Based on what I’m seeing daily in the mainstream media (and in some of our recent Super Bowl ads) it appears that it has now become racist/xenophobic (if not downright evil) to deny illegal immigrants U.S. residence — including most of the benefits of citizenship. So, having spent the first 30 years of my life on the U.S./Mexican border (El Paso/Juarez), I thought I’d share a couple of my hometown observations.
One of the first things one used to notice when crossing into Juarez (I say “used to” because very few El Pasoans now risk that very short drive) is that besides the poverty, all the homes have bars on all their windows. All of them.
Another was the pervasive culture of the “mordida” – the bite. Rare was the Juarez official — from traffic cops on up — who couldn’t be bribed, and such a culture pretty much guarantees highly dysfunctional government. Both of these observations could be blamed on the poverty, but there is a “chicken or egg” question here: Does the poverty create the culture or does the culture create the poverty? Quien sabe?
Either way, there seems to be a glaring dichotomy between how pleasant and hardworking our local illegal immigrants are and what disasters their countries of origin are. Those nations all seem to be crime-ridden, poverty-stricken, gang/cartel-infested and ruled by inept, corrupt governments. This Latin American commonality begs a question in my politically incorrect mind: Isn’t there a distinct possibility — if millions upon millions of illegal immigrants continue crossing the border — that these same cultural dysfunctions will begin to manifest themselves here? Along that line, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick of Texas stated this week that between 2008 and 2012 Texas “arrested 147,000 people identified as hardened criminals who were here illegally. They were charged with over 440,000 crimes.”
Here in Greenport, at this point in time, there seems to be no question that the immigrant community is a blessing in many ways, and I’m not for deporting anyone except criminals. But I am certain that if the “left” continues to indulge in its naïve fantasy that “open borders” are good for America, and leftist judges and politicians continue to make it impossible to control the border, we are going to regret it — deeply.
Sanctuary cities are not only in blatant defiance of federal law — no less wrong than 1960s southerners defying school integration — but are a disturbing example of a powerful and dangerous current now flowing through the left: that it is not our elected representatives who will determine what is legal or illegal, but rather it is one’s own compassion, one’s personal sentiments, that will make that determination.
The roots of this lawlessness are those two mean-spirited children of the late 1960s: “Political Correctness” and his twin sister “Identity Politics.” Their mischief, besides dividing America into separate tribes (often via activist judicial fiat), also tends to be quite harsh on dissenters, at best labeling them “haters,” and at worst attempting to destroy their livelihoods/careers.
Years ago I ran across a Peanuts cartoon strip with four panels. The first shows Lucy standing in a light sprinkle, smiling. The second has Lucy standing in a slightly heavier rain, saying “Happiness is feeling the wind and rain in your hair.” The third panel has Lucy standing in a heavy rain, looking unhappy. The last panel has her standing in a deluge, looking miserable, and saying “sort of.” So, perhaps it’s all simply a matter of degree. Too much of many good things — alcohol, sun, water, etc. — can kill you.
I’ll close with this quote from the Manhattan Institute’s Theodore Dalrymple: “Societies fall apart when (among other causes) their ruling elites become persuaded that generosity of spirit and broad-mindedness are the only true virtues, even if they result in paralysis in the face of disorder, with all the accompanying miseries of those who suffer it.”
P.S. Before any over-zealous readers rush to brand me as a hater, I’d like to mention that both my children are married to Hispanics and I consequently have several Hispanic grandchildren — all, I’m happy to say, descended from a long line of legal immigrants.
Photo caption: The crowd gathered at St. Rosalie’s Church in Hampton Bays during last Thursday’s ‘A day without immigrants’ event. (Credit: Kelly Zegers)
Hugh Prestwood is an award-winning songwriter from Greenport.