I’m going to make myself unpopular and point out the obvious in one super-jam-packed post!
The United States (henceforth “America”, for shorthand purposes) is not Europe. — Well, actually, it could be for my purposes. Okay. Think of Europe as America for a second. Think of it as a more liberal version of America, with not quite as much square footage, and a heavier emphasis on states’ rights.
Today I saw, on a Facebook status, a complaint from an Englishman that lots of people were coming to the UK because the UK was awesome. That people from EU countries could waltz right in and freeload, therefore immigration was a terrible thing that needed curbing immediately.
Let’s say the UK is New York, where we have great benefits for our indigent, jobs, moderate taxes, and plenty of options for prospective students. Some parts of New York are less expensive than others. If you move to Manhattan (“London”), of course you’re going to pay more for the privilege, but not because you’re here in New York.
People come here because it’s more awesome here than, say, Montana. Montana is great in its own ways, but the people who leave it, or don’t consider it, have their own reasons. So somewhere like Montana stays sparsely populated and somewhere like New York begins to fill up. Some of those New Yorkers are going to apply for state help, because some of them will be too poor to deal otherwise. State help, notice. Not federal help. Medicaid is run through New York. I have a New York State benefit card from when I was on the Family Planning program. Coincidentally, I have advised people from less prosperous states to come here for exactly that reason: New York does right by us.
People are leaving, say, Greece because Greece is broke and can no longer offer its citizens quality of life. Since the Greeks are EU citizens, they can go to the UK looking for help, and the UK can’t turn them away because the UK is effectively Greece’s fellow state. The only way out of this is to secede from the (European) Union, which I hear is being discussed. A sensible step if you are finding yourself overwhelmed by your participation. If you don’t want Greeks or Turks, and you can’t currently pass laws keeping them out, get yourself to a place where you can or have passed laws to keep them out.
But that’s only part of the problem. Because this Englishman compared the UK’s problem to America’s, when it’s apples and oranges.
The UK, you will note, probably fits inside of Arizona, which is the state I think of when I think of people bitching about immigration. America has no such constraint. America has vast expanses of nothing still waiting to be filled with towns and villages. We’re only about 300 years old; we simply haven’t had the time to fill up our little green patch. What’s more, we apparently have plenty of infrastructure in need of… structuring… and factory jobs, and room for even more factory jobs. And farm work.
If you know anything about the migrant worker issue, you know that migrant workers will do what strapping young US citizens just won’t, not for that wage. Someone’s got to do it. Perfectly able-bodied people turn up their noses at farm work in favor of, what, bagging groceries? Because who wants to get stuck in the fields all day?
Someone who has nothing else. That’s who. And that’s who’s doing it now. If you have agriculture in your state, you have “illegals”. You have people crossing borders to find a better life, to get a job that pays better than nothing. We’re safer and we have relatively good jobs. So people want to come here, because here is opportunity. Here is schooling for children who otherwise would be condemned to their parents’ fates. Here is a chance to be something other than a migrant worker.
There is a ton of work in this country that nobody wants to do, and we’re heaping shit on the heads of the people who want to do it for what most of us wouldn’t call a living wage but they think it’s great. In what universe is this heaping of shit logical?
If we make it possible for those workers to come and do our dirty jobs, we don’t have to worry about who’s picking our fruit. If we come down hard on the people who are picking the fruit, sooner or later we’re going to have to get someone to do it. Who do you suggest we put forward for that job? Would you do it, if you would otherwise not have orange juice on your table in the morning? Would you, if you were able-bodied, needed a job, and ran out of unemployment benefits, rather starve? If you can tell me “yes” with a straight face, and you are also against immigration reforms… why?
Are you afraid those brown people from south of the border are going to vote against your interests? Engage them. Figure out what their interests are and how you can work together to get what you both want. Figure out whether they even want to vote. I hear all of these assumptions that the “illegals” are going to vote and I ask myself what proof we have, exactly. Have we caught them storming our polling stations? Sneaking in one or two at a time, even?
Why is it so blasphemous to offer work visas to more of these people? Why do we not want to take advantage of the fact that people want to do things that we consider beneath us? If they come legally and work legally, we can find a way to tax their income. Don’t close the borders. Make laws that make opening the borders massively profitable. I’m pretty sure the matter is ultimately one of money.
If you don’t want that money, folks are risking their lives to cross into America to get it. Quit your bitching and accept that this is not a factor in our employment deficit. Then start looking at the real reasons so many of us are unemployed and fix those.