Is Immigration This Year's Gay Marriage?

Q. My wife and I are two of maybe 100 Democrats in a county south of Atlanta. Our question is this: Will the Republicans be successful by making illegal immigration the gay marriage issue of this election?

A. I never believed Iraq would be the dominant issue in this presidential campaign, but I never would have guessed that it would be illegal immigration. And yet you may be right: Republicans seem to have seized upon illegal immigration this year's wedge issue.

It may be more accurate, however, to call autarky the dominant issue of 2008. You read it here first: After being stumped to come up with the one word to capture what's going on out there, and after checking with Merriam-Webster to make sure that the word does indeed mean economic independence, I hereby declare 2008 as the Autarky Election. How about it, Lou? The Autarky Party just might support Dobbs for president.

And the Democratic equivalent of Republican immigrant-bashing is free-trade-bashing. Even Hillary Clinton is distancing herself from her husband's robust record of promoting trade liberalization and economic interdependence. As much as she touts her experience as First Lady, when the subject turns to the North American Free Trade Agreement, Clinton's attitude seems to be, "Hey, I just lived there. It was his presidency."

Recent polling shows the economy surging on the list of issues voters care most about. But instead of Bill Clinton's 1992 slogan -- "It's the economy, stupid" -- the appropriate bumper sticker may be, "It's our economy, stupid." There is a post-9/11, post-Iraqi-quagmire mistrust of all things foreign.

But this anti-[insert foreign nation here] backlash has less to do with economic fundamentals than it does with deeper psychological anxieties. It's about the nostalgic pull of American isolationism, the yearning for an old-fashioned manufacturing economy, a longing for the time when you didn't hear any Spanish in places like Wisconsin. Trade and immigration have enriched this country like no other. But polls show that most Americans think anything foreign -- Chinese toys, Dubai investors, Mexican workers -- has been bad for the economy. And no politician this year, with the possible exception of Michael Bloomberg if he wades into the race as a third-party candidate, is likely to tell them otherwise.

Iowa, to choose a state at random, has prospered mightily from global trade. Don't expect the Democratic candidates to acknowledge this, however. They must all speak of trade as if it were an economic tsunami. Republicans, meanwhile, all have to line up to outdo each other in denouncing the workers who keep their lawns manicured, their children cared for and their restaurants open.

Setting aside the Tancredos and Kuciniches of the race, who are at least being sincere, there is a farcical nature to the pro-autarky posturing in both parties. Leading candidates in both parties know better. Hillary Clinton opposing the Korea Free Trade Agreement? Give me a break. John Edwards was a centrist pro-trade senator before he reinvented himself as a crazed populist presidential candidate. Among Republicans, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee may all be vulnerable in primaries because of their stances on illegal immigration -- perhaps because they have all governed in the real world, where these workers are needed.

Republicans may frame the issue in terms of illegal immigration, while Democrats prefer to discuss "fair trade." But they're both talking about the same thing: autarky. On the campaign trail or in a 90-minute debate, trade and immigration can seem like separate issues. But they are part of the same theme for many voters and in the discourse of talk radio.

But back to your question: Yes, Republicans may stand to gain the most from this yearning for autarky. The theory was that the GOP would agree to change the system because big business understands the imperative of legalizing the flow of needed labor. But the GOP's more important imperative is political, and illegal immigration is a powerful anti-Democrat weapon.

It is going to get ugly, I am afraid -- and very stupid.

By Andres Martinez |  November 23, 2007; 12:00 AM ET
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Comments

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Gimme a break. The sledgehammer issue is immigration for both parties. Our oligarchy wants slaves. There are plenty of Americans who would do these "necessary jobs" if employers would pay a living wage. And, the illegals couldn't survive living in the U.S.on slave wages unless the taxpayer paid their medical bills and their children's education bills. There are words for it "Maximizing profits while minimizing social costs". The top 1% got 21% of our nation's wealth in the past six years. and the yacht basin crowd loves it.

Posted by: zaney | December 3, 2007 9:59 AM

"Iowa, to choose a state at random, has prospered mightily from global trade." Don't tell that to former Bluebird workers, whose assembly plant went to Mexico, nor to former union meatpackers. Iowa does not offer a lot of good jobs, just an oscillating volume of junk jobs and a rather static volume of fair to good ones. Corn and soy exports have a low job multiplier. Any recent "prosperity" is mainly a function of inflated corn prices, reflecting ethanol subsidies and benefitting relatively few. All the soybeans we sell do China do not create many jobs or balance our trade deficit with that nation. A typical high school graduate does not face good prospects and will be better off leaving the state. The local plants will prefer to hire teams from Zacatecas who consider a "living wage" whatever is enough to share a room with six men and leave enought to wire home.

Posted by: jkoch | November 27, 2007 3:14 PM

BL made some excellent, heartfelt points as have many others clarifying the problems. What's maddening is a solution as simple as arresting those who employ illegals doesn't happen. Why?

Posted by: jhbyer | November 25, 2007 6:46 AM

BL sez Mexicans are "Killing, Raping, & |Robbing American citizens by the 10,s of thousands!" Oh really? Sounds like it is safer where I live - in Mexico.

