Hold the u.S. to a high standard
In the wake of the Fourth of July, I’d like to see the critics of comprehensive immigration reform bemore patriotic. They can start by holding the United States up to high standards and quit insisting it emulate countries that are worse off.
My gripe is with those who use the flaws in Mexico’s immigration law as an excuse not to fix the flaws in U.S. immigration law — as if one had anything to do with the other.
It doesn’t. Just because Mexico went over a cliff by closing itself off to foreigners— both in terms of shutting its doors to immigrants and restricting foreign investment in key industries such as petroleum — why should the United States follow?
It remindsme of the arguments thatmy uncle, a college lecturer, used to have with colleagues who responded to any criticism of the U.S. by saying how muchworse lifewas in the Soviet Union. My uncle would respond that this argument “demeaned” the United States, and that hewould rather hold his country to the standards set by its own ideals.
Likewise, opponents of any reform effort that would allow illegal immigrants already in this country towork theirway to legal status demean the United States by comparing it to Mexico. The idea is that, since our neighbor would never make a similar offer to Central Americans living illegally inMexico, theUnited States shouldn’t make the offer to Mexicans. Themore you think about this concept, the less sense it makes.
By theway, you can say the same thing about Barack Obama’s murky agenda on immigration, which came to the forefront again Thursdaywhen the president gave yet another speech on the need to fix the immigration system. As one political observer who has worked on the issue for more than 25 years told me, Obama has sent mixed messages by feeding the public hysteria about illegal immigrants when he dispatched the National Guard to the border and then arguing thatwe have to let illegal immigrants already here remain in the U.S.
Naturally, the criticism of Mexico flares up whenever the Mexican government or a highranking Mexican official dares to question an immigrationmeasure thatMexicans consider foolish, cruel or unfair. And since the Arizona lawthat turns local police into a posse hunting for illegal immigrants is all of those things, it was no surprisewhenMexicanPresidentFelipe Calderón blasted themeasure lawin his recent speech to Congress. For the next few weeks, I heardnumerous complaints fromconservatives that Calderón was a hypocrite for demanding more of this country’s immigration laws than he did of his own.
As aMexicanAmerican, I feel the sameway. Like Calderón, I also demand much more of this nation than I do of Mexico, or any other country for that matter.
A little more than 100 years ago, my grandfather made a choice that changed his life and the lives of all of his descendants. Just a boy at the time, he and his family migrated to the United States — legally. In doing so, he chose the United States over Mexico. Now, by suggesting that we adopt immigration policies that are similar to those of our neighbor, some people want me to choose Mexico over the United States.
Come again? In Mexico, you have a Third World countrywith a second-rate economy. It’s a country concerned that, should the United States deport large numbers of Mexican nationals, the returning workers could capsize the economy. It’s a country that stifles its own growth by pulling up the drawbridge likemany countries in Europe, putting national identity before the well-being of a nation.
Ironically, many of the critics of reformwho love to bashMexicowould agree that the country is in bad shape — so bad that many of the Mexicans who left the United States and returned home to escape a bad economy here are now coming back because they found the situation to be even worse. Yet those critics don’t connect the dots and see that a big reason for this is thatMexico has already embraced some of the restrictive policies that immigration reform foes say we should adopt here.
With logic like this, these people shouldn’t operate heavymachinery, let alone be allowed near the levers of government.