Arguing to Mediate

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door” (Lazarus line 9-14)!

    Majestic words for a majestic ideal.  However, our ideals have fallen from such inspired lofty heights as stated above – to the solipsistic views that the majority of our “leaders” hold.   So many people have forgotten their own heritage.  Consider this; the only true American surnames are those of the Native American decent. Unless your name is Geronimo, Mangas, or Pontiac: your jingoist views are unfounded in the most literal sense.
    You may think that by my saying these words I am undercutting American heritage.  This is not my aim.  My intention is to dissociate you from your clouded understanding of what we, as Americans, term Manifest Destiny.  A term which once heralded the calling for all pioneers to expand Americas empire from the rocky Eastern shores of North America to the Western edge.  Now Manifest Destiny has come to be the unspoken argument for world policing.
    Many arguments have been proposed for and against illegal immigration.  Some more controversial than others.  I will start by focusing on the argument that is inspired by fear.  The fear of a terrorist attack has been the launch pad for far to many apparently unconstitutional acts.
This fear causes your library records to be subject to review, your person to be detained without probable cause, and for your right not to be tortured to be repealed.
    Because of the heinous act of 9-11, the immigration issue is under fire yet again.  The fear is that illegal immigrants will sneak in to our country and blow up our blue-blooded brethren.  This has been the main argument for many outspoken advocates of Immigration reform.  However, every single terrorist responsible for 911 was here on a legal visa granted by the United States (FAIR 1).  This fact alone casts a dubious shadow on their argument that a closed border will impede terrorism.
    Undaunted by the obvious facts around them; advocates continue to march to the beat of their hearts – which is pumping with fear.  In line with Silko’s story, Waheeda Tehseen’s story has a much darker ending.  Tehseen was a Pakistani graduate student who spent her childhood in poverty.  She immigrated to the United States in 1988.  She amassed the American dream by obtaining a doctorate in toxicology and a $90,000-a-year job at the Environmental Protection Agency.  At which she was presented its “Unsung Hero” award for her volunteer work overseas with Afghan refugees (Sheridan 2).  On February 2nd, 2004 – everything changed:
[She], was arrested and accused of lying on her naturalization application in 2001. The violation centered on one question: Have you ever claimed to be a U.S. citizen? No, Tehseen had checked. In fact, in 1998, she had accepted a job in EPA’s pesticide division — a position she knew was open only to U.S. citizens (Sheridan 2).
    At first, I thought this was just another “exaggerated story” used to show how Muslims are being viewed in an unfavored light.  But upon further inquiry, I found that the source I used was the only source that mentioned her innocence.  Every other article clearly states that she was guilty of terrorism and was deported.  They stripped her of her doctorate and deported her entire family.  She is now seen as a villain to everyone but the reporter at the Washington Post named Mary Beth Sheridan.  The shame could have been avoided but she refused to be a mole for the FBI because “I’m not an FBI person who can go and sneak in and find out who’s right and wrong” (Sheridan 2).  This is a clear case of how our credo “Innocent before proven Guilty” is simply an illusion for an immigrant.
    This brings me to my next argument, an argument which has so much support: President Bush signed a bill into effect over a year ago to build a 700 mile fence between the United States and Mexico.  A 700 mile non-continuous fence to separate the Mexican border from our own.  Undaunted by the fact that the border is over 2,000 miles long – we are currently building the fence.
    A small hiccup in the plan was that one of the companies contracted to build this wall was fined over $30,000 for its use of illegal workers in their construction teams.  That’s right: illegal immigrants were used in order to build the very wall used to keep illegal immigrants from coming into the United States (Horsley 1).  Furthermore:
Last week, Mr. Chertoff issued waivers suspending more than 30 laws he said could interfere with “the expeditious construction of barriers” in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. The list included laws protecting the environment, endangered species, migratory birds, the bald eagle, antiquities, farms, deserts, forests, Native American graves and religious freedom.  The secretary of homeland security was granted the power in 2005 to void any federal law that might interfere with fence building on the border. For good measure, Congress forbade the courts to second-guess the secretary’s determinations. So long as Mr. Chertoff is willing to say it is necessary to void a given law, his word is final (Liptak 1).
    Sadly, this brings me to by third point:  “Good Fences make good neighbors” (Frost line 27).  While many people recognize this quote, few know the meaning behind it.  This quote is from the gifted writer Robert Frost.  In his poem “Mending Walls,” the speaker questions the purpose of a wall between himself and his neighbor.  This wall repeatedly develops unexplained gaps and needs frequent repair.  As they go about their restoration, his neighbor stays on his side and the speaker stays on his own, as they exchange rocks across the wall.  The speaker then says that this is nothing more than a game, because his own apple trees will not flock to the neighbors pine trees.  The neighbor then states “Good fences make good neighbors” (Frost line 27), to which the speaker responds with a “But there are no cows” (Frost line 32).   This shows that the speaker is aware of the circumstances of a wall being needed, but confesses he does not see one here.  He then repeats the first line adding upon it “That wants it down” (Frost line 37)!  The neighbor simply repeats that fences make good neighbors which causes the speaker to wonder if his neighbor has no sense of humor, or in the worse case; that he cannot “go behind his father’s saying” (Frost line 44).
    Hopefully, this poem is seen by yourself as an allegory for our current immigration “crisis”.  Often we imagine separation will cure our ills.  With our short memories it is hard to remember the famous quote by George Santayana: “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it” (Saatkamp 1).  Our own father’s fathers believed segregation would cure the civil dysfunctions of the White and Black population.  Just as the Native Americans believed that accepting the reservations would sate the white devils.  Just as the Pilgrims believed immigrating to America would cure their troubles. 
    My fourth point is the most prominent argument against immigration. The argument that illegal immigrants are taking American jobs.  While you have undoubtedly heard this many times: is it true?  I do not believe so, however, I also do not believe in such a thing as manual labor.  At least when that labor involves myself.  Perhaps I’m a lazy person, or perhaps I have been raised in an environment wherein the quality of life is above menial grunt work.  I may be spoiled by iPhones and Internet porn insofar that I do not appreciate an honest days work.  I cannot stress enough the fact that I do not want to do that kind of work.  Luckily, immigrants are happy and willing to do this work.  They come from a country with a much lower quality of life, and in order to feed their families they must work hard for the money our companies offer them.  They worker in order to improve their own quality of life and by doing so; they raise our own.
    According to the Washington Post: “The Pew Hispanic Center analyzed immigration state by state using U.S. Census data, evaluating it against unemployment levels. No clear correlation between the two could be found” (Hart 1).  How is this possible?  As I stated above, these immigrants are not taking American jobs from American workers.  They are simply taking the jobs that Americans do not want to do anymore.  Not a very scientific claim, but one that any American-raised individual can relate to.
    My final point is one brought about by the strongest advocates of Immigration Reform: the American Patrol.  Their reason for citing that Illegal Immigration is wrong, besides being illegal, is that keeping them out is an:
…Enormous drain on public funds.  The seminal study of the costs of immigration by the National Academy of Sciences  found that the taxes paid by immigrants do not cover the cost of services received by them. We cannot provide high quality education, health care, and retirement security for our own people if we continue to bring in endless numbers of poor, unskilled immigrants (American Patrol Reference Archive 1).
These unfounded accusations beg the question: Why waste the public’s money then?  If we sink billions of dollars into keeping immigrants out, yet fail in all our attempts: why continue?  As the prohibition era taught us: some laws are unenforceable.  They are exercises in mindless conformity to tradition – yet share no common ground with the true tradition they originated from.  For example, We fight immigration because our fathers did, however, our nation was founded by immigrants for immigrants.  We fight a war on drugs, yet we spend billions on developing new drugs.  A little known fact is that Marijuana was outlawed for the very first time as an effective way to police Mexican immigrants.  Through the years of propaganda, now the people who still believe Marijuana should be illegal believe so because they think it is dangerous – not because it was a convenient excuse to prosecute immigrants.
So who is wrong here?  What is wrong?  What is right?  These moral questions cannot be answered by simple yes or no, black and white, or immigrant and native, retorts.  There is no Black and White – only gray.  Right and wrong exist in degrees, much like light becomes darkness by shades.  Ultimately you are the one living with your actions – you are the one defining right versus wrong.  Please do not take the narrow-minded approach and heed histories precedents.  Make the choice that you can sleep with whether that choice be action or complacency.  Will you continue to stand for a principle that justifies the tyranny of the majority or will you stand for the principles you depend on for your sanity?  Either way – only you can make the choice.  Do not let myself or anyone distract you from what you believe.

