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“Kick Out Undocumented Workers!”

While a vocal minority of Americans may may espouse this view, the vast majority see it differently. Looking beyond the surface, one finds that the undocumented immigrant issue is not a law and order problem so much as a policy and economic one.

Public Opinion: Survey Says….

Polls show that the majority of Americans increasingly understand that the immigration system is broken and support immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship. We are now seeing that undocumented workers contribute to society rather than imposing a financial burden, as law abiding, productive members of society whose work does not threaten larger employment opportunities. Contrarily, I have seen instances of legal immigrants cheating the system, such as well-off immigrants bringin their parents to the states and enrolling them in welfare.

Immigrants Not Viewed As A Threat

The public does not view the workers as a threat: 2012 Chicago Council Survey shows that Americans have grown less concerned over the last decade about large numbers of immigrants—legal or illegal—coming to the US, with just a 40% minority considering a large influx of immigrants and refugees a “critical threat.”

Mass Deportation Opposed Across All Demographics and Political Affiliations

Five recent polls by organizations from across the political spectrum—from Fox so-called News to Latino Decisions: “unequivocally illustrate that the vast majority of Americans support smart solutions to immigration reform and reject mass deportation. They support a pathway to citizenship for people who are part of our communities, learn English, pay back taxes, and so forth, and they reject tearing these families apart. Put simply, these polls illustrate that the ideological extremism of the hard right is well outside the mainstream pragmatism of the American people.”

The Fox “News” data holds true across all American demographics ,regardless of whether one is rich or poor, liberal or conservative, college graduate or not, white, black, or brown, or even a member of the Tea Party. For instance, a poll by Fox “News” shows an unquestionably pro-immigrant America.

The two firms employed by Fox to poll registered voters found the following:

– only 19% said that the government should send all unauthorized immigrants back to their country of origin.

– 66% stated that they should be allowed to remain in the country and eventually become citizens after paying back taxes, learning English, and passing a background check.

– Just 14% of Democrats and 26% of Republicans support mass deportation.

Additionally 63% in the Fox poll favor “increasing the number of legal immigrants allowed to come to the United States as long as they agree to work, pay taxes and obey the law?” vs. just 33 percent opposed. Clearly, the majority realizes that outdated  immigration law is the problem.

Policy and Economic Facts

It seems that those who are lucky enough to have obtained permanent resident or citizenship status should be grateful for and humbled by their good fortunes, because few are lucky enough to get that chance.

Looking beyond the simplistic messaging of the political theater that frames the issue as a law and order problem, certain policy and economic facts come to light, showing that  U.S. corporate interests are more blameworthy than the individuals scapegoated, just as they are for the deteriorating economic condition of American workers – the shrinking middle class. In either case, ordinary workers are scapegoated fort the economic policies promoted by a wealthy few shareholders – rule by the minority.

American Trade Policies Partly to Blame

Mexican workers have suffered as a result of U.S. trade policy enacted under the Clinton administration, since a study by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace finds that Mexico, after 15 years, has fared poorly under the NAFTA accord. The report points out several problems that contributed to the low growth. Overall, Mexico was unable to create enough jobs to make up for all the jobs lost because of competition from imports, particularly purchases of subsidized grains from the United States. The oversupply of labor, along with government policies that succeeded in keeping wages low, have led to a slight increase in the gap between average wages in the United States and Mexico — precisely the opposite of what Nafta was expected to do.

We all now know that H.Ross Perot’s warning of the “giant sucking sound” of jobs leaving the U.S. has come to pass. (This is why I voted for Perot.) The NAFTA accord, combined with numerous other “corporate personhood” initiatives legislated in courts all over the US, have benefited a wealthy few while hurting the economic opportunities of workers on both sides of the border.

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