A letter to Mr. Jim Gilchrist
regarding immigration policy
Dear Mr. Gilchrist:
have just read your thoughts about immigration in your essay, and your
interview with “Global Politician” in 2008.
(The Minuteman Project, “An Essay…”; Global Politician, “Exclusive
Interview…”; The Minuteman Project, Website).
In particular, I share your concerns about
(1) the need for proactive enforcement of
immigration laws and the enactment of some new laws,
(2) the practice of companies and employers to
contract with undocumented immigrants as cheap labor, without thinking of the
consequences to the country, and
(3) the transformation of the language and the
ideals of the United States into those of an extension of Latin America.
the first issue – the need for proactive enforcement of immigration laws and the
enactment of some new laws – I think the federal government has created a
monster of non-compliance due to its inaction since 1986. The point of view of the Latino community
is that literally it is not a crime to be an undocumented immigrant. It is a civil matter. So, if by some means or other, an immigrant
manages to evade the Border Patrol and gets inside the country, the
government in effect says to him, “You aren’t doing anything wrong.” There is no federal law that makes it a
crime, in the normal case. Indeed, the
fact that the new state laws make it a crime is exactly what the Latino
community does not like (Univisión, “Radiografía…”).
In other words, the federal law itself tells immigrants that it is
acceptable to violate the law – with regard to crossing the border without
proper documents – and that it is only a problem if they catch you “in the
act.” This state of federal
immigration laws is totally contradictory and is what the states are trying
to fix with their new laws. However,
the Latino community believes what the federal government has said – that it
is acceptable to be an undocumented immigrant. Now, as a consequence, Latinos think that
it is unjust to consider the deportation of undocumented immigrants who have
not committed any serious crime. Also,
with the same reasoning, they believe that undocumented immigrants should
share all the rights of citizens. This
sentiment is a perfectly rational response to what the laws of the government
tell them. It is an intolerable and
dangerous lesson, which tells the people of the country, “in reality, we
don’t mean what we say about immigration laws”. If it is acceptable to ignore immigration
laws at the border, then isn’t it acceptable to ignore laws about drugs,
theft, murder, etc., etc.? In that
case, laws become meaningless. We
cannot allow this to happen in this country – as perhaps has already happened
in many Latin American countries.
On the second
issue – the practice of companies and
employers to contract with undocumented immigrants as cheap labor – this is
what makes the problem of undocumented immigrants possible. If there were no employers, there would not
be undocumented immigrants looking for jobs.
As Jorge Ramos said in his book “La
otra cara de América (The Other Face of America)”, “… for many
companies the trouble of hiring undocumented workers is better than paying
the high salaries of American workers or foreigners with residency documents.
… We are accomplices of the undocumented immigrants when they care for our
children, when they clean the house, …” (Ramos, “La otra…”). In discussions of immigration, there are
“strange bedfellows” of wealthy businessmen in agriculture and other sectors
beside poor immigrants. Both want to
see immigration laws as tolerant as possible.
Both want to ignore the costs of their actions to the country – and of
course receive as much support as possible from the country for the business
or for the livelihood of workers. It
will not be possible to stop the flow of undocumented immigrants unless we
can convince businesses and individual employers of the country (like
housewives, for example) to hire only documented workers. New state laws are directed at this matter
in two ways: (1) employers must use E-Verify to ensure that workers have
proper documentation, and (2) employers who intentionally hire undocumented
workers are subject to fines and loss of business licenses (UPI, “Firms
Hiring…”). If we are serious about
eliminating the phenomenon of undocumented immigrants, something similar to
these measures would be necessary at the federal level.
the third issue – the transformation of the language and the ideals of the
United States into those of an extension of Latin America – like you, I’m
concerned about the pace of immigration. It’s one thing to experience legal
immigration at a reasonable pace, taking into account the general increase in
population. However, it is another
thing if undocumented immigration is so fast that immigrants cannot integrate
sufficiently in the society before more Latinos arrive as neighbors to form
large isolated barrios of new immigrants.
