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June 18, 2003

Reader Request #6: Immigration

Hey, everyone. Sorry about the late update today; I knocked out a tooth yesterday and it's kind of messed with my schedule. Before you ask: I'm fine. It's fixed. And you wouldn't know the bottom half of my top left incisor was fake unless I just told you, which I just did. Now then. S Rajaram wants me to opine on immigration. He (I'm assuming he's a he) says:

"How about the uncontrolled immigration that is plaguing America. 10 million immigrants in the last 10 years and more on the way!"

Well, I don't particularly think immigration, as a concept, is something that's plaguing America overly much. It's a hoary concept that the United States is a nation of immigrants, and it's an equally hoary concept that everyone thinks immigration should have stopped right after their ancestors slipped over the borders. Being that my own immediate family has ancestors that arrived here anywhere from less a century to more than 40 millennia ago, I tend to take a wide-spectrum approach to immigration, which is: You got something to offer? Come on in.

I don't know where my correspondent came up with the "10 million in 10 years" stat, so I can't speak for its accuracy, but if it is true, it's not without precedent in this county: At the turn of the 20th century, more than a million immigrants a year came to the US, including (at the early end of that wave) my Italian forebears. People bitched about the immigrants then as well, although at this point in time I think it's difficult for anyone who is not currently physically or spiritually wearing a pointy white robe to say that the US would have been notably improved by the absence of the Italians and the Jews that came across at that time.

These days people are largely bitching about the Mexicans and other Latins, but as my own wife is partially from that gene pool, as is my daughter, I'll not be one of them. Among my very good friends, one of the best is an immigrant (born in India, although he came over as an infant), and another of the best has immigrant parents (Poland and Chile), and of the rest more have immigrant parents than I care to think about. My extended family has genes from four continents at least, and I think that's just peachy. I can't consider immigration a problem because if I do I pretty much have to say to either family or friends that they need to go back to where they came from, and they're not about to let me get away with that.

To be honest about it, the problem is not immigration but the fact we're so stupid about it. All those illegal immigrants who pick your lettuce at rock bottom pay so you don't have to pay $10 a head for it would love to get guest work visas that would allow them to come up from Mexico, pick produce and then head back. Give 'em visas, make 'em legal, and thank them for their utterly thankless work. You've just solved America's primary illegal immigration problem.

Beyond that, the USA ought to be aggressively cherry-picking the best minds from other countries to live here. The best windfall the United States ever got was from the Nazis, who decided to use Jews for oven kindling rather than for their brains, forcing waves of Jewish scientists to our shores. It's not a joke (well, maybe a very dark one) that the United States got the nuclear bomb directly from the Nuremberg Laws. Look at the big minds behind the Manhattan Project and you'll see the value of letting really smart people into the United States.

Today, really really smart people from all over the world are itchin' to come to the US. What, we want other countries to benefit from their brains? One of the biggest complaints around these here parts is that native-born American kids can't be bothered to get worked up about science and math. Until we decide it might be nice to fund our high school science labs as well as we fund our high school football teams, I don't mind resorting to nabbing the best minds from elsewhere.

America is a country of self-selectors: With the terrible exception of the African slaves, there is no segment of our immigrant population, from the land-bridge-crossing Asians of 40,000 BC to the Nigerians settling in Queens today, who didn't choose to take the risk to come to this continent (and in the last couple hundred years to this country) to have the opportunity to live up to their potential. These are motivated people, and by and large people who appreciate what we offer and who want to give back in return. It's often said that the most patriotic Americans are the newest ones, and I can believe that, since they understand what the alternative is.

So that's my take on immigration: Not a plague, but a blessing. We can talk about how we let people in, if you want to do that; I wouldn't mind us being a little more systematic about that. But as to whether it's a good or bad thing, well, that's not even an issue. And if you don't like the way I feel about it, then you're free to go back to where to came from.

No, no. Just kidding. You can stay.

(Remember I'm still taking topic suggestions for Reader Appreciation Week! Make your suggestions in the message thread here.)

Posted by john at June 18, 2003 03:28 PM

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Brian S. | June 18, 2003 03:57 PM

Another in the list of things where being "illegal" causes all sorts of problems. Dunno, I'm no sociologist, but it seems like a lot of things would be a lot less of a problem if the politikfolk got off their legal soapboxes and thought about actual root causes of things.

