Patterico's Pontifications

4/13/2006

The Long War is Over

Filed under: General — Evan Maxwell @ 11:20 am



(Posted by Evan Maxwell, guest blogger)

I just spent four days on the road, taking blue and black highways from northern Washington to central Arizona. I was without reliable Net connection much of that time so I was forced to rely on snatches of news on the car radio and local newspapers. My take regarding the issue of the moment, immigration is pretty clear: That war is over. If winning or losing involves controlling the flow of Mexicans and other Latino nationals across the border, the war was lost.

If, on the other hand, you look at this as something besides a war, and if you regard the movement of human beings across political lines in the sand as an old and natural process, the outcome is neither good nor bad, merely inevitable.

I say that with the full knowledge that I might seem to be biting the hand of our host here, the estimable Patterico, as well as others over here on the right side of the spectrum. I don’t dispute the need for social order, nor do I believe that lawlessness should be applauded. But I do write from more than 30 years of observing on and reporting events along the Border, that long line that stretches from Imperial Beach to Matamoros. A long time ago, I was designated the “immigration writer” for the Los Angeles Times. There is a story in that designation, one that I’ll save for later, but the Times gave me a chance to explore the issue of human movements across borders at great length. My conclusion?

We aren’t really dealing with “immigration.” Immigration is a governmental function, just as borders are a figment of governmental imagination. Immigration is a regulated process involving passports, ports of entry, visas and all manner of arcane bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo. What we are talking about in the present debate is a much more elemental and probably uncontrollable human process called “migration.”

Migration is the movement, almost always unregulated and probably unregulatable, of large numbers of humans from one region to another, usually from one failing or impoverished locale to a place that has more promise and more opportunity. The human impulse to improve one’s lot is, to my way of thinking, admirable. It involves ambition, perserverance, hope; in all, the willingness to take risks. I like those characteristics in human beings.

Migration does not usually involve the one emotional set most often described by the softer thinkers of our society: desperation. If I’ve seen one truth along the border it is this: migrants are not the poor, weak, incapable members of the sending society. The desperate ones never make it to the border. No, the migrants are forward-looking, able-bodied and energetic. (That, unfortunately, means there will be a significant number of risk-takers and criminals in the mix, but such diversity is inevitable.)

I know these views will cause dispute. Patterico, in particular, is in a position as a prosecutor to see the negative effects of migration. Criminals, exploiters, deadbeats, they all show up in the court process and their presence in the United States is costly. Social disorder is a natural result, I am tempted to say, of that unregulatable process called migration. But there are other, much more positive results of migration, both for the migrants and for the receiving countries, and as a personal matter, I am not convinced that nations can select the results it wishes to obtain from a massive social process like the one we see taking place every day across the borderlands.

And as for my starting point, that the struggle is already advanced beyond the point at which it can be pinched off, I would only offer my last four days of travel. In a number of towns in the intermountain west over the last few days, there have been massive if polite and perhaps even festive demonstrations by migrants and their allies. The most startling, from my point of view, was in Salem, OR on Sunday. In that quiet and restrained small city, ten thousand people turned out in the spring sunshine to make their presence felt. Now I know Salem is a state capital but after all, folks, it’s only the capital of Oregon, for goodness sakes. It isn’t Los Angeles or Dallas or NEW YORK CITY.

And in several other towns and cities along the way, on blue highways as well as black ones, the migrants made their presence known by the thousands. Reno is not a hot-bed of social unrest but there was a very sizeable and effective demonstration there. Las Vegas is a company town, where the power structure discourages spontaneity, but maids and bellmen and desk clerks and laborers all stood up for themselves. Migrants, particularly ones who exist outside the law, are usually loathe to assert themselves but all over the West and Southwest, they have suddenly become confident enough to stand up and assert their rights as human beings, if not as American citizens. As someone who is interested in the human as opposed to governmental aspects of population movement, I can’t help but be impressed.

“Immigration” is the name of the political and legal process much of the country is trying to control and regulate right now, and I agree that there needs to be a more regular and socially-acceptable process in place. The borders need to be less a free-for-all zone than they have become, although I personally doubt they will ever be orderly enough to please everyone. One of my earliest border mentors told me in 1973 that the United States did possess the wherewithal to prevent illegal immigration. “All we have to do is put Army and National Guard machinegun nests ever fifty yards from California to Texas,” he said. Then he added, “Of course, I wouldn’t like to be part of that and neither would most Americans.”

What I’m trying to say is this: Migration isn’t happening; it has already happened. And it will continue to happen in the future. As a country, we may do a better job of controlling it but we aren’t likely to reverse it. To believe otherwise is to harden attitudes on both sides of the question into ramparts from which advocates can throw stones or fire more dangerous weapons.

Waving Mexican flags in demonstrations on American soil is impolitic, but so is suggesting that “they” all go back where they came from.

(Posted without benefit of second thoughts by Evan Maxwell, guest blogger.)

