Ruben Navarrette says that Americans cannot blame immigration on Mexico and that country’s economic policies.
Oh, it’s true that the United States is a country of immigrants. But in this case, what matters is that this also happens to be a country full of people who hire illegal immigrants. There is only one reason why so many Mexicans want to come to the United States: because there are so many jobs waiting for them here.
Some Americans still prefer to blame Mexico for illegal immigration. Of course, why wouldn’t they? That sure beats taking their share of responsibility for it.
This is a great point. Like drugs, the other illegal import problem the U.S. has with its southern neighbors, the demand for labor creates the northward flow, at least when viewed from a simplistic economic model.
These people are here illegally, and yet you hire them to clean your toilets, reserving the right to bellyache about them and what they’re costing you. It’s the first act — hiring illegal immigrants — that sets the rest of the story in motion. I have a solution: Clean your own toilets, or at least make sure that those who clean them for you are in the country legally. Or, shut up already.
Strong medicine, tastes bad. And this would be good advice except for one little detail – the Bush administration’s new plan to require employers to verify their workers’ Social Security numbers was recently blocked by Federal Judge Charles Breyer of California, a ruling that caused a justifiably exasperated California congressman to wonder:
“What part of ‘illegal’ does Judge Breyer not understand? ” asked Representative Brian P. Bilbray, Republican of California and chairman of the House Immigration Reform Caucus. “Using a Social Security number that does not belong to you is a felony. Judge Breyer is compromising the rule of law principles that he took an oath to uphold.”
Navarette is correct in saying it’s not that simple, especially when a judge like Bilbray decides to take the law into his own hands. How are we supposed to enforce the laws of the land with lawbreakers like this individual sitting on the bench?
While feeling sympathy for the plight of illegal aliens – many of whom have given up everything for the chance at success here – is admirable, it is inappropriate for the judiciary branch to dictate immigration policy with the gavel.
Breyer’s justification for his ruling?
Judge Breyer chastised the Department of Homeland Security for making a policy change with “massive ramifications” for employers, without giving any legal explanation or conducting a required survey of the costs and impact for small businesses.
His concern is for American business’ compliance costs? Right.
The ruling makes me suspect that Judge Breyer’s sympathies are more closely aligned with those of former Mexican President Vincente Fox than the American people’s. Fox, who is currently traveling the U.S. to promote his memoirs, said:
"The xenophoblics, the racists, those who feel they are a superior race…they are deciding the future of this country [the United States]."
"What I perceive here is fear in this nation."
So it has nothing to do with the fact illegal workers driving down wages and creating communities of non-citizens that cannot integrate with American society? It’s all about race? Hardly.
And when queried about what Lou Dobbs says are the 50% of Mexicans who live in poverty – a number disputed by Fox – and why Mexico has a policy of exporting workers, Fox denied that Mexico has such a policy, saying: "We need that talent, that productivity in Mexico."
That’s very true, as I’ve said before. But that talent has to have opportunity and hope in order to flourish. Mexico’s corrupt leadership and high tax rates are a bad combination that make entrepreneurs’ lives miserable.
Defending Fox, Navarrette said:
It’s not that simple. Mexico has now had just seven years of democracy under the rule of Fox’s National Action Party — following on the heels of more than 70 years of corrupt governance at the hands of the Institutional Revolution Party. The United States has had more than 200 years to get democracy right, and it still has to work out the kinks now and then.
Also true. What Navarrette leaves unsaid is that the PRI’s corruption is still alive and well in Mexico. Until this feature of the government is rooted out Mexico will be unable to provide real economic opportunities for its people.
All of this brings us back to Navarrette’s assertion that illegal immigration is caused by the U.S.’s demand for low cost labor. This is true, of course. But it’s not so simple, Ruben.
Mexico’s failure to create a functional economy means the pay rate in Mexico is unbelievably low (even Fox admits that 18% of Mexicans subsist on < $2 per day). This fact forces Mexican workers to flee their homelands and brave the unknown here in the U.S. in spite of the hazards involved.
Both supply and demand create the problem and it’s time that Mexico’s leaders tell the truth about that.