Monday, August 16, 2010

we're gonna need a bigger boat

There is no doubt that illegal immigration is a serious problem in America.

This past weekend, I was thinking about the 1975 summer blockbuster Jaws, where Chief Martin Brody looks over and suddenly realizes the full scope of the challenge he and his friends face and utters: "we’re gonna need a bigger boat."

That is America today. And yet, our ‘bigger boat’ should not take the form of a bigger fence or a bigger club. What we need are bigger minds and bigger hearts.

Illegal immigration came to the forefront earlier this year with the passage of SB1070 in Arizona. The problem with this approach has nothing to do with illegal immigrants (the key word there being illegal) but rather the tens of millions of U.S. citizens and legal immigrants of Latino descent—who become more likely “suspects” purely because of the color of their skin.

Now some want to amend the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution—the same amendment that ensured that my mother (and her children, including me) were considered citizens of the United States.

Given that we already have laws on the books outlawing illegal immigration (again, hence the word illegal), how does harassing US citizens of Latino descent help solve the problem? Does vilifying newborn babies somehow eradicate the flow of Mexicans across our southern border?

No one, it seems, wants to talk about the real criminals responsible for illegal immigration: the U.S. business owners and homeowners who provide under-the-table jobs to individuals who have no right to work in the United States. Here’s the fact: if there were no jobs, there would not be a lot of immigration.

The anti-immigration site Immigration Counters reports that over 11 million skilled jobs are provided to illegal aliens. Other sites report that the unemployment rate is actually lower among illegals than native born Americans. Who is at bigger fault? The man who wants to feed his family and needs to earn more than the $7 a day wage prevalent in Mexico? Or the greedy business owner who can pad his profits by hiring undocumented day laborers at below-market wages?

My daughter can’t register for her junior soccer without producing a bona fide birth certificate and proof of residence. Why is it so hard for businesses and employers to request that new hires validate that they have the right to work in the United States?

Here’s my plan: fine every business $100,000 per day for every undocumented worker. Fine every homeowner $5,000 per day for ever gardener, pool boy, nanny or maid they pay.

But no—we don’t attack people who could very well be our family or friends. It’s the “outsiders” we attack. The people who are not like us. They are the problem. It’s all their fault.

We ignore the sins of those in our little club and complain about the sins of everyone else. Think we’re gonna need a bigger boat.


Kansas Bob said...

Great thoughts Ed! Sadly the govt is in bed with businesses that benefit from illegal immigration. Hence little is done and maybe never will be done?

IMO, the entity that does not get much press about this.. and the one that is primarily to blame.. is the corrupt govt of Mexico. If Mexican leaders cared more for their folks then maybe fewer of them would feel a need to come to the US.

Ed G. said...

Thanks Bob. When you think about what people go through to smuggle themselves into this country, and the substandard living conditions many face once they arrive, one can only imagine how little support and assistance they receive from their own government.

Erin Wilson said...

Great post, Ed. You know something I've noticed... the people who protest illegal immigration the loudest... I've never seen them offering to pick tomatoes, clean hotel rooms or do dishes in hot restaurant kitchens. I guess they think if immigrants don't do it, magic fairies will.