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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Response to the Responses

My response to your immigration comments needed yet another new post. It is a complicated subject and it deserves a complete reply from me. I am doing this in the more stable wordpad as Blogger screwed me last time and I lost a heartfelt post to the ether so the text might look different.

u{b}: Your Native-Native American  friends in Arizona were originally from Asia. Their ancestors crossed the now extinct Siberian Landbridge into Alaska back in the day and settled from the Arctic to South America. Some were far from the pastoral, spirtual and peaceful people portrayed in modern textbooks. Many tribes were agressive against others and slavery as well as environmental destruction was practiced. Entire forests were set fire to manipulate animal migrations to their advantage. Its all about the resources.

My ancestors came on ships from Western Europe. The American Indians (for lack of a better term) were in North America first, but the expansion of European immigrants out west created a conflict of interest and the Indians were vanquished with superior technology. Cultural evolution, the guys with the biggest sticks win. I not saying this was right or wrong, it just "is". This has happened all over the world since the beginning of time. Its all about the resources. At he risk of physical harm, I am as much as a Native American as they are.

I guess the happy medium would be between the UAE and USA styles of managing residents/migrants/immigrants. The UAE is wrong by not having a natualization process and the USA is wrong by allowing the spawn of illegal aliens born on US soil full citizenship. Each is radical in its own way with pros and cons.

However, I do FULLY support my fellow CITIZEN'S unalienable right (no matter where they hailed from originally) to bitch, moan, complain, burn the flag, curse the government and peaceably assemble to speak their mind without repercussions. I don't have to agree with what they say, but they have the right to say it as guaranteed under the first amendment of the Constitution. This has weakened a bit since 9/11 but maybe it is not too late to resuscitate..

Rootless: Good thoughtful stuff! I like reading your responses. As you, I am glad I came to live and work in the Middle East. I feel my life has been enriched because of it and I will never be the same again. I see the USA from the outside looking in now and I wish many more of my countrymen would leave those safe shores there to see how the rest of the world lives. I am a big fan of Mark Twain. You know what I mean.

That being said, I am not familiar with the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. I will Google it. I fear it was inevitible that the Mexicans would be driven out of the southwestern US due to the larger numbers and bigger "sticks" of the Europeans' expansion. They didn't stand a chance. Again, cultural evolution and its all about the resources. Mexico remains to this day a docile neighbor. It will never regain this lost territory. Again, not judging, it just "was".

For better or for worse, it is human nature to have sealed, controlled borders.If they didn't serve a pupose, the concept would have disappeared centuries ago. I don't think we will all ever be citizens of the earth.

First of all people in general are selfish. We are tribal. In order of magnitude, we have our family, then our neighborhood, then our city, then our state, then our country which we naturally tend to defend against other tribes not similar to us that maybe want something we have that they don't and are willing to fight for it. Did I mention its all about the resources?

This is the reason immigration laws still exist. To protect the home team from the visitors. Home field advantage, if you will.

Our "Reptile Brain" hasn't evolved much past the caveman days no matter how enlightened we think we are. Civilization is a very thin veneer! The survival instinct is still very strong. A month long power failure in Abu Dhabi would expose the animal in all of us.

1) I believe that all citizens of a country should be treated equally under the laws of the land. As a native born citizen of the US, I cannot expect any more or less legal protection or civil rights than a naturalized citizen from, let's say, Estonia.

2) See above. In my opinion, it would be unfair for a native to have more rights and privleges than a person who made the effort and sacrifice to become a citizen. Some could say that naturalized citizens had to actually work at it while all I did was to get born there. Maybe they are more motivated and appreciative. Citizen status is all equal no matter where one is originally from.

The UAE succeeds in making a good society where the ratio of residents/citizens is outnumbered 40/1. This is a feat in itself! The US is floundering under antiquated immigration laws where illegals have more benefits than citizens. This has to change as immigration by nature has to benefit the home country either culturally and/or economically or it doesn't make sense.

I am proud of my country's past open arms to the people of the world willing to take a chance. It made the US strong. Cheap labor arguments notwithstanding, a lot of folks prospered there in the last two centuries including my own ancestors.

