I also want to clarify my position on the issue, and I do not assume it is the position of all citizens of immigrant background, though I would gamble a large amount of them would agree!
The first and foremost issue, to Americans, AND to legal immigrants, is border security. Many immigrants from Central America have experienced first-hand the cost of high crime rates at the hands of "maras" like the M13 gang. As with most immigrants, these are hard working families who are unable to earn a decent living because of crime and corruption. Many choose to immigrate legally, and sacrifice a lot to do so. It wins no political points with them to have a unsecured border that allows drug lords and gangs to move unhindered. Decent law-abiding citizens of "Latino" descent want a secure nation where they can work for a better future for their children. Everyone knows that M13 gang members come back to the US time and time again after deportations, and are poisoning our streets and committing heinous crimes! If you are an American, you might now know what the M13 is, or what they are capable. If you are Latino, you know! And you want nothing of it. We want a secure border!
We cannot continue in a discussion to find solutions to the problem of illegal immigration without dealing with our insecure and open southern border. Any conversation in the public arena about dealing with the current illegal immigrant population inevitably catches the attention of the millions eager and waiting for their chance to come to America. As I have posted previously here, already immigration officials are seeing an increase in illegals attempting to cross the border as a result of the current debate and rallies. Many will gamble on the possibility of a amnesty. This cannot be. It hinders an open and honest discourse on the issue. But more importantly, and at its core, the border must be secured because we live in an age of terrorism and we cannot allow enemies of the state to enter.
As far as "the message" it sends, why is it that with the issue of border security, suddenly everyone is having trouble sending the right message? Since when does the possibility of confusing messages to the international community (or to Mexico) dictate our leadership's homeland security policies?
Second, I believe citizenship should NOT be easy. It should be achievable to anyone who is willing to work hard enough for it, but if we make it easy and quick, we may end up with the wrong kind of citizens--individuals who have not sacrificed enough to understand the gift that is being given to them. I believe any individual who has entered the country illegally should not be allowed to gain citizenship unless they first exit the country, and pending a background check, being the process at the end of the line. If the legislation wants to create a "guest worker" program, that's fine, but it should NOT include a path to citizenship.
Let me make myself clear: No citizenship for illegal aliens. Second chances, sure. Perhaps a fine. Perhaps a 3-5 year deadline to exit the country. But as long as they remain in the country, there should be no "path" to anything but a redemptive trip back home before trying again if its worth enough to them.
Not to be extreme, I do believe there is room to discuss special circumstances under which an illegal alien might not have to return home to find "status" redemption--a long term marriage to an US born American citizen, for example, might be one, or a political refugee might be another one. I'm not really sure about this one. What do you think? Is there room for some circumstances? I would like to hear more about that from readers...Maybe I am just waffling on this.
Also important to remember is that we do not "NEED" immigrant labor. If we did not have this cheap labor, our country's businesses would innovate, increase wages to attract labor, or figure out a way. Companies that insist on side-stepping the law should face prosecution! Also important to be aware of is the current work load and processing capacity of the government offices processing legal immigrants. Unfortunately, government is not the most efficient of entities. So, while we may WANT to welcome more legal immigrants, this might not be realistic. We are a compassionate nation, but we cannot always save everyone. That's just reality.
Now, as far as those who claim that the GOP will lose the Latino vote if they make a stand on the border fence, and enforcing immigration law, let me just say--no way! Voters of "Latino" heritage are people of moral values. For the most part, they are pro-family, and moral conservatives. That is the key for the message. Like Reagan said, Latinos are conservatives; they just don't know it many times. What WILL lose the GOP votes is to allow nativist policies to move forward. We do not need to restrict LEGAL immigration. We need to continue welcome those that come to America to work hard and earn the American dream for their children.
The GOP needs to tackle head-on the negative messages being put out by the left, particularly by the extreme fringe left like La Raza and MECHA. Michelle Malkin has covered that best. The key is to make sure America hears the truth--most legal immigrants do not approve of this leftist message. Most immigrants are going to work in the mornings, and just trying to make it through another day. Most are making sure to keep their boss happy. Most are trying to learn some English, so they can help their kids with homework. And they are speaking out. It is time for the GOP to hear them.
