April 17, 2006


Amnesty — plus a fence (Charles Krauthammer, 4/17/06, Seattle Times)

Martin Luther King had a case for justice that was utterly incontrovertible, yet he always appealed to the better angels of America's nature. It is all the more important for illegals, whose claims rest not on justice but on compassion, to appeal to American generosity, openness and idealism.

There is much generosity in America to be tapped. But that will require two things. First, a change of tone. And second, a clarification of goals.

If you find a stranger living in your basement, you would be far more inclined to let him stay if he assured you that his ultimate intent is just to improve his own life and not to prepare the way for his various cousins waiting on the other side of your fence.

And that's the critical issue that the demonstrators and their supporters ignore. Is the amnesty they are demanding/requesting the beginning or the end? Is it a precedent or a one-time — last time — exception? Are they seeking open-ended immigration or do they agree that they should be the last wave of illegals?

We know they support the spirit of the failed Senate bill which, when all the phony length-of-stay distinctions are stripped away, is about legalization and amnesty. And we know they oppose the House bill because it declares illegals to be felons. But House Republicans recognize that they made a huge political error with that language and are pledged to remove it. Will the demonstrators support the rest of the House bill, which would radically restrain new illegal immigration by means of a physical barrier and other measures?

If the answer to that is yes, then we have the makings of a national consensus to combine the House and Senate bills — a fence plus amnesty — into a comprehensive new policy. But we need an answer.

Each of us has thought we should be the last one admitted because those in back of us were dirty unassimilable freeloaders.

Behind the Debate: Propelled to Protest, Driven to Migrate: Mexican Deportee's U.S. Sojourn Illuminates Roots of Current Crisis (Manuel Roig-Franzia, 4/17/06, Washington Post)

Conventional wisdom has long explained the flood of migrants with a simple formula: Mexicans and other Latin Americans come to the United States for better-paying jobs. But the calculus is more complex because of pressure caused by Mexico's population explosion, which turned Flores's generation into one of the most desperate for work in modern Mexican history. Mexico's failure to create enough jobs after the enactment of the North American Free Trade Agreement pushed countless young people to migrate to the United States, while a growing U.S. demand for labor pulled them north.

Flores, born in 1979, is a product of Mexico's 1970s baby boom, a time when Mexican President Luis Echevarría said, " G obernar es poblar " -- to govern is to populate. Since 1970, Mexico's population has doubled. More important, the population of 15- to 34-year-olds -- the prime migrating years -- has swollen to 38 million, according to U.S. Census figures on foreign populations. That age group is projected to exceed 40 million in 2015. Mexican economists say this is almost certain to push more Mexicans across the border, further intensifying the United States' already heated immigration debates, unless Mexico's economy dramatically improves.

"You can't put a brake to it," said Jorge Santibáñez, president of El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, a Tijuana-based research institute. "The central point is that migration is going to continue at the rhythm we have now, or increase." [...]

Pew now estimates the undocumented population in the United States at a record level, between 11.5 million and 12 million. More than half, about 6.2 million, are Mexican, according to Pew. Mexicans account for even larger majorities in border states and in some large urban centers far from the border such as Chicago. But they make up only a small fraction of the migrant population in the Washington area, where Central Americans, particularly Guatemalans, Salvadorans and Hondurans, predominate.

The overall Hispanic population has also been growing, with nearly 38 million Hispanics in the United States, of whom two-thirds -- or 25.3 million -- were Mexican, according to a 2002 U.S. Census report. The increase has knitted the United States more tightly to its southern neighbors as more and more Hispanics lead dual-country existences, legally working or studying in the United States while maintaining family and business ties in their home countries.

The money generated by Latinos working in the United States seals the bond: Remittances from legal and illegal Mexican immigrants in the United States top $20 billion a year, close to double the foreign business investment in Mexico, according to Rafael Fernandez de Castro, a Mexico City international relations specialist.

Even as the number of illegal immigrants in the United States was growing, the NAFTA trade pact was off to a roaring start. It pumped up the Mexican economy in its first years and stoked commerce with maquiladoras , the assembly plants that sprang up along the U.S.-Mexico border. Foreign investors were pouring money into the country.

But while NAFTA's early promise heartened Mexico's leaders, an economic earthquake that would push migrants north was beginning to rumble.
Not a Magic Wand

In December 1994, the government of the new Mexican president, Ernesto Zedillo, sharply devalued the peso in hopes of stabilizing the country's wobbly currency. The opposite happened. Foreign investors fled, and Mexico slipped into a deep economic recession for two years. It took a bailout by the International Monetary Fund and the United States to stop the slide, and even with that, Mexico's recovery was slow.

