The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.

AUGUST  2007

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.







Immigration R Us

by JC Bowman

I have never marched in lock step with any particular ideology. It is an insidious habit I picked up as a youth. In fact bucking the establishment has been fairly standard fare for me over the years. I am very much data driven, and have grown increasingly so over the years. I want the facts to dictate the best course of action. Sometimes the facts change. Often that is the case when better data becomes available. When the facts change or you analyze the data more attentively, you can make a better and more informed decision. Such is the case of legal immigration, something I support. Of course I can tell the difference between legal immigration and illegal immigration, something most people expressing their opinion rarely discern. In the midst of preceding deliberations on immigration and subsequent hyperventilating that occurred is an issue actually well worth discussing. The facts tell me legal immigration has persistently served the nation well, both economically and culturally throughout American history Most immigrants still come to America to make life better for themselves having suffered from economic, educational, political or religious persecution in their home country.

My ancestors migrated here including my Native American relatives, and in their own way they have contributed positively to the development of the county. They have been soldiers, teachers, preachers, farmers, bankers, builders and the list goes on. America was built on the backs of immigrants, including those forced by slavery to come to our shores. I appreciate the contributions of immigrants of yesterday, today and the potential contributions yet to come. It is important to recall our own families' arrival as we endeavor today to achieve the American dream. I have no idea if all of my ancestors entered the country legally, but I trust they followed the law. Prior to World War I most people did not need official documents to even enter or leave a country, so there were few immigration issues or policies, and no real border controls.

In political circles the choice is not between immigration or no immigration, rather it is whether immigration is going to be legal, orderly, safe and dignified or illegal, disorderly and unstable. I vote for legal, orderly, safe and dignified.

J C Bowman

-J. C. Bowman, a native of Cleveland, is a well informed and outspoken conservative educator. Is a freelance public policy analyst who resides in Cleveland, TN. Prior to this, he was Director for the Center for Education Innovation at Florida State University.  He served as the Director for the Florida Department of Education Choice Office and as the Chief Policy Analyst of the Education Policy Unit for Florida Governor Jeb Bush.



Any immigration reform of the current system must recognizes the need of our growing economy, yet balance and consider national security. However most immigrants who come to our country are hard working people driven by strong family values who merely want a part of what Ronald Reagan called "that shining city on the hill." The vast majority of immigrants want to live out the values Americans normally celebrate. Those values are hard work, providing a decent living for one's family, contributing to the community, a life of dignity and opportunity gained through hard work. Immigrants come here so that their children may have a decent future, to buy a house, and to be entrepreneurs in a system that encourages free enterprise. Moreover, they are drawn by lower taxes, simpler regulations, a judicial system that functions, and a more competent public education system. However, we must also say to those that are here illegally, we are a nation of laws, so get in line with everybody else.

My fear is that prejudice and discrimination seems to unnecessarily dominate the immigration discussion. It is true that immigrants arriving in America today are vastly different from those who arrived a century ago. I hope that ordinary concerns voiced by citizens are based upon dissatisfaction with the abnormally high level of immigration and not because modern day immigrants are from Latin America, Asia, and Africa and not the traditional mostly white Europeans. Some of the comments I have read on immigration have truly angered me because of their obvious racial overtones. It makes one wonder if they are available in the original German. Those bigoted comments are not who we are as a country.

The recent demise of Senate Bill 1348 championed by both President Bush and Ted Kennedy was inevitable, and not merely because of the firestorm of public protest, reflected by phone calls and e-mails, and citizens marching to town meetings. The proposed legislation was clearly flawed. It should not have passed in the current form. Nevertheless the immigration issue will not disappear anytime soon. The immigration system that politicians eventually reach consensus upon must be fair for American citizens, as well as to legal immigrants here who waited in line and played by the rules.

Opponents of immigration, mostly my conservative brethren, have failed to suggest any appropriate and realistic option. Instead conservatives, who are normally skeptical of big government, want to spend more taxpayer money on similar enforcement efforts that have failed in the past to prevent illegal immigration in the first place. In general, I am not in favor of far-reaching increases in spending for border enforcement, border fences strictly on our southern border, or increasing raids on U.S. workplaces. I am also not in favor of national ID cards for American workers. If you think more red tape is the answer and you love increasing the role of the federal government, I suggest checking your political credentials and party affiliation. The United States has 7,000 miles of land borders and 12,000 miles of coastline. Iowa State student Noah Stahl asks thoughtfully: "If we failed to stop 19 terrorists from passing through a 3-foot-wide metal detector, why would a 19,000 mile wall stop them?" In fairness, Michelle Malkin has suggested some logical reforms, although I do not agree with all, such as a moratorium on temporary visas for "al Qaeda-friendly countries," requiring all foreign visitors to obtain a visa, and heightening security at all points of entry. We do need to streamline the process where immigrants here illegally can be sent home promptly.

