In 1972, Crosby, Stills Nash and Young wrote a song called Immigration Man which detailed their struggles crossing the border back from Mexico as one of the band members was accused of drug smuggling or something similar. For many years, that’s how much I knew or really cared about the immigration “issue.” For a long time, my view has been that it is not a major problem for people who should be more concerned about what enters this country rather than who.
Approximately $500 billion more cash leaves this country to purchase goods and services from overseas which is the real cause of the chronic poverty and unemployment that we have been experiencing in a 35 year ongoing economic recession. In 1970, we imported fewer than 10 percent of the goods and services we consumed. Today, it is over 65%. Since that time over 150,000 factories have closed their doors leaving steadily increasing numbers in poverty and despair. Although government figures don’t reflect the real situation, any observer can see the homeless everywhere. It is not confined to large cities with numerous social and outsized economic problems such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. In virtually every city in the US, you see displaced workers, people with mental issues and economically forgotten folks begging for money for their next meal, next drink or next hit of whatever they happen to be consuming. No one really knows, but the problem has gotten worse in the last three decades. The increasing numbers of homeless and the struggle is mainly due to chronic, long term unemployment caused by a shrinking labor market, falling wages resulting from the tightening market and an ever rising cost of living due to expansionary monetary and fiscal policies of the United States federal government.
While issues like the federal budget deficit are discussed periodically by politicians in both political cartels, the trade deficit is not. The trade deficit translates directly into jobs lost and the decline and hollowing of our manufacturing base that people rely on for employment. In 1960, over 35 percent of jobs were in manufacturing. Today, the number is less than 10 percent. It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to tell that more people have experienced poverty, homelessness, and despair as a result of our disastrous trade policies that were left ignored from the end of WW2 to around 1993 and from 1993 until late last year, actively wrecked. Trade has been at the center of our economic problems. And with economic problems, social problems follow. Because the public at large has not been educated in economics, attempts are made to find a bogeyman.
Instead of understanding that trade, trade deficits and expansionary fiscal and monetary polices have been at the center of economic difficulties, the public at large has been convinced that immigration has been at the center of joblessness among Americans, increasing public expenditures for education and healthcare and basic overcrowding of our roads, streets, bridges and even crime. For many, it has been easy to pick on people of color who ostensibly have been “stealing our jobs.” It is easy to scream about those who speak broken English or go into their native tongue when going about their daily tasks. It is easy to dislike others music, foods or culture. It is easy to create a hostile environment for people coming into the United States. It is also wrong. Our problems are and have always been economic. They are not personal. But some of our issues are tied to the immigration system currently in effect. Some are tied to increasing numbers of people here with a lack of understanding of the nation’s founding principles.
The United States government is schizophrenic on the issue of immigration. On one hand, we have an immigration policy that allows foreign workers to directly compete with American citizens and green card holders through H1B visas. The number of H1B visa entries varies by year and results from a desire for companies to cut costs. We also have a relatively porous border because of the those in and outside of government who are willing to protect those coming into the country without “proper paperwork”
On the other hand, we have a government that will deport people who’s only “crime” is to not have proper “paperwork” that their parents or relatives improperly filled out a long time ago. Or their immigration “status” was unclear when they arrived years ago. For a small but significant number, those years are measured in decades. In the 1970s, social security cards were issued legally to everyone applying who came in under a visa.
The ability to earn a living is a basic human right that should be denied no one regardless of their immigration status. People who have emigrated to the United States of America come in search of a better life for them and their families. This country above all provides that opportunity. Many immigrants have come here, set up businesses and led productive lives. Some haven’t, but there is little evidence that immigrant on American crime is any better or worse than average.
On the other hand, a flood of job applicants, H1B visa holders and immigrant business owners has a depressing effect on prevailing wages. Many American citizens are rightfully angry about that as unemployment can jump higher in times of economic contraction. Others are rightfully annoyed at their individual votes being diluted by a flood of newcomers into the country.
Some feel that America has not properly assimilated immigrants into the American way of life.
A balance between the needs of immigrants and Americans needs and interests to be made when crafting a fair and equitable immigration policy which will lead to better conditions for all people. It should include the following:
- Legalization of all persons living in the United States of America after reviewing a criminal record. Issue Green Cards to everyone so that people can live productive lives without fear of being deported to countries that many have not seen since early childhood.
- Deportation of all immigrants with violent criminal offenses on their records in the last 10 years
- A 20 year moratorium on all citizenship applications.
- Restriction on ownership of more than one pieces of residential property for all non-green card holders.
- A 10,000 person annual cap on H1B work visas.
- End to birthright citizenship for those whose parents came here illegally. The next generations will have that right.
- Immediate termination of the E-verify program that is basically a permission slip for a human right.
Although this appears to create two separate immigration status, for most immigrants, it is more lenient than the current system. It allows an immigrant to quickly become part of the American system and build a life here in a still great country. It still affords an immigrant full constitutional rights and the ability to defend his or herself in the current court system as the legal system is supposed to act without fear of favor.
For the American it enhances the status of American citizenship. Americans who understand the American system deserve to have their voices heard and a stake in the American system.
While still imperfect, this proposal is a fair and realistic one for Americans and immigrants alike. Politicians need to be held accountable for a system that is fair to neither Americans nor immigrants. This idea is fair to both. The time is now for real immigration reform that will be fair to everyone. Republicans and Democrats need to quit playing politics with people’s lives. Both parties need to be tossed in a landfill for how they have treated immigrants and Americans as well.
Henry Stowe | National Contributor | news@FloridaNationalNews.com
He is a moderate conservative member of the National Motorists Association. He is also former Transportation Chairman at the Florida Civil Rights Association. He is passionate about civil rights and liberties and wants an immigration system that will be fair to all sides of this debate and won’t require the aid of immigration attorneys to apply for residency.