As a result, Mexico's troubles pushed workers north just as the growing U.S. economy was creating new demand for labor.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 17, 2006 9:21 AM


Just read the EITC article from Thursday's IBD.

Posted by: Sandy P at April 17, 2006 10:15 AM

Mr. Judd;

I have yet to see a single person posting here who thinks we should not admit any more immigrants. Can you provide an actual non-fringe example, or do such people exist only in your imagination?

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at April 17, 2006 10:59 AM

This debate is starting to sound no different than the debate on "suburban sprawl," in that it's all centered on those "bad influences" of the new neighbors. Just another case of "I got mine. I'll be damned to hell if I let you have yours."

Posted by: Brad S at April 17, 2006 11:02 AM


All the usual suspects were defending the BNP yesterday, no?

But you've hit on a key point, Americans like to complain about immigrants but aren't actually going to do anything about them. We're too decent.

Posted by: oj at April 17, 2006 11:06 AM

Once again you deliberately misrepresent the differences between illegal and legal immigration, and the motivations and goals of those who want the treat the two groups differently.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at April 17, 2006 11:17 AM


You defended the BNP yesterday, no? They want ethnic cleansing.

Posted by: oj at April 17, 2006 11:27 AM


You defended the BNP yesterday, no? They want ethnic cleansing.

I see you're still demonizing your opponents because you can't debate on the merits and demerits of the issue: Sending the illegals/line cutters to the back of the line to wait their turn isn't ethnic cleansing, but simple justice.

Posted by: Ptah at April 17, 2006 11:56 AM


No one doubted you'd agree with the BNP.

Posted by: oj at April 17, 2006 11:57 AM

Guilt by association: another logical fallacy, Orrin. You're in typically illogical form, as usual...

Posted by: Ptah at April 17, 2006 12:28 PM


I don't get it. Why shouldn't people be associated with groups they defend?

Posted by: oj at April 17, 2006 12:31 PM

By all means let's do that.

Posted by: joe shropshire at April 17, 2006 12:38 PM

Considering that INS hasn't gotten my sisters status clear(It's been 34+ years!), I can't see a difference between legal and illegal immigration.....

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at April 17, 2006 1:12 PM


My grandparents came to Canada very young from Scotland in 1903 and 1906 respectively, at a time when there was no distinct Canadian citizenship (everyone was British). In 1948, Canadian citizenship was created, but my grandparents, who still thought Victoria was on the throne and had no time for colonial nonsense, did nothing. In 1971, our blessed government decided that all citizenship status' had to be "regularized" for the bean-counters. As there was no record of my grandparents' arrival, we all had to scramble mightily to assuage the concerns of the lovely compassionate bureaucrat who "hoped" they would be allowed to stay.

Posted by: Peter B at April 17, 2006 1:40 PM

Orrin, I suggest I look at whatever post Raoul supposedly commented at, and to which you associate me along with it: I've been tied up for several days, and haven't even read that far yet,....

Posted by: Ptah at April 17, 2006 2:15 PM


Probably best not to associate yourself with their views then, eh? That reflex will get you in trouble.

Posted by: oj at April 17, 2006 2:21 PM

Mr. Judd;

A three sentence response with two major mis-representations! Such efforts on my behalf – I am honored.

All the usual suspects were defending the BNP yesterday, no?

No. They were defending the poor citizens who were considering supporting the BNP because they see their choices either racist defenders of their culture, or non-racist destroyers of their culture. Presuming that is an accurate assessment, which do you think is the better choice?

But you've hit on a key point, Americans like to complain about immigrants but aren't actually going to do anything about them.

No, my key point was that Americans like to complain about illegal immigration. It is telling that you must so consistently elide that adjective.

In that regard, it is my view that because we have a party (GOP) that at least sort of favors our culture, racist political parties cannot gain traction. And that is likely why it is illegal immigration that is the issue here, instead of immigration in general as it is in the UK.

I suspect this is also why proponents of illegal immigration are reduced to obsfucating that adjective or playing the racism card, because it cannot be defended on its own mertis.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at April 17, 2006 4:42 PM

Doesn't joining the BNP make you a member of the BNP?

No, they complain about immigrants regardless of their legality.

It is notable that the complainers don't propose any solutions though, because the steps they'd have to adviocate would make them unwelcome in polite company.

Posted by: oj at April 17, 2006 4:50 PM

Mr. Burnet, Good to see you are well. It's worse then you think. My sister was born of American parents, on an American naval base, in Spain. Not an immigrant as anyone who posts here would understand. When my father got his security rating renewed, a few weeks ago, He was asked why he had adopted a foreign national. If they can't get it right for people with atomic weapons at their fingertips, there is no hope!

