Editor’s note — This is part 4 of a four-part series on immigration reform legislation that is making its way through Congress.
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Social capital and immigration reform
Supporters of S. 744 believe that legalizing the 11 million to 12 million aliens in the country will “bring them out of the shadows” and help them eventually assimilate into American society.
However, conservative commentators like Pat Buchanan worry about the social cost of legalizing millions of people from Third World countries since that is where the majority come from.
He notes that the crime rate among Hispanics is about three times that of white Americans and their illegitimacy rate is 53 percent, which means a greater dependency on welfare.
Hispanics are also much more likely to join gangs, which means more gang and drug-related violence in this country. Hispanic gangs routinely set up marijuana growing operations in the national forests and the Sinaloa Cartel, led by Mexican kingpin Joaquin Guzman, accounts for 80 percent of the U.S. methamphetamine trade. According to a report from the Council on Foreign Relations, more than 40,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico since 2006 and that violence is now spilling over the U.S. border.
Political scientist Robert Putnam says America actually needs a time-out from mass immigration, regardless if it’s legal or illegal. Making hash out of the cliché that “diversity is our strength,” Putnam studied the topic and concluded that ethnic and racial diversity can be “devastating to communities and destructive of community values.”
Rather than enrich a community, diversity promotes isolation, less volunteering, less giving to charity, and less time devoted to community projects, he said. Instead of building social capital, it ends up with people hunkering down alone in front of their TVs or computers.
According to Buchanan, with the immigration bill granting amnesty to 12 million illegal immigrants, an open door to their dependents and a million new immigrants each year, almost all from the Third World, America in 2040 is going to look like Los Angeles today. Yet, it was in L.A. that Putnam found social capital at its most depleted and exhausted.
The proposed immigration reform bill would also make the majority of amnestied illegal aliens and many new immigrants, plus their descendants unto the seventh generation, eligible for affirmative action. That translates into preferential treatment in hiring, admission to college, racial/ethnic set-aside programs, contracting and other privileges.
The amnesty lottery and global warming refugees?
The immigration reform bill has set off a frenzy among countries hoping to get more favorable treatment of their citizens. Mexico is at the forefront of this effort, but other countries like Ireland, South Korea and El Salvador have had a hand in drafting the immigration reform bill to benefit their citizens.
According to Ronil Hira, a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, “Every country is going to try to negotiate its own carve-out,” saying that countries like Tibet, Hong Kong and parts of Africa are looking for special benefits. Helping these different countries are lobbyists like Brian Smith, a White House aide during the Clinton Administration; Scott Perven, a former Senate aide; Kirsten Chadwick, a former Bush White House aide; and Jonathan Wakely, a former CIA political analyst.
In the midst of this, amendments to the bill have been discussed that cater to different constituencies. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., for example, wants to allow workers who stay in the country past their visa period to remain on the path to citizenship.
Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, wants an amendment that would allow “stateless people” in the U.S. to become citizens if their nations have been made uninhabitable by “climate change.” Schatz claims that more than 32 million people fled their homes around the world due to climate-related disasters, with Africa and Asia experiencing the worst impacts.
It has even been discussed to make refugee resettlement available to anyone assumed to be persecuted.
Local impacts minimal
Asked for comments regarding the bill’s local effect, the opinions were mixed. One grower, who did not want to be identified, said he doesn’t use illegal immigrants because there are plenty of local workers to draw on. But it’s in the valley that it’s a problem, he said. They need a lot of workers, especially during harvest time. But most Americans don’t want to do that kind of work, he added.
Sheriff John D’Agostini said most of what he knows about the bill is limited to what he has heard about it in the media and he believes that amnesty is not an option. “The word illegal immigrant says it all,” he said. “There is a right way for people to become legal.”
Saying that allowing people to be here unlawfully was a threat to public safety, he noted, “We don’t know who’s coming across our borders because they are so porous.”
Claiming the bill is full of “smoke and mirrors,” he believes the bottom line is that nothing will change as long as amnesty is included in the bill. “We need a true, honest effort to make our borders secure,” he said, “and to have people enter legally. Until that happens, nothing will change.”
Laurel Brent-Bumb, who is CEO of the El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce, had a different take, saying she believes it’s time for immigration reform.
“A lot of agriculture (production) depends on seasonal workers and the majority of them have been migrant workers and in many cases, it’s been generational,” she said. “We need to strike a delicate balance and the question is how to get them out of the shadows and at the same time be fair to all. I don’t know what the perfect solution is, but we need to find an equitable solution. We know many adults are here illegally, but what about their children who had no say in the matter? It’s important to the economy to have reliable workers for agriculture and I think it’s time for immigration reform.”
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.