound and so destructive that to address it would take every penny that the U.S. has spent on poorly planned foreign adventures and more. Much more.

So instead we get this idiotic argument that all we need to do is fence these little heatherns out and everything wil be Good. God will once again be White and in His Heaven, the food will magically get harvested, processed, cooked and served by Real Amurikans (actual Citizens) who will suddenly, magically, want to work for the pittance we want to pay for these jobs to prevent our food, clothing and service costs from reflecting what it would cost to pay humans actually living wages to do these things.

As Hadrian himself might have said: Nam tua res agitur, paries cum proximus ardet.

It is your business when your neighbour's house is on fire."
Hadrian used stone to build his wall and try and keep the Pictish wetbacks out. It was a warlike act and as such it worked for a time. But eventually the pressure from without and the rot from within knocked the rocks down.

I have no idea of what it means that the only rocks involved here are inside people like Jan Brewer's and Russel Pearce's and George Will's heads.


  1. Chief,
    Since some countries are having anti islamic reactions maybe outlawing rosaries on the rear view mirror and fuzzy dice should become due cause for search.

  2. Jim: Personally, I'd be willing to pass a "shoot on sight" order for anyone with one of those stuffed Garfield things inside their windows...

  3. FDChief-

    I always get weird vibes when I go back home now in regards to "big three" - that is the current racial mix in my South. Sorry but for us I guess we can't really get away from it as fast as we should . . . too many frustrated and lost people of every color - seeing themselves discounted due to notions of "color" - out there . . . an awful lot of dry tinder.

    So, consider the political since that will be a major influence: First we had the faux redneck mask and how we have the fake . . . what exactly is it? The current mask . . . let alone the real face behind all the masks?

  4. What is it about national sovereignity and the rights of nations to control their borders that these people don't understand? Or that FDChief and the Mexican government don't understand? Let's cut through all of the bleeding heart BS and call it like it is: neither Mexicans individually nor the Mexican government respect the laws of the U.S. And for that, I find it very hard to respect any of them.

    Sure, Arizona is a wacko place. And, yes, this is a shitty law. But I'd say we ought to get used to this kind of stuff because Arizona is merely the canary in the coal mine. Arizona is merely, in the good old American way, taking matters into its own hands. We've got a serious problem on our hands, folks, and a bunch of handwringing about how it's oh so terrible that maybe somebody is stopped because of their color, accent, or whatever, does nothing to change that. The fact is that the majority of the American people do not want these people here in our nation illegally; Arizona will be supported by multi-millions of Americans. And no matter whether those of us here posting like it or not, I think we need to pay attention to this rather than just calling the people in Arizona out as a bunch of dumbasses.

    I'm not going to get into all of the BS about how employers need to be sanctioned, etc., etc., or any of the other arcana about immigration. What I will say about the illegals here is: fuck them. I sympathize with them. I feel their pain. They're losers in life's lottery. I love a lot of 'em. I'm thankful every day that I wasn't born a Mexican. But they're here illegally and I don't want 'em here. Most Americans don't want 'em here. What is there that's so hard for our government to understand?

    Personally, I favor an open border type arrangement between the three nations that make up North America: The U.S., Canada and Mexico. I'd like to see an arrangment where individuals can procure work permits to work in another nation, so long as they are sponsored by an employer, who under penalty of law promises to pay prevailing wage rates, medical care, etc. I don't have a problem with Mexicans coming into the U.S. to work. What I have a problem with is the illegal nature of their current circumstances and the exploitation by employers this encourages. I also don't like the fact that when they're cut loose from employment, e.g., slowdown in the construction industry, etc., they become wards of the U.S. state. Taxpayers should not be footing the bill for illegals, not when we have ten percent unemployment.

    The U.S. can't afford to be the welfare tit for Mexico anymore. When I was younger, I often said that if the Mexicans ever got the gumption to revolt against their amazingly corrupt ruling class, I might be inclined to help them. Now I'm old and it's clear to me that they don't have that gumption. Not when they have a safety valve so near. We're not going to solve Mexico's problems by ignoring the fact that their indigent and undereducated classes simply move into our society. It's time for a revolution in Mexico. And we should be supporting that.

    And we should legalize drugs.

  5. Publius: "It is your business when your neighbour's house is on fire."

    You want to light Mexico on fire, go, man. I live too close to the fucker to buy into that. It's already smouldering.

