Report from the Immigration Wars

By | July 26, 2012 | 0 Comments

The president’s immigration initiative is the subject of much discussion – and much passion. One may ask how it is that the president has the power to legalize young illegal immigrants, when Congress refused to do so. One would not get a satisfactory answer. One may also ask what happened to the part of the Constitution that mandates the president to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” How can the president decide which laws to enforce, and which laws to ignore? Again, one would not get a satisfactory answer.
Also in the news is the Supreme Court’s overturning most of Arizona’s immigration law, on the grounds that illegal immigration is also against federal law, and therefore is in the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government. Oh? The NYPD can’t arrest terrorists, because terrorism is also against federal law? The LAPD can’t arrest bank robbers, because bank robbery is also against federal law? Local police can’t help the Secret Service protect the president, because attacking the president is also against federal law? Really? But, you see, logic and law are two separate subjects. Only occasionally, and by chance, do they overlap.
On an important topic like immigration, we need facts, not emotions. So here are some reports from the front.
The construction zone.
Some time ago, the house next door was being renovated. Trucks frequently blocked our driveway. I got my camera and walked across the street to take a photo of the blocked driveway to show the police. As I focused, I sensed something was wrong. Then I realized that the hammering had ceased. The workers had disappeared into the building. I went back inside my house, and the hammering resumed.
Apparently the workers feared not that I would call the police about parking violations, but that I would call immigration about undocumented workers. I noticed that the contractor arrived every Friday afternoon and paid the foreman, who then paid the workers – in cash, of course. I don’t know whether the contractor was withholding federal and state income tax, Social Security and Medicare tax or state disability insurance, or paying unemployment insurance or workers’ compensation premiums. But I wouldn’t bet a penny that he was.
The hospital zone.
I spent most of my professional life at Los Angeles County–USC Medical Center. The waiting rooms are as crowded as ever, but instead of a majority of African Americans, they now contain mainly Hispanics. Does this mean that most blacks are now doing well, and few need county care? Or does it mean that many still need it but have been crowded out, and waiting times are intolerably long?
President Obama claimed that illegal immigrants will not be eligible for ObamaCare. This might mean (1) what it says, or (2) that he will legalize the illegals. That (2) is correct is shown by the fact that he has already legalized those who arrived as young people. There are 10 to 20 million illegal immigrants in the United States. If you think the lines are already long at hospitals and clinics, wait until they all “jump the line.”
At my hospital, and I suspect many other public hospitals, a significant number of patients’ charts contain incorrect addresses and phone numbers. Patients move frequently, and they may give phony ID because they are illegal, or because they are using someone else’s Medicare or Medicaid card. If an abnormal test result comes back, we can’t contact the patient. Practicing good medicine becomes problematic.
A doctor I know was walking down the hall when a well-dressed man caught her eye. He was complaining loudly that his mother was not being cared for properly. The doctor asked what was wrong, and he explained that his elderly mother was visiting from Japan and wanted to return home – why did she have to wait two months to have her cataracts removed? He didn’t explain why he expected taxpayers to give a foreign visitor “free” non-emergency care. This is not a unique story. In the long term, there is no free lunch, but in the short term there is – for people who game the system.
The vehicular zone.
Some time ago my car was rear-ended while stopped in traffic – enough to dent my gas tank. If it were hit a little harder, my only choice would be regular or extra-crispy. The other driver spoke no English and had no insurance. I copied the information from his driver’s license, as well as the plate number and description of his car. I sent the required report to DMV.
I paid the $500 deductible, but my insurance company reported that the man’s driver’s license was phony. Moreover, the plates were from a wrecked car, so the owner could not be identified. I asked about my uninsured-motorist coverage, which I kept up faithfully. But I was told that since the driver could not be identified, I couldn’t prove he was uninsured, so the coverage didn’t apply.
If the police issued the man a citation, he could throw it away. If he were arrested, he would be booked under the false name, and he could bail out and thumb his nose at our legal system. He could get on an airliner, and the security screeners would have no idea who he was. He could vote – here in California, no ID is required. And where it is required, the phony license would serve nicely.
The school zone and the jail zone.
These zones report severe, worsening overcrowding and chronic lack of personnel, equipment, and funding.
The twilight zone.
This zone is inhabited by politicians and academics. It must be a really nice place. There, illegal aliens don’t drive down wages or displace citizens from skilled jobs. They have nothing to do with unemployment or lack of wage increases in construction or other industries.
There, public hospitals and clinics aren’t flooded with immigrants, legal and illegal, who increase costs, while crowding out citizens who are down on their luck. There, nobody is concerned with the care of a 50-year-old black man who was laid off, lost his health insurance, and may have served his country in the military. But he must “wait his turn” at the clinic, behind people who arrived recently – and perhaps illegally – then pushed to the front of the line.
There, drivers don’t have to worry about uninsured, unidentifiable motorists who force up the cost of auto insurance and make accident reporting a sham. They don’t have to worry about phony licenses, which serve as identification for getting on airliners or voting. There, schools and jails aren’t overtaxed to the point of near collapse.
Residents of the twilight zone aren’t construction workers, so they enjoy lower costs, but they never worry about lost jobs or weakened unions.
They go to private doctors and hospitals, so what happens at public hospitals doesn’t affect them – or so they believe.
They can afford collision repairs and are unconcerned with counterfeit identity documents.
They send their children to private schools or public schools in affluent areas, so what happens at inner-city public schools doesn’t interest them.
They live and work in low-crime areas, so their chief concern with law enforcement is traffic tickets, not violent criminals who vanish across the border.
Residents of the twilight zone actually think they are humanitarians for giving away jobs, school desks, and places in clinic waiting rooms that don’t belong to them, but belong to people less fortunate than themselves. This is similar to robbing the charity box at an inner-city black church, then giving the money to illegal immigrants – and taking credit for generosity and compassion.
Residents of the twilight zone should recall the old saying:

Who gives away what isn’t his’n
Must give it back or go to prison.

Perhaps exporting skilled jobs and importing unskilled workers is not an economic masterstroke. Yes, in the short term, some businesses get cheap labor, and Democrats get more voters. But in the long term, what then?
Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. Contact: You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.

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