A Bush amnesty for a Mexican army.
March 15, 2002 9:16 AM   Subscribe

A Bush amnesty for a Mexican army. Perhaps hell has frozen over, but I find myself in agreement with Pat Buchanan. "With this vote to grant mass amnesty to hundreds of thousands from Mexico, the House and the president abdicated their duty to defend the American Southwest from foreign invasion [...] Congress was inundated with phone calls and faxes pleading, "Don't do this!" But well after dark, Speaker Hastert, under a suspension of rules, did his business and ran it through, by one vote. White House lobbyists had greased the skids." I heard about this on TV last night, but this is the only story I've yet run across which really goes to the meat of the issue, even if I still think Buchanan is a meathead and even if it isn't exactly an unbiased news source. In time of "war," does this really serve the interests of homeland security?.
posted by StOne (25 comments total)
It's not an amnesty. It only applies to folks who were eligible for a green card on Aug. 15, 2001, and were already here. Normally, they'd have to go back to their homeland to apply, and in some cases could be forced to wait there anywhere from 6 months to 10 years. This eliminates the need to apply from there by paying a $1000 fine. BTW, this is merely an extension of an existing law.

Repeat after me: it's not an amnesty. No one can apply who is not already eligible for permanent residency under existing laws. Oh, and if you want to see a number of stories about this issue, check out Yahoo! News Full Coverage -- Immigration. A story at the LA Times is particularly well-written and objective, IMHO.

As you correctly state, Buchanan is not an "unbiased news source", so why do you think that he goes to the meat of the issue? It's not a news story, it's an op-ed piece. He (and you, and I, and anyone else) has a right to his own opinion, but that doesn't make it a particularly informative story, as it contains absolutely no details about the LIFE Act (aka the 245(i) provision), not even the name. If you still don't like the law, fine, but please get the facts first.
posted by elvolio at 9:41 AM on March 15, 2002

I dont get the 'army' part. This will indeed get him the hispanic vote. I see it like this: if amnesty is given, then to recieve amensty, one must register or something....then the INS will know were they are.
posted by clavdivs at 9:45 AM on March 15, 2002

...ahh....extension, not amnesty.
posted by clavdivs at 9:47 AM on March 15, 2002

I searched for half an hour now to no avail. Where is this bill? Where can I find the text? Where can I find a specific NEWS story? Anything aside from the blatherings of a fundamentalist...(don't get me wrong, I don't care that he's from the Right, he's just, um...kinda nutty when it comes to immigration)
posted by BlueTrain at 9:48 AM on March 15, 2002

Here's the legislation.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:50 AM on March 15, 2002

When there is a large population movement underway there's not a damn thing anyone can do to stop it. The Chinese built the Great Wall to keep the Mongols out (the Mongols went around the end.) The INS can no more keep a northward Hispanic population shift from happening than the Indians could keep the Europeans out.
posted by jfuller at 9:56 AM on March 15, 2002

And here's the US Code section being modified.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:56 AM on March 15, 2002

Thanks MrMoonPie...
posted by BlueTrain at 10:10 AM on March 15, 2002

"Thus does America, land of the free and the home of the brave, become an international flophouse and a polyglot crash pad for the world. "

Ha! Buchanan is so funny. Unintentionally, I'm sure, but that line cracks me up.
posted by acridrabbit at 12:05 PM on March 15, 2002

"Thus does America, land of the free and the home of the brave, become an international flophouse and a polyglot crash pad for the world. "

free and brave = white monoglots?

*sigh* pat, buddy...
posted by th3ph17 at 12:10 PM on March 15, 2002

I really hated to link to a Pat Buchanan piece, but like BlueTrain, I couldn't find any real news story. Thanks for those links. Hell, cnn.com didn't have anything on it even when I did a search (the most recent match for "amnesty+illegal+aliens" was July 2001), but I was sure I'd overheard some furious debate on this on CNN last night. I stumbled across the Buchanan piece while looking at a different story at worldnetdaily which was on Blogdex. I'd never been to the site before, though I have a casual knowledge of DEBKAfile.
Buchanan has his own agenda, and he's just hoping he'll someday get another crack at a White House run; too terrible to think of, but my hope is he'll remain an old embittered wanna-be. His rhetoric devalues his arguments, but on this issue I don't feel he's entirely out to lunch.
Also, this could represent the beginning of a schism between conservatives and Bush. My closing line ("In a time of 'war,' does this really serve the interests of homeland security?") was a little sarcastic...See, Bush can't have it both ways. If he says, "America is at war," Americans are behind him; we'll give our very blood and phone the FBI hotline about every suspicious-lookin' furriner we see. (Are my neighbors really Mexicans, or some sneaky terrorist cell posing as Mexicans?) But he also seems to say, "It's business and politics as usual."

