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Monday, March 27, 2006

My Bleeding Liberal Heart

Having spent a good number of my years waiting on tables I am proud to say I have worked side-by-side with the illegal immigrants we all saw gloriously marching through streets of L.A. over the weekend. The simple fact is that the restaurant business, and a whole host of other businesses, could not survive without the hard work and selflessness my immigrant co-workers brought to their jobs. Their hours were longer, their work harder, and never once did I hear a complaint. Never once. These are family men and women, like you and me, who are trying to survive in a world where the deck is stacked against them. A deck, mind you, that is stacked against you as well. The multi-national corporation has about as little interest in your well being, as it seems our Congress now has in the well being of the illegal immigrant.

I would also like to point out that I am a first generation American, and as a son of immigrants who knows their plight, and their stories, you can be sure if I was in L.A. this weekend I would have rushed right out to join the demonstration.

While their are many tempered and practical solutions to the immigration issue, I'll leave those to the experts. For me, I speak from the gut. Here is my "emotional solution" to the illegal immigration problem: every single person illegally in this country should be given citizenship status immediately, right now, without further delay. Amnesty, plain and simple. And don't start with the "but they broke the law" crap, because I'm not buying it. Why? Because any one of us, in exactly the same situation, would do exactly the same thing. It's about family, and it's about survival, case closed. Next, I would take it even further. For every person who would like to come into this country I would make the process of immigration as easy as it is to obtain a driver's license (okay, maybe not a good analogy, but you get the idea). People are dying at our borders and that is just plain wrong. And finally, I would take every dime we are spending on Iraq and spread it out between our social needs here at home and aid programs south of the border. We have the money, we simply don't have the will.

Now, before anyone wants to tear me a new one, remember I said this is my emotional solution. Of course there need to be some controls, and either policies must be reformed or current laws enforced, in order to ease the strain on public resources. This is a given. However to demonize the immigrant, and to base this demonization once again on the war on terror, is despicable. The Right is once again using their favorite new phrase: "In a time of war." On this occasion, they are saying " a time of war, how can we favor unsecured national borders?" However, building walls and declaring 11 million people criminals overnight is not the answer. This is not the type of country I want to live in. Unfortunately, with the war on terror as an excuse on so many fronts (spying, bombing, jailing etc. etc.), this country is becoming less and less like the country I want to live in every day. And please don't tell me "if I don't like it, I can leave." Sorry, but I have no intention of leaving, and I have every intention of taking back this country from the bigoted, fear-mongers that are in control right now.

For a less emotional reaction I encourage all of you to read today's Op-Ed by Paul Krugman. It's important, so here is a link to a FREE version. Krugman lays out the facts we need to be aware of in order to form a more reasoned opinion, as opposed to my emotional response above. As Krugman says in closing:
We need to do something about immigration, and soon. But I'd rather see Congress fail to agree on anything this year than have it rush into ill-considered legislation that betrays our moral and democratic principles.
I'm also with Hillary on this one. You can read more Hillary here.

Update 03.28.06: Why the demonization must end:
On Saturday, Hernandez, his wife, Gloria, and their three children marched in their first protest -- along with more than 500,000 other demonstrators -- through downtown Los Angeles. "I have lived for 15 years in America," said the 34-year-old gardener. "All that time I have lived with my head down, you know. On Saturday, all these people were telling me to put my head up." [Read More]
They are not the enemy.

Update 03.28.06 II: The Senate Judiciary Committee in a rare bi-partisan move has approved legislation that seems reasonable. Well, anything would seem reasonable after the House bill.
With Republicans deeply divided, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Monday to legalize the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants and ultimately to grant them citizenship, provided that they hold jobs, pass criminal background checks, learn English and pay fines and back taxes. [Read More]
I will say the part about the deeply divided Republicans makes me happy. However, the part about having to learn English as a requirement, not so much.