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May 31, 2006

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

You say that you're horrified by the idea of getting tougher about guarding our border with a certain poorer country to the south? That's funny, because Mexico is plenty tough about defending its own southern border. A nice passage from Newsweek's Joseph Contreras:

There's ample precedent in Mexico for just about everything the United States is -- or isn't -- doing. Calling out the military? Mexicans may hate the new U.S. plan to deploy 6,000 National Guard troops on the border, but five years ago they cheered President Vicente Fox for sending thousands of Mexican soldiers to crack down on their southern frontier. Tougher laws? Hispanic-rights groups are enraged over U.S. efforts to criminalize undocumented aliens -- yet since 1974, sneaking into Mexico has been punishable by up to two years in prison. Foot-dragging on amnesty? Fox has spent the past five years urging the United States to upgrade the status of millions of illegals from Mexico. Meanwhile, his own government has given legal status to only 15,000 foreigners without papers.



posted by Michael at May 31, 2006


I must say that this isn't helpful.

I dislike the foolish policy being pushed by the Senate but arguing that we should patrol our borders because the Mexicans do is not good for your case.

Mexico has many foolish policies we would not want to emulate. That this is an exception doesn't justify bringing it up.

This is like anti-free traders arguing that we shouldn't lower tariffs because other countries don't practice free trade. Bad argument. On both trade and immigration, we should do what's best for the USA regardless of what other nations are doing. If guarding our borders is right, we should do so no matter what.

Posted by: hrm on May 31, 2006 7:45 AM

You're missing the point.

In the eyes of the racial left (the ideological shock troops of the open borders movement) the evil racist gringo is supremely guilty of every crime. Even (?) Bush's brain, Karl Rove, uses the language of the Mechista when he accuses JD Hayworth of "not liking brown people".

Meanwhile non-whites (and- by some magical process- honorary non-whites like Mexico's Euro ruling class) are given a pass no matter how chauvinistic their actions. The logic of the Multicult is that certain intrinsically malign groups are not allowed to act in their own interests; the general acceptance of this worldview by most politicians, academics and the MSM has grossly distorted the immigration debate in the US and has allowed common-sense to be construed as "racism" and has been essential in creating the dystopian "compromise" brought forth by the US Senate.

Posted by: perroazul del norte on May 31, 2006 9:45 AM

Furthermore, Michael, there's no hook here for me to complain about your provincialism or racism. Your recent related post on matters immigrational was much better on that score. (Btw, I deplore your oppressive attitude toward Chinese MBAs.)

I think debate about issues such as the current immigration reform hot-button develops in stages:

1. There is no problem. You're a racist.

2. OK, there may be a few stresses and strains here, but (insert historical precedent or inapt analogy) everything will shake out nicely in the end. Your pessimism is a product of your racism. You stupid yahoo.

3. Yes, there are legitimate issues here that should be addressed, but it's much more important right now that we expend our energies pointing out that your alleged interest in them is merely a cover for your racism. (This requires an enormous amount of time and ink, but first things first!)

3. Let's address those issues by throwing lots of money at this nifty Plan A we've come up with. What? Of course it won't exacerbate the original problem or cause new ones. Racist.

4. It looks like we're going to need more money to properly implement Plan A, and to expand the program into Supplemental Plan B. (But I want it put on the record that I deplore not only the racism implicit in your objections, but your appalling meanness of spirt.)

5. Houston, we have a problem. (But the people who first predicted the pickle are still filthy racists.)

Since it seems to take about 30-40 years for these stages to work themselves out, and right now the public debate rarely attains to stage 3, I'd say we're pretty well boned on this issue. I'll just go on hoping all the Pollyannas are right.

Posted by: Moira Breen on May 31, 2006 10:06 AM


A total disconnect
'Twixt rulers and the ruled.
The country will be wrecked.
Who do they think they've fooled?

Both Parties I accuse,
The Elephant and Mule;
Together in this ruse,
United in misrule.

A flood tide of those who
Assimilate will not!
Both Parties know 'tis true
And still they say: So What!

They think that they can hide
Behind their guards and gates;
Escape the rising tide
And leave us to our fates.

But when our culture falls
And Dear beset by Dire
Is dashed against the walls --
None will escape entire.