We're on Code Yellow, but what the hell does that mean? Does it mean the FBI shouldn't have rounded up and held for questioning all those people who were in this country legally and had done nothing wrong, after the September 11 attacks? We should beware of terrorist sleeper cells in our midst, but not these illegal "invaders?"

Or is it that good domestic help is so hard to find? I guess somebody has to tend the greens and wax the Caddy and work in the Tyson chicken plants.
posted by StOne at 12:55 PM on March 15, 2002

"Gosh, MrMoonPie, how come you know the ins and outs of the Library of Congress website so well?" he asked innocently. Too innocently.

StOne, some conservatives are already pissed at Bush -- but about steel tariffs, not immigration. As for Buchanan, he represents a deep-seated, mostly quiet isolationist wing that reflects cultural divisions in the Republican party dating back to before the last world war. It's nothing new, and in November they all vote GOP anyway. Just like Clinton knew he could screw the left at will -- where else they gonna go? (Heck, even the steel tariff objectors are limited to hell-or-high-water free traders -- most conservatives sign off on it as a strategic industry issue.)

You're getting closer at the end of your post there. Certainly it's an economic imperative that immigration continue; and in fact, as clavdivs sensibly pointed out, having a legal route for immigrants lessens the likelihood that they will go underground, where nobody knows whether they're here or who they are. But again, this doesn't really begin to address issues of Mexican immigration, because the legal portion of that is (according to some estimates) a minority. What it does, though, is buy us more cooperation on the same types of issues from the Mexican government -- which again, can only enhance security in the long run.

So forgive me if I see your reaction as touching only on surface issues.
posted by dhartung at 2:00 PM on March 15, 2002

The only way to stop illegal immigration from Mexico is to take over Mexico.
posted by Apoch at 5:16 PM on March 15, 2002

It seems like some people are surprised about this yet this was something Bush proposed while campaigning for the White House. He was the govenor of Texas which, oh last time I checked, shared a huge ass border with Mexico and means that a good percentage of those he represented had roots south of the US border. Also, because of his ties with the oil industry, he had extensive contact with governments in Mexico, Central and South America. In fact, for some reason a quote during the campaign stuck in my head "While he can barely pronounce the names of our European allies, Bush is on a first name basis with the leaders of many Latin American countries." Don't remember who said it but it was one of those factoids I filed in the back of my mind.
posted by billman at 5:36 PM on March 15, 2002

Personally I'm sick of seeing so many white protestants around anyway. What does Pat say we stand to lose?? This culture of men who created this country?? Freemasons deists elitists and athiests? Wealthy people? That's what we're protecting and preserving? The history of western culture? Isn't this man's family from Ireland? Scotland maybe? When his forefathers came over here, were they not despised? I think they were. I don't like anyone who thinks that their culture should protect itself, especially not those who haven't been here as long as certain indigenous peoples who are dead now (D -E - A - D).

All cultures are equally worthless. This is because all people are the same. If a given culture was in any way worth preserving it would have eliminated every threat by now. Frankly the president has been trifling with matters which worry me more than making the country a little more like its neighbor.
posted by Settle at 7:56 PM on March 15, 2002

Ah, MrMoonPie, dean of the Thomas links, methinks I need to buy you beer more often, my friend. :-)

Personally I always find it entertaining when Buchanan opens his mouth and sticks his foot in it (which, I think, is pretty much all the time). Really, Settle summarized my point too -- which is, Buchanan inevitably comes from immigrant stock too. I really wish he would either get a clue or just shut the f*** up.

Besides, like announcing an amnesty is new? I mean, I can recall a couple of 'em the past 10-15 years anyway.
posted by PeteyStock at 8:51 PM on March 15, 2002

dhartung, you're forgiven. :) Yes, I only touched on surface issues--and the post was certainly more of "What's going on?" rather than "This is what happened." The security issue and the recent suicide-hijacker visas kept being thrown up by those objecting to the amnesty (if that's not the right word, still that's what I heard it called) so I pretty much kept it to that.

The Republicans are smart enough to see that the Hispanic demographic is much more valuable a voting bloc than the Buchanan fringe. (In Bush's home state, a candidate, if not himself Hispanic, at least better be bilingual.) And Tyson like so many other employers needs the immigrant workers. (I personally don't think Tyson used many illegals; Tyson's good friends in the Clinton administration--or so I have heard--helped expedite lots and lots of green cards.)
I have read that America benefits even more from these immigrant workers than they benefit from America. Most of them are good people who will work like hell, which is why they're so employable. Buchanan cites nothing to back his claim that the immigrants bring a "disproportionate" increase in drugs and crime...which makes me wonder, if not for the War on Terrorism, he'd probably be using the War on Drugs angle. Or maybe that's a rant he already did.

