Sunday, May 20, 2007

Immigration again

I'll admit it - I really struggle with the immigration issue. Just about everyone in this country is, in one form or the other, a product of immigration. My forebears came here to escape potato famines and Prussian conscription, which are reasons that aren't especially different than the ones that lead people to our shores today. As a result, I don't think we really need to roll up the borders or put up nasty, Berlin Wall-style fences on the southern border. I think there are two problems that do need to be addressed, however.

First, assimilation. While my great grandfather read German-language newspapers throughout his life, he was able to speak English and function in the larger society. Too often we see that new arrivals are not being required to speak English and conduct their normal business in English. If I were to move to, say, Argentina, I would fully expect that I would be required to learn Spanish as soon as possible and would not expect people to accomodate me as an English speaker. Beyond the language issue, we need those who come here to at least understand, if not necessarily embrace, American ideals. Can we debate what those ideals are? Sure, we do it all the time. That's perhaps the greatest ideal of all, that we can argue. Where things get rough is when we have groups who don't want to assimilate and then start making demands (cf. taxi drivers, flying imams, etc.) It's problematic on a lot of levels.

Second, where the current bill is going to be a problem is that it is, as a practical matter, an amnesty. Personally, I don't think it's a bad thing per se, but what offends our sensibilities is seeing people get away with breaking the law. Law loses meaning when it is ignored and we need the laws we have to be limited and sensible. Most current laws regarding immigration are neither and while that complicates things, the laws do exist and if we turn them into dead letters when it suits our fancy, we essentially negate the meaning of law in the larger sense. That's not where we want to go.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sorry to try to bait you, Mr. Dilletante, but I'm sure that I'm not the only reader who wants to know what you think of Jimmy Carter's recent comments.

Mark said...

Jimmy Carter's comments were despicable and consistent with how he has operated for years. I like the suggestion that James Taranto, the guy who does the "Best of the Web Today" column for the WSJ, had - he suggested that Carter should run for president again in 2008. That way he can put his asinine views out for the people to evaluate and his political opponents will be able to swing from the heels at the pinata of failure that is his record and legacy.

Most people don't attack Carter that much, out of respect for the office he once held. And he has done some good things since leaving office, especially with Habitat for Humanity. But the best thing he's ever done was leaving office.