31 March 2006

Way to miss the issue, Snow!

Tony Snow, whom I otherwise enjoy reading, has a column, published at Jewish World Review’s online site, that just irritates the heck out of me. I’m going to comment on it bit by bit.

Illegal immigration seems to have spawned a dreary debate about the merits of Mexicans, when it should be drawing attention instead to a very different matter: how to build on the luster and wonder of the American dream.

The debate isn’t about “the merits of Mexicans.” The debate is about the merits of doing nothing about the trampling of our laws. Part of the “luster and wonder of the Amrican dream” is living in a nation of laws, a nation where our rights are protected by virtue of recognition that those rights exist apart from the consitution which acknowledges them. It is also the dream of living in a nation whose leaders have to obey the laws, just like everyone else. Everyone else except illegal immigrants, I guess. Snow’s position means that we can ignore a set of laws. Well, if we can set aside immigration laws, Tony, why not constitutional law?

Immigration is not the pox neo-Know Nothings make it out to be

Well let’s just drive a tank over the point. I don’t know who has said that immigration is the pox. This pox (read slowly, Tony) is (I’m…writing…very…slowly…for…you…Know…Somethings…out…there) il…le…gal im…mi…gra…tion. Seeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?

Begin with the astounding influx of illegal immigrants, the vast majority of whom hail from Mexico. While the population includes an eye-popping number of crooks, drug-dealers and would-be welfare sponges, it also provides a helpful prop for sustaining American economic growth and cultural dynamism.

In other words: It’s okay to ignore the law if, as a consequence of ignoring the law, we get “a helpful prop for sustaining American economic growth and cultural dynamism.” Oh, yeah. And all you would-be legal immigrants? Thank you for applying, but @#&* you! We’d rather have people who, though they don’t follow the law like you do, nonetheless help us prop up and sustain our economic growth and cultural dynamism. Because, after all, we’re Americans; and, as the world knows, our economic growth and cultural dynamism trumps all other considerations. Yes, even our own laws. So, again, @#&* you very much. Now go away; we already have 10 million immigrants; and they’ll do more work than you for a lot less money.

Princeton University sociologist Douglas S. Massey reports that 62 percent of illegal immigrants pay income taxes (via withholding) and 66 percent contribute to Social Security. Forbes magazine notes that Mexican illegals aren't clogging up the social-services system: only 5 percent receive food stamps or unemployment assistance; 10 percent send kids to public schools.

Hey kids! It’s okay to break a set of laws you find objectionable as long as you pay your income taxes, contribute to Social Security, and don’t clog up our social services system. So you just go on out there, pick a law or set of laws that you don’t like and live it up!!! You have Tony Snow’s kind permission . (Of course, Tony would like it very much if you didn’t break into his house and steal anything. Because if you were to do that, he would probably have you prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And, of course, he’s free to do this because, like you, he pays taxes, contributes to social security, and doesn’t clog up our social services system.)

On the work front, Hispanic unemployment has tumbled to 5.5 percent, only slightly above the national average of 4.7 percent and considerably lower than the black unemployment rate of 9.3 percent. Economist Larry Kudlow praises Hispanic entrepreneurship: "According to 2002 Census Bureau data, Hispanics are opening businesses at a rate three times faster than the national average. In addition, there were almost 1.6 million Hispanic-owned businesses generating $222 billion in revenue in 2002."

This would be very interesting if Hispanics—the merits of Mexicans—were the issue!!! They are not. This is an interesting statistic, but irrelevant.

Skeptics counter that immigrants have clogged our hospitals, which is true — but primarily in places that offer lavish benefits to illegal immigrants.

We are, again, not concerned about immigrants, but (slowly again) il…le…gal im…mi…grants.

As for crime, the picture doesn't quite conform to conventional wisdom. Heather McDonald discovered that illegal immigrants in 2004 accounted for 95 percent of all outstanding homicide warrants in Los Angeles and two-thirds of unserved felony warrants. (Gangs, aided and abetted by laws that prevent local officials from handing illegal-immigrant criminals over to federal authorities, account for much of the mayhem.)

On the other hand, the most comprehensive survey to date of national crime data concludes, "In the small number of studies providing empirical evidence, immigrants are generally less involved in crime than similarly situated groups, despite the wealth of prominent criminological theories that provide good reasons why this should not be the case.”

Okay. It’s okay to break our laws, as long as you don’t…well…break our laws, that is, the laws that Tony Snow, and the other non-neo-Know-Nothings, do like and think people should obey. Besides, our problem is not—again—with “immigrants.” We have a problem with illegal immigrants; and we don’t care which of our many laws they graciously condescend to obey.

Authors Ramiro Martinez Jr. and Matthew T. Lee note, for instance, that the Latino homicide rate in Miami is three times that of El Paso, Texas, which has one of the nation's largest immigrant populations. That's not just an anomaly. Another major study, "U.S. Impacts of Mexican Immigration," by professors Michael J. Greenwood and Marta Tienda reports that "crime rates along the border are lower than those of comparable non-border cities."

Interesting. But we are not concerned with Mexican immigration. We are concerned with illegal immigration, by anyone.

This doesn't mean immigrants from Mexico are saints — it just means that they may not be the marauding horde some make them out to be. As it turns out, crime rates in the highest immigration states have been trending significantly downward.

