Thursday, June 14, 2007

How many undocumented Americans does it take to fix a driveway?

I'm looking out my window now, and the answer would appear to be six: One to drive the roller that flattens out the soil; one to sit in the truck and watch; and four to clown around, shoving and pushing each other like kids in a schoolyard, laughing all the while.

Possibly they are not undocumented: they might be proud American citizens all; but judging from their conversation, Spanish is their native language. Maybe they were all born here and have triumphantly managed to retain their culture.

I don't want to be too hard on these young men. They are hardly more than teenagers, if that, and they are working, if not very hard. I don't blame them for being in this country. If I were in their shoes, I would make every effort to be here myself. I bear them no ill will.

President Bush seems to think that we have to "do something" about the 12 million illegal aliens in this country. Why do we have to do something? We haven't "done anything" for years, and can continue to do so. Let's "do something" about those who aren't here yet. Let's prevent others from violating our borders. If we do a good job of this, and few or none get into this country, then the 12 million will gradually shrink by attrition. Some will go home. Some may die.

As for "jobs Americans won't do"? We could make the same argument about slavery: we need slaves to do the work free men won't do. That argument didn't seem to work last time it was tried. We will either have to 1) pay more; or 2) import non-citizens for specific finite jobs, and send them home when the jobs are over; or 3) find other ways to get the work done, such as mechanization. No-one is chopping cotton any more, since the invention of the cotton gin.

Secure the borders first. Build the fence. And while you're at it, build one between us and Canada as well. Lots of undesirables come into the country that way, and Canadians are notorious for having a lax immigration policy. They will let anyone in, for almost any pretext. Okay, they are a sovereign nation: they can let anyone in that they choose, as long as they keep them and don't ship them here.

Once the borders are in good shape, we can resume liberal immigration policies, should we wish to. Meanwhile, the immigration bill recently defeated in the Senate is an ugly, misbegotten thing, a stepchild no-one could love.

Americans don't want to be hard on people who want to come here to work. The average American citizen is not a bigot. He has two concerns: security, and maintaining English as the official language. These are legitimate concerns and should be seriously addressed by our legislators.

Let's fix the leaky roof before we invite the world over for a slumber party.

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