Times have changed though and I am all for an emphasis on admittance to the "givers" rather that the "takers". We have enough of the latter already!

Tory B:
 Been there, done that, got the T-shirt! Woo-Hoo!

Now back to our regularly scheduled program.........


Anonymous said...

Wel,, you simplify things here compared to your old post. If your anger is only at "illegals" who are extracting benefits, you have a very valid point.

But if I remember correctly, you were angry at Muslim taxi drivers who refused to transport alcohol, and you felt that they should have been deported for not doing that, presumably reagrdlss of their immigration status.
Do you feel that Caucasian rednecks should be deported for racist behavior, which often surpasses what you faced with the taxi driver? If not is it because they are "native", while immigrants are not?

Correct me if my assumptions are wrong, but its as if you believe that "native" Americans should have more rights and be favored by the law as is done here ?

Ace said...

Yes, I do get pissed-off at illegals and immigrants whose goal is to exploit the rather generous social programs in the US while giving back nothing in return.

I never said I wanted the Muslim taxi drivers deported. I told the story to illustrate bad behavior of immigrants in my home country.

I was irritated by these guys who were providing services to the public but let their religious views get in the way of performing the job. I could understand it here but not in the US.

The stop for beer on the way to my hotel was a legal request and should have been done without all the drama. Could you imagine what would happen to a Hindu taxi driver here who refused a legal request by an Emirati to stop by Mc Donalds for a Big Mac(beef)on the way home?

The Muslim taxi drivers in my example are free to express their opinions, but perhaps they need to find another line of work where those opinions would not interfere with the performance thereof,a job that would minimize contact with the majority Christian population of my country.

In my country, it is illegal to display discriminatory behavior where it affects another person. For example, a racist redneck taxi driver cannot refuse service to a black person. He may not like it but he has to do it. He cannot pick or choose who he carries in his taxi or fines and prison could result.

In the US, ALL citizens, native born or naturalized, are equal under the law and have the same civil rights as guaranteed by the Constitution. I am for that as I stated in my post. I don't know how I can be more clear on this for you.

Immigrants and non-citizen residents understandably have less rights but are equally protected by the law, as it should be. My citizen status gives me no advantage in a criminal court, unlike the UAE.

It is different here in the UAE as there is no naturalization process for residents to become UAE citizens. Us residents understandably have less rights. I am OK with that but if we were able to become citizens I would expect the same treatment and legal protections as native born UAE citizens as I attained that status, just as in the US.

Any questions?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I do get pissed-off at illegals and immigrants whose goal is to exploit the rather generous social programs in the US while giving back nothing in return.

I would love to see a legal immigrant who has exploited your social services without paying taxes

AFAIK, green card holders are required to pay taxes, and so they are technically paying for any benefits they receive

Also, welfare services in the US are among the sparsest in terms of benefits in the first world.
So I cant see how any of the programs there can be considered "generous" !

Rootless said...

Ace, what troubles me somewhat is your blanket demonisation of immigrants - mainly, though not always, qualified by you as illegal immigrants - without offering any substantive basis for your upset. You mention:
"The US is floundering under antiquated immigration laws where illegals have more benefits than citizens."

Exactly what are those benefits? I come from a country that supplied many illegal immigrants (and legal ones) to the US and I recall that existence being pretty miserable for those people I knew suffering it, even before the Republican "contract with America" that was enacted in the mid '90s. Among the provisions of that nasty piece of work was the removal of unemployment and social security benefits from LEGAL immigrants, though we were not relieved of the obligation to continue paying the levy that funds those programmes. Talk about taxation without representation? And there have been several other legislative constraints placed on immigrants since then (viz. the "Patriot" Act etc.) at federal and state level so the governing laws are anything but antiquated - other than in their medieval cast.

You mention illegal immigrants being in the US to abuse the benefits system. Firstly, as another comment has observed, social benefits are pretty minimal in the US to begin with (among the lowest percent of GDP spent on social payments of any OECD country). There are now so many restrictions on claiming benefits that any illegal who successfully manages to do that has got to be incredibly resourceful and talented. Secondly, my experience of illegals of various nationalities is that the ones I have met are trying, like the rest of us, to make the best way for their families and themselves.

