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Monday, May 08, 2006

'Illegal Immigrants' or Refugees?

(Keywords: , , , making the US more like )

Everyone's freaked out about illegal immigration. Surprising, both sides of the debate agree that immigration law must be reformed. And what both sides of the debate are ignoring should actually be the central questions - what's wrong with the countries these people are coming from and what can be done to fix them?

Most sources disagree on the exact percentage, but most agree that the largest percentage of undocumented immigrants come from Mexico and most come from Central America. Mexico and most central american nations have one thing in common - almost zero social safety net. This is an unfortunate fact that the right, eager to dismantle the american social safety net, would rather not address. The future of their America is Mexico's present situation.

Another major player in illegal immigration is China. Brutally repressive and home to crushing poverty, chinese immigrants make a huge sacrifice to get the hell out of China. A case could be made that complaining about illegal immigrants from China is like West Berliners complaining about East Germans coming over the Berlin Wall. People don't leave China, they escape it.

And the same could be said about most undocumented immigrants. They aren't coming into the US, so much as they're escaping their own countries. When it comes to refugees, the US has some crazy ideas. If someone escapes Cuba and puts a foot on Florida, they're allowed to stay. But if the Coast Guard catches them before they reach Florida, they're busted. It's like some crazy contest were evading the police is rewarded.

What we need to do is identify the nations who's policies drive their citizens to the US. Then we have to use real diplomatic pressure to get them to change.

But that's not going to happen as long as our own nation is run by fools for whom Mexico is a wet dream and China is a legitimate trading partner. The only way we're going to effect change in these nations is by changing the government in our own.