Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Undocumented Love

As a heartless conservative, the gaping maw known as my soul contains a limitless capacity to hate. I hate school bus drivers who expect me to help pay for their $800,000 mortgages.

I hate third world dictators who, in the process of destroying their own country, feel the need to lecture us about the benefits of socialism.

I hate anti-war protestors who came out every week to protest the War then suddenly stop the day Barack Obama took office. These on-again off-again protestors just prove that no matter what slogan they have scrawled on their picket signs, their hearts they will always bear the motto: Say No to War, Unless a Democrat is President.

Don't think for one moment that just because conservatives find it easy to hate some groups of people brainless liberals, in contrast, poop rainbows. Liberals just prefer to mask their hatred behind politically correct euphemisms. Their hatred for rich people is called "re-distribution of wealth." Their hatred for white males is called "racial equality." Their hatred for rational, science based public policy is called "global warming."

Despite all the prevalence of hate on both sides of the aisle, there is just one group of people I cannot hate no matter how much Sean Hannity and Michael Savage tell me to: Illegal Immigrants. Be ye Mexican, Colombian, Guatemalan, El Salvadoran or, heaven forbid, Canadian, I just can't hate you.

I will tell you what I do love though: America. I love her culture, her form of government, her seemingly endless sea of hotdogs and hamburgers. Were I not born in America, I would swim any river, cross any desert or participate in any mail-order husband program it take to get here.

I just cannot condemn illegal immigrants for doing exactly what I would do if I were in their place.

Many of the arguments against illegal immigration reek of petty ignorance and outright xenophobia. I once worked for a small, white, upper-middle-class municipality. One day we got a call from a woman who wanted to report that she had seen two Mexicans driving a truck down her street. They were weren't speeding, or running down old ladies with their 1984 Ford F-150, they just happened to have the audacity to be caught driving while Mexican. Since this experience, it has been hard for me to oppose immigration with any degree of passion when I know I am lining up on the same side of the aisle as that ignorant bigot.

Most of the contentious arguments hurled into the sphere of public dialogue by anti-immigrant activists crumble quickly under the light of truth; none more so than the idea that "immigrants don't pay taxes."

The list of taxes and fees everyone in America pays, legal and illegal alike, is legion. Sales tax, property tax, gas tax, car registration fees, parking tickets, moving violations, code violations, hotel occupancy taxes, social security contributions, storm water fees, library late card fees, heck, we even have fees-in-lieu of taxes. Believe me, I work for the government, I know my taxes.

About the only taxes illegal immigrants don't pay are income taxes. However, I have a newsflash, unless these immigrants are making over $45,000 a year they wouldn't be paying those taxes anyways. In fact, thanks to Earned Income Credit (created by none other than Ronald Reagan) if these illegal immigrants were filing their taxes, the government would be paying them. These millions of people operating under the radar without filing their taxes and thereby qualifying for EIC, saves this country billions of dollars a year.

Just because I do not hate illegal immigrants does not mean that I love them either. While I may love the food, music and occasional rockin' mullet some of these immigrants bring with them, that does not mean I can completely ignore the costs that come with crossing our border illegally.

While immigrants do pay their taxes, they also come with inordinately high expense. The way illegal immigrants utilize hospital emergency rooms as their primary care physician has bankrupted many a hospital. The disproportionate reliance of illegal immigrants on our countries generous social services has placed a grave burden on federal, state and local governments. Too many people getting into a lifeboat just sinks is for everyone.

Also, in a post 9-11 world, we must be very cognizant of the threat posed by porous American borders. You just can't expect to keep your house safe with an open door. While I am sympathetic to the desires of most immigrants to simply make a better life for themselves, we must realize that it only takes one bad apple to ruin the pie.

So in short, I am pro-immigrant, but I am also pro-border security. The recent wave of drug-fueled violence just passed our southern border should be reason enough to build whatever crocodile-filled moat it takes to protect our borders and end illegal crossings.

While there was much about President Bush's domestic policy that left me wanting more (or in most cases less; as in less pork, less unfunded mandates and less prescription benefits for old people). But there was one thing he had right: the Guest Worker Program.

In a capitalistic society, any time you have a company who wants to hire people and people who want to be hired, it is the role of the government to get them together. An efficient government can act like an economic E-harmony of sorts. If we have low skilled labor that wishes to work low-skilled American jobs, we should find a way to make the match.

The Guest Worker Program did just that. It allowed people seeking jobs to enter our country legally and provided our employers with the cheap labor upon which they had grown dependent. It allows the government to know who is here and reject individuals we determine are unsafe or unwilling to abide by the rules. While some of the other portions of the comprehensive immigration reform gave me pause, the Guest Worker Program was a no brainer. It gives us all the benefits of immigration while significantly decreasing its costs.

Congress, however, threw out the Guest Worker Program because there were other portions of the bill they could not agree on. In typical partisan fashion, Congress attempted to replace the plumbing in the whole house rather than just fix the leaky faucet. In the end congress managed to do what illegal immigrants could not: become the one group everybody hates.


Lewis Family said...

Once again, Joel, you hit the nail on the head. Thanks for speaking for me, when I'm too lazy to do it myself.

John said...

Joel, we should also not neglect the thousands of immigrants that use a "borrowed" SS# and pay taxes and SS even though they will never see a dime of that money. Thats right immigrants help fund SS even if it is a very small portion.

The Average Joel said...

Excellent point John. In fact, I remember hearing a study about. In fact, the Social Security Administration predicts that 15% of the Social Security Funding gap will be closed in the future by contributions from illegal aliens. We are talking billions of dollars here.