Immigration

I recently viewed the movie, “The Big Short” with Ryan Gosling and Christian Bale among many other major stars.  A line near the conclusion of the fantastic film struck me pretty hard.  After the worst housing economic collapse in US history, it was asked what people were going to do next. The Ryan Gosling character commented, I have a feeling in a few years people are going to be doing what they always do when the economy tanks. They will be blaming immigrants and poorthe-big-short-2015-mark-baum--i-have-a-feeling-in-a-314573-bg__0 people.”

Hey…easy targets are easy targets. Even innocent ones.

As our global village continues to shrink smaller and smaller, the issue of immigration has never played such a central role in our cultural and political landscape.  Elections will be won and lost through the pandering toward a specific group’s “immigrant” sensibilities and, some would say, fears.

This has never been more evident than in the recent British, “Brexit” vote in which the UK voted to leave the European Union…the primary concern? Immigration, of course.  I realize one’s feeling about immigration is closely tied to the perceived economical strain immigrants may place on a country’s economy (more on that fallacy in a bit), still, one’s attitude towards immigration is a direct reflection of how one might believe their country ought to best spend its resources. Hence, what at face value appears to be an economical issue is, at its core, an issue of immigration and our feelings towards “outsiders.”

As Simon Tilford put it, prior to the vote, “But if the UK leaves the EU, the reason will be of British politicians’ own making: popular hostility to immigration.” They did and it was.

As one might guess by reading through my blog posts, I possess a very liberal position on the subject of immigration. I do not see people as anything but people first and foremost.  Just because one might be born into a different language, culture and country, does not equate them to being any less deserving of everything that I enjoy as an US citizen. I could not help that I was born on American soil…I had no say in the matter. I believe a fellow human being that was born on impoverished soil, of which they had absolutely no control, should have every opportunity to the privileges and freedoms that I enjoy so dearly.

Why would I be so shallow and superficial as to base my opinions on what others should or should not have–based on a rather arbitrary, manufactured line in the sand…called borders?

Let me make this very clear: I am NOT proud to be an American. I am pleased to be one. I am, in many ways, fortunate to be one. Yet proud? No. I am proud for things I have ACHIEVED…like a couple post grad degrees and raising 4 awesome children. I am not proud than I was born white, Hungarian or with curly hair…but you can read more about real achievement here.

I completely understand why one would completely disagree with me. I have no desire to demean or demonize those who possess an “America First” understanding on immigration–you know, the “let’s build a wall” people  who call those who are undocumented “illegals” (I refuse to address anyone by their citizenship status as location does not define a person, btw). My own mother, who is one the kindest and most giving people I know, shares this point of view. Most “America First” people are neither intellectually inferior (though I am sure many might think I may be) nor necessarily products of xenophobia –the unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange- they simply share a different opinion and priority of resources than I do.

Of course it is a bit curious that we never discuss building a wall from our white neighbors to the north, only our brown neighbors to the south…hmmmm.

That said, overall I find these people to typically be conservative in their politics, far more patriotic ,  law-and-order types, and are commensurately skeptical of anything that is perceived to be coming from the left…usually practiced under the banner of fiscal responsibility.  Is it motivated by xenophobia as some might contend? Though some evidence suggests it may, only the individual alone could know that.

I want as open a border as possible, while still maintaining one for the purpose of organization. I want it to be very easy and inexpensive for hardworking achievers to migrate to America, or, at the very least, to vastly simplify the now expensive and complex process. Certainly, I am for a screening and vetting process in the age of terrorism –though recent terrorist attacks were performed by US citizens. The overwhelming majority of those who desire to migrate to the US are honest and hardworking people who only seek a better life -–and are willing to work their asses off to get it.

We NEED immigration. Our economy depends on immigration. We could not survive without immigration.

According to US News, undocumented “illegals” who supposedly drain our system, contribute nearly 12 billion dollars per year to the US economy, with California receiving nearly 3.2 billion of this pie. This does not include their labor contributions.

My grandmother, Elizabeth, migrated to the US from Hungary circa 1932.  I remember being a young child at her small apartment in Burbank when she came home from work in her nurse’s outfit. It was not until years later that I learned she was not a nurse at all…she was a janitor, who mopped, swept floors and cleaned toilets for Burbank Community Hospital; her son, my dad, worked for the studios for years as both a payroll employee and then a driver. His son (me) was the first to get a college education and now is a professor writing political blogs that very few actually read.

If this cycle of progress continues, hopefully one day my children will write blogs that people DO actually read.

This is a typical cycle. First generation immigrants do those more menial jobs very few want to do…it is a way, like my grandmother, to pay your dues. Yet, in time and with generational cultural acclimation, education and new skill sets, these migrants move from more physically demanding jobs to the more cerebral workforce. We absolutely need first generation immigrants to uphold the labor backbone of our economy.

The good news is that you do not have to stay there.

