No wonder we’re in trouble
It should be obvious to anyone concerned with our Republic’s long-term sustainability that we need to completely rewrite our laws governing immigrants seeking admission to our country. And this is no recent problem.
Since World War II we have followed a policy of granting priority for admission to people fleeing political or religious persecution. But many of today’s immigrants are not fleeing persecution. They are fleeing poverty and the lousy country in which they live. But if we accepted living in a lousy country as a criterion for admission, several billion of the world’s people would be eligible for immediate U.S. residency.
In spite of poet Emma Lazarus’ heart-felt words engraved near the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your sick, your huddled masses,” we have mostly welcomed immigrants when they fulfilled an economic need. With that in mind it should be obvious that we need new laws and policies governing immigration.
Our present immigration laws were enacted under President Reagan in 1968. But they have never been seriously enforced, not even once. Why? Probably because along with apprehending the illegals they also penalize employers who hire them. And they donate generously to both parties. We need new laws that include a mandate to enforce them, and we need them now. Why haven’t we addressed this issue long ago? There’s enough blame here for everyone concerned.
At various times both parties have occupied the White House and had a congressional majority for at least two years of their administration. That was ample opportunity to revise our immigration laws if they were so committed. Yet nothing has been done since 1968. Ever wonder why? I think the Democrats see immigrants as future Democratic voters. The old northern big-city political machines were Democratic fiefdoms and were closely allied with recent immigrants. And the Republicans see these new arrivals as a counterbalance to American workers’ wage demands. And it seems to be working. Real wages have been relatively stagnant for several decades now while income for the wealthy elite has skyrocketed.
Some European nations have opened their borders to hordes of Middle Eastern refugees fleeing atrocities from the Syria-ISIS Revolution. But their policies are not all that altruistic. These are nations with aging populations that are not reproducing at even a replacement rate. They need younger workers to help pay for their generous social programs. We, with a younger average age, do not have that problem, not yet anyway. But about the middle of this century the white race will no longer be a majority here and Social Security’s income will turn negative. Is this intended to scare anybody? As Sara Whatshername might say, “You betcha!”
This November we must send people to Washington who are beholden to neither the corporate elite nor organized labor (or what’s left of it.) They must be committed to addressing the immigration issue objectively, responsibly and aggressively. That will require voters getting involved by writing letters to their representatives, asking pointed questions of candidates and, most important of all, getting folks to the polls on election day. Our voter turnout in 2016 was abysmal. How many have called or written a letter to their congressional representatives in the last year? The last ten years? Ever? No wonder we’re in trouble.
George B. Reed Jr., who lives in Rossville, can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.