There’s certainly a lot of discussion about immigration (esp from Latin America) this week. Today Marc Cooper blasts off on ostensible liberals who, frightened a bit by the political mass of the recent marches are suddenly sensitive to the pressure immigrants put on our labor movement.
It’s certainly a conundrum – a problem that has to be considered in five or six dimensions to be considered honestly. And I’d like to add one more just because the problem is obviously too simple as it’s formulated today.
The question is the intermediate- and long-term impact of this kind of migration not on the U.S., but on the source countries.The truism is that our American waves of immigrants have been more desperate, hungrier for freedom and success, more flexible, less rooted in authoritarian oligarchy. And that one of our strengths as a nation is the constant refreshing of our fat and lazy population with new, hungrier blood.
I’ve seen this directly from our side of the border as my sons raised their game in high school to compete with immigrant children who didn’t have nearly the sense of entitlement that native children seem to have. I’ve seen it directly in my lunch with Sumi, an Indian immigrant who I believe is destined for grand things.
The question is what is the impact in Mexico or Guatemala?
How much easier is it for kleptocracies to stay in power when those who don’t like them or can’t manage to find a place under them are simply pointed to the border?
How much easier is it for corrupt local officials to preside over a sagging economy when everyone east because of dollars sent home from the United States?
I know this is walking a path somewhere between Marxist “immiseration” and Moynahan’s “benign neglect”; but trust me, I’m personally not calling for either.
I am calling for a recognition that the answer to our immigration problem (as well as a lot of other ones) is a strong, free, prosperous Mexico (and El Salvador, and Guatemala, etc. etc.) that can make lives in Mexico for the people who today feel like they have no choice. And any policy needs to be considered with that goal in mind as well.