Thursday, July 20, 2006

Illegal Immigrants - The New Jews of the Lehigh Valley

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingI used to tell my son we were direct descendants of one of the five Royal Kings of Ireland. "There's blue blood in them veins, boy!" The truth? My family was kicked out of Ireland for making bad whiskey. We tried to make a go of things with a dynamite factory, but the damn thing blew up in New Ringold. We're Irish trailer park trash - shanty Irish.

I know we didn't come here direct from Ireland, but had to slip in through Canada. And this was during a time when they let nearly everyone in.

That's not so today. We limit visas for unskilled workers to about 5,000 per year. So much for "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore." Those days are gone, bippy. Now it's next to impossible to get into this country legally unless an employer is willing to sponsor you. I knew a Chinese doctor in Philly with several Ph.D.s, and the feds tried to deport even her. They only let her stay if she agreed to work at a local university for slave wages.

Illegal immigrants are the new Jews, the new scapegoats. But as with the sons of David, there is a vast difference between perception and reality.

Myth


Everyone is railing about "illegal immigrants." They're responsible for all of America's problems. Violent crime? Lousy wages? Poor medical care? Gangs? Overcrowded prisons? It's those damn illegals. I expect I'll soon read their hot sauce causes global warming.

The pols, of course, have played on this myth. Santorum, who's getting killed in the polls, has started running radio ads attacking "liberals" over a bill passed by the Republican-controlled Senate that would enable some illegal aliens to become citizens. That's the silver bullet that's going to save him, baby. In fact, Santorum staffers helped Mayor Lou Barletta set up a website promoting Hazleton's illegal immigration and "English only" ordinances. And the people love it.

Not to be outdone, Dems are trying to prove they hate illegal immigrants, too. Dertinger,the Lehigh Valley's Democratic candidate for Congress, is all for enforcing our immigration laws and opposing amnesty. Northampton County DA John Morganelli, a very astute politician, has been clamoring about it for years. He told the U.S. House that illegals come here "to evade the law, commit crime and impact negatively on our country." And on Tuesday, he told a state House committee that the Lehigh Valley is becoming a "flophouse and haven" for "foreign criminals." These statements play very well with the public. Here's a sampling from the comments to the story about John's latest performance: "Good for Morganelli! He is assertive with ... [blah, blah, blah.]" Get the picture? Blame Latinos for everything, and the rest of America will applaud.

Last Friday, I listened to John Morganelli and "liberal" Don Russo blast illegal immigrants on the radio. Like Santorum and everyone else, they were quick to conclude that illegal immigrants are the cause of all our problems. But then they went to another level and started talking favorably about "English only" laws that actually require all business to be conducted in English. And these are the Democrats, singing the lurid tune of xenophobia, or should I say Hispanophobia? I'm sure these same chords were struck by nativists who resented those Pennsylvania Germans and their constant use of that language. Just as there are Spanish newspapers in Allentown today, the entire Lehigh Valley was covered by Der Friedens Bote und Lecha, Anzeiger, Der Lecha Patriot, and Der Unabhaengische Republikaner. You can still find German Deeds in the recorders' offices of both Lehigh and Northampton Counties.

And here's the sad reality. Hitler made hay and became very popular by demonizing the Jew. They were the scapegoats for everything wrong with Deutschland. And they were eventually murdered. It's called genocide. I prefer to call it murder.

Now we've got 10 million illegal immigrants within our borders. It will be financially impossible to round 'em all up and ship 'em out after deportation hearings. John Morganelli jumps up and down when the feds won't come to pick up some guys a union reported at a construction site, but what are they supposed to do? I imagine they have priorities. So as our 21st century "nativists" grow more angry and pols run around blaming everything on illegals, how long do you think it will be before someone comes up with The Final Solution, just like Adolph? Is it so ridiculous? We have an Attorney General who called the Geneva Conventions "quaint." We have a Defense Secretary who issued memos that essentially authorized torture.

As Hitler was wrong to scapegoat the Jews, so are we when we scapegoat the "illegal alien." I see and hear evidence of it daily, from casual remarks to blatant hatred. All of this hatred has little basis in reality, but it is very dangerous and debases our common humanity.


Reality

1) We need them. - Immigrants supply us with 14% of our workforce. Removing the third of this number that is here illegally, assuming that could be done, would rip the heart out of our national economy.

