Monday, April 17, 2006

The United States is the only large First World country with a long border with a Third World country

Gwynne Dyer:

And only the U.S. among developed countries has a politically powerful domestic lobby that wants a large steady flow of unskilled immigrants, preferably illegal ones.

These two oddities explain why immigration is such an explosive topic there and why Congress can't pass a law regulating the flow.

The collapse recently of bipartisan talks in the Senate on a new immigration bill probably ends for this year the attempt to impose order on what many Americans see as out-of-control illegal immigration.

What split both parties and doomed the law were President Bush's proposals for an amnesty for nine million of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants already there, and a new program to admit an extra 400,000 temporary "guest workers" every year.

The House of Representatives recently passed a much tougher law with serious penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants and construction of an 1,100-kilometre fence along the Mexican border, but with Congress now in recess for two weeks, that's probably dead, too.

This is all about Mexicans. The U.S., contrary to local belief, doesn't have a high proportion of recent immigrants compared to other industrialized countries. No more than one person in eight is foreign-born, considerably less than Canada (where it's one in five) and not much more than in large European countries like Germany, France or Britain.

But no other country has so many illegal immigrants, nor so many who are unskilled, nor such a high share from a single country.

The great majority of "undocumented workers" (illegal immigrants) in the U.S. are Mexican. Their large numbers and high visibility raise paranoid fears among some longer established Americans that the U.S. is becoming bilingual.

They also stir a wider concern that this large and vulnerable workforce of illegal immigrants is deliberately maintained by employers as a way of keeping the wages of unskilled workers down.

The language issue is largely a red herring: Most Hispanic families have become fluent in English by the second generation, just as previous waves of immigrants did before them.

But the argument that illegal immigrants take jobs away from many equally unskilled native-born Americans, and drive wages down for the rest, has never been convincingly refuted, even though it remains politically incorrect.

It's not that native-born American high-school dropouts "won't do those jobs." They just won't do them for five or eight dollars an hour -- or at least, a lot of them won't.

Many poor Americans simply have no choice, however, and end up working long hours in miserable jobs for half the money that an unskilled French or German worker would earn for doing the same work.

One of the most ridiculous myths of American political discourse is the argument that the U.S.-Mexican frontier is too long to police effectively and humanely.

Here is a country that has landed people on the moon, and that currently maintains an army of 140,000 soldiers in a hostile country halfway around the planet, claiming that it cannot build and maintain a decent fence along the Mexican border.

Instead, we've seen a 30-year charade in which fences are built in the traditional urban crossings, forcing illegal Mexican immigrants out into the desert where many die -- but enough get through to keep the U.S.'s low-wage industries fully manned.

Living next to Mexico, where so many live in Third-World conditions, does create an immigration problem for the U.S., but it's far from insoluble. It just hasn't been solved because powerful U.S. economic interests don't want it solved.

Everything that's been so earnestly debated recently in the U.S. -- quotas for guest-workers, amnesties for long-resident illegal immigrants, and so on -- is just political cover to keep illegal immigrant labour plentiful and unskilled wages low.

Does Illegal Immigration Lower Wages?

Another Amnesty Atrocity: Immigration Enthusiasts Torture Helpless Poll Questions!

Are Mexican illegal immigrants compatible with Blue State norms?

Illegal Immigrant Entitlement Culture

Demonstrations on Immigration Harden a Divide

We Delude, You Decide

Postmodern “Rights” en Los Estados Unidos


At 12:04 PM, Blogger samrocha said...

Hi! I found your Blog and BlogSearch, I think the dialogue on immigration is very important and must be discussed from all perspectives.

With your insights I would love to have you take a look at a mini-series I wrote last week on the subject and, if you want to, join in the dialogue…

My url is:


Post a Comment

<< Home

View My Stats