by Victor Davis Hanson
Los Angeles Times
Open borders are a disaster. They undermine respect for the law, imperil homeland security, allow Mexico to export its apparently unwanted people rather than embrace much-needed economic reform, and preclude unionization by poorer, entry-level American workers.
One proposed solution, a new guest-worker program, ignores why the old bracero program was scraped decades ago, when laborers resented the idea that they were good enough to work for, but not to live among, Americans. The proposed program also lacks enforcement provisions to deal with the millions of aliens who will not participate in the program but still try to cross the border.
There is a reasonable approach to the United States’ immigration problem, but it would require concessions all around.
The right would have to quit calling reformers “nativists” and “protectionists” and accept strict employer fines for hiring undocumented aliens. These conservatives should then expect to pay more for unskilled labor and see it organized and unionized. They’d also need to accept a legitimate, foolproof national identity card, and grant a one-time amnesty — not the periodic pardons of the past — for the millions of Mexicans who have lived in the United States for at least five years.
For its part, the left would have to jettison the tired “racist” slurs and accept that a nation has the right to secure and patrol its own borders. Liberals should concede that Mexican illegal immigrants do not have greater rights to entry than legal emigrants from the Punjab, the Philippines or South Korea who queue up for years waiting for proper documentation.
Latino immigrants must also make concessions. We are a melting pot, not a salad bowl — a multiracial not a multicultural nation. So those who come north should expect, as do those from Asia, to learn quickly to speak and read English, forgo the romance of la Raza (“the Race”) and welcome their own integration, assimilation and intermarriage into the American body politic.
Finally, we citizens who are in the middle must restore our lost work ethic and accept that our children are better off working in the yard than at the mall, remembering that not long ago our beds were made, our concrete poured and our food cooked without imported cheap labor from Mexico.
Let us also accept that there is something morally wrong in inviting thousands of youths from central Mexico — without legality, English or education — to work cheaply in permanently unskilled jobs until they age and tire, only to be cast by employers onto the near bankrupt entitlement industry, while we invite a new cohort of healthier and younger workers in to replace them.
©2005 Victor Davis Hanson