If you relied on the mainstream media, you would conclude that Arizona is anti-immigrant, while California is pro-immigrant. You would conclude that Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer must hate immigrants. After all, she signed SB-1070, which requires police to refer illegal immigrants to Immigration if they are arrested for other crimes. The law was passed after illegals committed a series of crimes, culminating in the murder of well-known rancher Robert Krentz, a man who went out of his way to help others.
But Democratic California Governor Jerry Brown would never sign such a law, and the Democratic California legislature would never pass it. Besides, many Arizonans agitate for better border enforcement by the federal government, while fewer Californians seem concerned with this problem.
So at first glance, Arizona seems anti-immigrant, while California seems pro-immigrant. But if we look more deeply, we might come to another conclusion. First of all, we need definitions of “anti-immigrant” and “pro-immigrant.”
Is it “anti-immigrant” to insist that immigration laws be enforced by the federal government? Or is this simply remembering that the Constitution requires that the president “…shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed…” Not “may” but “shall.” It’s mandatory, not optional. The president − and the executive branch he heads − have no power to choose which laws they will enforce. A president who had that power would be a dictator.
Those who object to immigration laws have the obligation to petition Congress to amend them. Urging that these laws be ignored is an invitation for the government to ignore other laws as well − perhaps laws you depend on. A government that ignores laws whenever it pleases loses the respect of the people. The anger of Arizonans is an early manifestation of that fact. Arizona is neither anti-immigrant nor pro-immigrant − it is pro-law.
That brings us to California. A recent source of controversy is the law that when a driver is stopped for a traffic violation and has no license, the car can be impounded for 30 days. The law was passed by the Democratic legislature to deal with the epidemic of unlicensed, uninsured drivers.
But “pro-immigrant” groups point out that impounding the vehicle of an illegal immigrant will impair his ability to work and support his family. Yes, and impounding the vehicle of a citizen or a legal immigrant will have precisely the same effect. But Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa prevailed on Police Chief Beck to amend the policy. If the unlicensed driver is an illegal immigrant, he has the option to call a licensed driver to take his car away, so that it will not be impounded. That is, another law will be enforced or not at the whim of those in power.
This policy will help illegals to keep their jobs − which are illegal for them to have in the first place. But what will the policy do to the way illegals are viewed by the general public? Rather than being an unfortunate group deserving of sympathy, some people will now see them as a privileged group deserving of anger. Ordinary people have to go through the hassle and expense of renewing their license and registration, getting smog checks, and buying insurance − which is more expensive because of uninsured drivers. But when the law-abiding citizen’s car is rear-ended by an unlicensed, uninsured driver, that anger may manifest itself.
Poor immigrants deserve sympathy. Yes, but do illegal immigrants deserve more sympathy than legal immigrants? Public hospitals and public schools in California, and all the Southwest, are overcrowded. Immigrants deserve humane health care, and their children deserve decent educations. But how, exactly, are we meeting these obligations? Not too well.
In the 1960s, the L.A. County-USC Medical Center had about 1200 beds − and Los Angeles had about one million fewer people. In recent years, the hospital had shrunk to 800 beds, and the old building was replaced with a new one with 600 beds. That is, the “pro-immigrant” rulers of Los Angeles reduced the number of public-hospital beds by 25% − at the same time that they encourage a continuing influx of immigrants.
The same holds for schools. But here, we deal not only with overcrowding, but also with appalling behavior that would never be tolerated in the upscale public or private schools where the “elite” sent their children.
Consider Miramonte Elementary School. A teacher has been accused of sexual child abuse since 1994, but he remained in the classroom. A few years ago, a teacher’s aide was convicted of sexual child abuse and sent to prison. More recently, a female teacher’s aide in her fifties sent love notes to a student. She was transferred to another school. Finally, yet another teacher was arrested for sexual child abuse − the fourth member of the teaching staff to be accused by children who never met one another, but who tell similar stories. Lawsuits will cost the school district millions, further depleting funds needed for education.
This school is located in an area where most residents are immigrants, some illegal, from Mexico and Central America. They were afraid to call the police and told only the principal and a counselor, who did nothing. Years passed until the situation was brought to light − by a photo clerk at a drugstore.
This is one school, but is it an isolated incident? I believe it is part of a pattern of modern peonage − a kinder, gentler, more progressive peonage, but peonage nonetheless. The process is as follows:
1. Pretend to do something about border security. Build half a fence. Raid a few businesses that hire illegals. But really do as little as possible. On the contrary, punish border patrol officers who vigorously enforce the law.
2. Build a new public hospital to show off to visitors, but make sure it has 25% fewer beds. Spend taxpayers’ money to benefit contractors, not to benefit patients. Turn the older, larger hospital into offices for bureaucrats. More paper-shufflers, fewer patients − the bureaucrat’s dream. (ObamaCare, anyone?)
3. Build a few lavish public schools to show off to visitors, but not nearly enough for the children of the immigrants you let in. In one case, a high school cost over one-quarter billion dollars, while other students lacked textbooks and clean water, or even any water.
4. Make sure that the schools have Aztec-style murals, that the schools observe Cinco de Mayo, and that bilingual classes continue for all 12 years. The object is to produce manual workers (some named Manuel) who are subservient, have limited English skills, and always vote Democratic − but who have little sense of being Americans.
5. Ensnare immigrants from Latin America into recreating the conditions from which they escaped − deficient schools, corrupt politicians, and a rigid class system from which it is difficult to escape. How “pro-immigrant” is that?
Now Los Angeles may cancel all adult education because of lack of money. This would remove the only resource 350,000 adults have to learn the English and computer skills they need to get good jobs. But those who keep immigrants in an underclass still portray themselves as “pro-immigrant.”
In fact, many people are pro-immigration but anti-immigrant. That is, they favor unlimited immigration, but then do nothing for the immigrants − or for those the immigrants affect adversely. If you cook, you will find many recipes that say, “Add ingredients slowly while stirring.” You will find no recipes that say, “Dump ingredients into pot without stirring.” That is sure to produce a nasty mess.
America doesn’t just have immigrants. America is immigrants. No one appreciates freedom like someone who grew up without it. But freedom requires people who are educated to be free, not to be members of a subservient underclass.
The truly pro-immigrant are those who want to allow in only the number of immigrants we can accommodate, and then assure that they have adequate public hospitals and public schools. Pro-immigrant is as pro-immigrant does.
Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.