Sources Cited

American Patrol Reference Archive. “Illegal Immigration is a Crime.” Accessed August 5, 2008.         .

FAIR Federation for American Immigration Reform. “Identity and Immigration Status of 9/11         Terrorists”. Accessed August 5, 2008. .

Frost, Robert. “Mending Wall.” Accessed August 5, 2008. .

Hart, Kim. “Study Finds Immigrants Don’t Hurt U.S. Jobs: Pew Detects No Link To             Unemployment”. Washington Post. Accessed August 5, 2008. .

Horsley, Scott. “Border Fence Firm Snared for Hiring Illegal Workers.” NPR National Public         Radio. Accessed August 5, 2008. .

Lazarus, Emma. “The New Colossus”. Liberty State Park, Liberty Science Center, The Statue of         Liberty and Ellis Island Website. Accessed August 5, 2008. .

Liptak, Adam. “Power to Build Border Fence Is Above U.S. Law”. New York Times. Accessed         August 5, 2008. .

Saatkamp, Herman. “George Santayana”. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2006         Edition). Accessed August 5, 2008. .

Silko, Leslie M. “The Border Patrol State”. The Aims of Argument. Ed. Carolyn Channell and         Timothy Crusius. New York:     McGraw-Hill, 2005. 591-94.

Sheridan, Mary B. “Immigration Law as Anti-Terrorism Tool”. Washington Post. Accessed         August 5, 2008. .

The Aims of Argument. Ed. Channell, Carolyn and Timothy Crusius. New York:     McGraw-Hill,         2006.

Originally crapped out August 07, 2008.

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