Another advantage here is that I don't have to live with morons like BL.

Posted by: Roy, Chiapas Mexico | November 23, 2007 7:51 PM

How come there were only 10,000 Mexicans at the Alamo? ...they only had one car.

Posted by: Vamos | November 23, 2007 6:16 PM

Here is something typical that I have noticed in all "immigration advocates": They do not bother to distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants.

I came to US in 1999 to attend graduate school. In school, I conducted research and published papers to complete my degree. Now I am working and have applied for my green card. I have been put in the category of Person of Extraordinary Capability. I have been granted National Interest Waiver (NIW), i.e. the govt says it is ok not to hire a US citizen to be able to hire me. I should get my green card in 2010-11.

But of course, Mr Martinez does not distinguish between a person like myself and somebody who arrived here illegaly and is doing a minimum wage job. Immigration reform is a code word for blanket amnesty. People like me dont form a big enough voting block to sway an election, so we are ignored. But those who broke the law demand to be pampered, because they can deliver an election to the politicians.

How about immigration reform for LEGAL IMMIGRANTS? Any thoughts Mr. Martinez?

Posted by: motilal | November 23, 2007 5:56 PM

Illegal immigration has been at the top of the American people's list of problems since May 2006. The "international elite" that runs the country and the media have been trying to keep the lid on this ever since, through bogus surveys, name-calling, and (most effectively) refusing to cover the story. The outrage at the invasion and occupation of our country is now so huge that even the WaPo has to (snidely) acknowledge its power.

Posted by: Paul | November 23, 2007 5:52 PM

Quark said:"oh, wait a minute, i forget, when talking about illegals wages & prices are not linked but when talking about increasing the minimum wage all of a sudden wages and prices are linked. talk about wanting it both ways."

On the contrary, illegal alien wages and prices ARE intimately related. We may save an infinitesimal amount at the grocery store (labor is a very SMALL part of food costs) but we end up paying big time for the education and healthcare of them and their kids in both taxes and higher premiums for insurance if we're lucky enough to have it.

As for Garak's comments about ignoring employer sanctions, no way. I'm a Democrat, and am ashamed to see that labor unions and the ACLU are among those trying to block any enforcement against employers. It was these groups who filed suit against the SS no-match letters which are now on hold.

Posted by: Ali | November 23, 2007 5:34 PM

I'm pro-immigrant, if the person came here legally. I say, go to it and make the best of your opportunity.

I'm anti-immigrant if the person came here illegally.

Guess I'm just a hateful, xenophobic, racist, nativist Nazi.


Posted by: Buddy | November 23, 2007 5:24 PM

This column makes the assumption that Democrats are automatically in favor of uncontrolled borders. Why should a working class Democrat be happy to see his pay decline, his neighborhood deteriorate, and his taxes rise while his kids' schools go to hell?
Why should be welcome the Mexican illegal who competes for his job, while Mexico won't allow him across the border?
At some point, one party is going to have a candidate who says, "I'll control illegal immigration. Not with guns and fences, but with a simple, workable, and enforced system of verification that will be applied to ALL new-hires. In this day of instant verification of credit cards, what's so tough about verifying an SS number? Oh, and there's a second part. If you hire an undocumented worker, there's a fine that really stings, even if your a millionaire hiring a nanny or a corporation hiring a worker.

Posted by: SEO | November 23, 2007 5:14 PM

Illegal immigration has a far bigger impact on the daily life of an average American citizen than gay marriage ever will. It rightfully should be the top issue of the 2008 election.

Posted by: Tirade | November 23, 2007 4:39 PM

In yet another stunning demonstration of the fact that Mexico is inhabited and governed by third-world banditos incapable of reasoned thought, Mexican officials threatened to take the United States to the United Nations. In other words, this corrupt bunch of third-world idiots is under the misguided notion that America has no sovereign rights or borders, and that our great nation should be open to every Mexican peasant that decides unilaterally to squat in America.
* Did the United States violate the sovereignty and borders of Mexico by encouraging 20 million illiterate American peasants to cross the border illegally?
* Did American illegal aliens feed at the public trough for health care, education, food, housing and other vital services to which they were not entitled, and which cost Mexican taxpayers hundreds of billions of pesos each year?
* Did American illegal aliens overwhelm Mexican hospitals, medical clinics, and emergency rooms and refuse to pay for medical services received?
* Did the impact of serving American illegal aliens force scores of medical facilities into bankruptcy, resulting in the loss of vital medical services for Mexican citizens?
* Did American illegal aliens who refused to pay for medical services manage to send $30 billion a year back to the United States?
* Did American illegal aliens refuse to learn Spanish, and demand that Mexico provide services in English at considerable cost to Mexican citizens?
* Did the children of American illegal aliens slow down and otherwise impede the education of Mexican children because of language and cultural issues?
* Did American illegal aliens demand driver's licenses despite being in Mexico illegally? Did they demand that driver instruction and testing materials be in English?
* Did American illegal aliens demand the same reduced tuition rates offered to Mexican students there legally?
* Did American illegal aliens vote in Mexican elections and alter election results?
* Did American illegal aliens overwhelm Mexico's penal system, making it impossible to deal with the citizen inmate population?
* Did the largest state in Mexico contract with another Mexican state for the housing and care of 15,000 inmates because of the impact of American illegal aliens?
* Did American illegal aliens engage in wholesale forgery of vital public documents and commit identity theft in order to secure employment, education, credit, and access to public services?
* Did American illegal aliens in Mexico in 1986 receive amnesty in an attempt by the Mexican government to end illegal migrations once and for all?
* Did the Mexican government refuse to enforce the provisions of the amnesty, thereby causing the American illegal alien problem to grow seven times greater in the span of 20 years?
* Did millions of American illegal aliens take to the streets to protest pending legislation in the Mexican congress that would tighten border security and enforce the nation's immigration laws?
* Did American illegal aliens wave Old Glory and scream "Yes we can!" and "We are Mexico!" in English as they marched to protest the rule of law in Mexico?
* Did American illegal aliens cry "Racism" every time they were criticized for being in Mexico illegally or challenged to learn Spanish and assimilate into Mexican society?
None of the above is correct, although each and every one would provide more than adequate justification for diplomatic, and perhaps military, action by the offended nation against the offender nation.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 23, 2007 3:19 PM