(Apologies for deviation from immigration thread, but...) Of course, the educational apathy and misplaced fiscal priorities in the schools only make sense in a society with enough of a population surplus to allow such a well-developed middle-management class. Only reason I see for a lot of "pointy-haired-boss" positions is because there are so many people who (frankly) don't have the skills to actually make useful intellectual contributions but who feel entitled to a well-paying, non-manual-labor job. I may be wrong, I'm not familiar with these statistics, but it seems like if there were really were just the right number of people in blue-collar jobs, Dilbert wouldn't seem quite so unnervingly accurate.

(Apologies to all of those managers who are knowledgeable and competent - props to you)

S Rajaram | June 18, 2003 11:17 PM

Thanks for selecting my topic. I am glad you did! Now on with the counter attack!!

1. I asked about "Uncontrolled" immigration, not immigration as such. I should know the benefits of immigration because I am an immigrant from India myself. I agree with your premise that many immigrants often feel that the door should shut as soon as they are in, but I can assure you I have been through and am beyond that phase at present. My beef arises out of the fact that I have noticed US letting in some rabidly fundamentalist Muslim immigrants. I should know, cos my next door neighbour has her face hidden at all times with a veil. Secondly, while immigrants benefit America as a whole the real gain can be obtained only when immigrants assimilate. I try to assimilate but I know how hard it is, especially when you have a ethnic / race conscious society.

2. As far as my statistics of 10 million are concerned, you can check them up www.immigration.gov There is a neat PDF that details the immigration flow over the 90s. You may also want to check out www.cis.org

3. Dont get me wrong here, I am not anti-immigrant, I am very much pro-immigrant. But the US definetly needs to do a better job at selecting them. For instance, I have known some excellent people from New Zealand and India being turned down for work permits here while some real duffers from India have been provided Green Cards. This is what angers me!

4. John, everyone of us has some mixed heritage somewhere along the way. My family has the genealogy chart for the last 17 generations and it is passed on every 15 years to the next generation. We start with a Hindu saint, then go into some Germans and right now I have two jewish cousins. But this is hardly a qualification for me to state that since I have such a mixed heritage I dont have the right to question the immigration problem.

5. There are honest workers from Mexico and there are also thugs from Mexico. I suggest you read "Mexifornia - A State of Becoming" to understand what I mean. The author details how he has suffered at the hands of Mexican immigrants in Southern California while he also appreciates the fact that these Mexican families are up at 6:00am in the morning picking tomatoes while the lazy natives wont budge their big arses.

6. Finally, I think sitting in rural insulated Ohio would hardly present you with the real picture of immigration. For a real feeling, I suggest you make a trip to LA, Maryland, Washington DC, Florida etc. Then lets see how much you disagree with me.

- Hoping to hear your rebuttal soon!

Emily | June 18, 2003 11:48 PM

John, I double-checked the comment thread rules but I didn't see any prohibition against vehemently disagreeing with someone other than you. That said, here goes.

S. Rajaram--so what you're saying is, we should only let in immigrants who disavow their heritage or who, unwilling to do that, will put in fourteen-hour days to make our lives easier? I'm probably being a little confrontational here, but I'm not sure how the U.S. is supposed to "do a better job at selecting [immigrants]." I don't think anyone is going to say to the Immigration Board, "Yes, I'd like to move to your country and sit on my ass and profit off your welfare system" (which is highly unlikely to happen whatever a lazy immigrant wishes), and I hardly think that an immigrant should have to start picking tomatoes at 6:00am to demonstrate their desire to be in this country. Also, from the number of refugees (not merely immigrants) being detained at places like Guantanamo Bay, I don't think being more stringent in our selection process is the answer, though it's possible we're being stringent in all the wrong ways. If we really believe that democracy and the Bill of Rights is the best way to go, we should throw open our borders and take in *anyone* from countries without such freedoms, and only examine the motives of people from countries that already enjoy these freedoms. Otherwise, we need to either admit that we feel no responsibility toward those less fortunate in their freedoms or admit that those freedoms aren't all that important after all. I'm for the first option; of course, as a person with little power, it's easy for me to support that. As a person who's talked with many people from Haiti, it's impossible for me to think otherwise. I look forward to reading other comments.