An AP news article about the bill barely mentioned the protests; its supporters emphasized it would strengthen the Border Patrol/INS, yadda yadda.
Sorry. So much spin has made me dizzy.
posted by StOne at 11:57 PM on March 15, 2002

What's the chance of people who played by the rules to get their green cards, and jumped through the hoops set by the INS, getting a refund on their processing and legal fees? (Which for me were *way* over $1000.) Thought as much. I couldn't care less about Buchanan, but it's a slap in the face for other immigrants.
posted by quirkafleeg at 2:30 AM on March 16, 2002

We're nearing the end for the green card process for my wife (not a 245(i) process, I might add, as she is able to adjust status legally in this country from her previous non-immigrant visa), and like you, it's taken quite a bit of money to keep this thing going. I might note that the $1000 is on top of the other fees required, not instead of it.

And last I checked, the government carrying out the wishes of its constituents was what a republican democracy (in the classic, non-partisan sense) was supposed to do.
posted by elvolio at 6:23 AM on March 16, 2002

Fuller coverage of the INS
Practice your Spanish!
posted by sheauga at 7:55 AM on March 16, 2002

Nothing draws out the true political beliefs of people like taking money out of one pocket and putting it into another. :-)

Actually though, most of the negative reaction to Mexican immigrants tends to be knee-jerk in nature and when you take a longer term view of Mexican immigration it seems to make economic sense to support it. The problem we have with Mexican immigration today (and I mean the fiscal not the emotional issue) is that illegal aliens tend to work in the US for many years, return to Mexico to retire, and take their wealth with them (I'm using wealth to mean any amount of money not Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous kind of wealth). Then a new generation of uneducated immigrants illegally come into the country, work here for 10 - 30 years, then go back home and take their wealth with them. Now, the idea isn't so much to keep the wealth here but to keep the people that we've invested in (since we cannot deny medical and other services based on immigration status). Studies have shown that after 3 or more generations of living in the US, Mexican-Americans tend to rise to very close to the average per capita income as any other group. So we can either allow a continous stream of uneducated people come to the US and then leave so another generation of uneducated immigrants can come or we can give them reasons to plant roots in the US. A reason to have families here and to save and put their children through college so that they can get better jobs and have more opportunities available to them. For instance, first generation Mexican-Americans, on average, never learn to speak more than basic english. Second generation Mexican-Americans speak english at least 50% or more of the time and by the time you get to third generation and beyond, many no longer can speak spanish. The idea being that Mexican-Americans with roots in the US tend to assimilate very quickly, are hard workers, and very upwardly mobile. In the long term view, they are an excellent investment in the future economy of the US.

Instead of asking why, I think a more interesting question is why so many Democrats are opposed, especially, African-American Democrats. I've read a couple short things here and there so I don't really have any sort of answer but if someone has an perspective on this, it would be an interesting topic to explore.
posted by billman at 11:22 AM on March 16, 2002

billman, as I understand it, while immigration generally speaking is good for the US economy, unskilled immigrants are willing to underbid unskilled American citizens, many of whom are African-Americans.
posted by phartizan at 2:50 PM on March 16, 2002

Yeah and African Americans aren't from America either so what's your point

posted by Settle at 2:54 PM on March 16, 2002

phartizan: Yeah, that's sort of the general answer you hear but I was more curious if anybody has any sources on a more detailed analysis with some quality counter points.
posted by billman at 4:23 PM on March 16, 2002

Whether a person is African-American, Native American or Anglo-Saxon, they find it increasingly harder to earn a decent living at unskilled work, but it isn't the Mexicans driving down the standard of living. It's the modern business model of the devaluation of the American workforce. Henry Ford realized if he wanted to sell cars, workers would have to earn enough to afford them, but that's very ancient history.

The immigrant workers, again, aren't the ones to blame for the decilining living standards of American-born workers. And it sucks that they usually have it even worse--swelling the ranks of the underclass. Anything that threatens to further devalue the low end of the job market (or the influence of certain politicos, at the higher end of the stratum) is reason to worry, but I think most people do feel more worried than bigoted.

But in the future the need for imported labor may slacken as more factories move to Mexico where they can pay the workers even less (and not have to worry about OHSA and EPA regulation).
On the bright side, this might help free us from our dependence on China for sweatshop-produced consumer goods.
posted by StOne at 11:26 PM on March 16, 2002

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