    And as far as the "respecting our laws" stuff, well, personally, if my neighbor busted me upside my head, took my stuff, and then got pissed because I "didn't respect his laws", he could go take a flying fuck at a rolling donut...Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and California WERE Mexico until we grabbed 'em. I'm not prepared to give the Mexicans a lecture about "respecting our laws" after the little lesson we gave them on 1845 about how the guy with the biggest cannons makes the goddamn law.

    What we do need is to control our border. I'm not sure how you do that short of making the thing a war zone and killing the people coming across. And what about inside this country? There's Mexican, Salvadorian, Guatemalan, Honduran communities in every town and city in most of the U.S., the product of our patriotic farmers and vegetable packers' needs to get cheap labor. You gonna burn those out, too?

    I don't particularly CARE whether they're here or not; their existence neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket. I don't want them here if they're selling drugs, I don't want them here if they're working cheap and helping to bust up unions, I don't want them here if they're going on public assistance. But I also don't want my cops wasting their time hassling every hispanic for their papers in every traffic stop, especially if it means (and it will) that they roust some citizen who then sues my country and takes my tax dollars.

    So, yes, we should legalize drugs.

    Yes, we should do more to get the Latin states to work out their lame social, political, and economic problems...up to and including clandestine backing for revolutionaries willing to improve the common people's lot so they'll want to stay the hell home.

    But you make it sound like all we have to do is kick ass and take names, and you and I both know if it was that simple we'd have kicked the ass and taken the names long ago.

    Think about it; try and come up with a similar situation in human history where you had

    1. An extremely wealthy nation that

    2. Shared an immense, virtually indefensible border with

    3. A desperately poor, politically and socially fucked-up nation that

    4. Had large groups of its nationals established as residents inside the large, wealthy nation.

    I can't think of any. I can't think of ANY way short of outright external war and internal police state rat-hunting to keep them on their side and us on our side.

    What I'm saying is that this is a goddamn serious problem and one that's only going to get worse and bigger. We need to stop thinking that dumbass laws like this are going to help and start thinking like goddamn statesmen, because there's nothing in history or economics or politics there to guide us; we're going to have to make this one up, and I don't see a hell of a lot of smart coming down on this issue. Mexico is as near as dammit a failed state and we're pissing around chasing raggedy muj in central Asia and telling our peace officers to take a slap at day laborers.

    No wonder WASF.

  6. And as I was writing the comment above I was reminded of this;

    A guy I played soccer with, Chilango dude, used to tell me that the whole "illegal immigration" thing was a put-up job between the elites of the two countries.

    He said that he and other Mexicans believed that one of the reasons that there had never been a revolution after 1920 was because the elites in the U.S. were willing to take the people in Mexico most likely to cause trouble; the hard-working, the restless, the ambitious...and the Mexican elites wanted them to go.

    So it suited the PRI, the Church and the social elites in Mexico that these potential troublemakers were picking crops and trimming lawns in San Diego for peanuts...and it suited the elites in San Diego, too.

    So is this a bullshit conspiracy theory? Sounds like it. And we are...

  7. This thread has livened up a bit.

    Publius's comment about being happy to be American got me thinking about the fact that all of us Americans of European extraction (and I'm only of European extraction as far as I know) pretty much owe our current nationality to the fact of where our ancestors got off the boat. Given a different set of circumstances we could today be Canadian, Brazilian, Argentinian, Chilean, or Mexican instead of American, based on a(n arbitrary) decision made a century ago . . . Put another way all the countries of the Western Hemisphere share this quality, lack the same "racial"/national character common to Europe, Asia and even Africa.

    As to a weak Mexican State, that has been seen as in the US interest for much of our history. In the 1920s-30s US oil companies ran their own private armies in Mexico, controlled certain areas. Some years back the Mexican Parliament attempted to reform their drug laws, but the screaming and arm twisting from Washington was so great that the government backed down.

    On the other hand, to me the whole "ya'll did us wrong in 1846" argument doesn't have much merit. To argue that you would have to agree that the Spanish "owned" what is now the Western US before the Mexicans did, who "had taken it" from Spain. Of course the various parcels were traded about by the Europeans numerous times. The Russians could argue that we ripped them off concerning Alaska . . . The only group that has a moral title to the land are the Native Americans and I don't see anyone arguing for them . . .

    Which brings up my last point. On one of my last trips back home me and my friends were standing around a campfire drinking beer, talking about all sorts of stuff. One guy says, "Ya know this was all part of the Caddo Confederation a couple of hundred years ago, but where is the confederation or the Caddos?" Of course we all knew the answer to that, the "Americans" had come in with their guns and slaves and cut down the forests made the land into "cotton country" which in turn lasted for a time. When I was a kid the trees were back and cotton and slavery gone, but Jim Crow still around. Today Jim's long gone officially, but a lot of black folks fear the Latinos are taking away from them. There was no third group when I was growing up, just black and white, but there are three groups today, each eying and suspicious of the other. It's like in a way the Caddos have returned . . .