Rich | June 18, 2003 11:55 PM

Yikes! What a bunch of zenophobic nonsense.

Hey, John, let me handle #6 for you. Know thine enemy - John is from S. Cali not Ohio.

And what is this "her face hidden at all times with a veil"? A veil does not a terrorist make.

Anyhow, my own take on immigration. Open borders. If we are truly serious about promoting fundamental human rights then we have to take seriously one of the most basic and natural - the right of freedom of movement. The cause of liberty demands no less.

S Rajaram | June 19, 2003 12:34 AM

While the above comments are well stated it still harps on one single point of view that uncontrolled immigration doesnt harm anyone. I hope you can justify that to the families of 3000+ 9/11 victims. (BTW most of those cowards that day had arrived in the US *LEGALLY*)

I am NOT Xenophobic. How can I be? I know the effect of xenophobism. I was thrown out of a Candy store in Connecticut because I looked "Middle Eastern", even though I am a Hindu and an Indian. I was pelted with stones outside of my house for no apparent reason. I have had odd and ugly looks thrown my way since 9/11/01. So please dont question my attitude towards immigrants. I know how it feels at the receiving end.

OK! Let me ask you people this, how many of you have interacted with hardline Islamists. I think I can make a safe guess that none of you have. On the other hand, in India I come across such people every day and the Indian government is doing a great job of throwing these people out now. I think the US needs to rethink its policies with many Arab nations. Did you know that a Saudi Arabian muslim could get a visa to come to the US without having to be interviewed by a consulate officer?? Why?? Because he has oil. On the other hand a hard working Indian or a Mexican has to stand for 5-6 hours in the hot sun for an interview with the officer where his chances of rejection are pretty high. See, this is the kind of discrepancies that I hate. On one hand we reward the very people who come to harm us while on the other hand we punish those who have done no harm and those who intend none.

I am pretty confident that John is from Ohio, he has detailed that in one of his earlier posts with pictures of his huge lawn etc. Infact I even recollect him stating that he lived in the "deeply conservative 8th district of Ohio" Again, I guess my memory could be wrong.

Since I guess many of you on this site are Libertarians, please tell me how you can justify the denial of fundamental rights to a woman as is in the Islamic world. I hate conservatism, I despise it openly (Islamic society is the best representation of a truely conservative society, compare Saudi Arabia with any of the ideals of a conservative and you'll find it be a perfectr match)... I am a lala Liberal, but it doesnt mean that I can step aside and let people take my liberal ideas for granted. At some point I need to defend my liberal viewpoints..

S Rajaram | June 19, 2003 12:51 AM

Assimilation is important for the well being of America. American way of life is very different even for a person like me who comes from a very westernized family in India. Heck! it was a total culture shock to see American TV let alone the many trips to the local Gentlemens club.

Anyhow, I'll happily admit that neither American TV nor the Gentlemens Club represent American culture and these parts can be peacefully ignored. The main concepts of American way of life that I'd like all Americans to embrace is the right to liberty , equality and freedom for all.

Let me put my question this way, since you are so nice and kind towards people who are not like you wouldnt you like future Americans also to behave in the same manner. Well.. look around my friend and you will notice that many people arent assimilating the way they should be.

Would you like Saudi Arabian anti-semites to be a part of America?? Would you like immigrants who come here just for the sake of welfare benefits? Take a look at India and see what happens when such a nation comes into being. India has 28 states, each state speaks a different language. People from one state talk bad about people from another state.. there is basically nothing to hold these people together. There is one thing called religion but heck! even that is losing ground. I dont think its long before India breaks up and becomes 28 nations. US is heading towards the same.

Having discussed so much about the problem so far, let me provide my ideas for a solution.

1. English is the official language. Speak any language you want, but dont expect road signs and government officials to speak spanish, hindi or chinese.
2. Learn English, ok! you can become an immigrant without the knowledge of English but you had better be able to score atleast 300 on the TOEFL within a year or risk having your green card suspended until you do so
3. Serve 2 years in the military to learn what it takes to be an American. This way you dont come here just for the benefits and we are assured of that.
4. If you're a first generation immigrant, dont expect social security benefits. However we will pay your kin their dues. This way we really know you wont be a burden on the economic system

What do you think?

