Recently, the Las Vegas Council passed a resolution condemning the new law in Arizona requiring police officers to check the immigration status of anyone they stop or detain whom they suspect is in the United States illegally.
Will this lead to racial profiling? Many believe it will; I’m with them.
Most city councils would probably have had a vigorous debate on passing a resolution on a law such as Arizona’s. Immigration has become one of those hot-button issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. Most have an opinion, and they’re sticking to it.
Our council didn’t have any discussion about the resolution. Indeed, they included it as part of their consent agenda — where they package a bunch of business items and vote on them all up or down together.
People often miss some universal truths in the immigration debate — or at least how I see them:
• We’re a rich country, and the folks south of the border make much less money than we do. So they’ll want to come here for better jobs.
• Building a fence at the border may make many of us feel better, but it won’t do much to stop the flow of immigrants, as long as we’re willing to hire them. A 10-foot fence? Just get a 11-foot ladder and you’re good.
• Sure, if you cross into our country without permission, it’s considered illegal. But, c’mon, some conservatives make it seem as if it were the worst crime in the world. I can think of plenty of offenses — drunken driving and domestic violence, among them — that are much more harmful to our society.
• The best way to combat illegal immigration is to pursue those responsible — the employers. While some seem to take particular relish at going after poor Mexicans, our government should target the relatively wealthy employers.
• But then again, few are completely blameless on this issue. We all benefit to an extent from illegal immigration. Employers hire them because they’ll take lower wages. And that means we can buy produce, homes, meals at restaurants for less than we would otherwise.
• Because there are some jobs that we Americans don’t want or aren’t qualified for, we should make sure immigrants can get work permits to help fill in these gaps in our economy.
• Some have a great fear that recent waves of Mexican immigrants mean the death of English. They’re wrong; it’s been shown that immigrants’ children learn English. After all, that’s what American schools teach. So all of these English-only laws are great for demagogues. But they’re meaningless in the long run. Learning English is important for all Americans, but knowing both English and Spanish is even better.
• Yes, we have to control our borders, but we’ll never completely seal them off. Like it or not, Mexico and the United States are neighbors, and we’ll always rub off on each other economically, socially and culturally.
David Giuliani is managing editor of the Las Vegas Optic. He may be reached at 425-6796 or firstname.lastname@example.org.