2) Illegal immigrants pay more in taxes than they consume in services. - On average, they contribute $1,800 each year in taxes in excess of what they consume in services. So contrary to popular belief, they aren't a drain on social services.

3) They don't cause crime. - I hear all kinds of anecdotal evidence blaming Hispanics for all kinds of horrific crimes. Morganelli's very good at it. ("The last five rapes in Northampton County were committed by illegal aliens.") Here's my question. If they're so terrible, and if illegal immigration is so out of control, why is our crime rate decreasing? It dropped in 2004. And in Florida, of all states, crime in 2005 was at its lowest level since 1971.

4) Walls don't work. - The House authorized a 700 mile wall to keep out the horde. That should solve the problem. Right? Well, let's see. We have eight times as many border patrol agents as we had in 1986, when the illegal population was only about 3 million. And we've built walls and raised the budget ten times, all to no avail.


So I'm back where I started. My family would not be admitted under today's draconian immigration laws. Your family might be rejected as well. And we would be quite a different country today, a country full of "know nothings" and "nativists" who speak English only while gobbling freedom fries.

So what'll it be? Are we going to turn Hispanics and other illegal immigrants into the new Jews, or are we better than that? Time will tell.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, your finest post yet. Evidently, this is an issue where uninformed populism is just too tempting. Politicians have an obligation to educate, as well as to listen.

I certainly hope that it doesn't come to persecution as you fear. Actually, if we don't act to solve our real problems, in a decade or two the flow of immigrantion may reverse. People here trying to move into Canada or South America.

FtHillDem

Bernie O'Hare said...

FtnHillDem, Thanks for the compliment. I appreciate it. The topic has troubled me now for a long time. I had started but could never finish, an essay. With yesterday's power outage, the courthouse was closed, so I actually spent the entire day and part of the evening working on it, trying to link to as many facts as possible.

I did forward a copy of the post to John Morganelli, a local pol whose actions I criticized. I've told John before that he is playing into the hands of xenophobnes and racists, but to be fair, John does not feel that way. I believe he's verey sicncere and told him I'd be happy to post an article from him if he chose to write one, although he certianly has a few other things on his plate.

Dem Fly on the wall said...

Actually, the Republicans are only blaming the immigrants, because they can't blame the Democrats. Thay would round us up and put us on busses in a heartbeat if they thought they could get away with it. I told the hubby perhaps we should emigrate to Canada. By the time we retire in 30 years, It will be warm enough, don't you think?
I just hope Charlie Snelling and his gang haven't built the "Trans-Canadian Interstate/oil Pipeline" before we get there.
They would probably design their "Luxury Homes" starting in the "Low Millions" to have the water runoff onto the glaciers, and produce scientific evidence that Pollution is good for your health.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It's almost funny. Santorum is blaming Casey for something that a Republican-controlled Senate did.
Oh yeah, the Rs will make hay out of any attempt to deal realistically with the illegal immigrant "problem."

But John Morganelli, arguably NC's most powerful Dem, is out in the forefront, carrying their spears. Where did he testify on Tuesday? It was to a Republican committee.

And last week, he and the allegedly liberal Don Russo were attempting to outdo each other in xenophobic remarks. They were both from Bethlehem's south side, so why do the latinos in Bethlehem have such a rough time speaking English, etc? Ugh.

It's not fair to judge them based on one or two sentences on a radio program, but I wish they could hear how they sounded.

By the way, I know somebody who couldn't get into Canada (just to visit) because of a marijuana conviction from 30 yrs ago.

Thanks for your comments.

Billy Givens said...

Bernie,

Stop lettng John Morganelli gull you. He rallied district attorneys and chief of police to kill Pres. Bill Clinton's nomination of Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Judge Frederica Massiah-Jackson to the a seat on federal district court.

Incredibly, and outrageously, Morganelli turned the U.S.Senate Judiciary Committee around after if had already approved her nonmination and ready to send it to floor for a full Senate vote.

This was at the time that Missouri's U.S. Senator John Ashcroft was derailing Clinton's nomination of the "show me" state's superior court Judge Ronnie White the circuit court of appeals having jurisdiction over the state where its bloody border war with neighboring Kansas - coupled with the Dred Scott decision of Chief Justice Roger Taney - spread quickly to Harper's Ferry and Fort Sumter and the bloody Civil War.