Ken L | June 19, 2003 02:21 AM


Rajaram, you've definitely bought into the Pat Buchanan school of thought, haven't you?

1. "official language" policies are not only fairly recent in the history of the world, they're primarily advanced in the US as a means of covert discrimination. It's not okay anymore to pick on someone for the color of their skin, their religion, their sexual orientation, or even their weight -- but it's perfectly all right to substitute language.

Plus, this ties so neatly into American racism and racist politics that I wouldn't even go near an "official English" policy with David Beckham's hardcore bodyguards to keep me safe. Once you start talking "official English", it's a short and slippery slope into "good English", and then it's just a convenient way to avoid using the N-word.

2. America has done just fine for 2.5 centuries without a mandatory-English policy. The social value of learning English is plenty enough, methinks, to encourage folks to learn the language. Mandatory testing? Standardized, mandatory testing?

This doesn't even touch upon the issues of monolingualism and the detriments of pursuing a monolingual policy. Platitudes of bilingualism and its benefits are all well and good -- but English testing goes hand in hand with monolingualism (and anti-immigration) in the DC lobbies.

3. Mandatory military service for citizenship? It was enormously successful for the Romans because they were an aggressive, militaristic, expansionistic EMPIRE. Personally I'm not particularly interested in seeing America walk that path. For one, I'm a student of history, and I know that empires *always* end messy. For another, I foolishly happen to believe in the silly ideals that America was founded upon, and somehow I don't see those ideals as compatible with expansionism, military aggression, and imperialism.

That's not even touching upon the flaws of a mandatory military term. You don't have to go far to find Germans, Israelis, or Singaporeans, male in their mid-20s, who haven't particularly found a new appreciation for their country, simply because of military service.

Finally, only 2 years? That would destroy the high standards of the current, professional US army. How about superior benefits, streamlined bureaucracy, and better pay instead? Then I'd agree with you.

4. Social security is a serious problem in the system that needs fixing. Right now all it is, is an easy target for criticism. That said, I still see flaws in your plan. Like denying benefits to folks, and only paying those benefits to their kids. What prevents the kids from being a burden? And what if they NEVER have kids, yet still contributed? It's not a given that people will actually want to get married, have kids, raise a family, after all.

....still fuming....

RON | June 19, 2003 04:53 AM

What a country! is a sentiment about America that immigrants don't express with reservation, although the act of preserving their languages and their customs of their homeland, might be misinterpreted with politically-incorrect vernacular. The United States is not the only country to emigrate to, yet, it is by far the clear choice of most and the preferred embodiment of the ideals of freedom. If you take the genes of the best crooks on the planet and put the combined specimen in a bottle and shake the bottle up, you'll end up with a super-crook, and that's the land of America in a nutshell, where survival may require a sense of humor. Contributions of immigrants to the disciplines of science and medicine would require gigabytes of praise. Americans have not over the few centuries of its existence developed a culture, but only a heritage, and this is difficult for most immigrants to understand, although the reasons for emigrating from their own countries was probably due to the lack of dynamic or its attendent consequence that their own cultures cultivated. A lot of the anti-immigrant sentiment can be traced to citizens of our great nation getting pissed-off when ordering a hamburger without onions at the local fast food or asking for a double-bag from a mathematical genious at the grocery, when the recipient of such simple requests demonstrates their assimilation. In trade work, a plumber took for granted he could always find work as a handyman if employment conditions spiraled south. But this is not the case, today. An immigrant has taken away the plumber's safety net and deprived the plumber of the lower job tier. Summer or weekend jobs traditionally meant for high school teenagers have been filled by the diaspora, specifically in the fast-food industry, and jobs once considered temporary are now more like permanent positions without the equivalent benefits. An unemployed college professor can always fall back on teaching at a junior college, and equivalent professions alike are just as insulated from and oblivious to the immigrants' effect on the manual-labor job market, not the undesirable jobs, here. Of course, everybody has to eat, smoke their opium and drink health juices, but the economic replacements are on most occasions at the expense of the incumbency, with some rights and wrongs as would be expected, but with an arrogant attitude and disregard to mankind's custom of home court advantage. Also, immigration quotas should be adusted proportionately for non-performance including the vices of crime and welfare for each group of immigrants, and such quotas should be increased or decreased based on the "individual" group's contribution, if that's as simple as passing NAFTA. Now, what was all that about "uncontrolled" immigration? My sincere apologies for the tread.