Some quotes for added perspective:
Via Michelle Malkin:
I posted this from Val Prieto at BabaluBlog earlier, but its worth quoting again. Head on over and read the whole thing.
Reader Adrian C.:I am a Hispanic male born in Texas (3rd generation) but I must tell you I am totally disgusted with what I have seen recently here in LA and across the country. My wife and I were watching a movie on HBO the other day called Walkout and I turned to her and said "“History will repeat itself"” sure enough within a week this happens. I do not understand what part of "illegal" people do not understand. I am just blown away at the stupidity of some of fellow "“raza"”.
Another great quote from "La Ventanita"
Third, I have never and will never, despite having many issues with the government of the United States throughout the years, burn a flag of the United States of America. I am Cuban by birth, American by the grace of God. And a darned proud, dignified, thankful and respectful American.
Fourth, while I certainly sympathize with the Mexican people for their country's economic and social troubles, I refuse to be lumped together as a class or a race simply because we speak a similar language. If Mexicans and Mexican-Americans had wanted my support, then they should have supported the cause of a free and democratic Cuba, instead of the majority and at times the Mexican government having sided with and legitimizing the government of fidel castro.
Fifth, there is a difference between a Cuban living in the United States and a Mexican living in the United States. One is a political refugee and the other is an immigrant, respectively. When Mexicans are being oppressed and have their basic human rights trampled on by their government as Cubans do, then perhaps my opinion will change, until then, the aforementioned difference stands.
Mexicans and Mexican-Americans may very well have legitimate gripes with the government of the US, but as La Raza, the flags they are burning and flying up-side down below the Mexican flag do not speak for me. I aint Mexican, I aint Latino and I aint Hispanic. I am an American of Cuban descent. And damned proud of it.
The Senate needs to wake up and listen to what Americans who elected them want rather than to an illegal majority. Yes we have an immigration problem, yes we need an immigration reform, yes we are living in a post 9/11 world, but why do they fail to see that what we need FIRST and FOREMOST is Border Security. Let me say it again, Border Security.From Latina Advocate. Read the rest of her blog. She has post after post of common sense.
"I'm marching because this is a country for everyone seeking a better life and this is a free world".Jeff Blanco had this to say. I don't agree with everything he says on his immigration post, but it says something about legal immigrant and "Latino" perspective on the issue.
The answer basically given by those interviewed in today's protest march in Los Angeles. Partially true, however nothing in life is free. Seeking the better life in the United States requires a price. The price being those who seek the better life agree to enter this country legally, meaning they follow our legal procedures in order to be a guest worker or citizen of the USA. The price being, be prepared to begin your journey of assimilation. Assimilation can and will get one closer to their dream. Assimilation can be done and proven it's been done by many other legal immigrants over the years and no one lost a bit of who they were or took anything away from their culture. All that crap about how assimilating to the American culture takes away ones heritage and culture is moot. No one looses their heritage/culture unless the individual/s choose to do so. Find another excuse and one that's believable and one that has a leg to stand on. Assimilate because you're not in your country anymore Toto. The price isn't high my friends. I can only wonder if their dreams of a better future are worth paying the price in order to live and work in this country and judging by the several million who have yet to pay the price and are here in this country, it's safe to assume that some are here just for the free ride. Prove me wrong...please.
I think the United States needs to do something to make it easier for people to come to this country legally. I have absolutely no problem with most immigrants coming to this country. I am not concerned about immigrants nearly as much as I am concerned about the government creating more laws. I'm concerned that people are getting too emotional about this issue. I'm concerned that this issue is going to get uncivil.
Republicans need to be very careful on this issue. Not only can they potentially lose the Hispanic vote, but an over-zealous demand against illegal immigrants, couple with the xenophobia of the UAE Ports deal will give minorities the impression that it's not about immigration, but about race. It will dissolve the groundwork and breakthroughs that Republicans have made in the black community. Many, if not most, legal immigrants vote Republican. An anti-immigration stance, or the appearance of being anti-immigrant will cost Republicans votes.
