Republicans, Mexicans crossing line

Derek Thompson

It’s a classic political maxim: When all else fails, blame the aliens.

The hot issue in American politics is immigration, and zealous xenophobes in the House think immigration flow is like a sticky faucet you can shut off if you push hard enough. The Republican bill calls for criminalizing aid to illegals and sending the immigrants back home.

The bill is, in a word, ridiculo. There are about 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States. Our government can’t evacuate New Orleans. How the hell are we going to deport a scattered population the size of Michigan?

Mexicans are immigrating for simple economic reasons, and when the American government tries to outlaw the natural flow of free markets, bad things happen. Prohibition was like a shot of steroids into organized crime. The war on drugs remains a multi-billion-dollar exercise in pointlessness.

Cracking down on illegal immigrants will produce the same results. If we increase enforcement against immigrants and the Americans who assist them, we’ll stock our jails with big-hearted priests. God knows, there are enough priests in jail already.

The practical solution seems to be the gradual legalization of employed illegal immigrants. But many critics argue that illegals take jobs away from low-skilled native workers and drive down wages.

The influx of hard-working Latino families drives down the cost of production, just like outsourced jobs. Any responsible student of the economy admits outsourcing keeps products cheap and galvanizes the United States to invest in consistently improved education. Think of immigration as in-house outsourcing, and just as inevitable.

The solution isn’t a high wall. It’s high school. If millions of native-born Americans without high school diplomas are “losing” leaf-raking and fruit-picking jobs to unskilled Mexicans, it’s not a security problem. It’s an education problem.

It’s the responsibility of California, Texas and every state to straighten up their rotten public school systems and send this message to their citizens:

“We can’t shut off immigration. If you want to compete with immigrants to clean toilet bowls, spend your teenage years thumb-twiddling on the street corner. If you want a place in the economy, you can start by finishing high school.”

Republicans, usually frighteningly facile at spinning political issues, are now bickering under their imploding Big Tent. President Bush, who came out against the House bill, has found the compassion in his conservatism. But the right-wing marriage between his Neocon idealists and old-school isolationists is headed to Splitsville.

Republicans are looking for a Mexican-American culture war, but it’s time for Bush to sign the divorce papers. A nationalist battle cry for November 2006: “Remember the alimony!”

Derek Thompson is a Medill sophomore. He can be reached [email protected]