The most serious problem American Faces is not Terrorism but the Mass Invasion from Mexico. The Largest Invasion in World History is destroying our Schools, Medical Systems, Judicial System, and the Rule of Law, while Slaughtering, Raping & Robbing Americans by the 10,s of thousands. They are destroying our Social cohesion & turning us into a Cesspool of Crime, Corruption, Benefiting the Rich paid for by the poor & Middle Class! If this Amnesty is passed it will lead in time to Riots, Fires & Civil unrest on a scale greater than the 60,s and possibly Civil war!

Both Democratic and Republican administrations have ignored Article IV Section IV of our Constitution & our Laws that is supposed to protect this Country from Invasion! They have ignored our Constitution, Failed to enforce our Laws, and dishonored their Oath of Office

President Bush has not only ignored our Constitution & Laws he has Aided, Abided, Encouraged and Collaborated with a foreign government to Subvert our Constitution! To ignore our Constitution is grounds for Impeachment, to engage in Subverting our Constitution is Treason!

This Policy continues today even after the Wake-Up call of 9/11!

When you have Senators that are swore to Defend the Constitution & Uphold our Laws encourage Criminals to break them then you have Criminals for Politicians! When our Politicians that think our Constitution is just a damn piece of Paper & Laws are meant to be broken then we are headed down the Slippery Slope of Anarchy!

Illegal Aliens start by breaking the Law by Arriving Illegally using Forged Document and engaging in a wide range of Illegal Activities that would get an American Citizens Fined and in Jail.

If an American Citizen is caught driving without driver licenses or insurance they face heavy fines & possible lost of driving Privileges. Illegal Aliens on the other hand are usually released with no punishment! The same is true for identify thief and benefits using false SS cards & for a host of other Crimes that American Citizens would feel the full weight of the Law!

Our Politicians answer to these crimes is not to punish them, but to reward them!

Only someone that is Brain-dead would believe rewarding Criminals results in less Criminals or Crime!

People that start out by breaking the Laws & are Rewarded for doing so, have little respect or regard for any Laws & see this Nation and American Citizens as ripe for Plunder!

They take full advantage of every benefit they can get Legal or Illegally!

Illegal Aliens have an informal but highly effective net work to inform other Illegal Aliens where to get bogus documents & any new scams to get benefits illegally! Most Illegal Aliens works off the books & pays no taxes but still somehow gets an Earned Income tax credit ranging form 1500.00 to 3200.00 returned to them every year from American taxpayers!

Illegal Aliens arrive in this Country from Counties where rampant Crime and Corruption has been a way of life for Centuries, is it any wonder they bring those same Family Values across the Border with them and are busy creating the same type of environment in the USA!

They retain loyally to the Native Countries & Exploit the Compassion of Americans & the Corruption of our Politicians by using us & having nothing but contempt for a people & Nation that does not have the Political Will or Integrity in its Politicians to enforce our Laws & our Constitution against Invasion.

To put it bluntly & without being Politically Correct, Illegal Aliens & Many of our Politicians are Parasites & Criminals feasting on the backs of American Citizens!

Illegal Aliens seek not to build this Nation, but to use the fruits of Labor of Legal American Citizens that immigrated to this country legally & have in 230 years of Blood, Sweat, Tears, and Sacrifice built this Nation!

While the Illegal Invaders have built nothing but a Cesspool of Crime, Corruption, Poverty & Misery in their own Counties for the masses, but a Elite class of very Rich, and Corrupt for the few.

Could this be what many of our Politicians are hoping to Achieve here in the USA?

You hear our Politicians like Bush, Kennedy, Hillary, McCain, Reid, Spector, Brownback, and Martinez, that's wants to give them Amnesty, only they are so dishonest they refuse to call it Amnesty! They talk about the Rule of Law & Amnesty in the same sentence. This is an Oxymoron of the first order!

We hear the same Politicians speaking of seeking Bipartisan support for a Comprehensive solution to Illegal Aliens which are code words for Amnesty without any means or intend to enforce the Laws or our Constitution & close our Borders, just like they did with the 1986 Amnesty!