John Scalzi | June 19, 2003 07:26 AM

S Rajaram writes:

"1. I asked about 'Uncontrolled' immigration, not immigration as such."

Well, we don't have "uncontrolled" immigration, since our government has a whole arm dealing with letting people into the country. We might have *badly done* immigration, but that's another thing entirely.

Your concern about the veil-wearing neighbor sounds rather a bit like people in the 1840s complaining about the Irish, or in the 1880s complaining about the Italians, or in the 1980s complaining about the Mexicans. The vast majority of the Muslims coming to this country, fundamentalist or otherwise, love the country and are going to be a long-term net benefit.

Not everyone comes across the border, throws off the veil and heads to Taco Bell, and that's fine as well. Here in Ohio, we have a group that patently refuses to assimilate, who dresses according to religious custom and whose lifestyle customs turn against the general path of the American culture. We call them "Amish." Unless we're ready to demand all the Amish shave off their beards, we pretty much have to give those wearing a veil a pass as well.

Regarding the "insulated in Ohio" bit: I grew up in Southern California, went to school in Chicago, and most recently lived in the Washington DC area for several years, where I in fact still own a home. I'm well aware of immigration and its impact.

Emily | June 19, 2003 08:56 AM

S. Rajaram asks me (and perhaps the collective:

"Would you like Saudi Arabian anti-semites to be a part of America?? Would you like immigrants who come here just for the sake of welfare benefits?"

It's true, in my ideal world, there wouldn't be anti-Semites (though the fact that they're Saudi Arabian is irrelevant). But so what? Because I disagree with someone, he or she shouldn't be allowed to move to my country? Ridiculous! I'll probably never be friends with anti-Semitic people, but I absolutely believe they should be allowed to immigrate to the U.S. and be a part of this country. All other considerations aside, the idea of a test at the door is thoroughly impractical.

You also ask if I like immigrants who come here for welfare benefits. Well, I'll tell you what, I've been on welfare--food stamps, to be specific--and was thrown off because of a caseworker's incompetence. He failed to record my attendance at a required appointment, which resulted in me getting booted the first time. After I reapplied, sent in the forms he'd requested, and waited through three months of "unavoidable agency delays", I was informed that I'd been denied because they never received forms that I'd never been asked for in the first place. If a person can move to this country, learn enough English to deal with welfare caseworkers, fill out the reams of forms required of them, their employer, their landlord, and their child's daycare provider, take a day off work every month to tell the caseworker exactly what they told the caseworker the previous month, deal with the inevitable system delays and errors, and actually *profit* off this system, I'll be the first to jump to my feet and applaud.

Incidentally, as a pacifist, I object to the statement that serving in the military can teach "what it takes to be an American." If you immigrate here, you *are* an American; learning to be a *good* American has nothing to do with learning to follow orders.

Alina | June 19, 2003 09:59 AM

I came to the U.S. at age 7 with my parents from the (then) Soviet Union. Outside of the fact that we, as legal immigrants following the law, had to wait in U.S. paperwork purgatory for over a year in Austria and Italy, while some people just kind of show up in the States and forget to leave... there is the fact that, when we came in 1977, immigrants did not automatically get welfare and medicaid benefits. And now they do. Ergo, and I will speak only for the Russian immigrants I know personally, many of the current immigrants come to the United States and sit around. No, wait, let me amend that. Does it count as sitting around if you are collecting public assistance, Section 8 housing and Medicaid while also wearing furs and taking regular vacations in Hawaii?

So, while I have no problem with immigrants, per se (I do believe everyone should learn to speak English, simply for safety and unity reasons, if nothing else... but that's another topic), I do have a big problem with immigrants (and non immigrants, for that matter) who are not useful. The very least immigrants owe the country that took them in and saved them from God knows what back home is to be productive citizens. You want to come to America, fine. But don't bleed it dry!

And, on a related note, when people speak of opening borders, I have yet to hear anyone address the fact that simply opening borders becomes a racial/ethnic policy in itself, if only because it is much easier for the average Mexican or Canadian to enter the US then it is for say, the average African or Asian. An open border policy is still fundementally unfair because it limits people who don't have the financial wherewithall to even make it to the border.