All this for labor cheap --
Undone our way of life
By alien hatred deep,
Sundered in alien strife.

What makes them act this way?
Have they not eyes to see?
The People they betray!
Is this Democracy?

Posted by: ricpic on May 31, 2006 10:40 AM

HM -- You write: "Mexico has many foolish policies we would not want to emulate." So true! That said, my goal here isn't to say to do likewise, it's to undercut the idea that we have no right to be thinking in terms of controlling our borders. All other countries do it -- why on earth should we 1) be the exception, and/or 2) feel bad about it? This may just be me, but I've always had the impression that running a sensible immigration policy and protecting the borders were two of the main reasons we bother having a government in the first place.

Perroazul -- That's a great moniker you're using. And that's a very adroit way of making that case. It's bizarre the way the lefty/multicult world applauds (or overlooks, or sentimentalizes) behaviors in the nonwhite and poor that it deplores in their own neighbors. Well, no, actually it makes sense, given their premises, it's just annoying. Mexico, for example, isn't exactly known for its progressive attitudes towards women and gays -- yet let's let tens of millions in anyway, because they're going to supply "diversity" and diversity is by definition always and everywhere a good thing. Meanwhile let's de-masculinize our own sons and fund a lot of pro-gay propaganda.

Moira -- That's very funny, and in a saying-a-lot way. I'm pretty Pollyanna myself, but in a different kind of way. At least the topic of "what kind of immigration regime do we want to run" is now out in the open. That's a step. Lordy: you'd think it would one of the basic, always-discussed political topics, wouldn't you? Funny how illegit it was made to seem -- and for several decades. It's like declaring "national defence" or "the welfare state" off-limits as a topic for civilized discussion. Quite an achivement.

Ricpic -- Nice poem! Now that's a political song I can really join in with! Here's hoping you've designed a flag we can wave around too.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 31, 2006 10:40 AM

Actually, come to think of it, I also wanted to highlight how we're being gamed by Mexico ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 31, 2006 12:36 PM

I'm with HM. The US is economically way out in front of the rest of the world due in large part to our history of comparatively lax immigration policies and if we made them still more lax we'd likely be even better off than we are now. Being open to trade is a good thing, whether it's in goods and services or productive people.

Part of why my instincts are different than others on this issue is that I live in Silicon Valley and regard this area as worthy of emulation. As Paul Graham recently put it: "A silicon valley has to be a mecca for the smart and the ambitious, and you can't have a mecca if you don't let people into it." Without immigrants, there'd be no Google or Intel or Yahoo.

Mexico isn't a relevant role model. No American ever woke up in the morning and said "gee, I wish our government worked more like Mexico!" What's more, I suspect few Mexicans think that. Mexicans move here in order to escape their own corrupt, inefficient, closed-off government, not to recreate it! We need more of the kind of optimism and initiative and work ethic that leads people to emigrate and seek opportunity here.

Posted by: Glen Raphael on May 31, 2006 1:44 PM


Nobody is saying they want all immigration into the US to be illegal and stopped. We want it to be limited, and the existing laws enforced. Many want the illegal aliens living here to be deported, and if those people want to emigrate, then get in the back of the line and do it legally. If you want to be a citizen, then follow our laws, and stop giving us the finger.

The Senate bill is simply an open borders bill-a way to legalize ANYBODY who can come across the border. Its stupid and dangerous in an age of terrorism, and as you point out, we want more of the computer whizzes and less of the lawn mowers.

I think its fair to assess the potential effects of mass immigration from Mexico on America by looking at how the Mexicans have run their own country (into the ground). After all, Mexico is a democracy, not a dictatorship or communist country. And its a corrupt and poor country with lots of poorly educated, low-skill people looking for low-skill work in the global economy. Good luck with that one, as China and India seem to have that locked up for many years to come. We have a large mass of poorly educated, low-skill people here already. More will just mean more welfare. We all know it. Its silly to pretend otherwise.

By the way, where do all the illegals live in Silicon Valley? I'm sure there are plenty of fast food and lawn mowing jobs there, but what neighborhoods do they live in? I'd be interested to know. I live in a big midwestern city, and I see the lawn mowing crews in the upper class neghborhoods all the time, but they don't live near there. I've also seen the neighborhoods where the illegals do live, and they are not so nice. Lots of gangs, crummy students in publicly funded-schools, etc. You get the picture.