Currently, my own daughter is one of those unwanted immigrants in the UK as she is currently working towards dual citizenship.  The UK is extremely lucky to have Rosie, both in terms of what she brings to the country as a person and the economic benefit she provides as well. Since her move there some 7 years ago, that country has received tens of thousands of dollars –turned pounds–from this Yank and his family. I alone have likely kept Pret-A-Manger in business (look it up).  Simply put, most immigrants, and tourists such as myself, are very good for business.

Sure, I would love it if more people possessed my point of view on this matter–though I understand there will always be differences of opinion. At the very least we can learn to understand and respect where others are coming from and question whether our position is motivated out of patriotism run amok, fear, or, let’s hope, sound reasoned analysis.

Our country has problems. Immigrants are not one of them. In fact, they are a solution.

jimmysintension

36 Comments

  1. Professor U, awesome!!! This happens to be the topic that my younger sister Gina slapped me around with in your “Critical Thinking through Argument & Debate” class!!! Good times…..

    • I probably have changed a bit since then…thank you for your comment. How the hell have you been? It has been YEARS!

  2. Enjoyed your post Jimmy. I have to agree that immigrants are not the issue here. People tend to forget that without immigration, our country would have never grown to what it is today. I love the freedoms we possess and I can imagine if I was from a country that didn’t have the opportunities that we do, I would probably want to come here to better myself too.
    By the way, some people DO read your blogs 😉

    • Yes…some people do read my blogs…who want extra credit! 😉 Thank you for the comment.

  3. It’s been a very stressful year not knowing what is going to happen after the elections. I get a headache just thinking about it. But I am glad I read your blog. I do share the same point of view on this matter, and I can only hope that many out there do as well.

  4. My favorite line was, “a fellow human being that was born on impoverish soil… should have every opportunity to the privileges and freedoms that I enjoy so dearly.” I believe if we start seeing each other as human beings rather than by raze or the color of our skin, things would be a lot different throughout the world. You made me think about many interesting things as I read your blog. I loved it Jimmy!

  5. That is a positive outlook, But here is a counter argument, In an ideal circumstance if any one that wished to come could. What would be the over all impact on standard of living, enviroment and pubic services. do you think the United States could handle a population of India or China’s size with out a decrease in standard of living. If we allowed unhindered immigration we would have to deal with that. Some control on immigration is needed. My issues is with Illegals, They should not be given any preferred place just because they cut in line. I have a good many freinds in India, Central Asia and the Balkans that would love to come here. Why should they be put on the back burner. My arguement is this. Drop the illegal immigration debate, it is illegal and unfair. Let us debate an increase in Green Cards and Visa’s. That is the issue. I am all for increased Visa’s and i think that is the solution. Thats my counter arguement.

    • Hi, I agree with you that some control on immigration is needed. My question to you is, what should we do with all of those children who were brought here “illegally” at a very young age and have grown to be educated adults who consider this country their home? Many of them don’t know their family’s native language, and if they do, they have a very strong accent and are ridiculed by members of their race. I think the issue is not “illegal immigration” because the great majority of the illegal population in the U.S come here with temporary visas and never return to their countries. One of the reasons why many Latins cross the border illegally is because the US has a set number of visas for each country and they just don’t offer enough for the countries south of the border. In my humble opinion, we need to fix our broken immigration system and figure out a solution so that other human beings have the same opportunities in their own place of birth. It’s not my intention to offend you, I’m just sharing my perspective and would like to read your opinion. 🙂

  6. I live in a small town south of Houston,Tx. Over the past couple of years shootings have increased in our area. All of them have been Hispanic on Hispanic and most drug related. My assumptions are that these are either “illegals” or offspring of “illegals”. This is obviously a biased assumption, and I don’t argue that. But it is a widespread assumption by many in areas where this type of criminal activity occurs. The reason for this assumption is that the so called “liberal” press does not publish whether the perpetrators or victims are “native born”. I suppose it would be considered “politically incorrect” to do so but I believe noting whether they were born in the USA could be of great help in clearing up the above mentioned “misunderstanding”. I would certainly like to find out that it is not an “immigration problem”.

    • Hi Don….thanks for responding. I am curious what would be different if you did have this piece of information. Criminal activity is criminal activity regardless of the immigration status of the criminals. If they are citizens they should go to jail or if they are here illegally, deport them. In either case, problem solved…well as “solved” as they could in an imperfect system. I believe all of us are guilty of “confirmation bias” at some level. If the immigration status of the criminal was reported, we would likely take note of the incidences that fit our particular immigration narrative in any case. I am in no way suggesting that all who migrate to the US, legally or illegally, are all upstanding citizens….not at all. What I would argue (for an interesting read on this, see Eric Schlossser’s book, Reefer Madness) should we shut off all illegal immigration our economy would fall so fast it would make our heads spin…..which is why the United States will always ensure illegal immigration will always be with us….no matter how many “walls” politicians say they are going to build. Is this hit to our economy worth the price of a small number of them committing illegal acts? In any case, I deal with the undocumented nearly every day of my life, and those I deal with certainly shape my perception of the issue. The ones I deal with are generally very hardworking, trying to get an education and better their lot of in life, and perhaps most significantly, are in the US through no effort of their own as their parents dragged them here when they were very young. I very much respect and support these “illegals” whose life is generally hell for a variety of reasons.