Rich | June 19, 2003 10:30 AM

Who said irony is dead?

"Well.. look around my friend and you will notice that many people arent assimilating the way they should be." Assimilation schmasimilation. I notice that maybe half-a-dozen non-immigrants are commenting against you in this thread and you complain that *others* aren't assimilating. Don't you know that America is all about conformity. We're all about behaving as expected here. Your dissent clearly shows a lack of assimilation..chuckle..chuckle..chuckle.

"I was thrown out of a Candy store in Connecticut because I looked "Middle Eastern", even though I am a Hindu and an Indian" Sorry to hear that. Would it have been OK if you were Muslim and Saudi? I don't think so.

Not zenophobic? I'm not convinced. You don't have to be whitebread to be zenophobic, you know. Seems to me like a bit of suppressed self-loathing - analogous to the closeted gay guy that bashes gays. Come on S Rajaram - throw off those chains.

rick mcginnis | June 19, 2003 10:46 AM

As a Canadian, my take on this whole kerfuffle is probably as close to an American as you can get in the West, so here goes...

Assimilation is a dirty word - especially up here, where the ruling Liberal party has turned "multiculturalism" into a party support system - but it's the only word to use to understand the process of immigrants becoming part of their chosen culture.

Yes, everyone might have hated the Italians as much as they hated the Germans and Irish before them, and seen them as alien to their culture, but that obviously changed, and the absorption of Irish, German, Italian, Polish, Czech, etc. culture into North America was a positive benefit I don't think anyone can deny. It was certainly a gift to Toronto, my hometown, which was until the Italians showed up after the war the most oppressively Protestant dull-hole in the country, with food so bad that Montrealers had to come here to see it for themselves.

At the same time, the Irish Catholics, for instance, had to abandon their attachment to sectarian infighting with the Ulster Protestants (and vice versa), the Italians quite a bit of their rural clannishness (if they were rural folk), etc. In other words, they had to become less what they were as Irish or Italians, and more like Americans or Canadians, to discard the political and social "memes" they had lived under, so that their kids had a chance to benefit from what was becoming an increasingly pluralistic society.

Yes, Muslim fundamentalists are scary, and I find the full veil disturbing - and I see it more and more these days. Still, our job is to enforce the legal system that encourages tolerant pluralism here, and to maintain the dynamic society - built on tolerance and pluralism and egalitarianism - that attracts people here. The kids of these hardliners will follow in the footsteps of the kids of the Italian and Irish peasants, and abandon the "quaint" habits and mindset of their parents.

Multicultural leftists consider this "cultural imperialism" - but who cares? It's how it works, and it's the reason our society thrives. The key is to defend against legal incursions, like the Muslim woman convert who wanted to wear a veil in her Driver's License photo. That's not how things are done here.

So, no blood feuds, no arranged marriages, no support for terrorist groups here or back in the old country, no Shari'a law, no female circumcision, no special preferences given to native languages and customs. (Trust me - as a Canadian, I can tell you what harm the myriad dispensations, legal exceptions and special rights given to Quebec has done to the country.)

Roger | June 19, 2003 03:02 PM

S Rajaram said:
"Since I guess many of you on this site are Libertarians, please tell me how you can justify the denial of fundamental rights to a woman as is in the Islamic world. I hate conservatism, I despise it openly (Islamic society is the best representation of a truely conservative society, compare Saudi Arabia with any of the ideals of a conservative and you'll find it be a perfectr match)"

Speaking as a Libertarian and conservative, I don't justify the denial those rights. Quite the opposite, in fact. If you knew anything about the tenets of Libertarianism, you'd know that suppressing people's rights is NOT one of them.

In fact, during the ongoing war protests, I could never understand why the protesters claimed they were doing it for the women and children of Irag when it was a known fact that Saddam's regime was suppressing women and killing children and by protesting the war, the protesters were saying, by extension, they wanted to leave that regime in place to continue suppressing women and killing children.

As for conservatism, it sounds like you're mixing in some religion in with your definition. It's understandable, given that most outspoken conservative members of congress tend to be members of the Baptist church, which does have a very narrow view of the woman's place in society.