Therefore, what? We should continue to do nothing about our immigration policy being trampled by those who see fit, for reasons that seem good to them? All you’re saying, Tony, is that it’s fine for people to break one set of laws (and you’ll decide which set, of course) as long as they don’t break another set of laws (and you’ll decide which set, of course).

Total crime and property crime in California are half what they were in 1980; violent crime has fallen more than a third. The state's Hispanic population during that time has increased 120 percent.

Irrelevant. We’re are not talking about the behavior of Hispanics. I was raised by Hispanics. We’re talking about illegal immigration. And many Hispanics have a problem with illegal immigration. Here's an example of one of them (some may think that my own hispanic credentials are somewhat suspect, due to generations of interracial marriages).

Similar trends apply in other high-traffic states, with the exception of Colorado. While Arizona's population grew 41.8 percent between 1993 and 2003, for instance, the rates for every major category of crime fell.

All we find here is what we’ve already discovered. Tony thinks it fine for a group of people to break a set of laws that he doesn’t particularly care about, just so long as they don’t break sets of laws that he does care about. (In other contexts, we’ll no doubt be treated to a dose of his complaining about how we’re supposed to be a nation of laws, blah, blah, blah.)

Why, then, the fuss? In America today, unemployment remains low, employment is booming, wages have begun to grow in tandem with the economy, tax receipts are exploding at the federal and state levels, and the United States continues to run laps around its European and Asian economic rivals.

Welcome to America, you law-breakers. Feel free to stay as long as you like as long as you don’t break any other laws that I, Tony Snow, care about, and unemployment remains low, employment continues to boom, wages keep growing in tandem with the economy, and tax receipts continue to explode at federal and state levels, and the United States continues to run laps around its European and Asian economic rivals. (But if all that comes crashing to a halt, Tony Snow may then be in favor of kicking your law-breaking butts out of here.)

Hey, Tony, try not paying your taxes and then tell the IRS what wonderful things you do for this country’s economy. See how kindly they treat you. I mean, hey, if we can excuse the breaking of one set of laws on the basis of some supposed good being done by the law-breakers, then quite possibly we can excuse the breaking of another set of laws on the basis of some good being done by the law-breakers in that case. Tony Snow, apparently, wants to have a “law buffet.”

The United States somehow has managed to absorb 10 million to 20 million illegal immigrants not only without turning into Animal Farm, but while cranking up the most impressive economic recovery in two decades and the most prolonged period of declining crime in a century — all in the teeth of the post-9/11 recession, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the double-whammy hurricane season of 2005.

Yes, well whether we’ve actually absorbed them is debatable. It may turn out that we’ll have absorbed them like the Romans did the Goths. Besides, it not a matter of how well we absorb them, but of how well we assimilate them. But hey, who cares about all that as long as we keep “cranking up the most impressive economic recovery in two decades and the most prolonged period of declining crime in a century — all in the teeth of the post-9/11 recession, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the double-whammy hurricane season of 2005.” Screw the laws! The money surf’s up! It’s time to party, dudes!

Rather than panicking, the political class might want to take a deep breath and attempt a little common sense. Virtually everyone agrees that we need to secure our borders, deport lawbreakers and slackers among the illegal-immigrant population, and revitalize the notion of citizenship by insisting that prospective citizens master the English language and the fundaments of American history and culture.

It is interesting to see him think he has something to say about deporting “lawbreakers…among the illegal-immigrant population” (italics added, by me). Is he kidding us?

The Statue of Liberty symbolizes America's affection for the world's tired and poor, the "huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Yes, the Statue of Liberty does symbolize “America's affection for the world's tired and poor, the ‘huddled masses yearning to breathe free’ ”. But that affection is, like everything should be in a nation of laws, expressed by our immigration laws. It is our right and privilege, as a free nation, to decide and to prescribe by law, how—under what, if any, conditions— we will accept the world’s “huddled masses.” And we have done so.

Hey, Tony. Why don’t you take a drive down to Ciudad Juarez—just across the border from El Paso (the city you mentioned just above)—and take a walk around the city, draped in our flag. And just for kicks, while you’re walking around, yell at the top of your lungs, “América, América! Sí se puede!” See what happens. On second thought, don’t do any of that. I may disagree with you, but I wouldn’t want you to get yourself beaten to a jelly.

Before someone razes Lady Liberty and decides to erect a wall to "protect" America from the world, shouldn't we at least spend a little time trying to get our facts straight?

Yeah, Tony. Why don’t you go down to the border and do that; get your facts straight. Find one of those tunnels, that no one else has found, and be there to greet our illegal guests. Better yet, hang around with ranchers near the border, who have been warned by law enforcement authorities not to go out on their own land to check on their cattle. I myself wouldn’t want to see the welcome that they give to you. But you go ahead anyway. Get those facts straight.
Tags: Tony Snow, illegal immigration, illegal immigrants, Mexican immigrants


The Oracle said...


I like your new set up. The only problem is, I cannot access your older stuff. You need to have an archive on your sidebar.

The Oracle

James Frank Solís said...

Quite right. I hadn't realized that I had done away with my archive. I'll fix that ASAP. Thanks.

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James Frank Solís
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 26 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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