Politicians and celebrities in America regularly bash illegal Mexican immigrants for being lazy criminals who leech off the system. There are about 10 million illegal immigrants in America right now, and you’re always going to have a few bad apples in any group that size, but generalizing illegal Mexicans in America as villains is detached from reality. The causes, consequences, and implications of illegal immigration are bigger than that. In order to see the real issue in the broader scope of things, you need to understand five things:
1. Illegal immigrants are people too.
Illegal aliens are just as human as natural-born American citizens. They come from the same tree of life that every other human being came from, which makes them more than just neighbors. They’re family, and from a cosmic perspective, they’re the among the rarest, most precious entities in the known universe. If there’s a God that created us, we’re all children from the same loving parent.
We’re all lost and stranded on the same planet. We’re all going through the same existential crisis, and when we die, we all return to dust. It would be illogical to have a conversation about illegal immigrants without acknowledging their inherent sublime majesty, and any solution to illegal immigration must take into account the dignity and respect due to every sentient being. To say that illegal immigrants are just outsiders who need to piss off misses the point of life.
2. They’re here to work and send money back to their families or they’re trying to build a new life in the land of opportunity.
In order to understand how to deal with illegal immigration, you need to understand why people risk traveling thousands of miles across deadly terrain in a strange land where they’re hunted by police. Most of the people who do that aren’t rapists and criminals. Some of them are women and children, but most of them are fathers who left their homes and their families to find work so they can provide for their loved ones. Some want to stay in America, but most want to return home after they’ve made some money.
Think about that, and then think about the words written on the Statue of Liberty:
“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
‘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-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!'”
The bedrock of American political ideology has always been love, hope, freedom, and industry. Those are the same values that have motivated so many Mexicans to answer the call of Lady Liberty. That’s not to say that opening the borders unconditionally is the best solution, but that would be more American than building a wall from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean and lining it with armed guards.
3. They do the jobs Americans can’t.
It’s a well-established fact that Mexican immigrants aren’t taking high paying, in-demand jobs. In 2010 The United Farm Workers organization challenged Americans to come work the jobs that Mexicans have been taking, and not one American took up the challenge.
It’s an understatement to say Mexicans are taking the jobs Americans don’t want. Frankly, they’re taking the jobs Americans can’t do. Immigrants work 13+ hours per day in inclement weather doing backbreaking work with almost no breaks for almost no money. Even if an American could endure the inhumane working conditions that immigrants suffer every day, their wages would be so far below the poverty line they wouldn’t be able to afford a basic quality of living much less The American Dream.
4. America’s economy is based on slave labor.
To say that Mexicans are taking Americans’ jobs today is like saying black slaves were taking all the good cotton picking jobs that colonial-era white settlers were entitled to. The work Mexicans do is tantamount to slave labor. Since America’s agricultural and construction industries (to name a few) are so heavily dependent on immigrant labor, that means the American economy is built on slave labor.
Any American who believes all the illegal immigrants should be deported is a hypocrite every time they go shopping because the low prices they enjoy are the direct result of immigrant slave labor. If all of these workers were deported, prices would skyrocket giving anti-immigration advocates a whole new set of problems to scream about.
Since the economy depends so heavily on illegal immigrants who don’t want to spend the rest of their life in America, the simplest solution to the problem would be to make it easier to obtain temporary working visas. The reason that solution hasn’t been implemented is because then American businesses would have to pay their slaves a living wage and give them all the perks entitled to legal workers. That would raise the cost of goods as surely as deporting all the undocumented workers. Very few business owners would lobby the government to do that. It works out better for their bottom line to keep distracting the public with talk of building walls while continuing to enjoy the fruits of slavery.
5. Mexicans go to America looking for work in the first place because South America’s economy and political structure have been systematically destabilized by the U.S. government.
So many South Americans head North to find work because their economies and governments have been systematically destabilized by the United States government to ensure that none of its neighbors could challenge it economically or militarily. This has also allowed the United States to outsource jobs to South American sweatshops while also guaranteeing a steady flow of workers will come North to work inside America without any legal protection. So screaming at Mexicans for taking Americans’ jobs is blaming the victim.
(Documentary) The War on Democracy
(Documentary) Harvest of Empire
(Wikipedia) Latin America- United States Relations
No amount of victim-blaming will solve the immigration problem. We need to fix the fundamental problem with the economy, which is that our entire economic system is based on oppression and unsustainability. America and Mexico both need to build affordable, self-sufficient cities that don’t require its citizens to work themselves to death for barely enough money to survive. If/when that ever happens, nobody will need to leave their families and travel thousands of perilous miles to work in inhumane conditions, and nobody will have to fight each other for the ability to build a happy life.
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