Monday, May 15, 2006

For mother, a day after Mother's Day

Okay, so now I've seen how this Blogspot blog thing works. Pretty cool, and definitely easy to use -- I'm no techie, despite the fact that I was the first person I know to purchase an iPod (and now I'm now on my fourth -- with 53 gigs of the available 55 gigs used up. Mr. Jobs, sir, when is the 80-gig model coming out?). I highly recommend it to anyone who cares to throw his thoughts out to the blogosphere. Dad, pay attention.

Mother, in case you didn't see my first post, you can access this blog every day when you get in to your office, and at least you'll know I'm alive as of my last posting. Dad, I know this doesn't take the place of an actual telephone call from me to Mom, but at least she won't have to worry about me anymore. As much, anyway.

So ... in about 90 minutes or so, the President is going to speak on immigration. His first prime-time White House address that doesn't have anything to do with 9/11, Iraq, or the War on Terror. As the son of an immigrant (see above -- mother's maiden name is Maria Carmen Salas-Cornejo del Rabanal) who came here the hard way (read: legally), I have a particular perspective on this whole issue: on the one hand, I recognize that those who come to America, by and large, make ours a better society. But they ought to come here legally. As Sonny Bono once responded, when asked his thoughts on illegal immigration, "What's to say? It's illegal."

I'm of the "build a big wall with a wide gate" mindset. We need immigrants, if for no other reason than that we're not replicating ourselves fast enough. I don't buy the argument offered by some of my more libertarian friends that "they do work that Americans won't do." Because what's missing in that sentence is " ... at ridiculously low wages." As in, "they do work that American's won't do at ridiculously low wages." Start paying lettuce-pickers better, and you'll find plenty of Americans who'll take the job. (As someone who has spent rather long stretches virtually unemployed, I know of what I speak -- seeking work and taking a job is definitely a function, in the rational mind, of deciding to give up leisure time in exchange for compensation.)

Bill Bennett famously used to talk about the "open gates" test of a nation -- that is, if you open the gates all over the world, and let everyone move to wherever they wanted to move, you'll find massive flows of people leaving the Soviet Union (yes, the test is old!) and moving into America. That's something of which we should be proud.

But we can't allow them all to come in at the same time, and with no rational sense of order about it. It just makes no sense.

To begin, we don't have the social or economic infrastructure in place to allow untrammeled immigration. On a normal day, I-95 between New York and Washington is a road that's plenty wide enough to handle the traffic that uses it in a reasonable fashion. But if everyone in New York decided this week that next Tuesday at 8 AM is the day and time they're going to get on the road to Washington, all hell would break loose.

So politicians offer solutions. I'm still waiting for the one that: a) recognizes the important contributions made by immigrants to America, while b) recognizing the need to secure our borders and c) doesn't send a signal that breaking our laws is a good way to get started in America. I'm not sure I know how to square all these circles, but I'm pretty sure that offering more security in the immigration process for those who have been breaking the laws the longest time is NOT the way to go. Seems kind of backward to me.

Watching the President will be interesting. And in the meantime, I'm just happy my mother came to America the old-fashioned way -- by earning it. I love you, Mother.


Post a Comment

<< Home