Immigration Debate is Only Part of It
There is no doubt that there are illegal immigrants taking advantage of taxpayer dollars here in Rhode Island. How many? We don’t know. But we do know that, if we are to apply the same sort of zero-sum economics favored by our friends on the left, any benefits going to illegal immigrants are not going to hard-working, but down-on-their-luck Americans. That’s why the labor/immigrant alliance strikes me as a strange one. Though perhaps it works because of the conflation between legal and illegal immigrants combined with fond memories of the good ol’ days of organizing the oppressed minorities of the past. Not sure.
Yet, I think the polls bear out that most Americans recognize the distinction between illegal and legal and, more importantly, have made it known that they think that people should live by the rules or face the consequences. It isn’t racism or fear of “the other” that is upsetting people, but a belief that people are getting away with breaking the rules and benefiting with tax dollars, either directly or via entitlements sent towards their U.S. born children. It doesn’t matter if the rules for entry into the country and becoming a citizen were easier 100 or 50 years ago: they are supposed to be tougher now and should be followed. Americans’ sense of fair play demands it. That no one seems to be holding anyone accountable is the root cause of all of the anger out there. And that’s why they applaud the Governor: finally, someone is taking a stand.
But I do wonder if we shouldn’t try to apply thermodynamic theory and transfer some of the heat generated by the immigration debate into other relevant areas via some sort of a political heat balance solution. Illegal immigrants are a legitimate target insofar as it is pretty clear-cut that they have no legal claim to government largesse. But Rhode Island taxpayers shouldn’t forget that a greater proportion of their money goes to legal Rhode Island citizens, not illegal immigrants. A sizable portion of the heat generated by the illegal immigrant debate should be redirected towards other pots–entitlement programs, state employment packages, etc.–so that, maybe, they too will begin to boil over and get some attention.