But if you were to look at the basic values of conservatism, I'd think you'd find them to be based on the idea that people should be free to do what they want with who they want when they want and the government should stay out of the way.

Thats how I feel it is, anyway.

RON | June 19, 2003 06:55 PM

Dear Alina, if a few of your Russian countrymen/women can milk the system for all its got, then hoorah for them, for it shows that they are not entirely assimilation-challenged. Although they are wiping their shoes on the country's welcome mat, their's is less of a crime than the progeny without a generation-gap off public assistance, at least until welfare reform was enacted for their sheer amusement. If you pay, by way of your taxes, for Section 8--a federal program that subsidizes 80% of other people's rent--you, yourself, will not be eligible for Section 8 if you encounter a few years of sporadic employment. Most Americans are just a paycheck away from being homeless and all the taxes you've paid so far will fund the proletariat of con-men and parasites, even though you are the one who will be pushing around a shopping cart in the land of opportunity. But all told, knowing the real ropes in America, is finding a well-paying job so you can join the huddled masses who contribute to their society by buying underarm deordorant, and that's all you get--for gratitude has been proven to be ephemeral here and paying taxes, though admirable, has so far been a thankless chore.

Anonymous | June 19, 2003 07:22 PM

Roger Said:
" If you knew anything about the tenets of Libertarianism, you'd know that suppressing people's rights is NOT one of them."

Precisely, I wasnt saying Libertarianism supresses rights, on the other hand I was questioning how libertarians could support such suppression. Support in the sense, support immigration from that Arab nation to the US.

I suspect you are a strong libertarian leaning conservative. I know the differences between liberal, libertarian and conservatism very well. I spent the last two years reading and studying these concepts. In the end I have come to the conclusion that these are just names for unproven concepts that we as people hope will deliver us to our desired ends. Anyway, I digress..

I didnt mix religion and politics to arrive at my conclusion that Saudi Arabia is the perfect conservative society. I have read opinion from several places to come to this conclusion.

Emily wrote:
"If a person can move to this country, learn enough English to deal with welfare caseworkers"

Precisely my point. Emily, if a person could have sufficient knowledge of the English language that he or she could deal with a caseworker I would hardly have any gripe. But the problem is that many of those forms are available in Spanish and many of those caseworkers know Spanish. So there lies the fault in the system. Back in India, we used to have this line drilled into our heads from childhood.. "Unity in Diversity". Its a lovely concept but alas, impractical!

Ken L wrote:
"It's not okay anymore to pick on someone for the color of their skin, their religion, their sexual orientation, or even their weight -- but it's perfectly all right to substitute language."

The difference is in the fact that I cannot change my skin color even if I wanted to. I cannot change my heritage even if I wanted to, I cannot change my ethinicity even if I wanted to. BUT!!!! I can learn the English language if I really wanted to!

Kim | June 19, 2003 08:25 PM

Regarding the last comment: I have taken some shit for my parents' inability to speak English. It's pretty annoying, especially because it's not like they haven't tried. But both of them came to America in their middle ages and worked shitty jobs that paid them less than minimum wage in the 80s (we're talking maybe 2, 3 dollars an hour), so that my sisters and I could have better lives. It doesn't matter that they can't speak English, because they have us to translate for them. It's not a matter of laziness or being unwilling. You try working 10 hour days and having to feed and clothe 5 kids on top of that *and* taking English classes so you can pass the citizenship test with an elementary school education in your native language. And so, no, they can't really change their language, even though they want(ed) to.

Phil | June 20, 2003 10:35 AM

"The best windfall the United States ever got was from the Nazis, who decided to use Jews for oven kindling rather than for their brains, forcing waves of Jewish scientists to our shores."

And then we sucked up the leftover Nazis themselves and got the space program out of them. Interesting juxtaposition.

Ken L | June 23, 2003 01:59 AM

Still peeved.

SR writes: "The difference is in the fact that I cannot change my skin color even if I wanted to. I cannot change my heritage even if I wanted to, I cannot change my ethinicity even if I wanted to. BUT!!!! I can learn the English language if I really wanted to!"

Actually you can, you can, you can, and you can. None of these four things are immutable, although you clearly don't see them in the same light. Plastic surgery, cultural assimilation, and amnesia can accomplish quite a lot. Would you like to try for genetic code, on the assumption that this somehow has real cultural significance?