How to solve our immigration problem

Sam Smith, 2013 – Make it illegal not only to be an undocumented immigrant but to be the descendant of an undocumented immigrant. Since our first immigration law wasn’t passed until 1875 (and that only applied to Asians) this would allow the better part of the country to be deported (including much of the Republican Party leadership) thus easing our budgetary problems substantially. It would also help latinos elect their first president.

In the alternative, we might face up to the fact that a huge number of us are here because some immigrant snuck into this country without documentation – a foul practice that began in places like Jamestown and Plymouth.

By 1860 the percentage of undocumented immigrants was higher than it is today. About that time a state legislator in Illinois wrote:

“As a nation we began by declaring ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it, ‘ all men are created equal, except Negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read, ‘all men are created equal, except Negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.’ When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty—to Russia, for example, where despotism can be taken pure and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.”

That immigration slouch was a Republican named Abraham Lincoln.

 

Elite emmigration

 Sam Smith – There is major concern over the effects of immigration on our economy. It is also badly misplaced.

The foreign born population in the US – as a percentage of the total – is about what it was from 1860 to 1910: 13%. It has ranged from a low of 5% in 1970 to 15% between 1880 and 1900. The only time it has fallen below 10% in the past century was between 1940 and 1980. As for undocumented foregin born, the figure is less than five percent.

The truly bad effect on the American economy and on the First America Republic has not been the undocumented immigration of the poor but the undocumented emigration of the country’s elite, a record number of whom today have moved to a virtual global community without laws, without taxes, and without a nation and communities to which they feel loyalty and responsibility. While they still live in America, their jobs, employees, profits and souls all reside elsewhere.

We have never had an economic elite so fiscally separated from, and in many ways disloyal to, our land. Even the robber barons at least reinvested their money in Americans jobs and industry. The defection of our elite has been a major factor in the collapse of the First American Republic.

Some time ago I suggested testing out the role of immigrants with these questions:

1. Has a Mexican ever fired or laid you off?

2. Hasthe plant for which your worked until it was sent overseas been bought by Mexicans or is it still owned by the same people you used to work for?

3. Has a Mexican ever cut your pension or health benefits? Outsourced your job to India?

4. Do you think Mexicans or the pharmaceutical corporations are more responsible for high drug costs?

8. How much of the corruption in Washington has been instigated by the Mexicans?

9. Did the Mexicans’ make us invade Iraq?

The new reality I described it this way in Shadows of Hope, a book on Bill Clinton, in 1993:

The real Clinton foreign policy is simply this: there are no foreign countries any more, there are only undeveloped markets. The slogan has become “Make quarterly earnings growth, not war!” Trade has replaced ideology as the engine of foreign affairs.

At one level this should be celebrated, since it is far less deadly. On the other hand, this development also means that politics, nationhood and the idea of place itself is being replaced by a huge, amorphous international corporate culture that rules not by force but by market share. This culture, in the words of French writer and advisor to Francois Mitterand Jacques Attali, seeks an “ideologically homogenous market where life will be organized around common consumer desires.” It is a world that will become increasingly indifferent to local variation.

And when Attali speaks of American influence he says: “We have to build a word which would be ‘New York-Hollywoodization,’ because we are not Americanized in the sense that we are not going to be closer to St. Louis, Mo., or someplace else. These countries are far from us and we are far from them. They are less in advance, less influencing than New York and Hollywood.”

Here is a world in which Babar loses out to Mickey Mouse in France and where a sophisticated Frenchman speaks of St. Louis — but not Hollywood or Manhattan — as a foreign country. It is the world of what Marshall Blonsky calls “international man.”

International man — and he is mainly just that — is unlocalized. He wears a somewhat Italian suit, perhaps a vaguely British regimental tie, a faintly French shirt and shoes — says international man Furio Columbo, president of Fiat USA — “with an element of remembering New England boats and walking on the beach.” As Blonsky puts it, “You self-consciously splice genres, attitudes, styles.”
International man thrives in Washington. At the moment you call, though, he may well be in Tokyo, Bonn or London sharing with colleagues who are nominally Japanese, German or British a common heritage in the land of the perpetually mobile.

It is this unnamed country of international law, trade and finance, with its anthem to “global competition in the first half of the 21st century,” that is increasingly providing the substance and the style to our politics. It is their dual citizenship in America and in the Great Global Glob that characterizes the most powerful among us, now more than ever including even our own political leaders. International man dreams of things like NAFTA and GATT and then gets them passed. And he knows that he, as a corporate executive or licensed professional, will pass quickly through Mexican customs in his somewhat Italian suit and shoes with a hint of a New England beach because the agreement he helped to draft and pass has declared him entitled to such consideration. The union worker, the tourist from St. Louis, are, under the new world order, from far countries and so it will take awhile longer.

