Monday, June 13, 2005

There is a difference

Program to help Hispanics looks to add services
Rossy Gomez remembers her first job interview north of the Arizona-Mexico border with crystal clarity.

A college graduate and native of Mexico looking for work in the United States, she got an interview for a counter job at a McDonald's restaurant in a small border town.

She got the job, but Gomez realized during the interview that she wasn't going much higher up the career ladder unless she improved her English, a language she had studied for years in school.
She violated labor laws and probably committed ID fraud but realized that if she was going to continue to break the law she would have to learn better English.

Today, Gomez speaks nearly perfect English and runs her own business.

But she also spends much of her time trying to help other Hispanics overcome the same hurdles she encountered 17 years ago through El Programa de Ayuda. Ayuda means "help" in Spanish.
17 years in America and she speaks "nearly perfect" English?

A Hispanic advocacy group, El Programa helps Spanish-speaking immigrants adjust to Central Oregon by connecting them with essential services as well as educational and job opportunities.

In Mexico there doesn't exist the kind of social support network that is offered in many areas of the United States.

"Here the community and the state wants to help. But a lot of Hispanics don't know that," she said.
Yes we do, we are a very kind and generous nation. But we DON'T want to help illegal aliens live in our country!

The organization, which raised about $40,000 this year for all of its operational expenses, hopes to more than double its revenue next year.

The bulk of those dollars comes from a $30,000 Deschutes County grant.

This caught my eye because I had just responded to a comment from a previous post that indicated that the "rhetoric" against illegal aliens did not differentiate between the lawbreakers and Hispanics. I think that I am pretty clear that the people I have a problem with are the illegal aliens and my problem is that they, with their very presence, are breaking the law. But articles like this, where it is very clear that the people being helped are illegal aliens, insist on calling the lawbreakers "Hispanics."

Before you start calling me names I would like you to answer some common sense questions:

1. What age can you legally work?
2. If you were born in America should you be able to speak English by the time you reach that age?
3. What is one of the most common types of Visas to come to America with?

So if you can't speak English when you are looking for work then you probably weren't born in America. If you don't already have a job lined up then you are not here on a work visa. At this point I am willing to bet you $5 that the "job applicant" is an illegal alien.

But I guess the BendBulletin doesn't care to note the difference between American Hispanics and illegal aliens.

16 comments:

demographer said...

"3. What is one of the most common types of Visas to come to America with?" I'm no expert on immigration law, but I believe family reunification visas are quite common. It's easy to imagine a scenario where a legal resident farmworker (probably with very little education and English language skills) here on a work visa is joined by his wife and kids, also possesing limited or no English skills.

Daniel, may I ask you a question: What if the federal government were to grant amnesty to all individuals currently in the country without documents and then put the military on the border to completely seal it, and mandated that all immigration henceforth(work visas, family reunification, etc.) must go through proper channels, which would mean years of waiting for applications to be processed? How would you respond to such a move?

Daniel said...

I would not agree to giving amnesty to the millions of illegal aliens currently in this country. I couldn't support any proposal that rewards lawbreakers.

The second half of your proposal (minus the military) is what we are supposed to have now. Why would current law be on the bargaining table? How can you offer something that we should already have?

How about we follow current law which means "seal" the border, make immigrants go through "proper channels" and deport illegal aliens who have no right to be in this country.

Daniel said...

It's easy to imagine a scenario where a legal resident farmworker (probably with very little education and English language skills) here on a work visa is joined by his wife and kids, also possesing limited or no English skills.

If the legal resident on a work visa is joined by his family with reunification visas then that is fine with me.

demographer said...

Sorry for any double-postings, but it appears that my first try did not get through.

Daniel, in response to the following:

"The second half of your proposal (minus the military) is what we are supposed to have now. Why would current law be on the bargaining table? How can you offer something that we should already have?

How about we follow current law which means "seal" the border, make immigrants go through "proper channels" and deport illegal aliens who have no right to be in this country."

