It’s the Immigration, Stupid

 

Racine-FlagMany Americans get very mad when they see protesters waving Mexican flags in American streets. It calls to mind the people who have been flooding into their communities, their emergency rooms, their public parks and their schools for a generation – people with broken or non-existent English who are showing up in increasing numbers mowing lawns, installing carpets or flooring, working in liquor stores or bagel bakeries or garages or a myriad of other businesses or else who are standing out huddled together by the street at 6 AM waiting to be picked up by someone for day labor.

The flying Mexican flag reminds Americans that these people are breaking the law and living in a lawless underground which shuns the police. They are people who – either through poverty or because of a deficiency in character and upbringing – possess no concept of “respect for the law;” people for whom the law is merely a punishment entity that needs to be factored into their personal cost-benefit, risk-reward analysis. They are people whose fundamental amorality with regard to society’s explicit and implicit rules allows them to obtain welfare handouts wherever possible, to apply for child tax credits for children outside the country, to use emergency rooms rather than pay for medical services, to drive without a license and drive away recklessly from accidents and to gather at and often trash public parks and spaces.

These are people who, for whatever reason, have chosen an illegal life course and who, in order to maintain it, are forced into a cascade of other illegalities. That someone living illegally in a foreign country would be unburdened by an abstract respect for the law of that country is not surprising. The disposition you would expect from them is contempt. It is not hard to believe that such people would be prone to disrespect more serious laws involving property and personal safety.

Those Americans who get angry at seeing the Mexican flag on their televisions are quite different from the people who are flying it. They are brought up with an idea that the rules have a basic logic and that they are there for the common benefit. Some may break the laws, many may cheat on the rules, but the vast majority possess an instinct that the law is supposed to be followed irrespective of how it inconveniences me right now or how likely I am to be punished for disobeying it. They wear their seatbelts and they don’t run away from their bills. They wait their place in line instinctively.

The perceptions of these angry Americans toward the flag-wavers and their brethren is predicated on the skin color and accents or languages of the newcomers. They are better able to notice the influx of illegal aliens because many of the illegal aliens are Latino and speak Spanish. The angry Americans, however, get angrier still if you suggest that the source of their disapproval of illegal aliens is racism. The case is quite the reverse. The source of Americans’ growing contempt for Hispanics – and there is no point claiming that it doesn’t exist – is the knowledge that the people they see invading their country and taking their jobs happen to be predominantly (though not exclusively) Hispanic and the majority are in fact from Mexico.

Should the elite from the GOP and their Chamber of Commerce wing and the Democratic Party and the Masters of the Universe get their way and succeed in passing their vile amnesty, you can trust that the subsequent celebratory explosion will be marked by seas of green, white, and red Mexican flags. You can also trust that no single law will more piercingly rip the social fabric and fatally deepen the racism that already exists. There are Americans who will never accept the invaders and who will never forgive their enablers.

It is probably true that the Americans who are enraged by protesters waving the Mexican flag would not list solving illegal immigration – in comparison to providing jobs and building the economy or protecting them from the threat of terrorism – as their highest priority. While, in the words of Senator Jeff Sessions, they have been “begging and pleading their government to enforce the law” for a generation, still, they have grown accustomed to the dishwashers, the hotel staff, and the gardeners and they cannot afford to go around in a state of rage – at least until the flags come out.

It also makes sense to suppose that those Americans who are most enraged by the Mexican flags come preferentially from the lower rungs of society. Not only are poorer people more immediately impacted by illegal aliens (no illegal alien has threatened, so far, to take my nanophysics theory job), but there is something subtler and more spiritual about their anger. It is this:

If you are poor, it can be a struggle to respect the rules. It can be a struggle to obey them. Hell, just getting by may be a struggle. Perhaps you haven’t seen a pay raise in a decade. Perhaps you are working longer hours in harder jobs than you used to. Or you are facing a pile of medical bills or are postponing your retirement. Or if you are younger you might be having trouble putting decent clothes on your kids without thinking about where or whether they will ever go to college. It is more than a suspicion to you that life in the lower echelons of American society is not easy and for what seems like the longest while it’s been getting harder.