This then is the Clinton foreign policy: it is the policy of International Man, a policy that brings Mexico City ever nearer and starts to makes St. Louis a stranger in its own land. . .

How could any republic survive when its own elite deserts it the way ours has?

IMMIGRATION: WHAT ARE WE REALLY WORRIED ABOUT?

Sam Smith

Best estimates of unsanctioned immigration to this country puts the total at 3-4% of the total American population, or roughly twice as many people as support Mike Gravel, who can’t even get into the presidential debates, let alone become a major topic of them.

While it is clear that immigrants are being used by conservatives as a target to deflect criticism from themselves – much as southern whites used blacks in the days of segregation – it is possible that something else is happening as well.

What if large number of Americans are afraid – consciously or not – of something that their leaders, most environmentalists and the media won’t discuss at all: the real consequences of population growth? Immigrants make an easy substitute for dealing directly with this issue for in the end they commit only one real sin other than not following regulations: adding to the competition for human existence by an ever increasing population.

Ten years ago, I wrote about it this way:

|||| We know it took about four million years for humans to populate the earth with its first billion humans. It took just a hundred years for the second billion. Thirty-five years for the third. Fifteen years for the fourth and twelve for the fifth.

The world is growing by 10,800 people an hour, adding the equivalent of a city the size of Newark, NJ every day

Former Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, counselor of the Wilderness Society, has a good way of describing it. At the current rate of growth, he says, the population of the United States will double in 63 years. So at some point around the middle of the next century, we are likely to have (or need) twice as much of everything we have now. Twice as many cars, trucks, planes, airports, parking lots, streets, bridges, tunnels, freeways, houses, apartment buildings, grade schools, high schools, colleges, trade schools, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons.

Imagine your city or town as it would look with twice as much of everything. And, oh yes, don’t forget to add twice as much farmland, water and food if you can find it. And twice as many chemicals and other pollutants in the air and water, twice as much heat radiation from all the new construction, twice as much crime, twice as many fires, twice as big traffic jams and twice as many walls with graffiti on them.

Not that everyone accepts this scenario. There are those who think we can, with the help of science and technology, feed tens of billions more people. Some of them are scientists who admit that life will be degraded but think it still physically possible. Some are Roman Catholic bishops who said a few years ago that the earth could support 40 billion people.

Some are the voices of industry or in think tanks. Their argument is based on the economic notion that growth is an unmitigated virtue and that anything opposed to growth is wrong. And many of them are economists who, as Amory Lovins has said, “are people who lie awake nights worrying about whether what actually works in the world could conceivably work in theory.”

Gaylord Nelson suggests some questions for them: “Do the unlimited growth folks really believe that the more crowded the planet becomes, the freer and richer we will be? Do they think a finite planet with finite resources can sustain infinite economic expansion and population growth? If not, where do they draw the line? They don’t say.” ||||

The number of foreign born – legal or not – now comprise the same percentage of the population as was the case in 1930 and considerably less than between 1860 and 1910. Looking back, those weren’t such bad times. Why are American so worried now, even discounting for all the politicians and media George Wallacing the issue?

One answer is that people are really worried about something they know is happening and no one will talk sensibly to them about it.

When was the last time a Mexican cut your pension or health benefits?