Posted by: Name on May 31, 2006 2:33 PM

I'm not interested in defending Mexico's policies on immigration and I don't believe that the current status quo in the border is good for either country.

But if Michael wants to talk about Mexico, let's do that in a realistic, constructive way.

First, no one denies that Mexico has problems. However, in 20 years it has gone through a drastic transformation for the better.

The old authoritarian party regime that ruled for 70 years --fully aided and abetted by the U.S., by the way--has ben peacefully overturned. The formerly closed economy, which was stagnant and bankrupt in 1986, has been opened up, growth restored (albeit insufficiently high) and inflation has dropped to levels lower than those in the U.S..

(By the way, the stereotype about macho and homophobic Mexico, never quite true, is seriously dated Michael. These issues have more to do with educational levels than with intrinsic cultural/religious issues, like those Moslems and Christian fundamentalists have)

Sure, much more needs to be done. But let's get real. Income per head in Mexico is about five times lower than in the U.S. Even if Mexico manages to grow at Asian rates and corruption drops to Swiss levels starting tomorrow, the income gap will be huge for decades and thus the incentive to emigrate will remain.

How do you deal with this? Actually, a guest worker program makes sense. Auction the permits (would you rather have the coyotes keep the money?). Most Mexicans come here looking to save some money and go back, something that has become more difficult with time, so they stay and bring their family. Create and enforce a decent national ID (it's insane that most Americans prefer building a wall on the border and avoid the hassle of having to show papers).

With a wall, illegal immigration will drop to some extent (not as much as most believe, though). But it will have many costs: disruption in border life on both sides, more human misery and lawlesness, since criminal gangs will turn to people smuggling in a serious way.

And yes, the U.S. should take more interest in Mexico and push the country to quicken the pace of reform. Wishing that Mexico will go away with a fence, like most right-wingers do, will hurt US. interests in the long-run.

Posted by: Andrew on May 31, 2006 3:52 PM

How do we in America "deal" with Mexico's problems? Since when is it our responsibility here in America to solve Mexico's economic problems? Let them solve their own problems! Maybe Mexico should start solving our economic problems too. They could start with giving us a lot of cheap oil. Then they could help us out by letting OUR poor emigrate to their country. Yes, all the welfare cheats would benefit greatly from having to really scrounge around for a living.

The whole fence issue is a distraction. Not one proposal of the politicians will truly crack down on employers. The employers are the real problem. I don't really care what kind of enforcement they list in the legislation--it simply won't be enforced, as it is now.

Hey, if the Mexicans are here just to make a little more money and take off back home, how come millions were marching around in our cities the last few months, demanding amnesty? How come they are applying for home loans? That's a big lie. If they can make more money here and jobs are far more plentiful here than there, why go back?

If you care so much about helping Mexicans, move there. Don't bring them all here and then start the charity work. Start there.

FWIW, I happen to have had a lot of good experience with latins. Most are good people and very family oriented. But that's no excuse for breaking our laws. Do it right. Follow the law. And change your own country first. We simply cannot solve everybody's problems, or import them here. Its ludicrous.

Posted by: Name on May 31, 2006 5:17 PM

Dude, if you were living in poverty and could earn between 5 and 10 times as much working illegally in Canada, would you sit on your ass and say "Wish I could go there, but I won't because I respect Canadian laws"?

Most Americans in that situation would hightail themselves to El Muy Norte. Same with Mexicans. They come because they can't. Sure, the U.S. can choose to go to a great deal of trouble and expense trying to stop it by criminalizing immigrants.

Or it can choose to regulate the flow and turn it to its advantage.

We can and should discuss all this with a cool head, looking into costs and benefits. But what I find perplexing is that a lot of people go ballistic over this. Clearly, people use this topic to ventilate frustration over something or simple let out their deep-held xenophobic ideas.

Posted by: Andrew on May 31, 2006 7:05 PM

Immigrants live all around Silicon Valley, especially in Santa Clara county. When I owned a housein Mountain View many of my neighbors were asian immigrants and there was a very large primarily mexican neighborhood - lots of cheap older apartment buildings - just a few blocks away.

