Immigration, Race, and Social Conflict
Many are beating the drums for legalizing untold millions of undocumented immigrants in a nation facing not only the worst long-term economic conditions since the Great Depression but a society rapidly coming apart at the seams. Both party establishments, the mainstream media, and the hierarchies of major corporations are behind this push. Temporarily secure in their affluent bubbles amid their fellow elites, these proponents appear to be deliberately oblivious to the true state of the economy and the condition of American society outside their doors.
The arguments most often used by these pro-legalization forces are threefold; first, that it is unjust and uncaring to keep millions of illegal immigrants in the shadows; second, the Republican Party must abet the passage of legalization in order to appeal to the Hispanic voting bloc which now votes in massive numbers for the Democrats and; third, these same immigrants must be given immediate legal status as they will accept jobs American citizens will not.
However, one overriding consideration appears to be lost: what is best for the long-term future of the United States, not the illegal aliens or any political party or the corporate business community.
This is not the country of the 1950's when I arrived as an undocumented, albeit legal, immigrant, or even the nation of a decade ago. The United States is presently living on the residue of a tidal wave of unimaginable prosperity begun over sixty years ago. That wave has nearly ebbed as real economic growth has averaged less than 0.7% per year over the past five years concurrent with the national debt nearly doubling and long-term unfunded liabilities virtually exploding out of control at all levels of government. The recent bankruptcy filing of the City of Detroit and the descent of states such as California and Illinois toward fiscal chaos is a precursor of what the nation will ultimately face.
The policies being pursued by the current administration, and ratified by Congress, are destroying any possibility of reversing these trends. The end product of which will be the continued erosion in the standard of living for the vast majority of Americans for many years to come. This will be a nation in an accelerated decline concomitant with an increasingly restless populace.
Today, less than 48% of the working age population has a full-time job, and an additional 37% or 90 million are not working or have dropped out of the labor force entirely. Twenty-eight million or 13% of working age Americans are employed part-time -- an historic high. Further, 70% of all the jobs created since 2008 have been in the low paying sectors of the economy. As a result, over the past five years, the real median household income has declined nearly 9%, from $54,489.00 at the end of 2007, to $50,020.00 at the beginning of 2012. This is the most precipitous plunge on record, thus presaging the potential elimination of a large part of the middle class.
Additionally, the number of Americans in poverty is at the highest level in the more than 50 years the Census Bureau has been tracking poverty. Over the past five years, the number in poverty has increased nearly 31% to 49.7 million, with the poverty rate climbing from 12.5% of the total population in 2007 to 16.5% in 2012. Those on food stamps now exceed 50 million as compared to 26.5 million in 2007 (an increase of 88%).
Meanwhile, those in upper income segment of the economy have seen their wealth and income significantly increase, due to actions such as Federal Reserve's Quantitative Easing and its impact on the stock and bond markets, while the rest of the nation has seen a precipitous decline. The Census Bureau publishes the GINI index, which is the official measure of income inequality. That index has climbed every year President Obama has been in office, reflecting an increasingly larger gap between the lower and highest income groups (the index remained unchanged during the eight years of the George W. Bush administration indicating no increase in inequality over that period).
There is nothing presently on the horizon that will that reverse these economic trends. In fact, they will get worse, giving rise to further unrest and overt animosity in a society already fractured along class and racial lines as well as undermined by ill-education and a rapidly eroding moral foundation. These fissures are growing wider not just because of the deterioration of the economy but also as the result of despicable and intentional actions of the Obama administration and their fellow-travelers in fomenting unbridled class warfare and racial strife. Adding untold millions of newly legal and undocumented immigrants into this festering cauldron is a recipe for massive societal upheaval.
Thus, now is not the time to consider "comprehensive" immigration reform. This nation cannot financially or from a societal perspective absorb the impact of up to 40 million new legal or additional undocumented mostly impoverished immigrants over the next ten years as the Senate bill would allow. Particularly as the Congressional Budget Office in its analysis of the Senate immigration bill found that upon passage, illegal immigration would continue into the future at 75% of recent levels.
The focus, today, should be solely on permanently securing the border as well as all entry and exit procedures -- leaving the question of what to do with those in country illegally for another day. When the day comes that the border is secure and the economy is in a growth cycle exceeding 3.5% per annum for at least two to three years, those who entered the United States illegally can be given the option to leave the country or apply for permanent guest worker status but they cannot be put on a path to eventual citizenship. For the millions of us who immigrated to America from nations beset by strife and oppression, there is nothing more momentous than becoming a citizen of the preeminent nation in the annals of mankind. Citizenship should, therefore, not be granted under any condition to those who willingly broke the law either by overstaying their visas or crossing the border under the cover of darkness.
This potential timetable, while harsh to some, still maintains the sense of decency and fairness Americans are known for but does not reward overt law breaking. It is, more importantly, what is best, at this point in history, for the American people and the long-term future of the country and not either political party or the nation's myopic and irresponsible elites -- blissfully content in their prosperous and exclusive enclaves -- who are determined to exacerbate the nation's current dilemmas.