SAM SMITH, 2006 – Whenever a new crisis develops in an election year and it’s not nature’s or the stock market’s fault, the odds are pretty good that it’s not a crisis.
Witness the sudden discovery of immigrants, a much more comfortable topic for some than Iraq, global warming, globalization, or runaway corporate greed.
The debate, however, has its bizarre aspects.  For example, the Texas Rangers, who should know, list their last serious concerns with Mexican terrorists as occurring nearly 100 years ago when “when authorities in McAllen, Texas, arrest Basilio Ramos, Jr. Ramos is carrying a copy of the Plan of San Diego, a revolutionary manifesto supposedly written and signed at the South Texas town of San Diego. It calls for the formation of a ‘Liberating Army of Races and Peoples,’ of Mexican Americans, African Americans, and Japanese, to ‘free’ the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Colorado from United States. Versions of the plan call for the murder of all white citizens over 16 years of age. The goal is an independent republic, which might later seek annexation to Mexico.’ Since then things have been pretty quiet, although some guerillas from another continent did considerable damage in 2001 by using the border crossing technique known as “buying airline tickets.”
But it’s not really about terrorism. It’s about finding a scapegoat for America’s increasing problems. What America’s white elite is doing is just what its southern branch did under segregation: teach non-elite whites to blame their problems on a minority. It worked well then and it seems to be working now.
But those wishing to test the extent of the immigrant problem might want to conduct this quick test:
1. Has a Mexican ever fired or laid you off?
2. Was the plant you worked for until it was sent overseas been bought by Mexicans or is it still owned by the same people you used to work for?
3. Has a Mexican ever cut your pension or health benefits? Outsourced your job to India?
4. How much does Latin America contribute to global warming and its results – such as bigger hurricanes and more tornados – compared with the United States?
5. Was Enron run by Mexicans?
6. Are Mexicans responsible for NSA’s spying you?
7. Do you think Mexicans or the pharmaceutical corporations are more responsible for high drug costs?
8. How much of the corruption in Washington has been instigated by the Mexicans?
9. Did the Mexicans’ make us invade Iraq?
10. Are the Mexicans responsible for George bush being so dumb?
Chances are most your answers will be in the negative which is a clue to stop spending so much time worrying about immigration and turn your attention to something else.

Immigration myths

Sam Smith, 2006
IT IS taken as a given in the immigration debate that our current system for dealing with the issue has some sort of historical logic. It doesn’t. The story of immigration in the U.S. is a mishmash of hospitality and hatred, encouragement and restriction.

The Naturalization Act of 1790, for example, said that “any alien, being a free white person, may be admitted to become a citizen of the United States.” Blacks, indentured servants, and most women couldn’t be citizens no matter where they came from, but the underlying approach to immigration would boggle the mind of today’s strict constructionists. If you were a free white male, you came, you saw, and you signed up. As the Citizenship and Immigration Services describes ti, “the law required a set period of residence in the United States prior to naturalization, specifically two years in the country and one year in the state of residence when applying for citizenship. When those requirements were met, an immigrant could file a Petition for Naturalization with “any common law court of record” having jurisdiction over his residence asking to be naturalized. Once convinced of the applicantÂ’s good moral character, the court would administer an oath of allegiance to support the Constitution of the United States.”

The essence of immigration as we know it today – i.e. the restriction of immigration – didn’t become a major issue until the Chinese exclusion Act of 1882, hardly something of which Americans should be proud. This was the period of the great post-reconstruction counter revolution during which corporations gained enormous power but the rest of America and its citizens lost it.

The counter-revolution was not only an attack on would-be immigrants, it was aimed at American ethnic groups who had proved far too successful at adding to their political clout in places like Boston and New York City.

Richard Croker, a tough 19th century county boss of Tammany Hall, grew almost lyrical when he spoke of his party’s duty to immigrants:
“They do not speak our language, they do not know our laws, they are the raw material with which we have to build up the state . . . There is no denying the service which Tammany has rendered to the republic. There is no such organization for taking hold of the untrained, friendless man and converting him into a citizen. Who else would do it if we did not? . . . [Tammany] looks after them for the sake of their vote, grafts them upon the Republic, makes citizens of them.”

Alexander B. Callow Jr. of the University of California has written that Boston pol Martin Lomansey even met every new immigrant ship and “helped the newcomers find lodging or guided them to relatives. James Michael Curley set up nationalization classes to prepare newcomers for the citizenship examination . . . Friendly judges, anticipating election day, converted their courts into naturalization mills, grinding out a thousand new Americans a day. . . . Flags were waved, prose turned purple, celebrations were wild on national holidays. . . . Patriotism became a means for the newcomer to prove himself worthy.”

By 1891 the federal government had assumed control of admitting or rejecting all immigrants and one year later Ellis island opened. By 1903 we had a law restricting Mexican laborers and during and after World I, laws were expanded greatly including a ban on all Asians save the Japanese.

We did not have the equivalent of a green card until 1940 and the actual card of that name only came in during the anti-communist hysteria of the 1950s. What we think of as our immigration system is in no small part a leftover from the McCarthy era.

It is common today to discuss immigration as though it were primarily an employment and economic matter. The trouble with this claim is that many of the people who are most anti-immigration are the same who have caused infinitely more economic harm to the country through globalization and outsourcing.

In truth, what really scares the exclusionists is the politics of immigrants, potentially more progressive than they would like. From Nordic populists in the northern middle west to European socialists, to the right immigration has meant left.

