A few days ago, one of my favorite yogis posted on Facebook a photo of a sad-looking Indian (Native American), with the following caption:
- “So you’re against immigration? Splendid, when do you leave?”
Although my brain told me to let the posting pass, I couldn’t stop myself from responding as follows:
- “Conflating legal immigration with illegal immigration, which the liberal media does continually, is not helpful to understanding the issue. I haven’t heard of a single conservative against legal immigration.”
Fortunately for me, there was no resulting brouhaha, and one of my yogi classmates even said she agreed with me.
Today, the immigration issue again came to my attention when one of my heroes, Warren Buffett, along with two other billionaires, Bill Gates and Sheldon Adelson, authored an op-ed piece in the NY Times titled, “Break the Immigration Impasse.” The piece is supposed to be significant because, while Gates and Buffett are liberals, Adelson is a conservative, and their ability to achieve a compromise suggests that Congress could do likewise if it focused on good policy instead political posturing. After looking closely at the op-ed piece, I disagree.
Perhaps the most constructive component of the op-ed piece is that, unlike the Indian posting in Facebook, Buffett and his gang distinguish between legal immigration and illegal immigration. They accurately describe America’s flawed immigration for kids educated in our universities (“talented graduate program”) and the “immigrant investor program” (EB-5). Those are programs where there is bipartisan support.
But sandwiched between these two programs, Buffett and his gang gloss over the insoluble part of the immigration problem – i.e., the eleven million illegal immigrants. About them, they spout pabulum:
- “Americans are a forgiving and generous people, and who among us is not happy that their forebears — whatever their motivation or means of entry — made it to our soil? For the future, the United States should take all steps to ensure that every prospective immigrant follows all rules and that people breaking these rules, including any facilitators, are severely punished. No one wants a replay of the present mess.”
The first part of this paragraph is as shallow and trite as the Facebook posting. If they wish to compare the immigration in the 1800s and early 1900s with today’s immigration, they should make their case instead of simply implying that they are. They differences are so profound, beginning with the fact that immigration back then was legal, that any attempt to equate them requires more than a superficial reference.
The second part of the paragraph also requires elaboration. How can you talk about law-breakers being severely punished in the future when you are granting them amnesty this time? When Reagan granted amnesty in the 80s, he also said that future law-breaking would not be tolerated. Won’t America want to be humane to future law-breakers, too?
Seems to me that Buffett and Gates needed to contend with a stronger negotiator that Sheldon Adelson, who seems to have given away the conservative store.