My observation from living in four different parts of the US (big cities and smaller towns) is that the problem of benefit abuse by illegals is insignificant compared to the abuse perpetrated by home-grown citizens. And even that is minor compared to the wastage of public funds entrenched by the political system. Why is anyone surprised that so much money is wasted on district-directed earmarks and scorched-earth political campaigns when house members have to face elections every two years?

I am instinctively suspicious of any argument that seeks to describe some other group (immigrants, Jews, the working class, Muslims, construction labourers, women, westerners etc.) as being perpetrators of some evil at the expense of "us", whomever "us" happens to be. I see the public discussion of immigration in the US being presented very much in that light by the likes of Tancredo, Limbaugh, Fox News et al. Thus even more moderate figures (mainly, though certainly not only, Republicans), are scurrying to get cover by signing on to this dog-whistle issue (the recently craven John McCain being such a disappointing example). Illegal immigrants are an easy and unfair target. In the greater scheme of things they are just not that bad and also not really that big a deal. But that doesn't matter - they are a convenient rallying subject for the pitchfork-wielding mobs of the likes of the Arizona state legislature.

And aside from the bigotry, I guess at heart, my view is that one's place of birth is a lottery. I think that people who are motivated and resourceful enough to escape the cage of that arbitrary event should be given a chance - for the sake of human advancement. Immigration is an essential part of the fabric of the US, a key reason why it remains the most powerful country in the world. The only thing that makes this generation of potential immigrants less worthy than previous ones is your perspective.

Ace said...

Obviously, I have been misunderstood again.

At no time did I represent myself as anti-immigrant. My own ancestors were immigrants to the US. I am a rabble.

However, I do resent potential immigrants to the US who have "what can the US do for me" mentality. You have to admit those types exist, re: anchor babies.

Yes, social services are harder to get, but that is because of past abuses by immigrants who did not have the greater good in mind. They ruined it for the rest.

The US does not and should not promise cradle to grave care. As I understand, my country will do its best to provide a fertile ground for those that want to take a chance and succeed. I welcome those folks. They made the US strong. They came over and rolled the dice.

People line up at US Embassies all over the world every week to get the chance for at least a green card. Folks curse us one day and vie for admittance the next.

I also have to take umbrage at your attempt to paint me as racist and a bigot. If I was such, I would not be here. I work with many nationalities everyday and you would be hard-pressed to find ANYONE I know to characterize me as such.

I respect differing opinions but you seem to be getting towards personal name calling now which is the refuge of cowards and weak arguments. Homey don't play that game!

Bottom line, broad brush: Immigrants only make sense if there is a net benefit for the greater population. Otherwise, why bother?

You are welcome if you are willing to pull your weight just like anyone else. All you are entitled to is opportunity, make the best of it.

Rootless said...

Ace, I don't think you are a racist or bigot. I don't believe I said so in my comment and I certainly did not mean to imply that. I'm sorry if you got that impression. I do think a lot of the anti-immigrant rhetoric everywhere, not just in the US - but that's what we're talking about here - comes from a profoundly racist place. That is what I was decrying and the bigotry (Limbaugh et al) to which I referred. It is the oldest political trick in the book to identify and blame an enemy for all one's troubles. Unfortunately it works everywhere and is perhaps the one good argument against democracy.

Given this context, I genuinely want to try and understand the source of your profound grievance, about which you have posted several times now. You made a number of general strong statements, one of which I quoted directly, so I am not trying to misrepresent or catch you out. I am curious why you, apparently a measured and thoughtful person, are so exercised on this particular topic and thus potentially keeping some fairly disreputable company. And of course, being a bloke, I'm trying to win an argument ;-)

Now you have mentioned one specific abuse - anchor babies. That is an interesting one because it is, if you like, a "constitutional loophole" that goes fairly profoundly to the meaning of what it is to be American. My own country had the same provision and recently voted in a referendum to remove it from our constitution. Not our proudest moment in my view, but there you are. However, being born in the US just only gives you basic entry. I would argue that it is just getting a shot at making a life in the the land of opportunity. No handouts, no freebies, just the right to remain and aim for a better life through the classic immigrant story of hard work and education for the kids. Nowe I'm not such a Polyanna to believe that everyone is playing fair and perfectly honest and hard-working. But are immigrants, legal or illegal, really any worse than the rest of the population at large?

