Immigration in an independent California
Reposted from Jeff Morrissette's moveoncalifornia.org. Jeff Morrissette is not affiliated with Yes California as we have been unable to locate him. The following content has been reposted to preserve the historical record of his respectable attempt at California independence in the mid-2000s.
Let me acknowledge a couple of things right up front. First, I am not an expert on immigration policy. Secondly, the topic of immigration is extremely complex and the subject is frequently tainted by misconceptions, hypocrisy and racism.
California, like the rest of the United States, has a limited amount of resources. Opening the doors wide open to immigrants from any country would have disastrous implications. Consequently, it is in the interest of California to control the borders and enforce policies that prohibit illegal immigration.
Surveys conducted throughout the state show a wide variety of opinions on immigration that don’t necessarily follow any traditional party lines or political persuasion. Feelings about immigration are sometimes colored by where a person resides, e.g. residents of San Diego have stronger opinions about the problems versus people in San Francisco. Obviously people in southern portions of California are much closer to the problem because of their proximity to the Mexican border.
Attitudes about immigration also differ among people based on ethnic origin. Hispanic and Asian Californians generally do not see immigration as a problem, whereas whites and blacks often do. On the other hand, people who are third and fourth generation immigrants see it as a bigger problem than first or second generation immigrants.
It often comes down to the attitude that once you're safely in the door, you don’t mind if it is shut behind you, unless of course you want to bring other family and friends in—then shut the door. But wait, they have family and friends, too. And the cycle goes on and on.
Of course this discussion has to ask the question why. Why do people want to come to California or elsewhere in America? Some would suggest that people just want to come here to feed off the generous social welfare system. If that were the case then we might recommend they keep on going until they reach Canada. Admittedly, immigration—legal or illegal—can put a strain on social services and healthcare. But it is a far too broad generalization to suggest that all our problems with the funding of social services and healthcare can be pinned on immigration.
The overwhelming reason people migrate here is for economic opportunity—to be industrious hardworking people and create greater opportunities for their children and their children’s children. In this way these immigrants are no different than the Italians, the Irish and other European immigrants a century ago—who, by the way, were stigmatized in the same way for being “different.”
If you want to consider any group of people that has been impacted the most by immigration it is Native Americans. Ask a Native American about their feelings on the immigration of the White Man. Unless you are a Native American, every citizen of the state of California came here from somewhere else—whether that be you, your parents, or parents’ parents or four, five, six generations ago. Heck, the governor of our state is a FIRST GENERATION immigrant. Native Americans themselves migrated here eons ago. So let’s start by getting over our racial prejudices.
We also need to take a look at the hypocrisy that surrounds the topic of immigration. While liberals may have too large of an “arms wide open” view of immigration, conservative ideologues that are so vociferous about illegal immigration must understand that it really cuts both ways. Conservative business owners and farmers know that immigration—legal and illegal—provides a pool of inexpensive labor. While on the one hand they decry the presence of “all these illegal immigrants”—they turn around and hire them to work in their fields and factories. The honest truth is that we need immigrants to fill a vast array of jobs in our economy. The fact is if these jobs were not filled by immigrants (yes, some of them here illegally) people in California would be paying hire prices for a lot of goods and services.
Yes, there are problems associated with immigration (legal and otherwise). I don’t propose to solve them in this article. But we need to acknowledge first off that immigration is part of the natural evolution of society. There will always be some degree of strain on society’s resources regardless of our immigration problems. Yes, we need to and must control it. But to suggest we just build big fences and keep everyone out that isn’t here already is simplistic and unrealistic.
But what we can do is this: Californians need to step up and take a bigger role in solving this problem. Whether it is independently as a republic or working together with our neighboring regions, the states most greatly impacted by the affects of immigration are best suited to understand and solve the problems. Californians didn’t wait for the federal government to fund stem cell research, let’s not wait for Washington to bring about meaningful immigration reform.
While a measured amount of immigration is vital to California’s economy, I believe most, if not all, would agree that we just cannot afford to open the floodgates. Therefore, we must continue to aggressively control the borders and enforce the law when it comes to illegal immigration. Policies that have forced business owners to police themselves have proven to be ineffective. Consequently, as we continue to develop a comprehensive solution to immigration, we need to employ more manpower and use better technologies at our borders to prevent an onslaught of illegal immigrants.
Illegal immigrants should also be treated humanely—the vast majority of these people desire to come here to seek similar dreams of opportunity that we already enjoy.
Let’s pursue answers to immigration problems with clear heads, open minds and sensible solutions. We can start by ridding ourselves of prejudices and misconceptions about the problems. People want to come here for the same reason you live here. It’s a great place and together we can work to make it even better.