I want more computer whizzes AND more cheap labor. Sure, silicon Valley needs more nerdy chip designers - but we also need more electronics assemblers, more groundskeepers, more car washers, more people starting and working in restaurants. It's all good.

Actually getting here despite the laws against it is the surest evidence that somebody had the kind of determination and perserverance we most want in a citizen. So we should grant an amnesty to everyone who is already here and then, ten years from now we should it again. And again. Since we don't seem to have the political will to simply open the borders as we should.

The vast majority of the harm the terrorists have done us is self-inflicted; to build walls and crack down on the borders "to protect against terrorism" is a fine example. (Granted, the Iraq war and our ludicrously useless and expensive airport security restrictions are worse...)

Posted by: Glen Raphael on May 31, 2006 7:31 PM

Lonewacko has an amusing typology of open borders advocates as they might be presented- in a recognizable but alternate universe- by USA Today:
The Starchildren: Borders? What borders! They don't want to build walls, they want to build bridges. And, they want to hold hands across the bridge while singing folk songs.

The Lunatics/Libertarians: As idealistic as the Starchildren, but idealistic in an evil way.

The Globalist Scum: (Their word, not mine!) They put George Bush in this category.

The Communists: Yes, they're still around! And, USA Today recognizes that - just like the Democratic Party - they see massive illegal immigration as a way to build a proletariat.

Borderline Traitors: (USA Today rushed to note that they don't mean traitors in the specifically legal sense, only in a general sense of supporting foreign citizens instead your own citizens). They put Dick Durbin and Harry Reid in this category.

Racial Power Groups: NCLR, MALDEF, LULAC, ETC, ETC, ETC.

The Barely Coherent: Howard Dean and Teddy Kennedy are in this group.

Posted by: perroazul del norte on May 31, 2006 10:05 PM

Glen, you've done a remarkable job of misreading "Name"'s question. He asks:

where do all the illegals live in Silicon Valley?
and you answer:
Immigrants live all around Silicon Valley,...
do you not recognize the distinction?

Posted by: David Fleck on May 31, 2006 10:17 PM


You write:

Or [the U.S.] can choose to regulate the flow and turn it to its advantage.

(1) How will it ever be possible for the U.S. to "regulate" a flow without any mechanism(s) to control it? I'd be interested in exactly what control mechanism you'd be willing to implement, since you seem to reject the available ones by refusing to "criminalize" immigrants.

(2) What exactly is your strategy for turning very large scale(controlled? uncontrolled?) immigration to our advantage?

I'm very prepared to carefully examine the costs (very real) and benefits (extant, but rarely accruing to the same people who have to bear the costs) of mass Mexican immigration, and have been doing so for over a decade. So far, however, all I hear from you is accusations that other people are xenophobic. Is that an example of looking at things with a 'cool head'?

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on May 31, 2006 11:20 PM

I don't recognize a moral distinction - if anything, I admire the illegals a little more - but as for the practical distinction: how, exactly, am I supposed to know which of the immigrants in Silicon Valley are illegals? I strongly /suspect/ the ones my mother hires off the street and the ones who used to clean my house were, but I can't know for sure. So I answered the question I could answer, which isn't quite the one asked.

To answer a little more: every county in the San Francisco Bay Area has a few crummy bits where the rent is very cheap. Cheapest are the apartment complexes that were built in the 1960s in the less fashionable cities. Many of the illegals who work in Palo Alto or San Francisco probably live in San Jose - there are neighborhoods there that are crummy enough to meet Name's stereotype - but they really live all over the place.

For instance, when I accidentally left my cellphone on the train a few months ago, the guy who found it called the first couple of names in my address book to let them know he had it and what his address was so I could come get it. This guy spoke almost no english. My friend had to hand the phone to her nearest spanish-speaking coworker for a translation. When I went to get the phone I found the guy lived in Belmont in an old run-down apartment building just like those I had seen in Mountain View. He could speak my name and his and understood my "thank you!" but that's about as far as his english had gotten. I wanted to give him a few bucks as a reward for returning the phone but he wouldn't take it. Seemed like a nice guy.

Posted by: Glen Raphael on May 31, 2006 11:40 PM

An excerpt from a paleoconservative view of immigration and The National Question by Dennis Dale:
I will soon be done with this immigration issue; sometime after our leaders have codified into law the principle that human beings can be viewed as units of labor, subject to strict cost analysis and valued entirely thereby. They bring nothing more with them; except perhaps a deep love of the ideals we are currently rendering hollow at home and abroad.