This, of course, isn’t always true as in the case of Cuba but it helps to make the debate a bit clearer to understand what it is about.

In the end, we don’t really have an immigration policy but an exclusion policy, outsourcing our prejudices by not letting their targets enter the country.

Who’s an American citizen?

1600s Most of various tribes scattered throughout the continent didn’t know whether they were Americans as there was no one to tell them

1774 Continental Congress leaves it to each state to decide who shall be a voting citizen

1776 Full citizenship to white male property owners, with six states granting it to all white males whether they had property or not. Some states had higher property qualifications than others and some even required membership in a specified religion.

1790 Naturalization of foreign ‘free white persons’ permitted. Women carried the legal status of their husbands.

1795 Naturalization denied free whites unwilling to give up foreign titles of nobility

1812-21 Six western states join the union with full white male suffrage. Four of the original states abolish property requirements

1830 Indian Removal Act passes Congress, calling for relocation of eastern Indians to a territory west of the Mississippi River. Cherokees contest it in court, and in 1832, the Supreme Court decides in their favor, but Andrew Jackson ignores the decision. From 1831-39, the Five Civilized tribes of the Southeast are relocated to the Indian Territory. The Cherokee “Trail of Tears” takes place in 1838-39.

1853-56 United States acquires 174 million acres of Indian lands through 52 treaties, all of which it will subsequently break.

1856 North Carolina becomes the last state to abolish the property requirement. Previously barred Catholics and non-Christians are enfranchised and in a few states even immigrants not yet naturalized are allowed to vote.

1857 Under Dred Scott decision, no black person can be a U.S. citizen.

1858 Stephen Douglas debates Abraham Lincoln, arguing that “I believe the government was made on the white basis. I believe it was made by white men for the benefit of white men and their posterity for ever, and I am in favor of confining citizenship to white men. . . instead of conferring it upon Negroes, Indians, and other inferior races.” Lincoln disagrees.

1866 Civil Rights Act declares all persons born in the U.S. – except Indians – to be natural citizens

1869 Territory of Wyoming grants women suffrage in state elections

1870 15th Amendment is passed: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” South deals with the amendment by instituting polls taxes, literacy tests and grandfather clauses that limit the vote to the offspring of the formerly enfranchised. Naturalization of black immigrants (but not Asians) is permitted.

1871 Residents of the District of Columbia lose the right to vote for mayor and city council as a territorial form of government with appointed governor is installed

1874 Supreme Court rules that it is not unconstitutional to deny women the right to vote.

1875 Page Law bars entry of Chinese, Japanese, and “Mongolian” prostitutes, felons, and contract laborers

1878 Chinese are ruled not eligible for naturalized citizenship

1882 Chinese Exclusion Law suspends immigration of laborers for ten years. Late 19th century exclusion from naturalization includes prostitutes, convicted felons, lunatics, polygamists and persons likely to be a ‘public charge’ Early 20th century exclusion from naturalization includes anarchists, communists, and the illiterate.

1902 Chinese exclusion is extended for another ten years.

1904 Chinese exclusion is made indefinite

1915 Eleven states have given women the right to vote

1918 Servicemen of Asian ancestry who served in World War I receive right of naturalization

1919 American Indian soldiers and sailors receive citizenship.

1920 The 20th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, is ratified

1923 Asian Indians ruled not eligible for naturalized citizenship.

1924 Congress gives the right to vote to original Americans, the Indians.

1940 Congress passes Nationalities Act granting citizenship to all Native Americans without diluting tribal authority.

1941 After declaring war on Japan, 10,000 Japanese-Americans along Pacific Coast states and Hawaii are rounded up and interned in Department of Justice camps.

1943 The Chinese Exclusion Act is repealed. The annual immigration quota for Chinese is set at 105.

1945 The War Brides Act permits immigration of Asian spouses and children of American servicemen in the war.

1946 Luce-Celler bill grants right of naturalization and small immigration quotas to Asian Indians and Filipinos

1949 5000 highly educated Chinese in the U.S. granted refugee status after China institutes a Communist government.

1952 One clause of the McCarran-Walter Act grants the right of naturalization and a small immigration quota to Japanese.

1957 Utah becomes the last state to permit Indians to vote

1965 Immigration Law abolishes “national origins” as basis for allocating immigration quotas to various countries – Asian countries now on equal footing.

1974 Residents of the District of Columbia regain the right to vote for mayor and city council lost over a century earlier but still lack voting representation in Congress or real power over their budget and criminal justice system.