Being that I believe our focus on illegal immigration takes us away, as a nation, from more serious crisis’, I thought this article was very appropriate. The full article can be found here: http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/column?oid=oid:356664
Page Two: The Politics of Distraction
In the face of failure at home and abroad, the right turns on immigrants
BY LOUIS BLACK
Imagine a modern Rip Van Winkle, someone who, a year and a half to two years back, had sunk into a deep sleep. Now, months later, RVW awakens and turns on the television news to see what he’s missed. The current, news-dominating debate over illegal immigrants and immigration comes as a surprise.
Certainly, immigration is and has been a major issue. But what about Iraq, al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden (has he been caught?), Social Security reform, national security, tax-cutting budget balancing, AIDS in Africa, spreading democracy, and battling the axis of evil, as well as reactionary political and social reform?
The intensity and sense of urgency around the immigration discussion seems disproportionately overwhelming. Even if you have been awake, but just not paying much attention, this ferocity is disconcerting. What catastrophic incident has caused this issue to be moved to the front burner, with the maximum possible heat?
Have terrorists been caught crossing our southern border? Has the drain of that population bankrupted and shredded our already shrinking, ever more flimsy social safety net? Have illegal immigrants gone on a Days of Rage-style urban rampage, leaving cities aflame? Are their numbers reaching epidemic proportions?
Some would say “yes” to all of those. They claim that illegal immigrants are “invading” the U.S., parasitically devouring public-education and health-service funds with the intent of subverting and destroying Western civilization and the American lifestyle.
Illegal immigration is a complex issue, one for which with any kind of movement is almost impossible because of the intensely concerned constituencies’ radically different agendas. Yet those opposed to open borders offer only easy answers: Implement strict border enforcement and build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico now. Drive those already here home by denying them employment (by outrageously fining any American employer hiring them), education, driver’s licenses, and any public services. Concurrently, round them up to send them back home, with no possibility of returning.
There are any number of logical refutations of the above positions. It is estimated that illegal workers contribute about $10 billion to Social Security that they never collect, though they cost about $2.2 billion a year in government health services. They are crucial to the marketplace’s filling many low-level labor and service jobs Americans won’t. (Note: This is not to argue that there are no Americans who will take these jobs or even that they won’t take them at the same pay. Those are straw-man arguments – there is not a large enough American work force to do the jobs, especially at prevailing wages.) But even this brief discussion dignifies the current immigration debate.
If our Rip Winkle, a mere 18 months earlier, watched the FOX network or listened to talk radio, Iraq was overwhelmingly the predominant topic. In so many ways, it validated all of those attitudes: how right the U.S. was to be in Iraq, and how successful the occupation, as we brought democracy to the Iraqis. At the same time, this country had returned to our rightful place as the sole, dominant national power of the modern world. Democrats (read: leftists/communists/socialists/suicidal pacifists) and other anti-war activists had been proven wrong, exposed as America-haters, racists, cowards, and impractical dreamers who wanted to embrace the terrorists rather than destroy them.
Now, this might seem cheap and too convenient – a neo-leftist, misguided attempt to shift the debate away from the real problem – but, right now, go turn on talk radio. Illegal immigration is the dominant, and almost only, topic. The invasion of the country and corruption of American civilization is lamented. Americans, especially our elected leaders, are chastised for doing nothing. For the part of our population that is dependent on easy answers and needs an identifiable enemy to hate, illegal immigration is the new Iraq.
This issue certainly fits the bill, not only providing an outside “enemy,” but allowing an attack on clueless, apathetic (if not traitorous) citizens (read: liberal Democrat, anti-American, anti-moral-values, communist, socialist, fifth columnists). There are no problems that can’t be solved by attacking other Americans.
Illegal immigration is not a major problem facing the United States, though it is of genuine and contradictory concerns. The reason for its prominence is a need for enemies on the part of those who vow undying love to this country while evidencing not even limited affection for its principles.
This is 1984. Turn on talk radio. You will hear endless gibberish about illegal immigration. Iraq will be hardly mentioned, if at all. Socialist George Orwell saw this coming, as right-wing America still does not. The response to terrorism can’t be terrorism; the response to fascism can’t be fascism; and the response to anti-American rhetoric and values can’t be the destruction of the Constitution.