They further obscure & confuse the issue with Political Spin & Lies by saying it is only 7 or 8 million when the best independent estimates of the Illegal population was 20 million years ago & we have 5 to 10 thousand more pouring across our borders every day since then.

They conveniently forget to inform American Citizens that each Illegal Alien granted citizenship has the option to bringing in 5 family members in a never ending chain, so at the very least we are talking about 60 million or so in the next 15 to 20 years, a more realistic number is probably 150 million or more.

This Nation will be inundated with 10,s of Millions of Prolific breeders. Citizens with an average of 6 grade education and a 50 percent school drop out rate to populate the gangs & welfare rolls.

This is the same thing that happens with the last Amnesty, only this time it is on a scale large enough to destroy this Nation and turn the USA into another Mexico!

What we really have is a club of Millionaires in the Senate & the Democrat party seeking to deceive American Citizens again & pass a Law to reward other Millionaires with an unlimited supply of 21 First Century slaves.

While they reward their selves with the votes from Latinos and money they receive from Corporations for destroying this Nation!

The intent is to exploit both the Illegal Aliens for their Cheap Labor and the Poor & Middle class American Citizens as victims of the Illegal Alien's crime, deteriorating standard of living and the 100,s of billions in welfare costs!

While the users of the Illegal Aliens Labor laugh all the way to the bank with their obscene profits! They get richer while the rest sink into Poverty! In Bush's term in office 5.4 million more American Citizens have slipped into poverty l & if they succeed in this Amnesty, American will become a Nation of Poverty with the Rich, Elite and Corrupt ruling and the rest is slaving for pennies like the Peons in Mexico!

If this Amnesty is passed is anything like the Senate version as currently written, it will result in harm to this Nation almost beyond ones imagination!

The last Amnesty resulted in the largest increase in Crime and Welfare of any bill ever passed & compared to this Amnesty it was minuscule.

Illegal Aliens as percentage of population & the ones given Citizenship by the last Amnesty contribute more too both Crime & Welfare, than any other group in the USA!

So you be the judge of what the results of next Amnesty will be & the harm it will do!
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The press is as guilty as the Politicians in trying to foster off this massive Amnesty bill on the American Public. They continue to refer to the Mass Invasion of Illegal Aliens as Immigrants which could not be further from the truth.

They fail to point out the harmful impact of the last Amnesty in 1986.

None report what the detrimental affects will be to our Population, Standard of living, Crime, Environment, Welfare or a host of other problems with the Senate bill!

Many Nations have tried to build a great Nation on the Back of Slaves, all have failed. If this were not so Mexico & other third world Nations would be rich instead of poor!

For anyone that has never lived in an third country & experienced the horrible conditions & do not understand what will happen to this Country if the Senate Amnesty is passed go visit the interior of Mexico, there you will see the future of this Nation!

We, as American Citizens owe & have the duty to prior generations that built this country at great personal sacrifice & to future generations, to rise up in protest from coast to coast and tell our Corrupt Politicians, No Not Again!

Posted by: BL | November 23, 2007 3:05 PM

What countries could not win or accomplish by force of arms is fast becoming a reality by Illegal Invasion and Prolific Breeding aided & abetted by Corrupt Politicians at all levels of government! At the present rate within 10 to 15 years & probably less, we will be a third world country!

The excuse, the Politicians use, is the Illegal Aliens are only trying to have a better life, well so are Bank Robbers and other criminals! But common criminals are nothing in Comparison to the damage done to this country by the Illegal Invasion!

Illegal Aliens are robbing the USA of much more then any other criminals in the USA history, they are just taking money but a country! As for, as crime, by the time you finish reading this there will be robberies, rape, killing and other crimes committed by Illegal Aliens against American citizens! Now we are also experiencing all kinds of diseases that were eradicated in this country like T.B and worse brought back into this country by the Illegal Aliens!

While 9/11 was terrible! We are letting Illegal Aliens enslave millions of American Citizen each year with Drugs pouring across our open borders, while Murdering, Raping & Robbing many more Americans Citizens than was killed in 9/11. For this, they get 100 of Billions in Benefits and a whole gang of Corrupt Politicians at every level of government & in direct violation of our Immigration laws, supporting and working on their behalf!

Our President's fine words about Terrorist & Terrorism are contradicted by his failure to control our open Borders! His acquisition in letting Mexico & Latin American send Millions of Illegal Aliens across our Open Borders is in direct violation of Article 4 Section 4 of the Constitution, and makes a lie out of his often stated concern with terrorist and terrorism!

If poorly Educated Illegal Aliens can pour across our open Borders than Terrorist far better Educated and with vastly more resources can also! One can only conclude by our politician's actions that protecting the American Public is secondary to their wish to supply Slave Labor to businesses and Company officials. Apparently they think the risk of Terrorist crossing our open borders with WMD and killing thousand of Americans Citizens is well worth the Risk!