  8. To all,
    I was with the Cuban boat lift operation and i often thought that a Mexican would be wise to go to Cuba first and then tell US immigration that they are Cubans when they hit our shores.
    We treated the Cubans like little royalty.
    Why accept one group and not the other?
    As an aside- we're all immigrants -even the native Americans. It's all a question of when we got here.
    Indeed we need to control immigration in a realistic manner.
    -take the best , not the worst.
    -require medical exams
    -require sponsors
    -require a job being available require funds so that we the taxpayer not support the new guys.
    -require medical insurance before they are admitted.
    This is a high bar, but why not?

  9. FDChief: "I don't particularly CARE whether they're here or not; their existence neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket."

    Oh, yeah. Well, gee, what about this?

    Check out those outstanding murder warrants in L.A., and in Arizona and New Mexico. Check out the rest of it. Is it any wonder the so-called "xenophobic" citizens of Arizona are trying to take matters into their own hands? That 3AM through the backyard may be an abstract to us here, but it seems to be unfortunate reality in some parts of the nation.

    Been to an emergency room in California lately? Good luck. People in California pray they don't have heart attacks at certain hours of the day because their local emergency room is the primary care facility for the local illegals. Yeah, by law and basic humanitarian standards, those folks should be cared for, but the counter-argument is that they shouldn't be here to get it.

    Does Mexico send any payments to the U.S. to defray the costs of incarcerating Mexican citizens? Or to defray the costs of medical care for Mexican citizens?

    How anyone can say that there is no cost associated with the presence of 12M illegals with a straight face is beyond me. There are also huge costs beyond crime and medical care. There are the public schools, struggling in the face of budget cuts and trying to educate kids who can't speak English. Oh, and then there are less well-educated Americans. I live in a state with 12 percent employment. The overwhelming majority of those folks are white and black persons who made a life choice involving more manual labor and less education. Illegals often take the few jobs available for these citizens. They'll work for less and they'll put up with more shit. You betcha unscrupulous employers love them some illegals.

    Nobody posting on this board is affected in the job market by illegals, most of whom aren't known for having college degrees, security clearances, etc., etc. But what about your fellow citizens?

    I'm sorry, but I don't see where quoting Jefferson or citing land grabs from the 19th Century adds much to an informed discussion of the impact of illegal immigration on American citizens. I still say, it's a serious problem, the Feds have done little about it, and we're now seeing the citizens of one state taking matters into their own hands. I don't like it, I don't support it, but I understand why it's happening. We've had a federal government asleep at the switch and now we're seeing the results.

    The fact is that no matter the deleterious impact on its own citizenry, the federal government just ignores any reality it doesn't like or that conflicts with the numerous special interests to which it's beholden. We're seeing it in this case; we're also seeing it in foreign wars. Americans have fundamentally lost their government. And we wonder why we have tea parties and growing states' rights movements. Get used to it. It'll get worse before it gets better.

  10. Publius: The fact is that no matter the deleterious impact on its own citizenry, the federal government just ignores any reality it doesn't like or that conflicts with the numerous special interests to which it's beholden.

    Oh, my friend, if it were only the government, we'd be in much better shape. Unfortunately, the citizenry that elects the government is equally at fault. The employers of these illegals as well as the consumers who reap the lower prices the illegal's low wages provide enjoy the "benefits" of having illegals in our midst.

    Americans have fundamentally lost their government.

    No, not lost. Surrendered to poor governance is more like it, as far as I am concerned. In general, we simply don't care about anything until it lands on our own back yard. What the tea partiers represent is just formalizing that attitude into a government that is intended to not govern - at least in the areas that do not impact om them. They still want Uncle Sap to deliver on what they find near and dear to themselves, just not anything else, no matter to whom the anything else might be important. Since they haven't a clue as to what they really expect from a government (other than continuing Social Security, Medicare and other programs that deliver to them directly), it's easy to be anti-government. And, as log as we continue to elect the poor protoplasm that we tend to elect, the beat will go on.

    Yes, we can't enforce our immigration laws because there are hundreds of thousands of employers, to include just plain folks who want a cheap gardener, who depend on illegals to maintain their lifestyle and/or profits.