With that being said, however, when the first act within the borders by an immigrant is to violate the law then how can we expect them to obey the rest of our laws? The people that are law abiding want to obey the law and borders don't excuse behavior. Criminals hold no regard for laws in their own country, why should we expect them to abide by our laws?
As a Latino, I find their actions to be abhorrent and they do not represent me. I understand that the majority of people that want something done about the borders ARE NOT racist. I understand their concerns. Once again, my only concern with the anti-illegal immigrant stance is over-zealousness.And here are comments from Latino Issues readers:
Martin: The GOP stands to lose at least two thirds of its voters if it pushes ahead with amnesty. I'm with you, as a grandson of immigrants on both sides of the family, I resent the folks who cut ahead of everyone else doing it the right way and then ruining the infrastructure for everyone once they get here. It's complete insanity. President Bush says family values shouldn't stop at the Rio Grande and I agree. So why doesn't Vicente Fox do something about family values on his side of the borderHere is from a reader of Mexican descent.
I am a 3rd generation Mexican American and I do not speak spanish. I have been called stupid by other Mexicans because I do not speak spanish. Now, they are ignorant because they live in this country for years and still do not want to speak the English language which could possibly help them get a better job with better pay. But as for me personally, I do want to learn spanish and another language.You want more "Latino" votes? Start putting pressure on Vicente Fox, and the rest of the Central American countries, to make real strides in the fight against corruption. Start putting strong conditions on loans and handouts. Start sending common-sense economists to Central and South America so that they can experience the creation of wealth of a true free market in an environment of justice and law.
Another point is these kids that are protesting do not know how to speak properly and sound so ignorant and they are walking onto the freeway and for what? Just stupidity. They need to educate themselves, stay in school, and be informed. They make themselves look so ignorant and it is embarressing.
As far as the flags, it would have been a more accurate representation to have had both flags, the U.S. and their home country because they want to be here in the U.S but at the same time are proud of their heritage.
Also, I wish the Mexicans in Mexico would protest against their govenment demanding that Vicente Fox clean out all the corruption that is going on in the Mexican govenment and to try and invest in Mexico's resources to try and take care of their own citizens rather than having to depend too much on the U.S. to provide for their own people and Mexico's economy.
These La Raza sites and other sites like them are comical because they actually think this way but they are also dangerous. I really do not know what is going to become of all this and it is a little scary to think what could happen.
Some people may call me a coconut, brown outside and white inside. I am not comfortable being around all white people nor am I comfortable being around the traditional hispanic crowd. Anyone feel this way?
Here is that comment from David, a Colombian reader, and its worth reading again.
I was just searching for information on this whole La Raza movement and happened on your blog. I'm 24 an Immigrant from Colombia, I've been in the US for 15 years. I'm now a citizen.It's not that complicated. We cannot be distracted by the fringe--both on the left and on the right. Build the fence. Secure the border. Make citizenship worth it. Provide consequences for breaking the law. Give second chances when it is appropriate. Always keep America a welcoming place, through a secure and orderly process. Continue being a shinning light on a hill.
And I have no idea how to feel or what to think about this whole issue? I feel conflicted, being pulled in every direction. I spent all of Sunday researching this whole Aztlan fiasco, and frankly their 'cause' seem to me to be comical in principle and unrealistic. I mean, more than half of their supporters who are under the age of 20 are their most vocal and probably cannot carry a conversation in Spanish, yet they want to reclaim their land for Mexico? I just do not understand it. I also stumbled across this photo with Arafat yesterday and in the page they were comparing their struggle with that of the Palestinians. Again I do not understand the correlation.
Also who ever is in charge of these protest for the love of God, pass out American Flags. They are losing support every time someone tunes in to the news with an open mind about immigration and they see downtown LA in a sea of Mexican Flags.
Just wanted to know your thoughts on the issue, and how you deal with it mentally as a Hispanic. It's hard for me to make an argument for let's say the Guest worker program with someone who just saw a bunch of Latinos waving Mexican flags, saying this is my land you get out and then dropping "Por La Raza Todo, Fuera de La Raza Nada". I can only call them a fringe group so many times.
Tags: Politics, border, Terrorism, Homeland Security, MEXICO, Immigration, Illegal Aliens, Border Security, California, GOP