  7. Hi Jimmy! I loved your blog. I totally agree immigrants aren’t so bad as people make them to be. I appreciate the different cultures and array food immigrants bring to America. I could imagine life with only American food lol. American food is so boring. I actually miss Mexican street vendors which are very common in Los Angeles now that I live in Redlands. The business immigrants bring to Downtown Los Angeles is Amazing. Have you ever been shopping in the fashion district of Downtown Los Angeles. You can get some great deals there. I also share in your opinion that immigrants should have their background screened. Build a wall? Really? I think that is insane. I also liked your analogy of a wall only being built to keep back the brown immigrants. I have always been a people person and enjoy people from different backgrounds. Sociology has helped me to have a bigger perspective and a non-biased view. Many times we see someone else’s culture as strange because it differs from ours instead of learning from it. I also agree whereas most immigrants are just looking for opportunity surpassing what is offered in their homeland.

  8. I really liked the blog post! I have to disagree with you on this one though. I do accept the fact that we all come from immigrant families in one way or another and I do agree that many immigrants perform services and provide labor that may seem unattractive to others; I think it is a little irrational to say that illegal immigrants cannot also be considered a burden to the economy. You stated with information from US News that immigrants “contribute nearly 12 billion dollars per year to the US economy.” US News goes on to state in the same article “In 2010, the average unlawful immigrant household received around $24,721 in government benefits and services while paying some $10,334 in taxes,” a report from the right-leaning Heritage Foundation think tank said in 2013. “This [deficit’s] cost had to be borne by U.S. taxpayers.

    In other words, even though immigrants in the country illegally pay billions of dollars to the U.S. government in the form of taxes, some research still pegs them as a net drain on government resources.”

    For me this means that we can’t rule this out as a possible source of strain on the economy. In addition to that, the estimated population of illegal immigrants in the US is about 10.9 million. If every single illegal immigrant was paying taxes, 8% of 10.9 million is not as impressive as 5% of 322.7 million (The us population in 2016). I realize that isn’t an astounding amount for natives either but I’m not very impressed by the number of illegal immigrants paying taxes. I did have many friends in high school who were children of immigrants; many of them were planning on being the first college graduates in their families and I can say with all sincerity, good for them. I know that America is a land of opportunity and I hope that many people come to the US legally and have their wildest dreams come true through hard work and determination. I do, however, still believe that LEGAL is a very important key word. I have even been in a position where I have worked with and managed employees, many of which were illegal immigrants. I won’t go into too many details about it, but I can say that some of them made a lot of money with little or no intention to pay taxes; i’ll just leave it at that. Easy targets are easy targets, but I believe you can find some truth in both sides of every problem.

  9. I can see how immigrants are helpful to the U.S., but that doesn’t excuse them from doing what they can to obtain permanent residence. From 2001 to 2014 around one million people per year became a legal permanent resident in the U.S. (1). Those people are accounted for and they obtain almost all the same rights as a natural U.S. citizen, and if they remain in the country for at least 5 years and meet the pre-requisites, then they can apply for full citizenship. (2). Yes, immigrants are helpful for our economy and their labor contributions are grand, but it’s not fair to those whom have taken the time and effort to obtain a green card or even citizenship. The idea is to accept those who are willing to assimilate into the U.S. economic, social, and political structures that we’ve been accustomed to. (3). It’s the law, many have abided to it, and immigrants shouldn’t try to shortcut around it.

    1. https://www.dhs.gov/publication/yearbook-2014

    2. http://www.bridge.us/articles/apply-citizenship-green-card/

    3. http://library.uwb.edu/static/USimmigration/1952_immigration_and_nationality_act.html

  10. Immigration was never really a thought that crossed my mind (with much depth) until 2 years ago when I met my fiancé. I met him while on vacation in Scotland and after a few visits and a proposal, we had to try to figure out how we would be able to be together. We decided that it would be best for him to move here, for now, and then maybe we could live in Scotland later on. We attempted a visa and he was denied. So disappointing! We thought we had done everything right; clearly not. We decided to hire an attorney that could help us get an approval. The attorney did everything we had done on the first attempt. Only difference? We paid him big bucks! We are still in the process of getting him here although now there is an end in sight, only 21 more days until his arrival! Once he arrives, we will marry immediately in order to hurry the work permit process along. Without the permit, he is not legally allowed to work. He will be having a lovely 3 month holiday during the waiting process which is, hopefully, hassle free and approved. The best part of this whole thing was that every attorney I spoke with about this visa all said the same thing: Why didn’t he just come here on a visa waiver program and marry you to stay? Uummm…. what? If I had known the process would be so challenging I may have been tempted to do things illegally. In the long run, I’m glad we didn’t. I did learn one thing, money talks!

