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Works and Days

Illegal Immigration Realities

May 5th, 2009 - 5:43 pm

Jobs, jobs, and no jobs!

Second, we are in a recession with unemployment hitting 10% in many of the states of the American southwest. Allowing another  million illegal aliens annually to enter the US will only further depress wages-and mean that laid-off American workers have no recourse to unskilled day jobs to tide them through. Those who used to loiter around Home Depot lots in California looking for a day’s cash job of building fences or hauling away trash used to be exclusively illegal aliens, now not readily so.

The Flu Panic

Third, the much hyped swine flu epidemic, despite the media hysteria, reinforces the perception to Americans that they share a porous border with a third-world country, from which at any time infectious disease can break out and spread northward. Again, I’m dealing here with perceptions, not always reality. I  once told a friend in Palo Alto that it was not uncommon in my children’s school to find children of aliens from Mexico with tuberculosis exposure; he laughed and suggested that it was illiberal to even suggest such a thing. But I’m sure that soccer moms of his environs would be the first to turn reactionary should it happen  that recent arrivals were infected with swine flu and in the same classrooms with their own future Vassar and Yale-bound toddlers.

Obama may wish to pander to the Hispanic vote and ease up on border enforcement, but popular sentiment still seems to favor both closing the border now, and coming up with some sort of plan that avoids mass deportation of long-time resident, employed illegal aliens.

Liberal apartheid of a sort

I come up here to Stanford two or three days per week from rural central California. And I’m amazed at the de facto segregation of elite Obama country in Menlo Park and Palo Alto versus the barrio in nearby Redwood City. I think I have finally figured out the modus operandi. Everyone here is “progressive”. That means, you hire Hilda to watch your kid, Juanito to mow your lawn, or Hillario to wash your dishes at the local restaurant.

You deplore racism, or even the mere suggestion that cultures are not all inherently equal. But under no circumstances do you buy a home in Redwood City (far cheaper in fact). Nor do you put your child in any school district that draws in the Redwood City children of illegal aliens. So it is a sort of alternate universe here. From 8Am to 8PM we have an integrated world where service workers attend to the mundane needs of the Silicon Valley and Stanford elite-before going home to Redwood City and San Jose where they live and school their children out of sight, out of mind.

My gut feeling is that integration, intermarriage, and assimilation even may be going on far more slowly in progressive Palo Alto than is true of more conservative Selma and Fresno. I’m sure the sophisticated exec here can make the argument that “I’m not social engineering with my children!”, but there is something nonetheless odd about hyper-liberalism in the abstract, and 1950s segregation in the concrete. 

In fact, the children of the privileged might learn about the real world in more “diverse” schools, and could be tutored at night to make up any deficiencies in the curriculum. Looking back, much of what I learned about the cosmos came from going to Eric White School in west Selma for grades 1-6 (95% Hispanic), coupled with working along side in my teens  some rather rough characters from the Oklahoma Diaspora that my grandfather had hired on his small farm to irrigate and tractor-drive.

As my father told me once after a particularly vicious fight at 11 with the Galavez Brothers, “I don’t think reading all those books helps much, Vic. And it’s a problem I can’t help you with unless you learn to help yourself” And so we did, and survived and learned, and in the end were the better for it. My best friends remain those I was with all day long from 5 to 12, and then again in junior high and high school to 18, rough sorts though they were and in some cases still are. I think most of the Stanford kids I see around campus would benefit from perhaps just one summer less monitoring egrets in the estuary  or working as an intern on world hunger in DC, and one summer more mowing lawns with Lupe or hammering roof shingles with Pepe—in the last analysis the truly liberal thing, not unlike the opportunity had the Clinton or Obama children just attended for a year the DC public schools.

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