I am going to reveal my biases at the outset. Springfield is considered a “Gateway City” in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts because it is one of a dozen or so communities which tend to be the first home of immigrants in the Bay State. When you add to this the significance of the Puerto Rican community and the continued migration of those American citizens to the City of Homes and the continued out-migration of other residents then you have a city where newcomers are significant in terms of maintaining the population at around 150,000 residents.
I would say that there is an interesting equilibrium maintained here. Enough immigrants settle or are settled here to keep population numbers fairly steady as the generally low popularity of the place is balanced by the substantially large and high quality pool of single family homes and of high quality jobs which together keep quite a few people here who might otherwise leave. The upshot: without a steady flow of immigrants Springfield will suffer demographically especially compared with other regions of the U.S., and Springfield is not such a strong draw for newcomers that their flow will be sufficient unless immigration continues more or less as it has.
As far as legal and illegal immigration from Hispano America is concerned, my very personal view is that larger demographic trends in the Southwest mean that, from the perspective of people with strong views about maintaining Anglo American dominance, the war has been lost for some time. I have always rooted for Mexico in the World Cup (after Spain of course), I love Mexican food, and I don’t care if Mexico recoups its northern half. Building or not building a wall is not going to change the fact that, to paraphrase Gabriel García Márquez, it is demographic destiny that the Southwest of the U.S. becomes once again one with the rest of the Spanish speaking Western Hemisphere.
Again. My biases. Not facts or ideas that I will pretend come from some unassailable moral high ground, just why I think I think what I think.
Safely, then, so far, I’m on the left hand side of the argument. Not so fast. I was as against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as anyone could have been. I joined anti-war organizations, I donated to anti-war campaigns, I supported anti war candidates, and I helped form and was advisor to a pro-peace group at the high school where I teach. I was against the Obama era interventions in Syria and Libya and against any support for inter-Arab aggression, AND I supported and support the “nuclear deal” with Iran.
But I’m wary of immigration from all of the aforementioned.
It is probably my bias, my belief that we have done a great evil to these people and that we may reap what we have sown in a sense. Can one draw as straight a line from our interventions in the Islamic world to ISIS as one could have drawn from the bombing of Cambodia to the coming to power of the Khmer Rouge? I think so, yes. I have no love for any religion, my biased view is that I’d just as soon see most of them disappear. I don’t fight for its eradication though either. All that said, the combination of specifically anti-Islamic sentiment in this country, combined with the development of an extremely violent and fundamentalist strain of Islam at its fringes, actual manifestations of non-state terrorism by groups and individuals influenced by said strains, and the tremendous devastation that the United States has wrought in the Muslim world require that immigration from that part of the world be carefully, thoughtfully, and deliberately implemented.
So the Right can hate me because I’m the worst sort of atheist “blame America first” peacenik, and the Left can hate me because I’m a weird sort of “Islamophobe”; anti-war, supported and support their right to defend their lands from all foreign invasion, support their right to free speech and to an absolute separation of all churches and the state, but, ya know; “racist”…’cause Islam, whatever Arabs, North Africans, Sub-Saharan Africans, Persians, Bosnians, and Indonesians might view as their distinct backgrounds, is a race don’t ya know.
What’s fun about this is I haven’t even really begun to address the topic. If any of my readers recall the article from CityLab I mentioned a few weeks ago, questions surrounding immigration appear to be completely unmentionable, on the left in particular, and those are the questions which need to be discussed in order to arrive at a consensus, at the very least on that about which we disagree.
Is any attempt by any state to control immigration in any way automatically racist, xenophobic and wrong?
I don’t intend this as a straw-man, some of the thoughts I’ve heard expressed do strongly imply that some people hold this view or something very close to it. It is certainly a view which is, or at least has been, well outside the mainstream. On the other hand I see its attraction in the current climate because without that view a number of uncomfortable questions with inevitable consequences obtain:
What are the criteria that nation-states may use to accept or reject immigrants including asylum seekers?
In democratic states should the people be allowed a voice in establishing those criteria?
In democratic states should the people be allowed to establish numerical limitations to immigration?
Do nation-states, or their populations, have the right to impose obligations on the immigrants regarding their assimilation into the existing culture or in any other ways?
Do nation-states have the right to control the movement, especially regarding domiciles, of immigrants within their borders once accepted?
What happens to those who still seek to immigrate against the established law of a nation?
Once you say that nations can limit whom they accept, and in what quantity then the very ugly but necessary process of deciding on winners and losers begins and furthermore, one must admit that the losers in the process who still seek admission will have to be deterred or there will be no de facto controls, and the effective answer to question #1 becomes “yes”.
To me, too many people on the “pro-immigration” side of the debate, the side on which I mostly fall, are unwilling to admit that anything short of a complete “open borders” policy demands that a lot of difficult decisions be made with lots of losers in the process, and quite a few ugly scenes at various borders. Many of the pictures used in memes to protest “Trump’s anti immigration policies” were taken while President Obama was in office, when he had record numbers of people who had entered this country illegally deported. The process as established required that tens of thousands of children be separated from their parents. Maybe Trump is an evil man who hates Mexicans and Obama was just doing his constitutionally mandated job, but, motivations aside, the primary difference was the point in the process at which children and parents were separated.
I’ll admit that I believe that the United States as a nation can establish criteria for who gets in to this country and who doesn’t. Whether I agree or not with what the Trump administration has established as criteria for admittance to the United States under the rules of our constitution he won the election, he sets policy for the executive branch, and he was very clear on what those policies would be BEFORE he was elected.
In a democratic state sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. If you look at my overall political beliefs…I lose A LOT. But I will take the rule of law over chaos. You want what you view as better outcomes for immigrants in the future? Don’t nominate such a terrible candidate for president that he or she can lose to Donald Trump. Make an honest case for legal immigration; which may have to include acknowledging to people in the wage class that corporations have used legal and illegal immigrant labor as well as many other policies to harm the interests and well-being of workers in this country.
Maybe the people aren’t deplorable, perhaps they’ve just been treated deplorably.
What amounts to virtue signaling, saying “no one is illegal”, may make you feel good, but it could very easily harm the people that mantra claims to defend. By all means, if you really believe that supporting a policy which sounds a lot like totally open borders is the only defensible moral path then call for it, but don’t be surprised if enough voters are uncomfortable with that concept that it ends up putting even more candidates into office whose views are 180 degrees from that.