What other benefits do you think are being abused? And why do you think there are so many people now abusing the system, as opposed to previous influxes of tired and huddled masses (most of whom were also profoundly unwelcome at the time)?

Ace said...

Rootless, it seems you are trying very hard to draw out something from me that just doesn't exist. Hatred of immigrants. Again, I am one.

I have no "profound grievance" as you accused me of. Don't put words in my mouth.

Here it is: US residency is probably the most sought after status among people who want to change countries. A green card is the Holy Grail. Why is that?

If the US is so hostile to immigrants, why are there lines at the embassy everyday of people looking to gain legal entry to the US?

I sometimes wonder about the motivation of these people. Do they desire to improve their lot by moving to a country that provides an environment where hard work is rewarded more than their current country?

Or are they looking to move to a place that can guarantee a higher standard of living than they are accustomed to through the social safety net?

The former are accepted with open arms, the latter are not and you cannot deny they exist. You may think the US has inadequate welfare programs but what is there beats what 99% of what other countries of the world have.

The US is not alone. France, UK and Germany are having problems with immigration,too. Seems that when immigrants present a net negative result, a burden on the system, naturally policies will be reviewed.

Human nature being what it is, we will always have borders. We are tribal at heart. We instinctively look after our own. When immigration policies cause more harm than good to a country, how can you fault that country for taking a second look at those policies?

There will always be lines at US embassies of people wanting to gain admittance.

Anonymous said...

You may think the US has inadequate welfare programs but what is there beats what 99% of what other countries of the world have.

I respectfully disagree.

Canada, France, UK all have much more extensive social welfare programs than the US.

In my 5 years in the USA, I never found a single "legal" immigrant who was sitting and earning from the govt.
I saw such people in Canada and the UK but never in the USA.

Either they were tech workers, or were working their back off at gas stations.
The nature of life in the USA doesnt allow immigrants to sit at home waiting for a welfare check

Ace said...

I respectfully disagree.

Canada, France, UK all have much more extensive social welfare programs than the US.

And each and every one of these countries' budgets are being strained because of some immigrants that don't have the "big picture" in mind. These countries are going broke.

In fact, immigration policies are being reviewed in these countries due to abuses of the liberal social largesse.

In Germany, ghettos of Turks exist in the major cities. They work "off the books" pay no taxes and have no intention of assimilating into the German culture. Yet they enjoy a higher standard of living than they would if they had stayed in Turkey due to the generosity of the German people. Otherwise, why would they want to leave Turkey for other countries?

If the US is so hostile to immigrants, I ask again why there are always massive queues outside US embassies to gain permission for admission.

I do not see the obverse. US citizens are not lining up at the Embassies of Pakistan, India, China, Japan or even Australia or the UK.

I cannot stress this enough and you seem to be ignoring my point. Immigration only makes sense when it is a net gain for the greater good of the host country. The UAE is a good example of this.

I am truly confounded why you fail to understand this very simple principle.

Maybe you would like to share your idea of a perfect immigrant heaven instead of criticizing the countries that have held open arms for those from other countries.

If you aren't motivated to improve the overall health of your adopted country, stay at home.

Not hard to understand, is it?

Anonymous said...

There may be queues outside US Embassies, but very few of those are people looking to get into the USA to mooch off the govt. Most of them are hoping to have a chance to work and have a better life for themselves/

Ace said...

I sincerely hope you are right. Those kind of responsible, hard working, self-sufficient people are always welcome in my country.

My ancestors were of this type. They made the US strong. They asked for nothing more than an opportunity.

If one wants to take more than they are willing to give,then I concur with my fellow citizens for tighter controls. It's not fair for citizens of a country to subsidize those from other places.

You have to admit that there are more people wanting to get into the US than wanting get out!

The weak social services notwith standing.