  11. Immigrants are an important part of our country’s economy, culture, and status in the world. They have been since post industrial revolution. I would be against illegal immigration except that our government makes it SO hard for people to do things the right way. Like Rita said in her post, it’s very difficult to do things the right way when it’s so expensive, and sometimes the distance can be hard when someone has family or friends or a significant other in another country.
    In response to the Canada vs Mexico thing though, I don’t think it’s so much about color as it is about number. There are far more Mexican immigrants than there are Canadian immigrants. I think that’s why the Mexican immigrants are the ones that “pro-wall” people are concerned about. According to the Pew Research Center, Mexican immigrants make up 49% of all immigrants in the United States.
    http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/11/19/5-facts-about-illegal-immigration-in-the-u-s/

  12. Reading this blog, I have to say, I agree with the majority of it. I don’t really have much to argue. One of my very best friends of 10 years is an “illegal immigrant” so I have seen the struggles she’s faced as being undocumented. She grew up in the United States and has lived her since she was a baby. Her Dad who was also an immigrant, along with her brother were all very hard working people. They both got good grades in school and planned on attending college, however, due to their status they were unable to do so. I have seen first hand the type struggles many hard working people face due to their status. In my opinion, building a wall around a country that we stole from many years ago is a disgrace. Not only do immigrants hold an economic value to our country but many of them make America great. One of the reasons I really can’t stand Donald Trump is because he likes to make blanket statements about minorities, women and just like he once said “Mexicans are rapist”. How does a presidential candidate get away with saying something like that? As many bad Mexicans as there are in this country there are just as many bad white people. I can see why he wants it done by the system which I agree with, but at the same time, we should make it an easier process so people can do it the correct way. Apparently illegal immigration is only ok if you’re white, pretty and married to Donald Trump.

    • Thank you Kayla…my favorite line: ” In my opinion, building a wall around a country that we stole from many years ago is a disgrace.” Agreed.

  13. There is a saying that “bigger fences make better neighbors”. I don’t necessarily believe that a bigger wall will make Mexico or anyone else south of the border, better neighbors. I think that phrase is more about boundaries. Such as we teach people how to treat us. Much in the same way we treat other countries or visitors how we want to be treated. Do we want to encourage a free ride for resources? I was recently getting my nails done near LAX. Yes – guys do this – and it’s great. The nail technician was Korean. She has her three kids living with her, all college age. She works all day, cleans the house, and when her schedule and the kids schedule coincide she makes them meals. She told me that opportunity exists for those that work hard, and pursue it. She works hard so her children can pursue higher education so they can have careers in a different field and “better life” as she put it. So I think the fear of immigration is that “they” will take the slice of pie of free stuff away from “us”. So from what I can tell, “they” are harder workers with a purpose, and we are insulted by that premise. – The problem probably isn’t immigration at the heart of it, I believe it is a problem of entitlement. You are not entitled to free stuff because you are in this country (however you arrived).
    Also, while traveling abroad (Belize) I was talking to another American and he said that America was the best country in the world. In my opinion it is not. I told him that and he was reeling with emotions. I explained that if it was the best, that the other countries would be empty. I have seen absolutely content and happy people all over the world, and not everyone shares the same “American Dream”. But if you do want that dream, then go out and work for it.

    • Not sure if you ever saw the movie “Thank You For Smoking” though there is a scene where the lead protagonist (Nick Naylor) son wants help with his school essay, “Why American is the Greatest Country in the World.” It is comically communicated that the premise of the statement itself is so useless. “If America were the best, on what criteria do you base it on?” Education? Crime rates? Freedom? Lack of Corruption? Beauty? Its people? I have been all over the world and we ethnocentric Americans think that nearly every place else is a shithole cause we are so wonderful. I was just in Croatia this past June….it was one of the most beautiful, friendliest, wonderful places I have ever been. When you tell most Americans you went to Croatia they think of war, crime and warlords…. as we are trained from an early age, with hands over our heart, that we are in the land of liberty and justice for all…the rest of the world is by default, not as good as us. I am not complaining about America nor suggesting I am not very pleased to be here…I just do not want to drink the “America is the shit and we do not have problems” kool-aid. There are places all over the globe that are absolutely wonderful. Thank you for the comments David!

  14. “Just because one might be born into a different language, culture and country, does not equate them to being any less deserving of everything that I enjoy as an US citizen.”

    Except that culture plays a large part in forming people’s values. The reason immigration from Europe in the 19th and early twentieth centuries, and even from places like mexico more relatively recently has tended to work out well is because those people had similar values to ours, due to a shared Judeo-Christian religious heritage. Additionally immigrants from Asia and India, while not informed by a Judeo-Christian tradition, still have moral values that are compatible with ours.

    Yet as we consider what to do about issues like refugees from the middle east, it’s important to remember that there are some cultures that produce values that are incompatible with western civilization. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are a huge amount of Muslim refugees that would be fine with coming here, making something of themselves, and respecting our norms, customs and laws, but it would naive to think that there also won’t be a fairly large number of them who absolutely wouldn’t. Sure, it may only be a relatively small number of incoming refugees that harbor anti-american, anti-west beliefs, but is it really worth taking the risk? I know there’s lots of sympathy for the plight of refugees, but how about some concern for the safety and well-being of those that are already here?