We now have Latino Barrios in every community, mostly populated by people here illegally, even in small towns where crime was never a problem, until the Illegal Invasion! Where American Language, American Ideals, & anything American is rejected & most are very anti-American & rabid in their hate for both American Citizens and American. Where the Mexican flag is proudly flown but not the American flag! American Citizens that fought our wars, paid the taxes, and obeyed the laws take a great risk of getting Robbed or Killed, if the dare go into those areas!

While the Politicians sit in there Ivory towers & either have no concept or don't give a Damn about the kind of world their Policies are crating for American Citizens! It should be mandatory for those Politicians to go live and Experience the Crime and & lowing of our standard of living faced by ordinary Citizens before they foster their Corrupt, & Asinine Policies on the American Public!

They are crating another Iraq in this country where whole sections are off limits to Legal American Citizens! But the Illegal Aliens can go into any area they want with impunity!

While the Politicians are busy destroying this country, American citizens get to pay for the Illegal Alien babies, pay for their kids schooling, their medical benefits, welfare and all other benefits our elected Politicians can think of to reward them with!

Illegal Aliens have no allegiance to this country & do not want to be American citizens, but to import their way of life, their language, crime and corruption, to the USA! While exporting the money they make illegally back to their home countries! They want to change this Country into another Mexico and they, with the help of our Elected Officials are!

Illegal Aliens form a country within this country off limits to American Citizens and call us Stupid Gringos for paying them to take over this country by Illegal Invasion! They are right we are Totally Insanely Stupid to allow this to happen & continue!

No Nation on Earth can withstand an Illegal Invasion of this magnitude of poorly educated immigrants with an average 8 grade educations & a 50% school dropout rate!
To do so is & will continue to profoundly change the country for the worse and turning it into a facsimile of the country where the Illegal Aliens came from.

The Blatant disregard of the Immigration law by our Politicians is for only one reason Money, they receive from Businesses and Companies for providing them with nearly Slave labor so they can reward their unlimited greed & let the taxpayers pay billions in benefits for their Slave Labor!

If it was just the Politicians Kind Hearts and Compassion there are millions of American children living in poverty without a chance at the American dream. Millions without medical care & old people choosing between medicine and food & millions of American Veterans without adequate medical care!

The Majority of Americans want our Borders closed and Illegal Aliens in this country send back to their own countries but our Politicians would rather collect the Money from Businesses and Companies they supply with Slave Labor than protect American Citizens or keep this country from turning into a third world country!

Every few years the Politicians pull a bait and switch on the American Public and promise to Enforce our Immigration Laws if only we reward the millions with green cards, guess workers programs etc. they let in though prior years by not enforcing the laws, Like John McCain's & Ted Kennedy S.1033 bill.

Once the Bill is passed they ignore the Enforcement part of the bill & repeat the same cycle over again. The Politicians in this country really think American Citizens are stupid and they are a power onto their selves & can do any thing they want!

They would have us believe the Illegal Aliens are only here taking jobs Americans won't, take, which is true, because American citizens at the present time will not live 40 to the house like Illegal Aliens or work for slave wages while the Company owners and Business executives reward their selves with millions in salary and benefits!

But as millions more slip into poverty, as was reported in August that another 1.1million more Americans slipped into poverty, the day is fast approaching where working Citizens will be forced to live like that while the Rich grow Richer, and the Middle class & the Poor ..Poorer! Bush's willing workers for willing employers are code words for willing slaves for willing Slave users!

All American Citizens that love this country and want to preserve it for the future should write and do all they can to change their Policies! Ones that continue to Support Mexico and Illegal Aliens Invasion, do not enforce our Immigration Laws & support rewarding Illegal Invasion by green cards, guess worker programs or any other Reward deserve our utmost Scorn & Contempt & should be deported to Mexico! They will be much more content where the Rich & Corrupt rules & the rest are powerless and poor & victims of the Criminals!


