There's a smart young man named Adam Serwer who writes here and there. I imagine him to be one of the silent majority of Cobb followers. Since I lapse into the profane and unprofessional language gutters and artistic airspace of the narrow bowling alley of political melioration, I understand why lots of people who read don't also write here. In a world where men with the intelligence and integrity of Juan Williams get crucified in media wars, I'm smart to be a blogger. Then again, for a three year two million dollar contract, I'd put on a monkey suit and be a droll troll.
Serwer, mindfully keeping his distance from marginalized tar babies of the sort I profess to be, nevertheless is broadly well-read enough, and presumably secure enough in his position to recognize that all Republican and conservative interest in America's immigration problem is not mere racist claptrap. And it would be nice to be on his referral list, but since he quotes Tamar Jacoby of my favorite think tank, the Manhattan Institute, I am pleased. Here he shows that he gets it.
Tamar Jacoby, a former Manhattan Institute fellow who is now president of ImmigrationWorksUSA, sums up the choice America faces: "Do we want to be the kind of country that has 11 million people living on the margins of society outside the rule of law and outside our body politic?"
Where have I heard that argument before? Oh yeah. Me:
Legal Slavery vs Voluntary Slavery
My main position on immigration is that it must be legal, after that, I am not concerned about the disposition of Americans so long as the rule of law is maintained and the economy is strong. In other words, I'm not particularly concerned about a second underclass, so long as it is not legally enforced. I see that legal enforcement in the breach in considering the fate of the 'undocumented worker'. It is essentially true that a illegal immigrant has no rights a citizen is bound to respect echoing a similar sentiment of the Jim Crow era. The difference is that race discrimination was legally sanctioned and contracts with blacks were not enforced. Today no such legal barriers are in force. So that is why I strenuously argue against illegal immigration, especially when people exclaim about Mexican 'rights' to be here.
Mexicans who disabuse their Mexican citizenship at the risk of running afowl of American law and society are volunteering to be second-class citizens in a country which may or may not honor their rights. This is a calculated risk that I respect, and so I shed no tears for the victims of abuse. I think of illegal labor as indentured servitude. From a moral perspective I find it appalling to have a nation with two separate societies and rules. I would much prefer a society with a clean floor and citizenship should be the bright line.
I should have written that I shed *few* tears for the victims of abuse. I was saying a lot in that piece and you should read the whole thing to get a grasp on my entire position which hasn't changed much since then. I'm not particularly interested in the horserace aspect of which party gets credit for the solution that lies in our future but I would like to emphasize a few pieces that I agree with and have been hearing around the Right.
1. Mexico is messed up.
Mexico is an utterly class-bound, racist society that is corrupted by the drug trade in ways that far outstrip the way the China is wealthy and growing because of its trade surplus. The US outsourced *first* to Mexico in the days before NAFTA. This was before there was a such thing as Samsung. Back when GM cars still were more popular than Toyotas. How India and China and Korea have leapfrogged Mexico over the past 30 years, despite Mexico's geographical and cultural proximity to America is testimony in every way to Mexico's economic failure. Yet Carlos Slim is one of the richest men on the planet, and Chiapas is on fire. Until people start talking about the geopolitical reality of Mexico now instead of some romantic blood & soil reconquista vision, this situation is never going to get better.
2. Mexican citizens are still Mexican citizens.
And they send about 20 billion dollars in remittances back to their country of origin every year. They retain their rights as citizens and we need to start thinking about what it means when they refuse to give up those rights in exchange for the privilege of working in America. There is inherently a tremendous injustice in what Mexican citizens get away with as compared to every other national that comes to America for economic advantage. Our immigration policy towards the world should not be balkanized. Imagine what the Left would say if we started exposing defacto exceptions in our immigration policy for Muslims or for homosexuals.
3. Deportation Ain't Border Enforcement
Nobody is going to deport millions of Mexicans. That doesn't mean borders should not be enforced. The fence should be built on principle. It's a problem border. If the border cannot be defended, then neither can citizenship. Just look to Afghanistan/Pakistan to see the problem. We don't need another no man's land. American militias will always spring up until the border is sealed. Understand that the issues are separate and must remain separate. If progress is not made on border enforcement, then opportunity for the two issues to remain separate will lessen - the militia movement will harden and ordinary Americans will become radicalized. We risk the equivalent of a 'fugitive slave act'.
4. Liberty or Death
But my most important point is that we cannot have a double standard for citizenship. Things need to be made much more clear and permanent. Without that we make a mockery of the Constitution, the 14th Amendment, and our standards of equal protection under the law. There is and only should be one standard for Civil Rights in America and it requires the reciprocity of citizenship. Until that day comes, we will abuse Mexican citizens here illegally because they will continue to be governed without consent. How much clearer can it be made?