Issue 1: Is it necessary to call immigrants "undocumented" instead of "illegal"?
I understand why the term "illegal" can be so offensive, and possibly even an encouragement of dehumanization. Dehumanization can make people more comfortable with ignoring immigrants' human needs. Then again, the use of a word does not program a person to do harm. And apathy for others suffering can be curtailed by encouraging other thoughts and other words. I support counter-speech rather than restricted speech, even while I think restraining one's words can be a good thing.
However, if someone breaks the law, no matter how non-violent their actions, they still broke the law. It is accurate to call these actions illegal. I do regret that the term has been used on people. I would prefer "illegal immigration" rather than "illegal immigrant".
Therefore, I will choose, for the remainder of this blog, to use the word "undocumented" rather than "illegal". But I don't necessarilly condemn different word choice by others.
Issue 2: Should we deport undocumented ("illegal") immigrants?
Only if they pose a threat to this country. We find this out by doing a criminal background check on all undocumented immigrants. Non-violent crimes - like jaywalking, parking violations, or graffitti - don't matter in thi sregard. Even past violent behavior would more likely be forgivable. After all, many people move to America to build a new life, and part of that process is moving away from past behaviors which were bad and moving towards good, responsible behaviors in the here and now. Such a self-motivated rehabilitation should be embraced and assisted in appropriate ways. We need more wrong-doers to take this journey.
Issue 3: Should immigrants be required to learn English?
Yes, but they should not go to jail for not doing so. I saw one case on the news that was questionable, where someone was arrested for an alleged crime and told that they needed to learn English to escape jail. At best, I think this is highly questionable.
I also oppose having "English-only" policies imposed on immigrants private conversation. This does NOT mean we can't have English-only policies in English classes or similar classes in other non-language subjects designed to teach English. Perhaps we can justify teaching math and science only in English. I have no fixed opinion on this.
But definitely an English-only policy is wrong when kids are chatting on a school bus, to and from school, field trips, sports games. Such a policy existed in a school district I can't remember, and the ACLU challenged it.
And what's wrong with Spanish newspapers? Maybe an English-only newspaper rule would be the best thing for them, but it would also keep them in the dark about current events and politics. Sounds like a good reason to forgo this application of English-only.
There are various other contexts we can argue. I take each one as they come.
Issue 4: Should we use the word "assimilation" or "integration"?
"Integration" sounds better because I remember the cross-cultural definition - in my Culture Psychology class - saying that "integration" allows for maintaining the immigrant's original culture while absorbing the new one. "Assimiliation" was defined as abondoning the origoinal culture and taking the new one in it's place. According to this definition, it seems that the original must be erased and replaced with the "better" one of the host country.
Is this what conservatives argue for when they demand that immigrants "assimilate"? I can't know for sure, but if that is the case - and it depends on the mindset of the individual, but sometimes the group - then liberals are perfectly fair to call these conservatives rascist, because to demand them to erase their own culture for the "better" host culture is a rascist demand.
However, complications in my analysis arise when immigrants might have a cultural hatred of their host country. Such has been noted about Arab immigrants who go to European countries and preach hatred of the West. In some cases they speak about how better it would be if the West got "attacked", or in some cases "dancing in the street" as was allegedly the case after 9-11.
Hating a country is NOT the same as having a plan to attack it. And wanting to attack a country is not the same as actually having a plan to do so. It is understandable that such public preachers might be the first logical suspects in a case. I'm fine with questioning these individuals. But free speech demands that the most hateful, abhorrant, misinformed views be allowed to be expressed in public settings.
So I think it is wrong that Tony Blair had said that such speakers should "get out" and perhaps it is wrong that one of my favorite atheist thinkers - who is still my favorite - Ayaan Hirsi Ali said that Arab immigration should be curtailed to keep their ideas out.
Last point: People can use "integration" in place of "assimilation" and they'll still be the same thing. But it will be deceptive to the audience. So maybe the politically-correct "integration" isn't always the most positive thing for those that speak for immigrants' rights. But I prefer this word, and will use it.
Issue 5: How much of their original culture should they abandon?
Scary question. Avoiding it...
Issue 6: Do immigrants take jobs?
This is a tough one. I think the reality can vary. Immigrants do pay taxes. They contribute as well as consume. The question is what is the net effect? This might depend on the economic conditions of the place. Might this be a reason to stop blaming immigrants. Maybe. We are all victims of the economic conditions around us. Then again, the economy is driven by human behavior and policy, so we're not quite off the hook.
But I wonder how many complainers will get jobs if we deported immigrants today.
Maybe they are thinking of the future. But will the future be soon enough for them to benefit? I don't know. They are dead-dead certain that deporting the immigrants will "get their jobs back". Maybe that's true. Maybe its not. Maybe there's another way. Maybe the native-born workers can be compensated for their loss. Maybe we can change the law so NO one can work for less than minimum wage, so immigrants can't use the "work-for-less" strategegy to compete. I'd be happier with that because then these immigrants won't have to work for pennies. That is sinful.
Final issue (for now): What is "amnesty"?
I'm convinced that "amnesty" has, nowadays, no real objective meaning. It is defined by political advocates. Conservatives might define "amnesty" as any policy other than the unconditional deportation of ALL undocumented immigrants. So according to this definition, I would be "pro-amnesty". But National Council of La Raza defines amnesty as having no criminal background checks or English requirements. So according to this definition I am "anti-amnesty" and so is La Raza. One Time Magazine author, Nathan Thornburgh, used the conservative definition of amnesty and said it is good and right.
See what I mean? No real definition. And depending how you define it, someone like me can be either for OR against amnesty.
I do think that conservatives like to scare people from being associated with that word. Their favorite way of sliming a politician is to say they "support amnesty".
I hope that this paragraph has taught you all to respond to those accusations with this question:
"How do you define amnesty?"