Culture, intelligence, group thought and resentment, human nature in toto; I'm relieved to learn from my betters that these things have been rendered meaningless by globalization and the conspicuous tolerance of our mandarins. Pay no attention to the angry mobs waving foreign flags; disregard the triumphant language of racial demagogues. Don't inquire what's to become of what's left of our republic. Comfort yourself with the knowledge that you haven't entertained thoughts that the nicely dressed people on television would find gauche.

Posted by: perroazul del norte on June 1, 2006 2:05 AM

Jeez, Michael, you just caught on to this angle now? Immigration Chicken Littles have been banging this one to death on the Internet for weeks now. If you're going to keep pounding us with this crap, at least stay up to date.

Posted by: Questioner on June 1, 2006 5:34 AM

Glen - that's nice you got your phone back. What does that have to do with this discussion?

Posted by: David Fleck on June 1, 2006 7:09 AM

I can't take seriously anyone who spews content-free words like "xenophobic", "bigot", and "raicst". It's kindergarden-level name calling and insouciant posturing in one.

Posted by: hugh on June 1, 2006 7:13 AM


First off, there are plenty of street gangs who work very hard and are very determined to make money by breaking the law. I guess we need more of them too. When they spend that money, they certainly help our economy! Concentrated ethnic ghettoes are common in every large city in America. To say people live all over is meaningless. For instance, I live near Chicago. The west side, and spilling out into Cicero is mostly hispanic. But there are also many hispanics in Aurora, and Elgin. And, of course, there are smaller pockets around the area. There is a great deal of gang activity in Chicago, Aurora, Cicero, and Elgin. The schools there are headed south too. Lots of dropouts. Ethnic segregation is a fact of life, if they are present in any numbers. If you look at the life in those areas, you have an excellent idea of what any population in any sort of numbers will bring to your country. Behold the truth!

Who really cares if you want to make everybody here legal? Eighty percent of the voters think otherwise. And we will kill the bill in the House, and some House members will lose their jobs. Politicians live on fear and greed. Since we don't pay them off enough, fear has to outweigh greed.

I bet you also like cheap labor, but for everybody else but yourself. Consider the fact that you are replaceable too. You only like the illegal cheap labor because you don't have to compete against it (FWIW, I don't either). Have you no regard whatsoever for your fellow Americans? Have you no regard for those here who are undercut and laid off by cheap labor? Have you no regard for enforcing our laws? And since you think that the current situation is okay, have you no regard for the democratic process, since 80% of Americans are against this?

What really is America to you anyway? It can't be a common language, right? We're multi-culti. All are equal right? Its not a race--we're all different races, right? Its not a border, because without enforcement, a border is meaningless, right? And it can't be the rule of law, because its okay to break it when you think its okay, right? And finally, it can't even be democracy itself, because you don't belive in that either, right?

Are you some sort of rootless anarchist? It would be interesting to see you actually respond, instead of changing the subject. I'd sure like to know.

Posted by: Name on June 1, 2006 10:29 AM

Hey, what do all you rowdy folks think about letting this thread go, and taking the topic up again with my next immigration posting? I'll post again soon, I promise.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on June 1, 2006 11:09 AM

Name: I am, in fact, an anarchocapitalist. I also have an economics orientation, so: (1) I'm aware that new immigrants can cause wages to increase as well as decrease, and (2) I value the well-being of the new immigrants as much as that of those already here.

Even if there were a tradeoff to be made I don't see why compassion requires us to favor the relatively wealthy "poor" americans over the much poorer new immigrants. Some americans are hurt by immigration, but other americans - including poor ones - are helped, and the new immigrants are helped too.

There are few arguments against allowing immigration that don't apply equally well to allowing childbirth. We have 4 million new babies born each year in the US - they have no skills, are dependent on subsidies, and will eventually "steal the jobs" of some now flipping burgers. Would it therefore be good policy to ban childbirth? Would this be compassionate? Would it help the poor and unskilled? If not, why are 1 million immigrants - most of whom already have some schooling and can be immediately productive - so much worse?

Posted by: Glen Raphael on June 1, 2006 12:40 PM

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