    • Thank you for your contribution Taylor. My sentiment you restated in your comment is much more a statement pertaining to my deeply held ANTI-Nationalism position more than anything else. In your scenario, as a person I believe they are equally as inherently deserving, yet one’s behavior can certainly reset that status, regardless of religion, ethnicity, cultural background, etc… A Muslim murderer is equally as non-deserving as a Christian, American murderer. The problem with the anti-immigration position you suggest is there is really no accurate vetting process, with the exception of a criminal background check, which would still be pretty sketchy. Therefore, to be really safe, we would have to say no to everyone, all the time, which I believe is a really bad idea and not what our country is built on…so I am willing to take that risk. In addition, the most recent terrorist acts were performed by American citizens, not illegal, or even legal, immigrants. People in general have a great fear of “different” people (xenophobia) when the real problems are generally right under our own noses who are one of “us.” It is simply convenient to blame the poor and the immigrants.

      • This is a great topic Professor U, I completely agree with you. On the topic of these “anti-american, anti-west beliefs” Taylor you ask “is it really worth taking the risk?” and I would argue that you take bigger risks every day.

        http://www.wrapsnet.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=wzapIbvikQ4%3d&tabid=211&portalid=1&mid=630

        Above is a link to a Excel file by Refugee Processing Center that shows the total number of refugees taken in by the US government since 1975

        http://www.wrapsnet.org/Reports/AdmissionsArrivals/tabid/211/Default.aspx

        Above link will lead you to the Refugee Processing Center website which under Admissions and reports will lead to the excel file I linked above.( Just in case you did not believe me)

        This chart will show since 2000 we have accepted a total of 999,776 refugees from around the world, 323,429 of which came from the Middle East Region, which many would consider “anti-american” belief. Out of these 323,429 only three have ever planned a terrorist attack, two of which were planned for outside the US and the last was a barely credible threat. you can read about this here
        ( http://www.migrationpolicy.org/news/us-record-shows-refugees-are-not-threat )

        This same article goes over something both of you touched on, which is the vetting process behind refugees and immigrants from these “anti-american” regions. This rumor that there is no vetting process is just not true. The average vetting process takes, on average, 18-24 months

        Here is a link to the White Houses website that gives a step by step process.

        https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/11/20/infographic-screening-process-refugee-entry-united-states

        Back to the main point, is the risk really worth it? Well first off what is the risk? According to the numbers I gave earlier, the risk of a refugee carrying out a terrorist attack on American soil is 1 in 323,429(1 in 107,810 if you count the 2 men aiding al-Qaeda). This is minuscule to the risk if any at all. The odds of you getting in a fetal car accident is 1 in 113. If you own a gun you have a 1 in 7,944 chance to be killed by an accidental discharge. These numbers were cited from Insurance Information Institute. Below is a link to the exact page.

        http://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/mortality-risk

        These refugees are fleeing an area of great conflict and most of them just want there family’s to be able to grow up in a place where their lives are not threatened every day. The risk you talk about is 1 in 323,429(1 in 107,810), is that even a risk?

  15. “My sentiment you restated in your comment is much more a statement pertaining to my deeply held ANTI-Nationalism position more than anything else.”

    It should be obvious, even to a non-nationalist, that it’s a good idea to be careful about who is let into a country.

    “In your scenario, as a person I believe they are equally as inherently deserving, yet one’s behavior can certainly reset that status, regardless of religion, ethnicity, cultural background, etc… A Muslim murderer is equally as non-deserving as a Christian, American murderer.”

    Except that cultural background and religion (or at least what form of it they adhere to) can inform to large degree the values that a person can hold, which in turn will influence their behavior.

    “The problem with the anti-immigration position you suggest is there is really no accurate vetting process, with the exception of a criminal background check, which would still be pretty sketchy. Therefore, to be really safe, we would have to say no to everyone, all the time, which I believe is a really bad idea…”

    That’s not my position, though. I’m only against taking in refugees from Syria, Iraq, and other countries with a high potential to sneak terrorists in among the refugees, and which have no obtainable data to use for vetting purposes. In other countries with an infrastructure that allows accurate background checking, there would be no reason to suspend immigration.

    “…and not what our country is built on…”

    Basic consideration of national security is not what our country is built on? Alexander Hamilton would disagree with you: “To admit foreigners indiscriminately to the rights of citizens, the moment they put foot in our country … would be nothing less, than to admit the Grecian Horse into the Citadel of our Liberty and Sovereignty. … The United States have already felt the evils of incorporating a large number of foreigners into their national mass. … In times of great public danger there is always a numerous body of men, of whom there may be just grounds of distrust; the suspicion alone weakens the strength of the nation, but their force may be actually employed in assisting an invader.” – http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Hamilton/01-25-02-0282

    “so I am willing to take that risk.”

