It`s about low-wage American workers
BY T.A. FRANK
The consensus among decent people in favor of the immigration bill making its way through Congress is so firm that expressing dissent feels a bit like taking the floor to suggest we chop down the Redwood National Park. People don’t want to hear it, and they also think you’re a nut. That makes this article one of the hardest I’ve ever had to write. It’s not that I’m afraid people will get angry; it’s that I can’t imagine anyone on my side (liberal) is open to persuasion. And, despite the vastness and complexity of the issue, I have to be brief: the Senate hopes to be done with things this week.
Sometimes, though, you just have to embrace futility.
The country I want for myself and future Americans is one that’s prosperous, cohesive, harmonious, wealthy in land and resources per capita, nurturing of its skilled citizens, and, most important, protective of its unskilled citizens, who deserve as much any other Americans to live in dignity. This bill threatens to put all of that out of reach, because it fails to control illegal immigration. The problem is not that it provides 11 million people eventual amnesty (I don’t object to that, in theory); the problem is that it sets in motion the next waves of millions.
That is not a fashionable concern, of course. Worrying about illegal immigration today is a lot like worrying about communists in government in 1950. It’s not that the problem isn’t legitimate or serious (there actually were, we now know, a lot of Moscow loyalists working for the U.S. government). It’s that expressing your concurrence links you to a lot of demagogues and bad actors.
Most of America’s college-educated elites are little affected by illegal immigration. In fact, it’s often a benefit to us in terms of childcare, household help, dinners out, and other staples of upper-middle-class life. Many therefore view the problem as akin, in severity, to marijuana use—common but benign, helpful to the immigrants and minimal in its effects on Americans or anyone else.
I know, because it used to be my own view.
But, Los Angeles tends to be a black hole of punditry. The NYC-DC axis that dominates opinion journalism doesn`t have a clue what they are in for because, while there are more than a few smart people in Los Angeles, you can make far more money here off metaphor than off blunt analysis.
For example, here`s a brief allegory from the local public radio station about Max Brooks, the author of the novel World War Z, and his father Mel tending the garden of Max`s mother, the late Ann Bancroft:
Max doesn’t see himself giving up writing in favor of becoming an organic farmer, as much as he loves his work in the garden. But he does now understand how his mother took joy in killing worms. Then, he thought it was sadistic and wrong. “Now, I understand that sense of protection, when I see squirrels in Venice coming after my Japanese plum tree, if we lived in the country, you’d go in the pot as well,” he said.
His father gets it too. Now, the two bond over rat patrol at the compost bins on the side of the house. Mel carries the stick, and Max carries the compost. Being from New York makes scaring away the vermin a bit easier.
Sounds like Mayor Bloomberg`s stop-and-frisk plan.