The Hispanic population in the United States increased 43 percent in
the decade 2000-2010 and accounted for 56 percent of the population increase
of the country – more than half (Pew, “Hispanics …”). In California, more than half of children
are Hispanic (BBC, “U.S. Census …”).
If this pace continues, there will be inevitable questions by recent
immigrants about the substitution of ideals and language known from Latin
America for those of their new country.
In fact, it is already happening.
For example, on Sunday, July 10, 2011, on the program “El Punto” on Univision, Jorge Ramos
asked his guest, Andrew Breitbart, the leader of
the Tea Party, “Are you a big proponent of ‘English only’ in this country? …
Is there a need to make English the official language? … What’s wrong with
being bilingual?” Ramos also asked
about undocumented immigrants: “But, don’t you think that part of the reason
than many Latinos don’t vote for either the Republican Party or the Tea Party
is because they don’t support immigration reform? What would you do, for example, with 12
million undocumented immigrants in this country? What is your plan?” (For Jorge Ramos, “immigration reform”
means “amnesty” for all 12 million undocumented immigrants.) (Univisión, “Exclusiva…”; 24ahead.com,
“Andrew Breitbart…”) As is easy to see, the pressure for a
change of language and ideals is already evident.
We could hope that the initiatives of states for a
clarification of immigration laws will provoke the federal government to do
the same. Indeed, the responsibility
is properly at the federal level.
24ahead.com. “Andrew Breitbart
mostly caves to foreign citizen Jorge Ramos”.
Sunday, July 10, 2011.
Consulted July 10, 2011, in http://24ahead.com/andrew-breitbart-mostly-caves-foreign-citizen-jorge-ramos-su
BBC. “US Census: Hispanic children now majority in
California”. March 9, 2011. Consulted July 10, 2011, in http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12685408
Global Politician. “Exclusive Interview: Jim
Gilchrist of Minuteman Project on Immigration, Terror, Elections” with interviewer David Storobin. May 30, 2007. Consulted July 10, 2011, in http://www.globalpolitician.com/22904-immigration. However, Storobin
now has removed this article, but one can still see it at http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1842413/posts
Ramos, Jorge. “La otra cara de América (The Other Face of America)”.
Editorial Grijalbo S.A., Miguel Hidalgo,
México, D.F. 2001. For a review of the book (consulted July
10, 2011) see http://www.fogg.cc/reviews/books/breview070.htm
Pew. “Hispanics Account for More Than Half of Nation's Growth in
Past Decade”. March 25, 2011. Consulted July 10, 2011, in http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1940/hispanic-united-states-population-growth-2010-census
The Minuteman Project. “An Essay by Jim
Gilchrist”. Thursday, September 18,
2008, Georgetown School of Law.
Consulted July 10, 2011, in http://minutemanproject.com/jim-gilchrists-essay-on-immigration
The Minuteman Project. Website Home Page. Consulted July 10, 2011, in http://www.minutemanproject.com/
UPI. “Firms hiring illegals face hard sanction”. May 26, 2011. Consulted July 10, 2011, in http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2011/05/26/Firms-hiring-illegals-face-hard-sanction/UPI-42361306423076/
“Exclusiva con el líder
del ‘Tea Party’ (Exclusive with the leader of the
‘Tea Party’)”. Al
Punto, July 10, 2011. Consulted
July 10, 2011, in http://noticias.univision.com/al-punto/videos/video/2011-07-10/exclusiva-con-el-lider-del
Univisión. “Radiografía de estados con leyes similares a la SB1070 de
Arizona (X-ray of States with Laws Similar
to Arizona’s SB 1070)”. Noticias de Inmigración, July 8, 2011. Consulted July 10, 2011, in http://noticias.univision.com/inmigracion/noticias/article/2011-06-30/radiografia-estados-como-arizona?ftloc=channel100:cmsStage&ftpos=channel100:cmsStage:1
For information on the topic in English, see
“Statehouses Weighing Immigration Enforcement Bills Styled after
Arizona’s SB 1070”. March 2,
2011. Consulted August 3, 2001, in http://colorlines.com/archives/2011/03/sb_1070_copycat_bills.html