    But at what cost? Is it really worth taking the chance that for many Americans, things like terrorism and honor killings would become the new normal? The question isn’t how big or small that risk is, but whether it should even be allowed to be a risk at all, and the only acceptable answer to that is “no”.

    “In addition, the most recent terrorist acts were performed by American citizens, not illegal, or even legal, immigrants.”

    How does the fact that the most recent attacks weren’t by immigrants make it any less of a threat? Your conclusion doesn’t follow from the premise, and the premise is also a bit misleading, as we have had incidents of terrorism or terror plots from immigrants in the recent past:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/17/us/ohio-man-trained-in-syria-is-charged-with-planning-terrorism-in-us.html?_r=1

    http://www.voanews.com/a/pakistani-american-brothers-sentenced-nyc-terror-plot-florida/2818741.html

    http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/16/us/tennessee-naval-reserve-shooting/

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/bosnians-reject-hatred-wake-terror-financing-case-060550317.html?ref=gs

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/injury-toll-rises-marathon-massacre-article-1.1319080

    “People in general have a great fear of “different” people (xenophobia)when the real problems are generally right under our own noses who are one of “us.” It is simply convenient to blame the poor and the immigrants.”

    Or they might actually be right. Please try not to pathologize or employ ad-hominems against people whose positions you disagree with. It’s most unsporting.

    • Thanks again Taylor! I really apologize if my comment concerning fear of different seemed in anyway ad hominem as it most certainly was not intended to be. I think it is basic human nature to want to gravitate towards others most like us, it is not a pathology…and I most certainly include myself in that category. I believe we have to fight our own nature when it comes to this. Yet, upon rereading, I can totally see how it could be taken that way…my bad. I want to encourage healthy dialogue and ad hominem attacks certainly do not accomplish that objective.

      Yes, I am willing to take that chance in order to help those who need it as I believe the reward outweighs the risk. Over 200,00 Syrians have died in the last 5 years or so due to civil war….these people are simply fighting for their lives…many of them young children, widows and the elderly. These people are in a living hell right now….to turn our backs on them is a huge moral failing. Emma Lazarus:

      “Give me your tired, your poor,
      Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
      The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
      Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
      I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

      Yes, I am aware of the “it does not say give us your terrorists that threaten our national security” crowd on the statue of liberty, yet it is the utilitarian in me that believes many more people in impoverished and dire situations would be helped then the harm any, if any, potential unvetted terrorists would do harm towards us. Is this debatable? Of course it is, and I respect others who think differently…I simply do not believe the potential threat outweighs the obvious reward of providing refuge for the displaced.

      Insofar as my citing the most recent attacks by American citizens, it was to highlight the idea that real threats are potentially right next door -yet we seemed more concerned with outside threats at the expense of doing a poor job dealing with the inside ones. In all, we absolutely do live in a different age and life will never be the same on a global level -so long as there are those who look forward to dying in order to kill as many as possible….this is our new reality. And if we allow this hate to translate into us turning our backs toward those in need, it makes it all the more tragic.

  16. “Yes, I am willing to take that chance in order to help those who need it as I believe the reward outweighs the risk.”

    So you’re totally for rolling the dice and risking the lives of Americans. Noted. You claim often that you can appreciate others’ points of view, unfortunately I can’t claim the same thing, at least on this issue. I simply can’t understand how anyone would think this is a risk worth taking.

    “”Over 200,00 Syrians have died in the last 5 years or so due to civil war… these people are simply fighting for their lives…many of them young children, widows and the elderly. These people are in a living hell right now….”

    Yes, and that’s obviously quite a tragedy, but it doesn’t logically follow that we have any obligation to risk our own security.

    “….to turn our backs on them is a huge moral failing.”

    Yet another non-sequitur. Why would protecting our own interest and safety be a moral failing? Wouldn’t needlessly endangering american lives also be quite a moral failing?

    “Emma Lazarus:

    “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

    Yes, I am aware of the “it does not say give us your terrorists that threaten our national security” crowd on the statue of liberty”

    Thanks for arguing that point for me!

    “yet it is the utilitarian in me that believes many more people in impoverished and dire situations would be helped then the harm any, if any, potential unvetted terrorists would do harm towards us. Is this debatable? Of course it is, and I respect others who think differently…I simply do not believe the potential threat outweighs the obvious reward of providing refuge for the displaced.”

    Why does it have to be here? Surely there are other countries, perhaps closer geographically and culturally, where they would be able to live, and there would be less danger of violent culture-clash or terrorism. And if you honestly think there isn’t any risk of terrorism, look to Europe.

    “Insofar as my citing the most recent attacks by American citizens, it was to highlight the idea that real threats are potentially right next door -yet we seemed more concerned with outside threats…”

    That doesn’t mean that outside threats shouldn’t be dealt with, and it’s actually fairly easy to prevent a large number of those outside threats. Stop giving them an avenue to get in.

    “at the expense of doing a poor job dealing with the inside ones.”

    This seems a bit like a red-herring. Domestic terrorism is dealt with all the time.

