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 poor 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.