And yet with all the bills and the hardship and the sweat, you are able to find that vital, holy something that causes you, when you’re not totally exhausted, to sit your kids down and tell them about the importance of obeying the rules. God bless you.

That vital something you have found has a name. It is called civilization.

I’m telling you people: literally millions of Americans who are not distinguished by their dedication to political discourse are rushing to support a rather loutish and highly imperfect presidential candidate (who will go unnamed) who started his campaign by exhibiting a profound sympathy for those who have suffered the most — practically and morally — from watching the rules get trampled. And trampled.

He has suggested that the only solution to the illegal immigration problem is for those who have come here illegally to return home. However much that may end up being a blue-smoke “touchback” – and we owe it to ourselves to make it more and to make it real – it is nevertheless, morally, the only answer.

Those people who get most angry at the Mexican flag wavers guard a wisdom that is little more than a rumor to you or me. If, in your efforts to crush the vulgarian, you manage to crush them as well, you will leave us with an empty space on the inside.


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There are 156 comments.

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  1. Thatcher

    Excellent essay, and spot-on. For nearly half a century both parties have aided and abetted those who violate our immigration laws, effectively privileging foreign criminals over law-abiding Americans. Moreover, they mock and humiliate those who have suffered the most from this: the white working class. Kevin Williamson’s latest article for National Review, in which he states the white working class deserves to die out, encapsulates this attitude perfectly.

    • #1
    • March 14, 2016 at 10:36 am
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  2. Coolidge

    Wait, so if someone flies the Mexican flag, it means they are poor, or a low life? Because my neighbor is a second generation Mexican American, has a Mexican flag on his car, and he is neither poor, nor a low life.

    • #2
    • March 14, 2016 at 10:36 am
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  3. Coolidge

    What bothers me is that it didn’t need to be this way. If we take in Mexicans and others in small numbers, control the borders, assimilate them while forging a basic American idenity with a common language, where you don’t have to press one for English,where you have no affirmative action for people who have never been enslaved here over people who were born here, where you are not encouraged to resent the history and heritage of the native population, then I truly believe we would not look at them as Mexicans, but as fellow Americans.

    • #3
    • March 14, 2016 at 10:39 am
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  4. Member

    Indeed, it would be different if they were flying the flag of a protest movement or a private organization. Instead, they are flying the flag of a foreign country.

    It’s an act of foreign aggression, not domestic protest.

    • #4
    • March 14, 2016 at 10:40 am
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  5. Member

    The Mexican flags let everyone know that this isn’t about America being a melting pot. It’s about destroying the melting pot. Many of these immigrants don’t want to be melted/assimilated. They don’t feel pride in the American flag.

    It’s amazing that the open borders/amnesty crowd doesn’t feel that it’s even politically necessary to explain how such a policy results in tangible, real-world benefits for most Americans (as opposed to moralistic or theological justifications such those recently voiced by Kasich). What other issue is that true for? What other issue can a politician successfully advocate with only moralistic, intangible justifications? There are a couple perhaps, like civil rights, but none like this one where the policy being advocated doesn’t claim to grant anyone a denied right or liberty, and actually creates tangible burdens on many Americans. It’s quite unprecedented.

    • #5
    • March 14, 2016 at 10:44 am
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  6. Member

    Electing a fascist strongman is not the answer to the problem you detailed. Believing otherwise is, to use your word, stupid.

    • #6
    • March 14, 2016 at 10:46 am
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  7. Inactive

    Wolverine:What bothers me is that it didn’t need to be this way. If we take in Mexicans and others in small numbers, control the borders, assimilate them while forging a basic American identity with a common language….

    Yes, but that wouldn’t have flooded the market with cheap labor.

    • #7
    • March 14, 2016 at 10:47 am
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  8. Coolidge

    My son, who earns his living building homes, says this: the Mexican roof the houses because nobody else wants to do it.

