regarding immigration
2006-04-22

As a Los Angeles resident, I am bombarded daily by the news of demonstrations in support of amnesty for Mexican immigrants. For example, just last month one protest resulted in students flying the Mexican flag above an inverted American flag.

I have some dear friends who are illegal aliens in this country, one in particular who I shall call Juan.

Juan has come into the country illegally at least three times, usually with his mother, including running across the border and traveling in the trunk of a car. He is one of the most talented young men it has ever been my privilege to meet. He is a skilled ballet dancer, an aspiring musician and photographer, and a poet both in his native language and in English.

In the three years since I’ve known him, his facility in English has grown by leaps and bounds. He works hard, often at three or four jobs, and has risen from busing tables at a greasy spoon to a position as a waiter at an expensive restaurant. He saves his money wisely, owns his own car and a nice laptop which he uses for his music and photography. He is, in general, a law-abiding, sensitive, intelligent, humble and sincere young man. He’d like to meet a nice American girl, get married and settle down here – not just to get a green card, but because he’d like to meet a nice girl and get married. Juan is precisely the sort of person we need more of in this country, and has more to contribute than most citizens I meet.

Juan can’t travel, though. He can’t fly, because he lacks the appropriate identification. He has tickets to the upcoming Coachella megaconcert, but will probably have to sell them – he fears that a routine traffic stop on the 150 mile drive could send him back to Mexico. Juan has no health insurance, no access to social services of any sort. He could pay for higher education with his earnings, and would like to, but can’t apply for anything more advanced than community college due to his status.

We need people like Juan in our country – sincere, hard-working americans who want to make the world and our nation a better place. I call him an American; although he is not a citizen, he embodies what is best about our country, and believes in it.

We cannot simply open our borders to the world, however. Those borders are what make our land what it is. Juan agrees with me – he doesn’t want “his” America overrun by terrorists and predatory thugs any more than I do!

There are Americans that need jobs, but they generally don’t want the jobs that Mexican immigrants are willing to take – gardening, cleaning toilets, busing tables, picking lettuce. We need the labor, they need the money – in a sense, the problem is just paperwork.

The most reasonable and direct solution is to institute some sort of ‘guest worker’ program, where foreign nationals would be able to apply for a limited legal status here.

I would like to propose an unreasonable solution.

I think that the United States should offer Mexico statehood – and I think Mexico should accept. My suggestion is a complete and peaceful surrender of sovereignty, wherein the states of Mexico would become states of the USA. The peso would be replaced by the dollar; taxes would be paid to Washington; Mexico would send senators and congressmen to Washington on an equal status with every other state. We have added states before, the process is clearly outlined in the constitution.

We haven’t added any stars to our flag for 50 years or so. I would say it is high time we did, and the president that does it is going to look really good. It would probably give too much power in the senate to make each of [Mexico’s 31 current states equal members in our political system – perhaps seven would be about right.

Our troops would defend Mexican borders – which are mostly beaches, aside from a small strip of land at the southern border with Belize and Guatemala. This should be far easier to defend than the Texas and Arizona desert. In practice, this is already the case – if Mexico were ever invaded, we would surely be their first real line of defense. The Mexican army – whatever there is – might be merged with the US army, perhaps with their troops having to apply to the US army on a “fast track.”

The US has no official language, but as a matter of policy most documents needed by ordinary citizens are already translated into Spanish, as well as other languages – certainly there would have to be an expansion of this, a formal acceptance of bilingual status.

The question is, would Mexico accept? In earlier times, this would have been solved by bloodshed, one side or the other erasing the border with the lives of their young. The Mexican President refers to our attempts to build a wall between our countries as ‘shameful ’

Ex-president Ernesto Zedillo has been quoted as saying

“I have proudly affirmed that the Mexican nation extends beyond the territory enclosed by its borders”

although this may have been meant in a metaphorical sense. Many have taken his comments to imply that Mexicans have the right to enter the US.

It is not their right. Americans have the right to leave the country, but not the right to enter any other country in contradiction of that country’s laws. Mexicans can leave their country, but the US has laws to limit entry of foreign citizens, and for good reasons.

Wars are the reflection of natural social changes. Mexico and the US have been on the track to integration for a great many years – must we wait for a bloody revolution before accepting this fact?

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