Sunday, February 19, 2006

Immigration/Border

This is a huge debate I want to bring up on this blog. Some argue that the border with Mexico needs to be strengthened to prevent illegal aliens from any country entering. Congress wants to build an actual wall that would create a stronger barrier along the frontier. This is the national security strand of thought, which has adherants like Senator John Cornyn of Texas. Terrorists can possibly pass through the border, but drug traffickers and gang members definitely do, causing domestic security problems. But others say it goes deeper than actual security concerns- we don't want the "brown hoards" coming to the US and threatening our white majority.

Samuel Huntington kind of takes a middle of the road position in "Who Are We?", saying that the Mexican population's sheer numbers and failure to assimilate threatens the American Creed we stand by, which he says is the secret of our progress and success. He poses the question..what if our country becomes officially bilingual and bicultural?

Never before in our history have so many foreigners resisted learning English or integrating into the American culture. This could lead to a bifurcation of American society, and alter the country's direction in terms of domestic and foreign policy. Jay and Hamilton argued that a strong America in the world depended on a unified America at home. Could another "Confederacy" emerge, this time composed of the states with Hispanic majorities?

Mexican immigration is important to the economies of both the US and Mexico, and I don't think it's a threat to our national security. But I agree with Huntington in that we're headed too far toward "multiculturalism" and "bilingualism"...this division may greatly alter our country's future. Rather than try to accomodate those who don't speak English, we should encourage them to learn. For example, don't publish ballots in Spanish!

I wonder, though, if we really need a wall along the frontier. Maybe, because the porous border does allow criminals to pass unseen and even terrorists...then again, so does the border with Canada. But millions of Canadians aren't risking their lives to get to our farms and factories. Makes you wonder if subconscious racism really is at the heart of the debate. I definitely think a fence is extreme, especially unaccompanied by more legal mechanisms through which to migrate and work in the U.S. This would harm our relations with Mexico, since Fox is dedicated to adding a "free flow of labor" ammendment to NAFTA.

I'm interested to see what you guys think. Is the extensive border the real threat, or is it the large, unassimilated Mexican population itself? Or neither?

4 comments:

O-Ren Ishii said...

So a fence is inherently racist, but forcing people to speak and read English isn't?

Robert Farley said...

Jay and Hamilton were probably thinking more of institutions of unity rather than cultural unity; the United States had a very large German speaking minority during the Colonial period and after.

You can also color me skeptical as to Huntington's cultural assimilation thesis; I think it's just wrong on the facts to suggest that Latin American immigrants today are less interested in assimilation than previous immigrant waves. But, then, I'm skeptical of everything Sam Huntington says....

Jesco said...

I don't think it's racist at all to enforce English as the language of the US. People can speak whatever they want in their houses, but they should be encouraged to learn the native language of the country they're living in. When I've traveled to other countries my English has never been catered to, so I was forced to adapt. But I never thought "wow, they're racist because they're not speaking English to me." I don't think we should go door to door and make sure everyone's speaking English, but I don't think we should make it so easy to avoid learning.

I'm skeptical of what Huntington says too but I think he is right when he says there's never been this degree of cultural separation. It might not be a bad thing at all and I definitely think my Jay/Hamilton idea was a stretch! But it's interesting to see the changes caused by recent waves of immigration, and think about what that means for our national identity.

Waw Waw said...

I do think that it is important for new immigrants to learn English and immigrants, especially younger people should try to assimilate into culture. However, when older people come (like over 45-50) sometimes it is hard for them to learn another language and especially be fluent in it. Also, for uneducated people it may be harder to learn a foreign language. Also the communities with large populations should offer more English classes and offer assimulation into the culture.