Sunday, February 10, 2008

Irrepressible conflict

The term “irrepressible conflict” was first used by William Seward in 1856 to describe the battle over slavery in the context of the position of the democratic party.

Now, with the specter of a McCain presidency looming we are faced with a Republican version of “irrepressible conflict” over amnesty for illegal aliens.

I could have just as easily used those three buzzwords –“comprehensive immigration reform”- as the issue, but they tend to soften the blow. Even the Democrats believe we need a fence at the border…except everyone from Congress to Bush himself tend to withhold the money for the project at budget time; Clever maneuver, but it did not go undetected.

And it would take only a little work to come to some sort of guest worker program agreement, although past history shows that they please no one and, by themselves, don’t deter future unlawful presence. Experts like Vernon Briggs also contend that guest worker programs harm citizen workers, although not to the extent illegals do.

The central issues of the immigration debate are:
1) Third world immigrants vs. points-system immigrants
2) Family unification vs. individual qualification
3) Government support vs. self-reliance/adequate sponsorship
4) High levels (1 MILLION+/year) vs. Low levels (250,000/year)
5) Amnesty vs. deportation

These are the key issues. The Democratic debates tend to focus on driver’s licenses for illegals. Their main defense is to shift the question to the big picture which evolves into our need for workers and the needs of our most important neighbor – Mexico. Some launch into a utopia scenario of raising the standard of living in Mexico to relieve the pressure here.

I remind such theorists (and Presidente Calderon, headed to the United States this week) of the following levels of support that we already provide to Mexico in the midst of ever-increasing levels of immigration and illegal entry:
1) 31% of all LEGAL immigration comes from one country – Mexico. Even in the great migration of a century ago, no TWO countries combined made up 30% of the immigrants.
2) 56% of the ILLEGAL aliens in the United States come from one country – Mexico.
3) 71% of Mexican immigrants speak little or no English. –Assimilation problem #1
4) Only 19.8% of Mexicans have chosen to become naturalized citizens. – Assimilation problem #2
5) 57% of Mexican immigrants do not have health insurance.
6) 50.9% of Mexican immigrants use some form of welfare services, paid for by U S taxpayers.
7) Remittances back to Mexico totaled $24.3 BILLION flowing out of our economy last year.
8) The United States purchases 1.3 MILLION barrels of oil EACH DAY from Mexico at $90+ a pop.

How much additional support to Mexico can we be expected to give?

The irrepressible conflict is going to come from conservative Republicans who aren’t buying what McCain is selling. If he reaches across the aisle for compromise on this one, he will get lots of letters, e-mails, and faxes.

Call it amnesty, legalization, or path to citizenship but it will get a negative reaction from the Right. And the Left has issues as well, especially regarding fees, fines, back-taxes, time periods, touch-backs, and background checks. If the amnesty program gets too expensive or too complicated, the Left won’t support it. One only needs to review the antics of last summer to see the result. In the end no one was happy with the bill.

Perhaps the best we can do is what we are doing now; enforce the laws on the books as they presently exist, fight the courts over enforcement measures, and build the fence.

A McCain, Obama, or Clinton presidency will continue to give hope to illegals already here. And unfortunately, it will continue to provide yet another magnet for more illegals to enter on the hope that amnesty is coming.

The irrepressible conflict will go on until such time as the Left accumulates enough critical mass to overcome backlash from the Right. The Hispanic birthrate is a key element. Naturalization will strengthen it. Successful motivation of Latino voters will help.

Working against the movement are the Latino protests (which only serve to irritate the citizenry), older voters, a failing economy, union workers who have suffered, lack of assimilation, African-Americans, term limit movements, and lack of confidence in government generally.

The irrepressible conflict spoken of in 1856 resulted in the Civil War. What about this one? No one knows.

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