    • #8
    • March 14, 2016 at 10:49 am
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  9. Member

    Excellent Mr. Stopa. That is one of the finest statements on my personal feelings about this whole mess. Thank you for taking the time to write it and for sharing!

    • #9
    • March 14, 2016 at 10:53 am
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  10. Member

    Spin:My son, who earns his living building homes, says this: the Mexican roof the houses because nobody else wants to do it…

    …at the wage levels that one can pay illegal workers.

    • #10
    • March 14, 2016 at 10:53 am
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  11. Inactive

    …literally millions of Americans who are not distinguished by their dedication to political discourse are rushing to support a rather loutish and highly imperfect presidential candidate (who will go unnamed) who started his campaign by pretending to exhibiting a profound sympathy for those who have suffered the most…

    Fixed it for you.

    • #11
    • March 14, 2016 at 10:53 am
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  12. Podcaster
    Michael Stopa Post author

    Spin:My son, who earns his living building homes, says this: the Mexican roof the houses because nobody else wants to do it.

    Your son is only half right. The Mexicans roof the houses because nobody else wants to do it at that price.

    Add those same three words to the end every time someone says that Mexicans do a job that Americans won’t do and you will never go wrong.

    • #12
    • March 14, 2016 at 10:54 am
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  13. Member

    Spin:My son, who earns his living building homes, says this: the Mexican roof the houses because nobody else wants to do it.

    I find it so interesting that the same people who defended slavery are defending the trafficking of illegal labor today and are using the same arguments and for the same types of jobs.

    • #13
    • March 14, 2016 at 10:54 am
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  14. Podcaster
    Michael Stopa Post author

    RyanFalcone:Excellent Mr. Stopa. That is one of the finest statements on my personal feelings about this whole mess. Thank you for taking the time to write it and for sharing!

    Thank you Ryan! You just made it worth the effort.

    • #14
    • March 14, 2016 at 10:55 am
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  15. Podcaster
    Michael Stopa Post author

    Misthiocracy:

    Spin:My son, who earns his living building homes, says this: the Mexican roof the houses because nobody else wants to do it…

    …at the wage levels that one can pay illegal workers.

    …beat me to it Misthiocracy!!!

    • #15
    • March 14, 2016 at 10:55 am
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  16. Member

    Michael Stopa: Your son is only half right. The Mexicans roof the houses because nobody else wants to do it at that price.

    Poppycock. (Incidentally, not the word I would preferred to use.)

    • #16
    • March 14, 2016 at 10:58 am
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  17. Member

    Michael Stopa: – people with broken or non-existent English who are showing up in increasing numbers mowing lawns, installing carpets or flooring, working in liquor stores or bagel bakeries or garages or a myriad of other businesses or else who are standing out huddled together by the street at 6 AM waiting to be picked up by someone for day labor.

    But what about this? What about being willing to mow lawns, install carpets, work in liquor stores? Why aren’t American citizens doing these jobs?

    Would abolishing the minimum wage help?

    Punishing employers who employ illegal immigrants?

    It seems as though Trump is adroitly directing the anger at the illegal immigrants themselves (who are, whatever else they are, poor people who are trying to better their lot) rather than people like…well, like him.

    The essay was helpful, Michael.

    • #17
    • March 14, 2016 at 11:00 am
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  18. Inactive

    Spin:My son, who earns his living building homes, says this: the Mexican roof the houses because nobody else wants to do it.

    My contractor, who owned a framing business in California, says immigrant labor destroyed his business along with others in the region. He employed a number of men, and they framed higher end homes in central California. With the influx of cheap labor, he had to keep cutting and cutting his bids until he couldn’t pay his men enough to support their families – so he folded. He also reports that the framing jobs completed by the ‘new labor’ are not actually very good.

    He’s a good man, with a positive outlook on life – not bitter. He moved on – to another state. I don’t know what his former employees are doing though.