(If you will indulge me another "rambling aside", Fountain Hill Borough with the collusion of South Bethlehem's St. Luke's Hospital want to demolish the homestead of Stephen Vincent Benet, author of the immortal epic poem, "John Brown's Body.")

I respectfully submit that you're cutting Morganelli too much slack.

Chris said...

People are idiots. They hear two people talking to one another in Spanish on the street and assume they don't know English...no, most likely they are family or friends and prefer to speak Spanish to each other.

It's not anti-immigrant, it's anti-Latino. Nobody complains about the white immigrants or Asian immigrants.

Anonymous said...

Ich bin ein Immigrant!

Bernie O'Hare 4 said...

Does this mean I can't wear my crown anymore??

Bernie O'Hare said...

Bud, You can still wear your crown. I was lying when I said I was lying.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Chris 'FP': I just checked out your Philly sports blog. It's great! I'll look at it in alittle more detail tonight.

Thanks for your comment. Ich bin ein vampire.

Chris said...

thanks for the compliment bernie, I like your blog too becuase we rarely get any Lehigh Valley news down here in Reading

Mr. Damien Brown said...

1) The reality is illegal is illegal. As a progressive I am inclined to side with the sweat of our economy, workers. But in the argument against or for illegals I have to side against them. Illegal means illegal. If enough people want to beat their wives or discriminate against minorities does that mean we should simply look the other way or make those acts legal.

2) Many economists will state it helps our economy but no economist will deny illegal aliens suppress wages of workers. If workers are illegal than all of the protections for them written over the past generations go out the window allowing big business to pit labors against each other lowering everyone to the lowest common denominator.

3) Illegal immigration does increase crime simply because we have no control over the "caliber" immigrant that comes here. Crime is also increased due to the simple fact that illegal immigrants make easy targets for criminals because they are less likely to seek the help of authorities.

4) I also find it interesting that the people who support illegal immigrants almost never choose to live in the same places illegals reside. This hardly qualifies them to draw conclusions on the culture. (Number 4 is somewhat irrelevant but i just wanted to thow that at you).

To summerize my points my friend . . . strict enforcement of immigration laws and securing the border is the progressive decision for America and the workers of the world.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Damien, Thanks for your comment. I suspect yours is probably the majority view. Let me respond, point by point.
1) Illegal is illegal.- It is a federal crime to enter this country illegally. It is the equivalent of a federal summary offense, a parking ticket. It's unfair to equate that with wifebeating as you did. The House does want to equate it to wife beating. It wants to make it a felony to enter this country illegally. But as things stand, being here illegally is no worse than being convicted of a summary offense in magistrate's court.
2) Illegals suppress wages.- You're only partially correct. Illegals do suppress the wages for high school dropouts, but they also create many more jobs And in the last 25 yrs., the number of Americans without a college or high school education, has dropped significantly.
3) Illegal immigration increases crime.- In my blog post, I included two links to statistics showing the exact opposite. If you can't accept the facts and prefer to believe the emotional appeals, then I can't reason with you. Our crime rate has gone down. And in Florida, which has a very big illegal immigrant population, the crime rate has steadily dropped since 1971. 4) Those who support illegal immigrants never live among them. - As you yourself point out, that is an unfair thing to state. And I'm not drawing conclusions about their culture. I'm drawing conclusions about our culture. But I'll answer anyway. I live in Nazareth, where I'm considered an illegal immigrant. Not too many Latinos here, buddy. But over the years, I've made many friendships with people from different ethnic backgrounds through work and my interest in international culture. The Chinese physician from Philly I mentioned, she was at one point an illegal alien. She was my friend and went through many unnecessary sleepless nights. Wanna' gun her down? I know families of illegal immigrants who live in Bethlehem and Allentown. In some, the parents work two or three jobs. Wanna' round them up and put them in a camp?.
And this brings me to my conclusion, and it's something I should have mentioned in the post. It's too hard to get into this country. In 1986, immigration laws were made ridiculously difficult for anyone who wanted to come here the right way. It nauseates me to hear someone say, "My grandparents did it the right way." No kidding. It was easy until '86.
Take care.

Gort said...

