Quick Thought of the day:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

–Plaque inside the Statue of Liberty — From “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus

This is not so much a response to a current event as one of those things that sometimes pops into my head.  The US and Canada are both nations that were formed from immigrants.  (This presumes, of course, that you have a Eurocentric view of life.)  Your grandparents were immigrants and my grandparents were immigrants.  Or our great-grandparents.  Whatever.

Anyway, our nations have always had a flow of incoming immigration.  Generally these immigrants performed the tasks that no one else wanted to do.  If you paid any attention at all in school, you learned about Chinese laborers who built the railroads that connected us to the rest of the continent.  You learned of the Irishmen who labored to build our cities.  The Japanese arrived to help, and we sent them to concentration camps to thank them.  Historically, these groups were treated as second-class citizens when they arrived, but did well to assimilate themselves into society over the long term.

We have always had immigrants to do the work we don’t want to do.  In Canada, there is a more enlightened approach to this process.  There is a system in place to determine what labor is needed that can’t be provided domestically, and steps are taken to allow the proper number of immigrants, both skilled and unskilled, to cross the border to work.  Some may return to their home country when the work is done.  Others may apply for citizenship, based upon the criteria of time spent and contribution to Canadian society.

In the US, there are of course some rather militant groups of people who want to stop immigration completely.  The fact is that economics will prevail in the end.  The workers will fill the jobs whether they afre officially welcomed or not.  Besides, it seems that it would be much preferable to control immigration with realistic rules rather than the free-for-all that we have now.  Nobody likes the current system.  The response, however, is not to stop immigration.  It is to allow all the people who are necessary to keep the country going to enter.  When that happens, then we can start to get tough with those outside the system.

In the US today, and in Cascadia in particular, the unemployment rate is well over 10%.  The realistic rate of unemployment plus underemployment is likely more like 20%.  It seems like the solution might be to get rid of all those undocumented laborers.  Will that solve the problem?

My guess is that it would not solve anything.  While we do have considerable unemployment, most of those unemployed are not going to be jumping at the opportunity to perform the type of jobs that many of these immigrants do.  The undocumented worker is not taking your management job, your banking job, or your office job.  They are not driving your bus or building your roads.  They are growing our crops and performing back-end jobs at restaurants and canning fruit.  They are sweeping up at construction sites and performing day labor or watching your kids in private homes.  If you are out of work, you can go to one of these employers of low-wage workers, tell them you are legally eligible to work in the US, and start working today.

The issue is not that the immigrant is taking your job.  The issue is that you are not willing to do the job that the immigrant is doing.  Go out, get that job that the immigrant is doing.  When you do, you will be employed.  You will also likely be complaining about the job.

Once our government is not quite so busy with other priorities, it might look at the Canadian system.  A system where an employer must take steps to hire someone local.  If no Canadian can be found for the job, thenthey will open the position up for an immigrant.  Let’s stop playing immigration games.  Let’s stop practicing racism and renaming it “good immigration policy.”  Let’s put a reasonable system into place so workers can work and employers can get the employees they need.