The Legend of Wooley Swamp

What ever happened to nuance? Jabberwocky is being spewed up by the left and right as they try to drag us into their Wonderlands. This blog charts a path out of this swamp of simple truths and false certainties. And from time to time, it'll be a place for more light-hearted musings.

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Location: Palms - L.A, California

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Fence Me In!

Update: Now with uncontroversial political cartoons and more links!

The immigration debate is heating up in the U.S. Never far off anyone’s radar screen – well, save for those polling cowards who would rather not touch it with a barge pole – the recent brouhaha is tied to supposed legislative attempts at fixing the immigration system.

In today’s Washington Post, pundit Robert Samuelson enters the fray with support for the Fence. The Fence? Yes, some kind of fence along the southern border with Mexico. Mr. Samuelson, an economist by training, is playing the usual alarmist game. He tries to sound reasonable by accepting that some data and trends show that no fence would be necessary. Assimilation is happening; wages are not being depressed etc etc.

But in order to demand a fence he prefers looking at the data that might show other tendencies. He then attributes more weight to those numbers since they support his position. Nice work, Mr. Economist.

He cites a study by Rakesh Kochkar of the Pew Hispanic Center that purports to show that things are going to go to hell. That the American melting pot will boil over, that immigration must be halted because there were ‘pauses’ in the past. But these pauses were the result of restrictive legislation in an era of bigotry, limited mobility and closed economies. Mr. Samuelson, you may have remained the same, but the times have changed!

This kind of zero-sum thinking – basically protectionist racism in the guise of ‘common sense’ that is based on distorted readings of history – gets nobody anywhere. And far from granting candor to any immigration debate (this is what he claims to yearn for) it represents a willful continuation of disinformation.

Unfortunately for Samuelson, the study he cites is far more complex then he portrays it. And even more unfortunately, on the very day of his cri de coeur the same Pew Hispanic Center put out another study - this one by Jeffrey Passel (click here to see an interview) - on illegal/irregular/unauthorized migrants, which further exposes the pundit's charlatanesque ways.

Guess he forgot to cite that one, so allow me to point out some of its findings. That nearly half of the migrants are women, i.e. not bands of roving young men. That families make up the bulk of that population, including many American born children. That some 94% of adults are working, paying taxes etc. That the large majority of migrants have high school educations and that their children are likely to do better, and attend college.

Yes, all is not rosy but it never was and never will be. Swedish peasants, who arrived during the roughly 70 year period beginning c. 1840, were themselves not upper middle class folks. In my humble opinion, the reality does warrant a keen look at new legislation – I will discuss this as the debates hit the floors of Congress – legislation that does include the maligned Amnesty, or legalizing the unauthorized. Of course.

In the past, the borders were open so no one was illegal. My ancestors came en masse and were 'legal'. The amnesty was already at hand. Think about that. And now some want to build a fence. Forget that, the only fence in sight is the one extending from Samuelson’s mind, shielding his tunnel vision from reality. And that one will be torn down as well.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI - the same legislation that provides for a possible barrier between the US and Mexico could also apply on the 49th parallel.

You might want to check out the first report on this link (from CBC Radio 1's As It Happens on 31 Jan 2006 (and the call-in comments that followed!):

C *:)

9:04 PM  
Blogger Duke1676 said...

Excellent post

I hope you continue to write on this topic, more intelligent commentary is definitely needed.

1:40 AM  

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