    “so long as there are those who look forward to dying in order to kill as many as possible….this is our new reality.”

    This is what I find absolutely mind-boggling, that /anyone/ would simply accept this kind of thing as the “new normal”, rather than doing anything they could to prevent it from happening.

    “And if we allow this hate to translate into us turning our backs toward those in need, it makes it all the more tragic.”

    What about those in need here in the US? Those who need to continue worshiping what they want, living how they want, and loving who they want without fearing for their lives? Do you honestly think potentially throwing them to the wolves is a fair trade-off? I don’t, and I can’t understand the thinking of anyone who does, and I’m not particularly sure I’d want to.

  17. This is a great topic Professor U; I completely agree with you. On the topic of these “anti-American, anti-west beliefs” Taylor you ask “is it really worth taking the risk?” and I would argue that you take bigger risks every day.

    http://www.wrapsnet.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=wzapIbvikQ4%3d&tabid=211&portalid=1&mid=630

    Above is a link to a Excel file by Refugee Processing Center that shows the total number of refugees taken in by the US government since 1975

    http://www.wrapsnet.org/Reports/AdmissionsArrivals/tabid/211/Default.aspx

    Above link will lead you to the Refugee Processing Center website which under Admissions and reports will lead to the excel file I linked above. (Just in case you did not believe me)

    This chart will show since 2000 we have accepted a total of 999,776 refugees from around the world, 323,429 of which came from the Middle East Region, which many would consider “anti-American” belief. Out of these 323,429 only three have ever planned a terrorist attack, two of which were planned for outside the US and the last was a barely credible threat. you can read about this here
    ( http://www.migrationpolicy.org/news/us-record-shows-refugees-are-not-threat )

    This same article goes over something both of you touched on, which is the vetting process behind refugees and immigrants from these “anti-American” regions. This rumor that there is no vetting process is just not true. The average vetting process takes, on average, 18-24 months

    Here is a link to the White House’s website that gives a step by step process.

    https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/11/20/infographic-screening-process-refugee-entry-united-states

    Back to the main point, is the risk really worth it? Well first off what is the risk? According to the numbers I gave earlier, the risk of a refugee carrying out a terrorist attack on American soil is 1 in 323,429(1 in 107,810 if you count the 2 men aiding al-Qaeda). This is minuscule to the risk if any at all. The odds of you getting in a fetal car accident is 1 in 113. If you own a gun you have a 1 in 7,944 chance to be killed by an accidental discharge. These numbers were cited from Insurance Information Institute. Below is a link to the exact page.

    http://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/mortality-risk

    These refugees are fleeing an area of great conflict and most of them just want their family’s to be able to grow up in a place where their lives are not threatened every day. The risk you talk about is 1 in 323,429(1 in 107,810), is that even a risk?

    • Thanks Chad…I really appreciate the effort you have undergone to create this response…it is very impressive. This is a very important issue and I appreciate you shedding further light on it. As you know, I definitely agree with you and would take it even one step further…even if the risk were greater than the statistics you provide, if we could save 10,000 Syrians lives at the expense of a few American lives (yes, even my own) we have accomplished the greater good for the greater amount of people. Another thing, the country that has taken on the greatest amount of Syrian refugees since 2015, Germany at over 44,000, has not, to my knowledge, experienced a single terrorist act by any of these refugees. Something to think about. Now, if you don’t mind, I need to engage some others on the current state of law enforcement!

    • “This chart will show since 2000 we have accepted a total of 999,776 refugees from around the world, 323,429 of which came from the Middle East Region, which many would consider “anti-American” belief. Out of these 323,429 only three have ever planned a terrorist attack, two of which were planned for outside the US and the last was a barely credible threat. you can read about this here
      ( http://www.migrationpolicy.org/news/us-record-shows-refugees-are-not-threat )”

      In an earlier reply, I provided five links of refugees or immigrants that have been arrested in relation to terror plots, for a grand total of TWELVE refugees involved. So it’s clear that your source is defining the threat as narrowly as possible to get a smaller number, and has a bit of a credibility problem.

      “This same article goes over something both of you touched on, which is the vetting process behind refugees and immigrants from these “anti-American” regions. This rumor that there is no vetting process is just not true. The average vetting process takes, on average, 18-24 months

      Here is a link to the White House’s website that gives a step by step process.

      https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/11/20/infographic-screening-process-refugee-entry-united-states”

      The FBI would disagree: https://homeland.house.gov/press/fbi-warns-intelligence-gap-foreign-fighters-syria-iraq/

      “Back to the main point, is the risk really worth it? Well first off what is the risk? According to the numbers I gave earlier, the risk of a refugee carrying out a terrorist attack on American soil is 1 in 323,429(1 in 107,810 if you count the 2 men aiding al-Qaeda). This is minuscule to the risk if any at all. The odds of you getting in a fetal car accident is 1 in 113. If you own a gun you have a 1 in 7,944 chance to be killed by an accidental discharge. These numbers were cited from Insurance Information Institute. Below is a link to the exact page.

      http://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/mortality-risk”

      That’s a retarded argument, for two big reasons:

      1) as I’ve demonstrated above, the data you provide has been manipulated or misinterpreted to arbitrarily minimize the risk, and the definition of what exactly poses a risk has been very narrowly constrained as well. I would consider aiding and abetting terrorist, either materially of financially, to pose just as much of a risk to the american people as participating directly in a terrorist attack, but of course your sources wouldn’t define it that way, because it presents an extremely inconvenient reality for their case.