Posted by: BL | November 23, 2007 2:44 PM

This Nation has from 12 to 30 million Illegal Aliens and less than 2% work on farms. Those Illegal Aliens are destroying our schools, medical systems, environment, adding to pollution, overpopulation, water & energy use, costing the Tax payers an additional 22,000.00 per year each for their schooling, medical, welfare etc. while Killing, Raping, & |Robbing American citizens by the 10,s of thousands!
The vast majority of Americans desperately want our borders protected -- and we want it done now. We are weary of the excuses and empty promises put forward by the Republican National Committee, the White House, and the Democratic leadership on this vital issue of national, economic, and cultural security.
We do not understand why, even after the devastating attacks on September 11, our government still allows hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens to cross our borders every year. We do not want our public schools burdened with a massive influx of non-English speaking children of parents who broke our laws. We are livid that our health care costs skyrocket year after year as illegal immigrants take advantage of free health care at emergency rooms across the country. We are astounded to see the resurgence of diseases we thought we had long since conquered, such as tuberculosis, carried by illegal aliens who enter the country without any medical screening. We are horrified to learn how the illegal alien invasion feeds crime and gang activity in our country. We are fed up with a government that has ignored our wishes on an issue that will transform every major aspect of our lives -- imperiling America's future.
Why is there such a split between elite and popular opinion on immigration and border enforcement? One big reason is that regular people pride themselves on being Americans, while the elites pride themselves on being cosmopolitan (from Greek words basically meaning citizen of the world). Additionally, the specific costs of open borders do not hit the elites as hard as they hit the working class. Case in point: illegal immigrant crime. To listen to the open border advocates and the dinosaur media, one would think that every illegal immigrant living here is like celebrity dog-trainer Cesar Millan (a.k.a. "The Dog Whisperer"). Illegally in this country -- yes, but also entrepreneurial, ambitious, and law-abiding. The "local illegal does good" sob stories have gotten old fast. You'd think establishment politicians and the New York Times would be embarrassed to keep pouring it on, but they aren't.
The simple fact is that illegal immigration has ravaged entire communities with increases in violent and drug-related crime, and in these areas the system is on the verge of being totally overwhelmed. Yet you would never know this by watching the evening news or reading most of the newspapers. When is the last time CBS or the New York Times, reported on violent crime committed by illegal immigrants? Perhaps they are too busy doing stories on how difficult life is for the illegal immigrant -- or the rare case when deportation separates a parent from a child born in the U.S. Fox News Channel's Geraldo Rivera loves these stories.
In 2005, the GAO studied a sample of illegal alien criminals... and found an average of eight arrests and thirteen offenses per criminal alien. The audit examined one hundred criminal cases involving illegal immigrants, and found that seventy-three illegals accounted for 429 arrests, 878 charges, and 241 convictions.
Gangs comprised of illegals, such as the deadly Salvadoran MS-13, have been terrorizing communities from Northern Virginia to Long Island since the 1980s. Their crimes range from human and drug trafficking, murder (often by machete), rape, extortion, and armed robbery. MS-13 is now the most powerful gang in America and operates in more than thirty states.
The more we learn about illegal immigration's devastating consequences for our country -- our schools, our health care system, our prison population -- the more many of us feel abandoned and cheated by the people who were supposed to represent us in Washington. Why did President Bush lobby so passionately for "comprehensive immigration reform" when an overwhelming majority in his own party and even a majority of Democrats didn't want it?

Posted by: BL | November 23, 2007 2:29 PM

It is amusing - and ironic .. 20 years ago, people in Brazil, India, China etc were protesting against Mac Donalds as the symbol of "capitalist hegemony".
Now, it is the Americans doing the same for all things foreign.
More than anything else, more than Iraq, it is this which provokes contempt of America abroad.. It just serves to validate the old stereotype of America: She will bully when she is winning, and turn tail and try to change the rules of the game the moment she sees she is losing.
This foolish race for "independence" will only bring poverty to America as it pursues the very economic philosophy which kept other countries poor all this time..
There is too much at stake to place trust in the hands of single-agenda demagogues of any party.. I hope things will not get so bad.

Posted by: BoredReader | November 23, 2007 1:53 PM

I find it strange that a blog post regarding financial independence and interdependence as it relates to the upcoming Presidential election makes no mention of the one candidate that talks frequently about the subject: Ron Paul.

Posted by: Jeff | November 23, 2007 1:19 PM

I think you are on to something here. However, I wonder if you have really been following what major R candidates are saying about immigration.

I'm actually very surprised that no major candidate has pushed lowering LEGAL immigration at all. There has been an impressive effort to balance the widespread disgust with the government's inability to police the border and keep out those people who are violating our immigration policies with a general support of legal immigration and its benefits for the country.

I think there is actually a populist desire for less trade and fewer immigrants (even legal ones), which is why it is impressive that Rs have resisted to urge to jump on the anti-immigrant bandwagon and focused their rhetoric and policy toward stopping future illegal entry into the country.

But reading your write-up makes it sound like Rs have been going around attacking current legal immigrants and their benefits to our economy. I may have missed that development, but I don't recall it happening. And reporting as if Rs have been virulently anti-immigrant just muddles the fact that both parties have generally avoided attacking legal immigrants or calling for lower (more European) levels of legal immigration.

Posted by: Adam C | November 23, 2007 1:10 PM

I'm curious to know what it is about our country that demands an endless flow of immigration unlike every other country on earth. The implication in the open-door, welcome everyone and their cousins argument always seems to be that if you you grew up here you must be a total slacker who couldn't feed or clothe yourself without hard-working immigrants. If so, then the obvious question seems to be what's wrong with America that it turns people into such worthless good-for-nothings. I, for one, resent the argument in the extreme.

Posted by: James | November 23, 2007 12:39 PM

After successful channeling Salinger, Martinez calls up Fellini whose trope was fictional scenes of filmmakers. The GOP does indeed seek a new wedge, since opposition to gay marriage is eroding in the polls, but an issue so obviously complicated as anarky can't be reduced to a wedge, which has, in any case, to be negative. Dems, who admit issues are complicated - by the real, the facts, the law, and our American values - don't need another issue that will make them sound smarter than your average Bush. Denying illegals is negative, but the risks to the Party that worships Reagan, who gave amnesty to the 2 million here then, shouting a hearty welcome across the border is of blowing the GOP out of the mud. The criminal employers who have caused illegal immigration are almost exclusively Republcan contributors. Kudos above to Bukko.