I can think of a few potential reasons why immigration laws are not more strictly enforced:

1. Business Interests. Immigrant labor is easily exploited. Even workers here on work visas, and especially those working here without documentation, have little or no bargaining power when it comes to discussing wages and benefits, and are also less likely to complain if work conditions/circumstances are unsatisfactory, relative to native workers. Add to this the fact that big portions of entire industries are dependent on immigrant labor, and insofar as those running businesses in these industries have political influence, it is easy to see how politicians may become lax in dealing with any of these problems. Further, I've read ethnographic studies of supervisors who prefer Latino immigrant workers, not just because of the low wages, but because they always know a co-ethnic or family member in need of work. It is a self-perpetuating, self-regulating rucruitment and hiring process, very streamlined relative to more formal hiring processes.

2. Government resources. Determining the legality of all foreign-born persons currently in the country and deporting those here illegally would be an extremely expensive undertaking, and practically speaking, difficult in so many ways.

3. Diplomatic relations with other nations. Should we put the military on the border, developing Latin American nations who derive large portions of their revenues from remittances, would immediately pressure the US. Mexico, for example, is so saddled with debt owed to the IMF and World Bank as a result of structural adjustment in the 1990s, that their most readily available, most efficient export, is labor. Should these huge debts be forgiven, lending institutions in the developed world would stand to lose tons of money, and the possible result would be a destabilization of the global economy.

4. Lack of political will among those seeking reelection. Fear of losing the Latino vote and of pissing off industrialists.

5. All of the above, in concert.

Anonymous said...

What do you call America without Mexicans?

Hungry.

Anonymous said...

Yo' know, ah pow'ful reckon them illegal immigrants is essential t'our economah. They is crticial t'ev'rythin' we does, particularly in th' seasonal indestries of Texas an' who cares eff'n they is seekin' th' South Car'linan dream, let them does so.

demographer said...

I've gotta say, I'm disappointed in the level of discussion at this blog-site. All partisan attacks and little serious debate over the meat of the issues. I guess I had high expectations given that this is the favorite blog site of Lars Larson. Maybe I shouldn't have.

Can any of you recommend some other blogs where perhaps the debate is a bit more serious and the discussion doesn't fizzle out after a few posts?

jwalker said...

Demographer, your de-stabilization point was a good one. However, I am not sure that is a good enough reason to watch out for our country.

Also, I don't think that we owe the migratory workers anymore than we already give them. I agree that exploitation must be taking place, but no more so than in their own countries in many cases. If they are legal then there are some avenues of recourse.

Also, I would be interested in comparing the costs of deportation and investigation to the costs of housing the prisoners that are illegal. And the costs of deportation would have an end that would justify the means, as housing people in prison really doesn't.

demographer said...

jwalker,

"Demographer, your de-stabilization point was a good one. However, I am not sure that is a good enough reason to watch out for our country."

I'm not sure what you mean. How could we not be concerned with hemispheric or global economic stability? Isolationism is not a real option in this day and age.

"Also, I don't think that we owe the migratory workers anymore than we already give them. I agree that exploitation must be taking place, but no more so than in their own countries in many cases. If they are legal then there are some avenues of recourse."

I think I was answering Daniel's question about why the immigration laws we already have aren't enforced. I wasn't comparing levels exploitation of Mexican workers in the US to that of exploitation in Mexico. I was just speculating on one of many reasons why large-scale US employers might resist tightening up on immigration laws. It would be a threat to their bottom line: immigrant labor is cheap, more exploitable relative to native labor, and self-perpetuating.

"Also, I would be interested in comparing the costs of deportation and investigation to the costs of housing the prisoners that are illegal. And the costs of deportation would have an end that would justify the means, as housing people in prison really doesn't."

I've never seen statistics on the rates of arrests/incarceration (and yes, I know their presence here is a criminal offense, so no need to point that out) for illegal immigrants, but I seriously doubt that it is much higher than for native-born groups of similar socioeconomic status. Just based on my recollection of estimates (I could be wrong here) is that about 5 million of the roughly 34 million immigrants (according to census 2000, 12% of the 280 million people in this country were born overseas) are here illegally. I have a hard time conceiving how there can possibly be enough financial, material, and human resources to locate and deport 5 million people. I'm no logistics expert though.

jwalker said...

I agree with you that big business is probably happy about the cheap labor that has no rights. I really believe we have to as a country quit making it lucritive to use the illegal labor.