    The houses in my neighborhood were also built during a boom with a large amount of immigrant (not all Hispanic – saw a number of Asians working as well). My neighbors and I have spent a fortune redoing things in the houses that we’re not built properly. (I could tell you horror stories). So all that ‘cheap labor’, is that, cheap- in every sense of the word. I’d have rather have paid more and got something better.

    • #18
    • March 14, 2016 at 11:01 am
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  19. Inactive

    Spin:My son, who earns his living building homes, says this: the Mexican roof the houses because nobody else wants to do it.

    I think that may be the case and trust you and your son.

    What I can’t figure out is why we need 45M+ on food stamps when there are people unwilling to do this hard work and our greatest health concern is obesity.

    • #19
    • March 14, 2016 at 11:03 am
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  20. Inactive

    Misthiocracy:

    Spin:My son, who earns his living building homes, says this: the Mexican roof the houses because nobody else wants to do it…

    …at the wage levels that one can pay illegal workers.

    Indeed. Let’s see what happens when illegal immigrants are deported. Will buildings not get roofed? I doubt it.

    As Adam Carolla frequently mentions on his podcast, he started his career digging ditches, cleaning carpets, and roofing houses. At the time, he was not qualified to do anything more skilled or knowledge-based, but that situation eventually changed, because he possessed an inner drive he calls the “motor”.

    There is no reason why Americans cannot take such entry-level manual labor jobs. There are huge numbers of unemployed young minorities, for example. The news media point this out continually, but they never make the connection between such unemployment and the vast labor pool of illegal workers.

    • #20
    • March 14, 2016 at 11:06 am
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  21. Member

    Lily Bart: My neighbors and I have spent a fortune redoing things in the houses that we’re not built properly.

    While remodeling a house in South Texas one time my father exclaimed, “When they built this house any man who showed up to the job with a square or a level was sacked!” This isn’t a new problem caused by immigrant labor.

    • #21
    • March 14, 2016 at 11:07 am
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  22. Inactive

    From: BrentB67

    To: Sen. Rubio

    Cc: Gov. Kasich

    Subject: Why You Are Getting Killed In The Primaries

    Senator Rubio,

    You are our most articulate candidate. You regularly speak many conservative principles as a first language. You are confident and reassuring on issues.

    You are presently locked in tight race with Gov. John Kasich, a gentleman with a deep governance resume’ he frequently reminds us.

    Unfortunately the race you are locked with Gov. Kasich is to the bottom because of one issue. Please review the attached article from Michael Stopa of Ricochet for further clarification.

    R,

    BrentB67

    • #22
    • March 14, 2016 at 11:09 am
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  23. Member

    Kate Braestrup:Would abolishing the minimum wage help?

    Punishing employers who employ illegal immigrants?

    Refraining from weighing employers down with labour law compliance costs and responsibility for every employee’s health care and retirement savings?

    The point isn’t that they’re Mexican. The point is that they’re illegal.

    Legal immigrants from Mexico would also be less willing to work as roofers if they have to compete against illegal workers who’ll do the same job for less and they can fall back on welfare support.

    The best answer is to reduce the cost of legality and work as well as increasing the cost of illegality and idleness.

    • #23
    • March 14, 2016 at 11:11 am
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  24. Podcaster
    Michael Stopa Post author

    Kate Braestrup:

    Michael Stopa: – people with broken or non-existent English who are showing up in increasing numbers mowing lawns, installing carpets or flooring, working in liquor stores or bagel bakeries or garages or a myriad of other businesses or else who are standing out huddled together by the street at 6 AM waiting to be picked up by someone for day labor.

    But what about this? What about being willing to mow lawns, install carpets, work in liquor stores? Why aren’t American citizens doing these jobs?

    Would abolishing the minimum wage help?

    Punishing employers who employ illegal immigrants?

    It seems as though Trump is adroitly directing the anger at the illegal immigrants themselves (who are, whatever else they are, poor people who are trying to better their lot) rather than people like…well, like him.

    The essay was helpful, Michael.