Posted by: jhbyer | November 23, 2007 12:35 PM

i think on the surface comparing gay marriage to illegal immigration is correct. however, the immigration issue requires a more nuanced response than gay marriage. how many of us out here willing PAY MORE for goods & services especially food if we knew that we were buying from legals? all you have to do is look at what wal-mart does to small businesses to know the answer to that question. those who decry the "suppression" of wages that illegals cause are unwilling to talk about the raising of prices that increasing wages causes. oh, wait a minute, i forget, when talking about illegals wages & prices are not linked but when talking about increasing the minimum wage all of a sudden wages and prices are linked. talk about wanting it both ways.

tomt provides us with a good example of the kind of rhetoric we can expect from the anti-crowd -
A high percentage (compared to actual numbers in society) of those in prison and gangs are illegal immigrants.

i'd be interested in where you got the data to back up that claim or is it something you just "know" to be true.

Posted by: quark | November 23, 2007 12:31 PM

Comparing illegal immigration to the gay marriage issue is total bunk. Gay marriage was a non issue to start with. Even if gay marriage did become the law of the land it would only impact gays. The rest of the country isn't going to be hurt if gays wed.

But immigration at the scale its happening now is having a huge impact. It has kept wages down on low income jobs, it is a major challenge in schools. A high percentage (compared to actual numbers in society) of those in prison and gangs are illegal immigrants.

It shouldn't become a wedge issue for the Dems -- but it will if they don't acknowledge that the problem exists. Up until now, the Democratic candidates all seem more interested in helping illegal immigrants than in focusing on the very real downsides to the issue in this country. This is the one issue where Democratic positions are out of step with the country at large.

Posted by: TimT | November 23, 2007 11:50 AM

Unfortunately, too many serious issues have become hot topics, so we end up with sound bites that are wildly open to interpretation and lack in substance.

Posted by: Staggo Lee | November 23, 2007 11:44 AM

Here's another word to help us understand this issue:

Noun 1. demagogy - impassioned appeals to the prejudices and emotions of the populace.

Is there anybody on any side of this argument speaking any kind of truth at all? Both sides seem to be using demagogy as their only means of communicating their position. Given the invective both spoken and applauded It seems clear our country is now made of only two kinds of people - racists and america-haters.

Strangely enough I can't seem to find an antonym for this word. Maybe "shut the hell up" might work.

Posted by: Oort | November 23, 2007 10:37 AM

Republicans had total control of all 3 branches of our government for 6 years and did nothing about immigration.

What is there to make anyone believe that after doing nothing about immigration or to secure our country for 6 years Republicans would actually do something if given another chance?

How can this possibly be a wedge issue that favors Republicans?

What about Iraq, foreign relations, health care, affordable education, an energy policy that was not written in a back room for oil companies, fixing our trade policies that have not been tweaked for years so they can be fair? Can America afford to spend their votes based on any one issue when we now have so many issues that need attention?

Posted by: tiredofit | November 23, 2007 10:27 AM

I don't understand how illegal immigration is a Republican election issue when 70% of New Yorkers recently polled are against giving drivers licenses to illegals. To make my point, Spitzer won that state with 69% of the vote but since the drivers license plan, only 25% now say they would cast a ballot for him.
Clearly those polls show democrats also dissatisfied with the idea of giving drivers licenses to illegals immigrants.

Another example of how it's not a Republican only issue can be seen in the voting results of California's proposition 187 which would have denied public services to illegals. 50% of blacks voted IN FAVOR of it as did 50% of Asians. And almost 30% of hispanics voted IN FAVOR of it.

It's a question of fairness and right and wrong because most Americans believe that cutting in line is not the right way to get citizenship.

Mark


Posted by: Mark | November 23, 2007 10:25 AM

Actually, people heard Spanish in Wisconsin for generations - at least farmers did. When I was a kid I visited friends in the country who owned a farmhouse. Among the outbuildings was a decrepit, disused outbuilding that had flattened beer cans for insulation. It hadn't been used in years but still was called "the Mexican shack" because it's where the migrant workers slept. It was pretty grim.

Posted by: Barbara Fister | November 23, 2007 10:11 AM

"It is going to get ugly, I am afraid -- and very stupid."

Ugly and stupid. Two words that describe this blog perfectly. Please Wapo outsource this garbage to someone in India or China


Posted by: XYZ | November 23, 2007 10:04 AM

Just wait for 2010 when Republicants run on their next huge wedge issue: A Constitutional amendment banning illegal immigrant gay marriage!

Posted by: corbett | November 23, 2007 10:02 AM

God save us from atheistic,illegal alien gay terrorists on drugs.

There's a great son Teenage immigrant welfare mothers on drugs.

Posted by: mikelemm | November 23, 2007 9:59 AM

Hmmm. Is the bull**** about the "tax breaks for rich" a wedge issue? Is the nonsense about the lack of economic mobility a wedge issue?

Looks like "wedge issues" are any issues in which conservatives don't agree with liberals. Kind of like when any liberal candidate gets any kind of criticism, they are "swift-boated".

The liberal media has come up with all of these cute phrases to make it appear that any opposition to liberal positions or candidates is somehow a dirty trick. get over you vicitim complex and defend your positions, losers.

