Sunday, May 06, 2007

Thoughts on USA Immigration Situation

E=mc2. Einstein's genius: simplify, simplify, simplify. How do we simplify thinking about the immigration mess?

(1) To begin with, the issue is not immigration, per se. The establish pattern for hundreds of years in America is: we are a nation of immigrants. And America has well managed its immigration ebb and flow for years, turning on an off the spigot in relatively successful manner.

(2) The issue being debated today is not whether to have more new immigrants enter this country but how to regulate the sudden increased flow of immigrants; and how to deal with illegal immigration; immigration outside the US established quotas.

(3) The philosophical question underpinning those considerations is the the concept of the Nation-State: Does a country have to right to restrict inflow of immigrants into its borders in the first place? (Or, part and parcel with this: do we have a moral obligation to share our good fortune as Americans with those less fortunate and allow open borders? Russia used to restrict outflow, remember?!)

(4) If a nation has the right (and most Americans would argue that it does) to circumscribe immigration, what is the proper (most beneficial) amount of legal and illegal immigration flow that would accrue maximum benefit to the US? And What form should that flow take: (a) turn our gaze from the legality/illegality of the flow, and let pure economics, pure supply and demand, dictate what happens. (b) Change the law; create a guest worker program (immigrants guest-work for the negotiated period, then must go home). (c) Parallel with this, declare any immigrant who comes here outside the established quotas lawbreakers and attempt to remedy the unwanted flow, by closing the borders, and catching and sending illegal immigrants home.

(5) Finally, and perhaps the most telling: Does the US have the political will and economic might (enforcing the law takes $$$) and power(!) to do that?

If one answers these questions, whether 'yea' or 'nay', one can begin to have a logical discourse with oneself one's RE illegal immigration, form more cogent political opinions, establish a more rational basis for voting, mitigating against the 'sound bite' logic of the TV talking heads who live on controversy (unanswered questions) and not on helping people find consensus (answers) to this most pressing of national questions.


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