    Kate, I would be happier if Trump did indeed emphasize that the employers needed to be punished seriously for enabling illegal aliens. And I do agree that there is a basic nobility in anyone working hard to get ahead – whatever the circumstances. You could even argue that it really is simply the crushing poverty of their circumstances that forced them to come here in the first place. But even if that is true, they are people who (through no fault of their own?) have learned to ignore our rules and work our system. I can feel pity for them even if I recognize that they’ve got to go.

    • #24
    • March 14, 2016 at 11:18 am
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  25. Podcaster
    Michael Stopa Post author

    BrentB67:From: BrentB67

    To: Sen. Rubio

    Cc: Gov. Kasich

    Subject: Why You Are Getting Killed In The Primaries

    Senator Rubio,

    You are our most articulate candidate. You regularly speak many conservative principles as a first language. You are confident and reassuring on issues.

    You are presently locked in tight race with Gov. John Kasich, a gentleman with a deep governance resume’ he frequently reminds us.

    Unfortunately the race you are locked with Gov. Kasich is to the bottom because of one issue. Please review the attached article from Michael Stopa of Ricochet for further clarification.

    R,

    BrentB67

    Many thanks, Brent. Really gratifying.

    • #25
    • March 14, 2016 at 11:22 am
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  26. Member

    Michael Stopa: they’ve got to go

    How? Realistically? Just being angry won’t solve the problem.

    • #26
    • March 14, 2016 at 11:24 am
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  27. Thatcher

    Spin:My son, who earns his living building homes, says this: the Mexican roof the houses because nobody else wants to do it.

    I understand this statement. My in-laws are brick masons and have a hard time finding help. Why? Well, partly because those that can (and should) be doing this work use their knowledge and skill to work the system and get paid to stay home by our government. Why should they get up early and work in the cold or heat to make what they can make staying home. Not everybody is motivated by a work ethic anymore. Their motivation is basic needs (shelter, food). The liberals have made sure these are taken care of so there you have it. I believe if we changed welfare, etc, like Newt did but more, it would go a long way to helping this issue. We also have to change the attitudes of those who wish not to assimilate. These things will not happen overnight, but they won’t happen at all if we don’t start doing something. In the mean time, why can’t we go back to the old immigration laws where we limited the numbers and were a little stricter on who got in.

    • #27
    • March 14, 2016 at 11:24 am
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  28. Inactive

    Blondie:

    Spin:My son, who earns his living building homes, says this: the Mexican roof the houses because nobody else wants to do it.

    I understand this statement. My in-laws are brick masons and have a hard time finding help. Why? Well, partly because those that can (and should) be doing this work use their knowledge and skill to work the system and get paid to stay home by our government. Why should they get up early and work in the cold or heat to make what they can make staying home. Not everybody is motivated by a work ethic anymore. Their motivation is basic needs (shelter, food). The liberals have made sure these are taken care of so there you have it. I believe if we changed welfare, etc, like Newt did but more, it would go a long way to helping this issue. We also have to change the attitudes of those who wish not to assimilate. These things will not happen overnight, but they won’t happen at all if we don’t start doing something. In the mean time, why can’t we go back to the old immigration laws where we limited the numbers and were a little stricter on who got in.

    I don’t call these people lazy, I say they’re responding to economic incentive. Unless you have some strong personal moral commitment to supporting yourself when you can, why would you work if you’re paid sufficiently not to?

    • #28
    • March 14, 2016 at 11:27 am
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  29. Member

    Lily Bart: why would you work if you’re paid sufficiently not to?

    This explains my puny sick leave balance…

    • #29
    • March 14, 2016 at 11:29 am
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  30. Thatcher

    Lily, I agree not all are lazy, but plenty are. I can say this because I know them (family and they will tell you straight up why make the effort). Their priorities are out of wack because basic needs are taken care of. There was a time when people felt embarrassed to be on the dole. Not anymore. The stigmas is gone and I say that’s a bad thing. My point is, fixing immigration is more than just closing the border down. We have a lot of work to do and somebody has to start doing it.

    • #30
    • March 14, 2016 at 11:33 am
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