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at April 17, 2006 4:57 PM


This is getting silly. I scrolled down to the thread you are referring to and I saw no defence of BNP or even anti-legal immigrant arguments at all. Why don't you lay off AOG, Raoul, Ptah etc and attack a real racist.

Namely me. I quite regularly size up people by their religion or lack thereof (you don't?), their race(you seem to find Harold Ford's views tainted because of his color).

Posted by: h-man at April 17, 2006 5:20 PM


People should be judged by their ideas, like religion. That's not racism.

Posted by: oj at April 17, 2006 5:25 PM

But you assume Mestizos from Mexico are Christians, when you see them?

now tell the truth.

Posted by: h-man at April 17, 2006 5:52 PM

No. As I've said. I think we should regulate the borders in order to be able to weed out those who aren't, but let the rest in.

Posted by: oj at April 17, 2006 5:55 PM

oj. In your last comment, you say that only those people who are religious should be allowed to cross our borders and all others should be sent away. I would strenuously object to using that test.

In the name of religion, people are strapping explosives on their children and telling them to go out an kill themselves and as many other innocents as they can find. Young girls are suffering genital mutilation for the greater glory of God. In the Far East, new born girls were routinely drowned, and in your own beloved New England, old women were killed because they were thought to be witches.

Religion hasn't covered itself with glory and I believe one can live a very righteous life without it.

Posted by: erp at April 17, 2006 6:28 PM

Mr. Erp, what has covered itself in glory in your eyes? Of course they are doing it in the name of Religon, or Patriotism or Family. Being honest and doing it in the name of despair or greed or hate would not get you that oh so helpful pause. Refusing to believe in anything that has been tainted by evil people does explain a lot of the post-western nillism.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at April 17, 2006 6:48 PM

erp: How would they know?

Posted by: David Cohen at April 17, 2006 7:17 PM

David, Is your question, how would people know if they are leading a righteous life without a religious leader or a holy book to guide them? Good question and Mr. Mitchell, I haven't said anything so grand as your comment implies.

Over the years, I've taken bits and pieces from various readings, added some of my own thoughts and developed a way of life that works to my own satisfaction.

I haven't rejected religion because it hasn't covered itself with glory. I haven't rejected religion at all, I am only saying that religion isn't for me and I find I'm embarrassed by clerics who purport to speak for God.

Posted by: erp at April 17, 2006 8:01 PM


Yes, by conforming to Judeo-Christian standards they can. We oughtn't let more in though. We already have too many.

Posted by: oj at April 17, 2006 8:11 PM

If you find a stranger living in your basement, you would be far more inclined to let him stay if he assured you that his ultimate intent is just to improve his own life and not to prepare the way for his various cousins waiting on the other side of your fence.

Actually, I would have him arrested no matter what he told me. And I'd get the family out fast if he started to give me a speech about improving his life.

What in the world has happened to Krauthammer?

Posted by: Peter B at April 17, 2006 8:26 PM

Mr. Erp, thanks for your time. I did not say that you had rejected religion. But your statement was quite Grand, and that is why I commented on it. You probable didn't see that, the tempo of the age is on your side. I did mean the question 'What has covered itself in glory in your eyes?'. If you have to go back 400 years for dirt on an institution, I think it has come as close to covering itself in glory as is possible in this fallen world.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at April 17, 2006 8:36 PM

Went back 400 years for dirt? Don't know to what you are referring?

Posted by: erp at April 18, 2006 12:25 PM

OJ can't separate legal immigration (like my mother) from illegal immigrants (like the guys building a subdivision). But then again, he'd probably consider my mum to have been a freeloader if she'd lived long enough to get SS.

Posted by: sharon at April 18, 2006 1:11 PM

erp: Exactly. How does one know that she is leading a virtuous life? "[A] way of life that works to my own satisfaction" will work for some of us but has obvious problems applies to society generally.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 18, 2006 2:09 PM

Mr. Erp, my apologies, I thought your 6:28 post was in reference to the Salem Witch Trials. Could you please send us an address to the witch trials you are talking about? I missed them....

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at April 18, 2006 3:24 PM

Mr. Mitchell, My 6:28 post? Not sure what you mean by that, but in the comment above, I was of course referring to the Salem witch trials.

Posted by: erp at April 18, 2006 4:02 PM


The funny thing is the nativists you've joined didn't want to let her in either.

Posted by: oj at April 18, 2006 6:23 PM

Funny thing is, you are wrong. It was nativists that allowed her to come.

Posted by: sharon at April 19, 2006 5:09 AM