Borders without Boarders?

Posted on 17. Jul, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Politics, Social/Cultural

In the Albuquerque Journal Outlook of July 8, 2013, Jerry Pacheco proved his own thesis that “Immigration reform (is) a sensitive minefield” by giving us a mere reporting of the political machinations of the issue rather than an in-depth local look at what immigration reform might mean for our state and business community. I don’t blame him for being cautious about giving his own opinion on the issue as I assume he has many interests on both sides of the border to keep happy, but I do think that his ‘ink’ could have been put to better use.

He could have examined the Senate bill and future House bills to see if they address what immigration truly is. It’s a privilege to come and work and live in our country. Those who see it as a right are mistaken, and that’s what divides us more than our physical border. Second, amnesty (or forgiveness) for breaking the law starkly separates the legal absolutists who believe in the consistent and fair application of law from the legal relativists who believe in the selective application of law.

Third, it’s a political issue for special interest groups who have an agenda like the reconquistas, businesses benefiting from cheap labor or politicians who want to ‘be on the right side of history’ by cozying up to what they think are monolithic-thinking ethnic groups who will vote for them simply because they favor absolution rather than resolution.

The parties seem to have chosen their teams and their jerseys. The Republicans portray themselves as the home team seeking to build strong fences and then deal with the illegal/ undocumented with penalties like paying fines, taxes, going to the back of the line after the legal applicants, learning English and registering themselves. The Democrats are more like the visitors team choosing to forgive and forget, willing to let bygones be bygones and accepting a little law-breaking as the price for moving the country forward.

Pacheco’s argument that both teams are jumping on the immigration bandwagon because of an impending spike in the Hispanic-American demographic may very well be true, but it is a low blow to all of us who believe in principled lawmaking. If I read him right he is saying that we must get ready to kowtow now, “Republicans will have to step lightly around this issue so as not to offend a growing voting bloc.” Boy, howdy as they say in Texas! If this is new age politics where we must avoid good lawmaking for fear of offending some group, any group, then we might as well turn in our gavels and govern by popularity poll.

I realize that we’re Mexico-centric here and it’s understandable as the culturalization of our state owes much to its Hispanic influence, heritage and history, but any comprehensive immigration bill must address ALL the illegal aliens from ALL countries residing in the rest of the USA as well as the illegal Mexicans living in southern border states.

Make no mistake, there are hundreds of thousands of ‘undocumenteds’ from exotic countries as well as from the more well-known respectable ones (it’s estimated that upwards of 40% of our illegal population are visa over-stayers). If we end up with a bill that doesn’t address those shadow figures as well it will be like the little Dutch Boy who plugged the hole in the dyke with his fingers until he had no more fingers left for the new holes.

It’s generally a tough decision to leave the country of one’s birth. I know because I talked with many immigration applicants at U.S. embassies around the world. To a man (and a woman) they were respectful of our laws, appreciative of the opportunity America offered them to come here and saw immigration as a pathway to citizenship and a brighter future.

Mr. Pacheco could have touched on the impact our illegal immigrant population has had on New Mexico’s education and healthcare services, on our criminal justice system or most importantly what impact legalization or regularization of New Mexico’s undocumented workers will have on our border economy and our trade with Mexico.

He could also have commented on what will happen to the billion dollar plus cash repatriations made by illegal workers back to their families in Mexico once legalization takes place (and their paychecks are reduced because of the new fines, penalties and taxes). I’d like to hear a few quotes from Mexican businessmen, Maquiladorans and from Mexican officials, too. Maybe Mr. Pacheco could report some of these next time the subject comes up. I’d also enjoy hearing his opinion on how immigration reform would affect small business development in our state. I’ll be on the look-out for the next Outlook.

- Editor

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