Friday, May 19, 2006

(No) Vacancy

Looks like the American government has decided to make things even more difficult on immigrants with some recent declarations and legislation. This is, of course, bringing people out of the woodwork, decrying recent activities as being "racist and un-American", and forcing people to trot out the tired old "nation of immigrants" rhetoric. Of course, the big thing that these detracters seem to not focus on is that a lot of the recent government activities have been attempts to curtail illegal immigration, and doesn't have as much to do with the legal immigrants.

Let me just go on the record quick to point out that I have absolutely no problems with people coming to America to study or live, provided that they actually do it legally, and make an effort to contribute to and join in the society. It's when people try to subvert the laws, or when they adamantly refuse to become "Americans" that I have issues. They want the national identity, but not the cultural identity.

That being said, let's look at some of the things recently done. First off, the movement of troops to the border. Not necessarily the best usage of our military force, but it may actually shore up the leaking damn that we call the Rio Grande. That, doubled with the new fencing proposals, could bring illegal immigration down severely. Not only could this bring our troops some potential conflict-management experience (necessary under our current war-mongering), but it would free up some of the law enforcement officials who are spending so much of their time chasing down and prosecuting folks who come (and stay) in our borders illegally. So this little push, for a more militaristic border, might not be all that bad of an idea. Besides, it's not like the world can hate us more than they already do. Sure, it might be better to try and find ways to improve global economic and health conditions, thereby prompting more people to stay in their home countries, but we all know that with The Decider in office, there's no way we'll try that.

There's also the capping of the number of guest-worker visas down to 200,000. This could be a good idea, as employers would be forced to rely more on American workers to fill the positions that were previously filled by foreign employees. This could also lead to a huge backlash, with either a tremendous drop in productivity (due to Americans being unwilling or unable to perform the jobs), or the companies packing up their toys and taking it overseas, where they can get lower overhead costs on what they produce, all the while charging more for their goods due to the increased cost for shipping. So yeah, this particular bit could bite the USoA in the ass.

And the most recent piece to come filtering down to the huddled masses from the Senate? America now has a "national language". While not as strong of a declaration as proclaiming English the official language, naming it the national one is a step in that direction. This also means that English is now (theoretically, at least) going to be promoted, and a good knowledge of the language will be required for citizenship tests. Overall, I can honestly say that this is the one piece that I firmly agree with. After all, if you travel to Germany, and try and work and live within the German state, you're going to have to learn how to speak German just to survive. They won't cater to you and make sure that they speak English when you're around so you can know what's going on. And yet, this is exactly what we here in the States have been doing for a variety of different languages (Spanish is the most obvious one, but there are others). The inception of a national language for the United States means, in some ways, that we've started to actually mature as a nation, and are forming our own identity, as opposed to being a complete and total melting pot of whoever happens to stroll by and set up a business on Main Street.

Although, maybe we should get someone to rewrite the message on the Statue of Liberty... "Give me your tired, your poor, your employable masses who already speak our language. But do it legally, or we'll shoot."

No comments: