Arment: Why we need immigration


Courtesy photo: Wikimedia Commons

Opinion – Immigration

Jason Arment

Whether we like it or not, this country runs off of work from immigrants. Looking at the Bracero Program that was used to conscript dirt-cheap manual labor from Mexico, it’s pretty plain to see this is nothing new. When this cheap labor becomes a nuisance, we get huffy about the presence of the immigrants, and we boot them out of the country. Operation “Wetback” that followed the Bracero Program removed more than one million Mexicans from the United States in 1954.

This is the nature of the U.S.: Trying to have our cake and eat it too.

We don’t like to think of the consequences of our actions. We want to pay next to nothing for food, clothes and other products that realistically should cost more. When we pay these inexpensive prices, we don’t think about why they are so low; we don’t think about how either someone in the kitchen of the restaurant we are eating at is here illegally, being paid below minimum wage under the table and receiving no protection from the government that would ensure they aren’t being exploited. When we buy a coat made in Bangladesh we do it without thinking of how the people that made it weren’t paid a fair wage; and since it wasn’t made in America, how it essentially means we’ve helped to send a potential source of income overseas.

It is easy to blame this problem on the immigrant, or on a person in some far off place. The problem lies with the entitled attitude Americans have. Instead of buying boots made in China, we need to buy boots made in a place the people that made them were paid a fair wage; even though the boots made in China may be more inexpensive. We need to be conscientious of our purchases so we don’t help send income sources away from our communities.

I have no problem with people immigrating to this country, no matter what country they come from. I welcome my brothers and sisters from other nations, and I hope they succeed while they are here. I wish that businesses would stop taking advantage of those that cannot turn to the law when they are wronged because they are here illegally.

We bring our problems on ourselves. We don’t give people practical, feasible ways to make it into this country legally, even though we need these people.

The bottom line is that it benefits many businesses many of them that would be considered “big business”  to have people in this country illegally in order to exploit them. In 2006 Swift & Co. meat processing plants were heavily raided by law enforcement, a study of these raids by the Center for Immigration Studies estimated that almost a quarter of Swift’s production workers were in the country illegally. Until it is made crystal clear that the American public will not patronize businesses that do not keep income sources in their communities and will not patronize businesses that take advantage of people, this will continue.

As far as expecting people to assimilate into our society and forget their own traditions, the argument is flawed. If American culture was a shining example of how to live, maybe I would be more of a nationalist. If you think someone doesn’t understand our laws, clue them in, make friends with them. If you want a better community you need to reach out to those around you. Sitting on your coach and demanding your community get better is akin to trying to have your cake and eat it.

When I say “you,” I am referring not just to the reader, but to myself. It’s hard to hold myself accountable. As a Libertarian, it eats me up when I have to compromise: I received a gift made in a country that doesn’t pay it’s workers a fair wage; but as a poor college student, should I spend the money on getting another that is made in my community? Should I chance offending someone close to me when I don’t use their gift to me?

The struggle is hard, but it lies on the individual. Everyone has a right to come here. America is not a country club, no matter how much it wants to think it is.