Posted by: Mike | November 23, 2007 9:29 AM

The "autarky" movement flies in the face of reality. Whether we like it or not, globalization is a fact of life, and nothing short of WW III will stop it. Sure, we can take steps to minimize the pain and move globalization in a direction more beneficial to us, but it's here. We have to deal with it. Conservatives, pull your heads out of that part of your anatomy where the sun don't shine and face reality.

Blaming illegal aliens is just typically conservative sound-bite politics. Conservatives need scapegoats, as Roy points out. During the run-up to the invasion of Vietraq, it was the French. Now it's all the foreigners coming here at the express invitation of American business. Of course, the xenophobic and racist anti-immigration crowd goes mute when the issue of employer sanctions is raised. Address the issue at its source? No way, that's thinking, and thinking is so liberal. Can't have any of that!

The rank hypocrisy of the anti-immigration crowd becomes apparent in the current farm bill. Farmers have historically been among the biggest, if the the biggest, employers of illegal aliens. Yet we're about to shower them with billion$$ of federal welfare. Ban landlords from renting to illegal aliens? English only bills in Congress? Deny essential public services to illegals? Charge them out-of-state tuition?

How about banning farm welfare for those hiring them and thus responsible for their coming to the US in the first place? Nope, just dead silence. Typical conservative flip-flopping moral relativism.

When's the next cross burning, Mr. Dobbs?

Posted by: Garak | November 23, 2007 8:51 AM

Gays and terrorists are so 2004. Of course the Rovian politics of hate and fear will be used to demonize Mexicans. After all, the Communists are gone too.

The Republicans need a new boogeyman to rally the mindless Christian extremist masses against. Mexicans are perfect because they look different and speak a different language.

Common sense says ID migrant workers biometrically, give them legal work permits and then tax the hell out of them like the rest of us. But, no, this would deny the neocon racists a platform to spew their hate and fear.

Posted by: Roy | November 23, 2007 8:35 AM

Nostalgia is not the source of the trend against illegal aliens and free trade. It is fear. The democratic party's refusal to reckognize this truth will cost them the gains they were expecting to make in 2008. As a citizen that wants to make our society a fairer more prosterous one I will give you a few hints as to what needs to me done if the democratic party wants the opportunity to lead. One, arrest all those corrupt businessmen that exploit illegal aliens for labor and by doing so lower the wages of Americans. Two, cancel the H1-B and L-1 visa programs, they are being corrupted by corporate America to bring in cheap labor from abroad which is depressing the wages of Americans. Three, cancel all trade agreements that allow for slave labor(China) to be used to produce goods for the American market. This practice depresses the wages of Americans. Four, Cease the persecution of union's, pass laws forbiding the firing of union organizers and thereby improve the ability of American workers to bargain for a living wage. In short, put a stop to the cheap labor practices that have been employed since the early 80's that have depressed the wages of Americans. Do this and you will win the opportunity to lead this nation.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 23, 2007 8:16 AM

So why won't the tried and tested term 'isolationism' do the trick (as opposed to autarky)?

Posted by: daryl glaser | November 23, 2007 5:13 AM

Pretty stupid and also on point. Immigration will be the key issue in 2008 and unfortunately Democrats are tending to stand on the wrong side of the issue. How anyone, especially labor-supporting candidates, can angle to legalize importation of cheap, unskilled labor that undermines American workers--both in jobs and more importantly in salaries--is hard to understand. Addressing illegal immigration will create a new era of Democrats voting for Republicans.

Posted by: Matthew | November 23, 2007 5:01 AM

I was willing to give this blog a chance. I know it's supposed to be tongue-in-cheek and humourous. But the right-wing bias (you can call John Edwards a "crazed populist" but Rudy Giuliani is not a "snarling fascist"?) puts it "on the nose" as they say Down Under. And your attempts to be funny are lamer than Dana Milbank's.

Instead of learning a new word like "autarky," how about rediscovering an old one: "autocracy"? Because that's what the illegal immigration issue is about. It gives the corporate fascists who run the U.S. economy something to divert the people who they're screwing into the ground. "Hate the Mexicans!" has replaced "Hate the queers!" which replaced "Hate the blacks!" which was popular for years after the original fascists ruined "Hate the Jews!" And that one had worked for 1,945 years...

Here's something to consider, funny-boy. The U.S. economy is about to implode. Your money is rapidly turning into "poo tickets" (Aussie slang for toilet paper.) The U.S. doesn't make anything anybody wants any more except for food and weapons of mass murder. When you have to sell the former in order to pay for oil because no one wants dollars any more, and use the latter to control your hungry, unemployed population that can't afford to buy food because the Chinese offer a higher price for it, you won't be laughing. You'll be unemployed too, because trivial online newspaper columnists won't be worth as much as a hill of beans. Soybeans. The kind the Chinese will be turning into tofu.

And FWIW, I'm an immigrant. A legal one. I moved from the U.S. to Australia on a work visa. They control their workplaces here, and I don't get a job unless I can prove I have a visa. The U.S. could do it too, if it chose to. But the autocrats who depend on cheap workers don't want it that way. Laugh about autarky all you want, but you'll be crying when you realise it's important after all.

Posted by: Bukko in Australia | November 23, 2007 4:01 AM

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