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May 2, 2006
Illegal Immigrants Get Their Answer

The May Day protests by activists for illegal immigrants have resulted in an utterly predictable backlash, according to the Washington Post. Voters have sent bricks to their Congressional representatives as donations for a border barrier, and even those who considered themselves liberals want the government to start rounding up illegals and send them packing:

While a series of marches focused much of the nation's attention on the plight of illegal immigrants, scores of other Americans quietly seethed. Now, with the same full-throated cry expressed by those in the country illegally, they are shouting back.

Congressional leaders in Washington have gotten bricks in the mail from a group that advocates building a border fence, states in the West and South have drawn up tough anti-immigrant laws, and ordinary citizens, such as Janis McDonald of Pennsylvania, who considers herself a liberal, are not mincing words in expressing their displeasure.

"Send them back," McDonald said. "Build a damn wall and be done with it."

The anger invoked a word that immigrant organizers who opposed Monday's boycott feared: backlash. McDonald and other Americans were particularly disturbed by Monday's boycott and civil action, attended in large part by people who entered the country illegally and are now demanding rights enjoyed by U.S.-born citizens and immigrants who entered the country legally.

"How dare they," said McDonald, a research specialist for the University of Pittsburgh who said she voted for Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) in the 2004 presidential election. "If they are so active, why aren't they in Mexico City, why aren't they forcing their leaders there to deal with the quality of life? If you don't like it here, go home."

Why aren't they in Mexico City? Because the American government has turned a blind eye to its southern border, appeasing both the business community that wants to exploit cheap labor and the Mexican government that is only too happy to see young men go north rather than become political activists. The arrangement has emptied Mexico of its most ambitious workers, leaving behind an economic and political gap that enables corruption and stagnation. If the long-term solution to the immigration problem is the improvement of the Mexican economy, that solution will never come while its workers leave the nation by the hundreds of thousands.

Instead, they come here and get economically exploited by the business community, and then get exploited political activists with other axes to grind. International ANSWER, the prime mover behind yesterday's boycott, doesn't care for the illegals as much as they want shock troops for the revolution. Unfortunately for ANSWER, that agenda did not subtly work itself into the protests but instead erupted in Che Guevara t-shirts and demands for "one hemisphere". ANSWER tried to pass out enough American flags to cover its tracks, but the effort fell short -- and now Americans, both native-born and legally admitted, have become fed up with protests by its uninvited guests.

The real irony of this situation is that prior to the series of protests, with their demands and rejection of American sovereignty, the immigration hardliners did not have the momentum to get their program passed. President Bush had enough juice left to get a moderate reform program passed, one which granted earned citizenship and only superficially addressed border security. Now that the protestors have rammed their strident demands down the throats of Americans, the hardliners have won new support from a broadening group of voters. When they remained "in the shadows", they had a cachet of victimhood that lent sympathy to their plight. With them teaming up with the last and largest group of communist apologists and demanding that America stop enforcing its borders altogether, they no longer have the patina of waifs but as ungrateful and separatist activists.

In truth, the only solution to this problem has to blend approaches from both sides. Border security has to come first, if for no other reason than any reform program has to rely on enforcement to attract people to register rather than opt out. After the border gets secured, then we can negotiate the status of those still left.

We cannot possibly forcibly deport 12 million people, and they won't leave the US voluntarily unless we make America a worse place in which to live even without a job than Mexico ... and who among us would want to turn our country into that kind of misery? People aren't going to self-deport; even starving in the US beats starving in Mexico. Guest worker programs promise only to create a French solution where a permanent underclass exists with no hope of assimilation or equality. The only real option is normalization for those who have conducted themselves lawfully except for their entry, and a long path to citizenship marked by the payment of back taxes, fluency in English, and a fine for crossing our borders illegally.

Unfortunately, these demonstrations have made that almost impossible to achieve. We will get the border security of the House legislation, but will have to wait for passions to cool and immigration-activist leadership to get smarter before we can rationally discuss the remainder.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 2, 2006 10:20 PM

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