Saturday, June 16, 2007

One more problem with Damnesty

I've seen a number of fairly practical, pragmatic reasons for blocking the latest Damnesty plan, not the least of which being the tilting of the scales of justice against the law-abiding citizens and toward the cheaters, plus the threats to the nation's safety due to terrorism, gang violence, and such, the burden on the taxpayers for schools, hospital bills, social programs, and that risk to our health from diseases we had eradicated locally but are making a comeback (see: tuberculosis).

One argument quite a few have in favor of open-borders policy is the old "they do work American's won't." For example, the Swift meat packing plants suffered a raid right before Christmas, last year, including one in Marshalltown IA, where they swept up six busloads of illegal immigrants. Apparently, nobody likes to work in a place where they kill hogs & make ham. Except that, he next day, there was a line out the door and around the block, of unemployed local citizens seeking those newly-vacated jobs. So much for that theory.

Okay, that's the obvious set of complaints with this damnesty plan -- or any other such damnesty for those who cheat the system. But a less obvious one comes out when you hear one big complaint from folks like Linda Chavez, a citizen whose family has been here almost as long as my father's (well, maybe slightly less. She traces hers back about 3 centuries. Some of Dad's go back about to the landbridge -- and possibly to the days of the atlatl, if his extreme liking for tools is any indication). Linda's complaint is that some people assume that, because her name is Spanish, she's one of those people -- you know, the ones who crossed the border in the middle of the night sometime just before the Reagan damnesty. Everybody with a Latin-sounding name must come from recent illegal immigrants, right?

Well, part of the reason "stupid, racist" people make that assumption is that, statistically, they stand a pretty good chance of being correct. There do seem to be a whole lot of people arriving here with no direct family ties to the land before, say, 2003. According to Wikipedia (and we don't necessarily cite them as an unbiased source, but they do have good links), there are between 7 and 20 million illegal immigrants in this country right now, and "According to the Pew Hispanic Center somewhat more than half of the illegal immigrant population entered the country illegally rather than overstay their visas."

Now, let us look at the actual Hispanic/Latino numbers in the US according to the 2000 census. Just over 35 million people who live in America say they are of H/L background. So, if the Pew Hispanic Center's numbers are correct, in that 57 per cent of the illegal immigrants are from Mexico, and another 24 percent coming from other Latin American countries, that would put the estimates at... let's see... my math isn't all that impressive, but doesn't it come out to between 5.6 and 16.0 million Spanish-speaking illegal immigrants... therefore Spanish-speaking illegal immigrants make up between 12 and 48 percent of all Hispanic/Latino people living here?

And the more folks come racing across the border without permission, the more natural it will be for the ignorant bigots to automatically assume the Chavez family came here wedged in the back of a van in 1986.

So, if Linda Chavez is going to get upset every time somebody looks at her as though questioning her legal status as an immigrant/citizen, she may want to take it up with the masses who are making it so easy for the rest of the country to jump to conclusions.

And she may want to work on controlling that bristliness. If Mom's family can get over their having been accused of being German spies and Nazi sympathizers (a couple of them spent time in prison for it, even though evidence and inclination were markedly absent) during the two world wars -- simply because they had a "kraut" last name and funny accents -- and have figured out a way to find it funny, maybe Chavez could try it, too.

Final query: why is she upset to be taken for one of the newbies? Can it be that, deep down, she recognizes there's a problem, even though she's trying hard to deny it? Or is she just a snob about family lineage, the Latina version of FFV?

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