Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Paris, Immigration, Etc.

Mrs. Angry and I were discussing the whole Paris mess over dinner this evening, and I share the thoughts evolved during that conversation. Assuming that the riots are indeed sparked by a lack of proper assimilation of immigrants, why should the US be feeling so smug?

It's been claimed that the US is much better than Europe at assimilating newcomers into society, and without a doubt I think that's historically true; it comes with the territory of being a nation founded on immigration.

But considering that much of the recent immigration in this country has been of the illegal sort, I personally feel that there hasn't been a great deal of assimilation of new immigrants into society. I think that's clear with movements in the Southwest such as MECHA, and even here in the Midwest. I don't think that Hispanics, particularly, generally feel all that welcome or attempt to make themselves at home, although I think the same may be true to a lesser extent for the local Asian immigrant population. Maybe it's a sense of shame that comes with having no official status, maybe it's the fact that illegals tend to be paid extremely low wages, and maybe it's just the migrant nature of farming. I don't know. But I think it represents a potential future problem.

The advantage we have here in the US is an economy that is, with all its faults, considerably stronger than in Europe. I think we've got the ability to absorb any reasonable number of immigrants, assuming that they're given legal status and a chance to fully participate in our financial system. That isn't going to come with sub-legal wages, no taxation, and no access to capital.

The solution seems simple - establish sane immigration laws, and enforce them. Somewhere, somebody has an idea of how much immigration is ideal. We need to somehow make sure that we hit that goal and keep out the worst of the worst at the same time. I don't care whether the number is 10 or 10 million; we just need to control the border and make the people that are allowed into the country feel at home.

Of course, it's nearly unimaginable that such reform will happen any time soon. Those on the left don't want to be accused of racism, while those on the right don't want to shut down the supply of cheap labor. Additionally, neither party wants to lose the growing Hispanic vote. And so because of these short-minded goals, we're effectively allowing a large subculture to build up inside our border, with potentially disasterous consequences. Does that mean firey riots? I doubt it. What does it mean? I don't know. But I do think that isolating people in a foreign land is generally a bad idea.

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