The immigration debate is heating up again, now that the war issue has chosen up sides and continues forward, no one really interested in stopping it. Those facing reelection pretend they are or will or might and speak loudly but carry a little stick.
Same with immigration. I lived in California for 40 years so I'm pretty familiar with illegals and the advantages and disadvantages. The difference now is that the problem isn't limited to large coastal cities - easily ignored - but has permeated the heartland. They tend to welcome the first wave or at least treat them with benign neglect. Soon, however, as it goes from dozens to hundreds to thousands of poor people that impacts everything: schools, traffic, emergency rooms, shelters, neighborhoods.
Feeling isolated, needing to say under the radar, these groups congregate in ever growing numbers. People take notice and begin to worry. Yes, they add value by filling bottom-rung jobs but why so many. Because everyone benefits - schools are paid for every child, legal or not. Anyone with a rental soon learns they can look the other way as 20 people live in one unit and then charge more while ignoring repairs. Then get outraged that the two families they rented to soon brought over four more families to sublet. It's equal opportunity sleazy behavior.
Forged documents aren't even a challenge to get. Anyone wandering a border town or certain parts of LA will be approached with an offer of $500, the going rate for social security card and drivers license. This protects the employer from prosecution.
Take away the jobs, take away the illegals. But ask communities where that was done. The economy suffers. Plenty make money off the cheap labor. Many can't find replacement workers at the same price. It's a trickle down effect. So while people complain that it's a problem few are willing to lose the benefits.
There aren't enough border agents to do the job. President Bush says he's fighting terrorism but our borders are porous, thousands traipse across daily with forged or stolen documents. Soon enough terrorists will figure out that learning Spanish will get them into our infrastructure.
The Iraq War is costing us billions if not trillions of dollars and accomplishing little. In fact, it's arguably making the Middle East more unstable and long term even more expensive. Again, while many discuss it, look at the cottage industry sprung up around this war, the books, the pundits, the consultants, the talk shows. The soldiers over there risking life and limb are almost an afterthought, a political sound bite. "If you don't support this war you are putting soldiers in harms' way!"
What if we had put all that money, all those billions into hiring and training border guards and airport screeners and the latest techno-gadgets so that we can track every person in this country? Not big brother-like, invasion of privacy, just knowing who is not supposed to be here. A person with an expired visa would be dispatched home because the State Dept would be given the resources to do so.
This war is a black hole sucking up money. We don't want to fight terrorists or stop illegal immigration, we just want to feel good about doing something. That ambivalence opens up a great wide vacuum for our politicians and our pundits to offer us sound bites instead of solutions. As citizens we don't want to be bothered, with 300 cable channels and phones that go with us, we got stuff to do. We want illegals to clean up after us and serve us but not march and demand basic rights. Now, realizing they are 12 million strong and infiltrating every industry, they are beginning to realize they can demand. Politicians see voters, business sess cheap labor, neighbors feel superior, human rights workers see purpose.
So really, what's the problem?