In Reinventing the Melting Pot, The New Immigrants and What It Means To Be American Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Tamar Jacoby reports: "One in nine Americans is an immigrant. Nearly one-fifth of U.S. residents speak a language other than English at home. The number of foreign-born Americans--33 million and growing--now exceeds the entire population of Canada." Comprehensive immigration reform must eventually be addressed. Admittedly asking tough questions about immigration is made more difficult in the 9/11 era. It is important to recall that terrorism which drives the national security debate is fueled by a perverse religious doctrine. The Hate America First Coalition naturally welcomes these folks, but it was this coalition's support that doomed the most immigration debate. So what if we ban Muslim Extremists, I like what Dennis Miller said: "And quit bringing up our forefathers and saying they were civil libertarians. Our founding fathers would have never tolerated any of this crap. For God's sake, they were blowing peoples' heads off because they put a tax on their breakfast beverage. And it wasn't even coffee."

But the critical question is what level of immigration is best for America? Do we now set quotas? Who determines that criteria? Research tends to support the idea that immigrants pay more in taxes than they receive in government benefits. On the other hand, the majority of immigrant taxes are paid to the federal government, while immigrants tend to use mostly state and local services. So the stakes have never been higher as we determine the impact of immigration on job markets, on the quality of life and social fabric of our communities, not to mention the environment. We might want to ask what it means to be an American, but we must remind ourselves we are a nation of immigrants in one of the most secure and prosperous nations in the world. E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One) remains the national motto, but there no longer seems to be a consensus about what that should mean.

The issue of immigration is also a political issue. The battle for the Hispanic/Latino voter will be of utmost importance to both the Democratic and Republican parties if either are going to be successful long-term. In Texas the Democrats have successfully wooed the Hispanic voter, mainly focused on poverty centered issues. However, in Florida the Republicans have largely captured the Latino vote largely due to the influx of Cuban immigrants and advocacy of small Hispanic business and entrepreneurship. Both political parties now understand we need highly skilled workers to enhance the ability of U.S. companies to meet global competition, so we must support legal immigration. Small businesses also need flexible labor markets that allow them to hire the workers they need to meet the needs of their customers and expand their freedom to sell, invest and buy in a growing global economy. It is possible that the immigration issue might be solved in this fashion if we simply believed in the freedom of choice made by independent individuals who are free to choose how they act or interact in order to achieve their goals.

People have asked my opinion about the Ocoee Region Multicultural Services. I have no problem with my fellow citizens in the community working to address the needs of immigrants. I am more interested in addressing a broader array of social issues and involving volunteers, mentors, and faith and community-based organizations in a public-private partnership, but prefer a purely private group using private dollars. Government must be careful in tax dollars being used to support immigration for support and social services, especially those who may be here illegally. The right to immigrate to a new country does not imply a right to welfare in that country. Local leaders need to be pro-active on all issues and this is an issue that truly needs leadership, but it is important to get the right people to lead on this issue from all sectors of the community. If people in power are seen as those protecting and helping illegal immigrants there will be a community backlash. So I think you should work with those citizens that are here legally and help them assimilate into American culture. If people had wanted to remain immersed in their old culture, they could have done so without coming to the United States. Most immigrants are here because they believe in the universal principles in which American culture is based.

Supporting immigration today, even legal immigration, is a little bit like being a cattle rancher at a vegetarian convention. It is not popular, but we need to instill sound immigration public policy. The freedom to immigrate is a freedom of opportunity. Immigration does not guarantee a right to welfare or any other government service. Most government welfare programs are destructive to the recipients themselves, and modern day immigration policy should reflect that position.

Fred Thompson gained much support talking about immigration when he said: "And it is our home. And we get to decide who comes into our home." The potential Republican presidential nominee is correct in regards to American sovereignty. Every country has the ability to pick and choose whom to admit, whom to keep out, and on what grounds to make those important decisions. In the United States future immigration reforms must address: 1) national security; 2) the establishment of an employment verification system and 3) status of illegal immigrants. We must also look hard at our own foreign policy in relationship to the immigration issue. In countries where we get the greatest number of immigrants the country of origin usually keeps small businesses from flourishing, contributing to high unemployment and crime. So it is important we support governments that promote and protect a competitive marketplace. That's just my opinion. I could be wrong. 

--J. C. Bowman is a public policy analyst who resides in Cleveland, TN..
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