Monday, June 23, 2008

Immigration, America's Future and the View From New York

This afternoon I went shopping for groceries. Looking in the store windows I noticed yet another "Help Wanted" sign in Spanish. The signs were monolingual and English was excluded. What makes fluency in the English language so undesirable? I have worked along side immigrants, both Spanish speaking and other nationalities. When someone comes in and needs to learn basic vocabulary to work, they are bound to their employer in a manner that an English speaker is not. The people I worked with arranged their lives so they could spend as little as possible on room and board and send as much as possible back to their native countries. Education was a temporary interruption in the cash flow that many of them decided they couldn't afford. I worked with one man who studied English and assessed his job skills combined with English fluency. He moved to a factory town in the South where his wages almost doubled and his living expenses plummeted. Most of his coworkers remained in the same cycle of low pay and limited language skills. Not only are language skills important to advancement, but they are important towards a collective national identity. The misguided policy of bilingualism threatens to balkanise America and segregate a class of workers with limited job mobility.
The bottom rung of the wage scale used to be high school students who were learning life skills and paying for a car, a stereo or clothes. Now, in New York, a lot of low paying jobs are filled by immigrants, quite a few of whom are illegal. Every mayor of New York has announced their intention not to enforce the immigration laws that have been passed by the federal government. It would take a very skilled lawyer to explain to me how this is consistent with their oath of office.
Massive illegal immigration to New York City has produced some anomalies. Kings County Hospital as well as other medical facilities in the Big Apple have become renowned centres for the treatment of African tropical diseases. There have been cases of people coming here illegally with tropical diseases because they knew they would get better treatment than back in Africa with no bill and no worries about immigration police. Even a hospital that is congested and underfunded by American standards is considered palatial by the standards of many African countries.
The massive drop in crime that has changed the face of New York City has had a major beneficial effect. Businesses once scared away by crime have returned in large numbers. National chains are opening up here On the other hand, distorted housing prices and illegal immigration both have a dampening effect on our city economy. The federal government limits the growth of certain crops in order to prevent the market from being flooded and the value of wheat, soybeans or anything else from dropping to a level below production costs.
Labour is a commodity as well, with which American markets are being flooded. In addition to legal immigration is the massive flow of illegal immigration. Computer programmers and telephone service people work now from phone banks and offices overseas, so even some skilled jobs that once held great promise are now being done overseas by college graduates who are happy to work for a fraction of U.S. wages.
The porous nature of America's borders is not a well kept secret. It has grave implications for national security, as America's enemies seek to blend in with waves of illegals whose motives are economic. The means exist to seal our borders, but the will seems to be sorely lacking. We will be fortunate indeed if the sole price of our laxity is economic.
Those who post signs adverting work in Spanish in an American city are not motivated by an idealistic desire to spread America's bounty to immigrants. They are motivated by greed. They want to keep wages down. There is nothing wrong with admitting immigrants in an orderly fashion, but it should be controlled legal immigration.Immigrants with subversive affiliations should also be screened. My mother's family knew to steer clear of certain Croatian and Jugoslav organisations that were considered detrimental to American security. It is outrageous to admit people who set foot in our country for the sole purpose of destroying it, either Muslims who consider us infidels or Mexicans who nurse historic grievances .
The basic well being of those legally here in America should be a commonsensical goal for our country . From Gracie Mansion to the multitude of shop windows with help wanted signs in Spanish, it is clear that today's quick buck is more important to many than is America's future.
I will not say that the writing is on the wall. It is in the shop windows.

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