    Sit back and consider the cost/benefit analysis a Mexican makes about the option to cross the border. From whence come the benefits? Even without welfare medical and education, the law breaking employers raise the benefit to more than the cost. It's time to not only get tough on the illegals, but to nail every last Swinging Richard who employs them, even if just to rake their lawn.

  11. I might add that Arizona passed legislation prohibiting the adoption of "Real ID" identification in the state. If they are that worried about illegals, then why aren't they supportive of one of the federal proposals to help positively identify "legal" residents? We, as a society, seem to "want things both ways."

    I wonder how the people of any state would react if the feds decided to step up "legal resident" enforcement? You know, several hundred agents randomly stopping people for proof of residency status. Would legal residents be willing to carry proof positive of the legality of their status, or wait while the computer data banks were searched?

  12. Publius,
    The crossover of theory and reality is always a bitch.
    Go to any major city and there is a little Mexico where migrants stand on the corners and people cruise the area and pick up day labor. Every day.
    In my town/ county we have large tomato crops 2xs a year and migrants do all the work and send the money home to Mexico.The irony is that locals rent them houses at high profit and allow 25 people to live in it ,this violates health codes and the septic systems won't function. The county does zip about this.
    In addition locals won't work in the fields b/c it's beneath their dignity, and besides they're getting their SSI so they needn't work.
    This is all a strange environment and i bet it's typical.
    The local hospital is nothing to speak of, but the local doctors offices are flooded with young pregnant Mexicans and most seem to have Medicaid papers. I've seen this with my own eyes so i know it to be true.These young mothers have 1 on the hip and 1 in the oven and they're young, so you figure it out.
    There is a lie in this somewhere since we're being told that we don't pay for their medical coverage. It sure looks to me that we are.
    I've employed Salvadorean legal immigrants on my land and they work hard and are honest.
    I no longer do so since i've quit horses and other farm stuff.
    The farm workers next to my land can't read English and the EPA OSHA posters are meaningless and the farm owners spray insecticide when workers are present and the wind over 12 mph. This is supposed to be a no no, but nobody ever checks.
    I,m just throwing out some things that i've seen.I hope they're relevent.
    I believe that immigration and economic reform were/are more important than health care issues.
    Our priorities are questionable.

  13. jim-

    Spot on. While I am not able to put health care second - 40 or 50 million legal residents are uninsured, immigration and economic reform are absolutely necessary. Actually, both need to be addressed, and there is no priority ranking involved.

    If our economy needs workers, and existing residents aren't available to do the work (I don't care what reason), then employers can "sponsor" new immigrants and take responsibility for the documentation. If that's too much of a bother, then they can raise the ante to attract legal residents. Unfortunately, no one wants the price tag or burden of such a system. Employers want cheap, easy labor, and consumers want low priced goods. Thus, we have a huge "shadow economy" based upon illegals. And "amnesty" programs do not solve the problem, but simply reinforce the value of illegal behavior.

    Whether or not these illegals receive public benefits, they tend to be paid under the table, diminishing the tax contributions they make. Receiving any public benefits only doubles the insult to the economy, and it's businesses that are at the root of it, cheered on by price conscious consumers. The same consumers who want these folks run out of town.

    As I said above, we insist on "having it both ways", and get frustrated when we can't.

  14. Well, I gave you the FBI crime statistics. Those statistics are absolutely horrifying and I don't see how anyone can afford to ignore them. Crime alone is a good reason to wonder just why the federal government hasn't taken much more severe action than it has thus far. Cynic that I am, it occurs to me most of that crime—drug gangbangers, etc.—is illegal-on-illegal in ghetto areas, which is why the Fed hasn't gotten fully energized. Unfortunately, state legal systems—police, courts, etc.—can't dodge the issue the way the Feds have. Now, as we've seen, the citizens of Arizona have decided to take matters into their own hands. Maybe they've decided that they can do their own yard work. Maybe they've decided that they'd like their cops doing other things.

    Our Beaufort County (South Carolina) sheriff, who's actually a fairly enlightened dude, is quoted about illegal immigration in our paper today. He says, "Until the federal government secures the borders, states are going to take action into their own hands. States are going to begin competing to combat illegal immigration. The state with the toughest law wins, and the one with the weakest law loses." In cautioning against following Arizona's lead, our sheriff says, "Arizona is absolutely inundated with an illegal immigrant population that we don't have here. There is a huge difference between South Carolina and Arizona or any other border state."

    I'm as much a bleeding heart as the next guy, but I don't think our nation can afford to keep doing business the way we've been doing. The U.S. serves as a safety valve for a corrupt nation (Mexico), which has apparently decided that it will never need to clean up its act so long as the poor folk and the gangster need only move north.

    Crime and social services. Those are the issues. Instead of hard-balling Mexico and U.S. employers, our politicians just allow the citizens of the nation to bear the burden. Both political parties are guilty, but I find the Democrats more culpable. My senator, Lindsey Graham, who's one of the very few Republicans who will actually reach across the aisle, is mightily pissed off at Harry Reid. Seems Graham has been working with John Kerry on some significant environmental legislation—to the point where he's been censured by several county Republican parties here in South Carolina—but Reid recently decided that immigration was now the burning issue. Everybody knows why. Reid is in deep trouble for reelection and he's angling desperating to get Latino votes by portraying himself as their friend. He's not their friend; he just wants to get reelected. And this is now what the Democrats are doing: selling their souls for Latino votes. And then there are the Latinos, many of them American citizens. They're demonstrating on behalf of illegal immigrants.

    Identity politics now reign supreme in our nation. Jews don't care about the U.S.; they care about Israel, even if Israeli policies run directly counter to U.S. national interests. Latinos? The same. Check the voting records of members of the Congress and Senate.

    Al's right. We've brought this on ourselves, specifically because our system places self interest above societal interest. That's how it should be, but we've unfortunately made ourselves into a fractured nation. "E Pluribus Unum" is a bad joke. Factionalism is now in. Ever wonder why the Founders made us a Republic rather than a Democracy? Just look around. All of us here will be gone, but, given current trends, there will come a time when there won't be anybody left to pay the freight. Do you really want a democracy? Do you really want majority rule?

    Western Europe is dying. So is the U.S. The children of the Enlightenment don't multiply in nearly the numbers needed to maintain advanced free civilization. The Dark Ages beckon.

  15. Publius: We've brought this on ourselves, specifically because our system places self interest above societal interest. That's how it should be, but we've unfortunately made ourselves into a fractured nation.

    I had actually drafted a new thread about the above, but found it too lengthy! In short, it's a problem of providing (or demanding) societal "Rights/Benefits" without accepting the corresponding "Responsibilities/Costs". For me to have a "Right/Benefit", someone, if not everyone else has to accept the "Responsibility/Cost" for my having that "Right/Benefit". Using an example from the Civil Rights era, for a Redneck to have the "Right/Benefit" to be able to eat in a "Whites" only restaurant, people of color bear the "Responsibility/Cost" of being limited in their choice of restaurant. Fast forward to today, and we provide the "Right/Benefit" of cheap labor by bearing the "Responsibility/Cost" of illegals in our midst.

    Too many of us want that mythical "Free Lunch", and then are shocked when the bill arrives. Especially when the see the nature and form of that bill.

  16. I think I'm mostly with Publius on this one. It also seems to me that what's good for the goose is good for the gander - IOW, if state and local governments can pass laws which specifically prevent the cops enforcing immigration law (even for felonies like murder!) then those same states and local governments can pass laws the require enforcing them.

    When I was living in the UK, I was stopped by the police on a couple of occasions and was required to show proof I was in the country legally. That's what most countries do, so I think the comparison of the Arizona law to the Nazi's is over-the-top.

    Still, using cops who check status when detaining, arresting or stopping people isn't the best way to enforce immigration law and it does open the door to abuse. Here I agree with Megan McArdle:

    If you think that immigration is a pressing problem, then the place to enforce it is in areas of life that are already regulated pretty intrusively: border crossings, employment, landlord/tenant relations. These are places where enforcement can be stepped up quite dramatically without massive intrusion into the ordinary lives of law-abiding citizens. But quasi-criminalizing looking different . . . well, it's not just wrong. It's un-American.

    In the long term we obviously need reform. We need to recognize that some people are immigrants and some are migrants. For the former we need reasonable, efficient, fair and enforceable procedures to give immigrants a shot at residency or citizenship. For the latter we need a guest-worker program regulate temporary and migrant workers to prevent exploitation and to regulate employers. Unfortunately, as is the case with many issues, there isn't anything close to consensus in the country on even basic reforms.

  17. Having just returned to Mexico from a visit to Weatherford, TX, a working-class community west of Fort Worth, it was hard not be struck by sense of futility that permeated the place. Dead eyes, fixed expressions, and, under it all, a strata of violence waiting to erupt. I was reminded of the mask prisoners assume.

    Maybe, Publius, Mexican immigrants with their work ethic, deep sense of family and simple decency, will be the salvation of the country.