      2) Every argument of this type I’ve ever encountered uses an example of car accidents, lightning strikes, or being crushed by furniture as a point of comparison. What most people making this argument seem to forget is that those are /accidental/ deaths, whereas terrorism is an intentional act, so you’re making an apples to oranges comparison. Furthermore, it’s much easier to prevent terrorism than some random accident. You simply close any avenue that terrorists or their enablers could use to get into the country. Even if the risk is low (and I think I’ve made a strong case that it’s not as low as you might think), why the heck wouldn’t you do that?

      “These refugees are fleeing an area of great conflict and most of them just want their family’s to be able to grow up in a place where their lives are not threatened every day. The risk you talk about is 1 in 323,429(1 in 107,810), is that even a risk?”

      Even if we ignore all my previous points, I can point out that the logic behind your argument is pretty silly by taking it just one step further: We could import all of ISIS or Al Qaeda directly into the US, since both groups have at most a couple hundred thousand members each, while the population of the US is around 319 million, the odds of getting killed by them is, numerically, quite low, yet most people would regard that as a really, really bad idea. So what’s the magic probability a risk factor has to have in order to be taken off the table? It really makes the most sense to play it safe in both cases.

      Now, on to Jimmy:

      “As you know, I definitely agree with you and would take it even one step further…even if the risk were greater than the statistics you provide, if we could save 10,000 Syrians lives at the expense of a few American lives (yes, even my own) we have accomplished the greater good for the greater amount of people.”

      Again, why can’t they just be sent to other countries, with a culture similar to their own, with less chance of a culture clash, and less friction that could be conducive to terrorism in the first place? You seem really determined to sacrifice american lives. Aren’t there other, less harmful ways to make yourself feel morally virtuous?

      “Another thing, the country that has taken on the greatest amount of Syrian refugees since 2015, Germany at over 44,000, has not, to my knowledge, experienced a single terrorist act by any of these refugees. Something to think about.”

      Is a google search that hard?

      http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/24/world/ansbach-germany-blast/

      There were also cases of Syrian refugees plotting attacks:

      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/isis-german-police-arrest-three-syrian-refugee-men-sent-to-europe-by-isis-to-carry-out-terror-a7239906.html

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/09/22/syrian-teenager-arrested-in-germany-was-planning-isil-bomb-attac/

      and then you have non-terrorism related crime by refugees:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Year%27s_Eve_sexual_assaults_in_Germany

      • So instead of arguing with the statistics I laid out you call my logic “silly”. What is silly about it? The fact you take bigger risks every day, but wait, this risk involves trusting someone who doesn’t look like you( yes I’m assuming your not middle eastern). So we better play it safe these people have different color skin and beliefs. Then you jump to “Importing all of ISIS or Al Qaeda”. Wait what? “Now, on to Jimmy”

        And you call my logic silly.

        • You seem to have somehow missed most of what I wrote, and what you did address was your own hallucination of what I wrote. Why don’t you take a deep breath, collect your thoughts, and try again?

  18. Being from a midwestern town in which they are all about keeping immigrants out of the country, I know that their arguments are usually not valid. However I believe immigration is great, but like you said, it needs to be organized. ILLEGAL immigration to the point where they have no intent of getting citizenship at all is bad to me. I should not have to pay taxes, while someone who has a job and lives in a home, does not have to pay taxes. That is the only part about immigration that i hate. I do not believe they are all criminals and lazy people. I just feel that if they want to be a part of our society, they have to contribute to it just like the rest of us.

    • It’s not okay for them but it’s okay for all the rich white business men like Donald Trump to not pay taxes. They are “really smart” to not pay taxes. You add up all the money every illegal didn’t pay taxes on and it wouldn’t even come close to the amount of taxes the 1% avoids paying.

      • In the case of rich people “avoiding taxes” usually actually means deductions. Basically, they get certain amounts deducted from what they owe in taxes because they contribute to the economy or society by other means. This is why you can get a deduction for say, expenses from owning your own business; or qualify for deductions for charitable donations. Rich people tend to get a lot more of these deductions because they can afford to do more of the things that qualify for deductions. Of course there are more unscrupulous types doing shady things like offshore accounts and other tax avoidance schemes, and I agree the legal loopholes that allow that should be closed.

        Even if we ignore all that, though, your argument is a non-sequitur because one group doing or not doing something doesn’t make it okay for a different group to do or not do the same thing. It turns out that wrong things are wrong, and that doesn’t change depending on who’s doing it.

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