Great post Benie!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Gort, As you described the situation again and again in your blog, I knew I had to say something. I don't think that you or I represent the majoirity view. And I will continue to respect others with different opinions. But it's important to remember we are talking about fellow human beings whose "crime" is wanting a better life.

Mr. Damien Brown said...

Bernie:

Crimes committed against illegals are not reported in those statistics simply due to the fact that they are afraid to report them. This emboldens the criminal culture does not discriminate enabling them to believe you are I are easy targets as well.

I do not care if the only wages that are suppressed are those of high school drop outs. in America anyone should be able to earn a sustaining wage if they put in their 40. People cleaning toilets deserve that right no less than you or I. Illegal immigration is one of the reasons we are moving farther from that basic right.

On top of that the high school drop out is rising (possibly dramatically) but it is an issue that no one is talking about simply due to the inconsistent reporting throughout the country.

Finally, we are kidding ourselves if we believe low wages for labor do not suppress the wages for all. What was your last COLA raise compared to inflation??? Granted some will argue the loss in pay increases is outweighed by the benefit of being able to hire landscapers at $5 an hour but this does little for those of us who are determined to obey the law.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Damien, As I noted yesterday, there's not much I can say when you prefer emotion over fact. The simple truth is that crime rates have gone down. In Florida, one of the larghest centers of illegal aliens, crime has gone down steadily since 1971. And violent crimes like murder tend to show up.

Now I acknowledged illegals do suppress the wages of high school dopouts. But they also create more jobs than they steal from high school dropouts.

TThe argument they supress wages for all is fallacious. Once again - I'm talking facts and not emotion. Just as your emotion prevents you from believing that illegals have not caused a crime rate increase, your emotions force you to charge they cause a wage decrease for all of us when the only group affected in the studies done are hugh school dropouts. It is far more likely that your salary is affected by the obscene sums paid to people at the top of major corporations. You would be more justified in being angry at the CEO of the corp. where you are employed.

Damien, The source of the trouble is that WE, snobs that WE are, made immigration laws too tough in 1986. You talk about obeyiong the law like it is some moral imperative - a law that's unfair eventually won't be obeyed. That's why people are ignoring laws saying they can't come here. They'd do it the right way if we made it a little easier. But we don't and then want to punish criminals whose big crime is wanting to feed their family.

Now I know why you liked the Myfair fence. You'd like one around the whole country. You're probably in the majority. But I think you're wrong. And although I know you don't have a mean bone in your body, there are many among us who use your arguments (and I think they're fallacious) to support xenophobia and racism.

Take care. You state the other position well.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bernie,

I just spent the last 20 years working for the Department of Agriculture in Fort Myers, Florida. I took early retirement and came back home to the Lehigh Valley (Bernie, we went to high school together).

If it wasn’t for illegal immigrants the economy in Florida would crash and burn. They (the illegal immigrants) build the houses, schools, shopping centers and mow the lawns for the rich white people. Being in agriculture, I know first hand that they harvest our food. Let me repeat that for those who don’t know…...THEY HARVEST OUR FOOD.

Hope you are doing fine Bernie. One of your classmates told me you had this blog. Take care and keep up the good work.

David Bokan
Hellertown Class of ‘68

Bernie O'Hare said...

Hello Dave, Good to hear from you. Am surprised you left the Sunshine state. We spend reams of money just to visit, and I include myself in that number.

I especailly apopreciate your imput concerning ikllegal immigrants. You make the point best. I said their removal would rip out the heart of our nation's economy. You said it better - they harvest our food.

Robert S. Nix said...

Thanks for your postings. It's nice to hear someone from the Lehigh Valley standing up for the undocumented Hispanic workers who help prop up your local economy. I try to make the same points and they call me the "outside agitator" at Allentown City Council meetings, and tell me to shut up.

I just debated John Morganelli on this issue on a show called Business Matters that will air on February 12, 7:30 p.m. WFMZ channel 69.

When I testified this past summer at the State House Republican Policy committee hearings on illegal immigration in Whitehall, the Chairman pretty much flipped out at me.

Thaks for standing up and saying the right thing.

-RSN
Chair Government Relations Committee, Hispanic Bar Association of PA

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mr. Nix, I remember that incident quite well. Thanks for the nice words. I'll be sure to mention the debate. It should be a good one. John Morganelli makes good arguments and is sincere, although I disagree w/ him on this issue.