Thursday, April 2, 2009
The Confusing State Of Illegal Immigration
Postville protest sign
For the record, let me start by saying that I am not opposed to immigration to the United States. But I believe that the immigration should be regulated and lawful. Every nation has the right to determine who may enter its borders, for what purpose and for what length of time.
That being said, the constant propagandizing from people on both sides of this issue, each stating "facts" is, I must admit, even to one who has covered this issue, confusing.
On the one hand, there are those who argue that illegal immigration is a drain on our economy. That those who are undocumented in this nation are using services without paying for them. And they are quick to point out when someone who is in the United States without permission commits a crime (of course there's no such immigration status notation when a citizen or a documented alien commits a crime, but I digress).
On the other hand, there are still those who argue that, even during this recession, the economy needs illegal immigrants to survive.
(Another quick digression: in my struggle to write about this issue, I do, occasionally commit the apparent politically incorrect transgression of using the term "illegal immigrants." There is no suggestion in my phraseology that I believe that they are "illegal human beings" as some people invariably claim. It's just stating that they are people from other countries who are in the United States contrary to the law.)
Yesterday I received a press release from FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which warns that the Obama administration is no longer targeting illegal aliens in workforce enforcement - a major shift, FAIR says, in policy.
"Twenty-eight illegal alien workers recently arrested during an ICE raid at the Yamato Engine Specialist Plant in Bellingham, WA," the press release starts, "have just been released
and granted work authorization."
But then today, I read an article on MotherJones.com which claims that an immigration raid on an Iowa town removed its "economic lifeblood" by taking away undocumented Mexicans working there.
The raid on the Postville, Iowa meatpacking plant had devastating effects, the article says, on the town's economy:
"Indeed, the 389 arrests eliminated more than one-third of the meat packer's workforce and nearly one-fifth of the town's population," the article says.
"It also prompted an exodus of hundreds more Hispanic residents who were either afraid of being targeted or simply opted to escape the town's inevitable tailspin."
Perhaps there are recently unemployed Americans who read the Mother Jones article who are now applying for jobs at the plant. Ready to move to rural Iowa and start a new life. If so, then perhaps the raid had a positive effect, overall, on the economy.
On the other hand, perhaps we'll find that the raid means Postville has been thrown into an economic tailspin from which it will never recover.
If it's the former, then the shift in policy FAIR warns about will obviously prove to be a negative one. If the latter, then the change in policy comes too late for the people of Postville.
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Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rawbanana/2711593279/