Illegal Immigration and Entitlements
Mark Krikorian makes a couple interesting points related to the current illegal immigration debate, which both touch on the “wisdom” of the so-called “elite.” First:
…our elite has so completely erased the distinction between citizens and foreigners, devaluing the meaning of Americanness to merely working and paying taxes on American territory, that the illegals (and legal non-citizens) actually have come to believe [that they’re Americans] — and are simply demanding the fulfillment of what they consider to already have been promised. Obviously, the point is not to excuse the foreigners’ will to power, but rather that you teach people how to treat you — and we’ve taught foreigners to make these aggressive demands against us.
Just as illegals are marching in the streets demanding not just amnesty but, let’s face it, open borders, the intellectual elite is increasingly coming to consensus that mass immigration is bad for America’s poor. After Bob Samuelson and Paul Krugman recently came out of the closet, Nicholas Kristof did the same in yesterday’s N.Y. Times:
An influx of hundreds of thousands more unskilled laborers would impoverish them [America’s poor] further — and to me, that does not feel like compassion.
This last is a compelling argument. Of course, what do we mean by “poverty” in contemporary America? Also, if there was more incentivizing on both the worker end and the employer end to help employ more of our poor citizens in those jobs that “only” illegals would do, I’d be more willing to accept this liberal argument.
Many anti-poverty groups are quite “inclusive” in their championing of the poor (public health care for illegal immigrant children) and walk hand-in-hand with “immigration” advocacy groups (they never say they’re “illegal” immigration advocacy groups) that help illegal immigrants get public aid.
Thus, the liberal groups have it right: the public entitlement debate (welfare reform, social security reform) is intertwined with the illegal immigrant debate. I don’t think that an attempt by liberal “elites” to draw a distinction between American poor and the poor in America will be very attractive to their otherwise fellow-traveller, pro-illegal immigrant and redistributionist, anti-poverty brethren.
Finally, (and I shouldn’t have to say it) I’m not “for” poverty and don’t want to see poor kids abandoned on the streets, but more tax dollars money for more programs isn’t the answer. I think we Rhode Islanders can atest that the easier we make it for people to live with the help of public “assistance” the more people we’ll find doing just that, whether they’re American citizens or not.