Realities intertwined with undocumented immigration

H. L. Mencken said that, “Religion, like poetry, is simply a concerted effort to deny the most obvious realities.” [Prejudices: Third Series]. He could have easily added politics. Of course, realities need to stand on their own merits, be themselves documented.

Repetition helps transform guesses into “facts,” often free from ultimate source citation as they forcefully enter the realm of public knowledge. Most recently, we have been hearing non-stop from politicians and the media that the number of undocumented people in the United States, criminally-tagged as illegals by many, is somewhere between 11 and 12 million.

Given the sources’ reliability, and the helter-skelter method of putting the figures together, it would come as no surprise if that range refers to undocumented workers -- without accounting for some family members already living in the US; and that the figure of undocumented residents could well exceed 18 million. And while transfixed in this epiphany of honesty and transparency, we should also acknowledge that there might be an additional 10-15 million people vying for eventual residency, if we count the spouses and children left behind by the undocumented border-crossers laboring here. It would seem logical, no? Or is this one more obvious reality that politicians can simply deny, sweep under the carpet?

Hey, we want to re-roof the house, not just patch up a few leaks, right? Congress may be looking for just a patching job to get their 535 members temporarily off the hook, but Americans deserve better; and so do immigrants. Time should not to be what drives this issue, but rather a meaningful solution bringing accommodation and social justice.

This immigration debate is not just about those people without proper documentation whose rights, dignity and criminality is at stake, but much more. Americans’ morality is at the top of the heap together with the socio-economic well-being of the nation; and how the immigration issue is ultimately resolved will relate clearly who we are: to those millions of immigrants, to the rest of the world and, most importantly, to ourselves.

Perceptions or realities, all aspects of immigration need to be studied in depth, not just touched on. And thoroughly, before debate hits the floor, not just of Congress, but of every family room. If there is one issue that requires national consensus, this is it. Not a consensus birthed in a vigilante mentality, but one based on economic realities and justice, as well as human dignity.

To date, there has been precious little debate on the myriad social, economic, and geopolitical facets of how this type of immigration affects the nation. Instead, we have had nothing but heated presentations of what needs to be done on specific issues, often with total disregard as to how that issue might relate to others. Just strident tirades, monologues espousing political causes or narrow visions of special interests groups; seldom the best interests of the nation, and almost never those of the immigrants.

Among printed trash that I have had the displeasure to read of late on the subject, the most politically fraudulent has been penned by Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, a redesigned forum for American neo-conservatism. His last two columns explored, and exploited, the issue of immigration with the same disdain and ignoble tone exhibited in the articles’ titles: “Importing the poor brings us no benefit;” and, “The liberal sellout of low-wage workers.”

But it isn’t his detestable misuse of statistical data, or the lack of humanity in his tone, but the fraud he is perpetrating as he tries to peddle to his readers, condoms full of holes… holes that are unequivocally present at the tip of his economic rationale.

Lowry’s key contention appears to be that poor immigrants, documented or not, consume more in government services and benefits than they pay in taxes. Thus, to him, these people are a negative to our economy. And that’s where he reaches for the needle and starts puncturing holes. Has it ever occurred to Mr. Lowry that his way of measuring wealth creation is totally absurd? A person can be paid very low wages, perhaps only half or a third of what should be a fair wage… but does that mean that’s all the value created by that person? Of course not! Simply put, the lion’s share of the wealth immigrants have created has found its way to the employers’ coffers (through greater profits) and/or the consumers (via lower cost for goods and services).

It’s bad enough to be miserly with immigrants, and pay them a fraction of what their work is (or should be) worth … but to go beyond, criminalizing them and robbing them of their dignity, telling them they aren’t earning their keep, that’s adding insult to injury.

The problem is not just one of broken borders; or one of sovereignty; or one of national security; or one of economics; or one of loss of identity. And neither is the problem just one of racism; or one of exploitation; or one of lack of compassion. All aspects of the immigration issue need to be quantified and qualified before the overall issue can be resolved; none, absolutely zero, should be swept under the carpet. In this quest to solve the immigration problem, it’s not expediency we are after, but comprehensiveness and accuracy. It needs to be done right once and for all, and not allowed to become a reenactment of the narrow-vision legislation passed by Congress two decades ago.

We are beginning to harvest the fruits of our march towards globalization; one that was given the “full speed ahead” a quarter-century ago by our nation’s power elite… with the total consent -- or complicity – of both political parties. It should come as no surprise, then, to find America outsourcing its good jobs and “insourcing” third world labor. That’s what capitalism is all about… or are we going to make immigrants the scapegoats for our “addiction” to capitalism?