I still don't know what the costs of deportation is. I think that we are finding illegals all the time and do nothing to enforce what we do find. Daniel just a couple weeks ago had a list of illegals in one county that are being held for crimes.

I do not think that the simple answer to destabilization of these countries is that America must allow their people in to work. I would be more understanding of this if we weren't having so many problems, but there are problems. I don't see those countries doing anything to help solve them....they just keep demanding more giving on America's part. None of this even addresses the problem of terrorism. I believe our Southern border is a huge problem in our fight to stay safe. And please don't compare the Northern border to the Southern border...

demographer said...

I'm still not convinced that mass deportation is logistically feasible. Far from it.

My interpretation of the relations between Mexico and the U.S are quite different. Rather than Mexico benefitting and the US getting squat, I think that, due to NAFTA, the few economically powerful (and therefore, politically powerful) on each side of the border gain tremendously, while those of us, again on both sides of the border, who are workers lose out. We digress to calling each other racists and blaming one another for national social problems, which, of course, suits the fat cats just fine, as it takes our attention off of them. Historically, I find a parallel to the 1940s, when American industrialists would use black workers as strikebreakers, knowing full well that the blacks would receive the wrath of the white strikers, not the employer. Ironic.

demographer said...

sorry, should have proofread:

meant to "wealth of white strikers animosity"

Anonymous said...

So, this is Lars' favorite blog?

Written by a kid living in his Mommy's basement in Sherwood?

I guess his subscription to the WSJ ran out, poor boy.

jwalker said...

Anonymous, knock it off. Discuss or just stop.

Demographer, your points are intriguing. There is a lot of truth in what you say. But I have yet to see any logical, practical answers to my concerns with the immigration problems.

Demographer said...

jwalker -- I hesitate to respond to your question for fear of the firestorm that it might precipitate, but here goes.

At issue is the fact that I simply don't perceive there to be such a clear-cut problem, and if there is a problem, I certainly don't perceive it to be as severe as it is made out to be in conservative information outlets.

There are many arguments out there against illegal immigration all revolving around how these groups degrade our economy and society. The problem is, I have yet to see real clear-cut statistical evidence that this is the case. For example, the research on the economic impact of immigrants is very mixed. I've actually seen very little showing that immigrants drive down wages for the native-born. Sure, this is bound to happen in some sectors, but other research has shown that the presence of the immigrant labor force has actually opened up new sectors of employment for natives. I also haven't seen anything proving to me that immigrants utilize sources of public assistance with greater frequency than natives. If anything, after one controls for socioeconomic status, they may even utilize it less.

Schools? First generation immigrant students outperform native-born students. Bilingual students outperform monolingual. Limited English proficiency is obviously a hindrance to educational and occupation mobility, but I am not as familiar with the education research as I am with the economic.

Crime? I've yet to see any hard facts showing that undocumented immigrants commit crimes of any greater severity or with greater frequency than natives.

It's possible that any problems may be counterbalanced by contributions. Immigrant families are more likely to stay in tact, compared to native born marriages. I've also read reports and studies of legal and illegal immigrants revitalizing towns and industries in the midwest and also giving new life to Churches which had seen participation from natives decline drastically in recent decades.

This is outside the point of the leagality of immigrants but, I enjoy the cultural diversity that immigrant groups bring with them. Some don't; I do.

We could run down the list, but that's pretty much my line, so why bother? I'm open to changing my opinion, but it would be in response to rigorously conducted social sceientific research, not someone's hype over this or that news story. I am just not willing to make generalizations about an entire diverse population of people based on the behaviors of a few. Shouting louder, using more inflammatory terms in which to describe this population, and so on, these tactics are not likely to convince me that illegal immigrants are necessarily the scourge that they are made out to be. So many rant so hard so often that one is nearly convinced of their expertise in these areas, and yet little in the way of convincing evidence is produced.

That's it for me. I have to stop this blogging before I lose my job.

jwalker said...

Demographer, your points were well-made. I think that I have read and listened to many anecdotal stories by people who live on the border, where the percentage of problems may be higher. Also, I worry about how a country with an open border may fare in light of the terrorism threat.