ADDENDUM BY PATTERICO: I very much enjoyed this post. My hard drive crash, which extended the stay of the guest bloggers, is having at least one good side effect: thought-provoking posts such as this one. I’m glad I asked Evan to stay on, and I’m hoping that in the coming days he’ll tell us some of the stories he has hinted at in his posts.

While I don’t agree with all of what Evan says in this post, I agree with more than he probably realizes — including the assertions that we have lost any battle to seriously control the border, and that many illegal immigrants are in many ways admirable people who are only doing what I would probably do myself in their shoes.

I do think that we need to get serious about deporting the criminal element, which has led to a dispute between myself and L.A. Times columnist Michael Hiltzik. More on that here.

43 Responses to “The Long War is Over”

  1. The Germans have crossed the Rhine into the Empire.

    Angry Clam (fa7fff)

  2. Very nice post. your thoughts mirror mine on immigration, in that most of the (likely) illegal Latinos I’ve met in the U.S. seem ambitious and have a strong work ethic. I recently remodeled my house for several months and worked with half a dozen of them, drawn from various countries. and it seems you’re right: the ones who make the trip to the U.S. are the risk-takers, the go-getters. those are admirable qualities and ones that could benefit America. I also understand that immigration may appear more alarming in “Mexifornia,” where it seems the culture is being overrun from the south, than it does in D.C.

    d-man (474155)

  3. I agree with Evan. We can’t put the genie back into the bottle, so we need to focus our efforts on the following:

    1. Securing our borders to prevent more illegals (not to mention terrorists) from coming in.
    2. Ensuring that new arrivals assimilate into American society by learning English, getting a high school diploma or GED, learning a trade, and paying taxes.
    3. Forcing supporters of immigration in both parties (but especially the Democrats) to publicly disavow the Reconquista and racial separation movements.

    There are probably some more points that are important, but these are the ones I would want to see implemented first.

    JVW (d667c9)

  4. I have one thing to say regarding this post. NUTS

    jeffersonranch (0f68c2)

  5. Well reasoned, well said.

    Another ex-LAT newsie (e880b0)

  6. We as a people and as a nation have a choice: we can either face up to a difficult and controversial issue and put a stop to illegal “migration,” or we can abandon our national identity, acquiesce in the massive and illegal invasion of our nation, and allow America the Beautiful to become something other than it is now.

    Clearly, the American people want border security, the only question is can our political system deliver the results we expect. If not, then it’s time once again to water the roots of the Tree of Liberty.

    And, Maxwell, thanks for your thoughtful post. I do understand your points, but I disagree with your conclusions. May peace and prosperity be upon you and your family.

    Black Jack (cbd96f)

  7. Bullshit.

    It’s always the people who don’t want to win the war who are eager to declare it lost while it is still going on. We’ve seen it in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and now we are seeing it in Mexico.

    Of course we could stop mass illegal immigration. Any suggestion otherwise is foolish. We could put up a fence along the whole border and staff it with regular army and shoot anyone who tried to cross. It wouldn’t be a 100% effective, of course, but it would be 99.99% effective, and I think you’d be surprised at what percent of Amercians would support such a plan. And the number is only growing with these demonstrations.

    This isn’t an issue of what is physically and militarily possible, it is an issue of what is politically possible. Your post is dishonestly evaluating what is physically and militarily possible in order to effect what is politically possible.

    You should be ashamed of yourself.

    Doc Rampage (47be8d)

  8. It’s always the people who don’t want to win the war who are eager to declare it lost while it is still going on. We’ve seen it in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and now we are seeing it in Mexico.

    There isn’t a war with mexico. There is for those reading the protocols of the elders of Aztlan, but we cna ignore those sorts of bigots.

    actus (6234ee)

  9. just remember as we have been discussing the upholstery on the deck chairs for these last several weeks 30,000 more of our little friends have come to say hello.

    in the very near future this (picture)
    http://www.censusscope.org/us/map_hispanicpop.html

    will lead to this (picture)
    http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/4786/105/1600/Aztlan.jpg

    because we don’t have this (picture)
    http://www.weneedafence.com/images/Fence_Idea.jpg

    first things first…….

    patrick neid (e03540)

  10. and before any wankers get any ideas…

    and finally to the race baiters……

    the “fence” sole purpose for existence is to secure the border from illegal immigration from primarily latin america. the fact that latin america is hispanic is strictly a coincidence. if canada was a third world country i would propose the same fence. for two hundred years we controlled immigration with quotas per immigrant group. i believe jimmy carter was the moron who changed this. the chief reason for quotas was for assimilation purposes–language, culture etc…. as stated earlier mexico encourages illegal immigration as an outlet so as to avoid the hard choices that it should be making to rectify a pathetic economic model it inherited from the spanish. there is a reason that english speaking colonies/nations have done better than spanish or french. every time you seduce a young hispanic to flee his country you further enslave the tens of millions they leave behind.

    patrick neid (e03540)

  11. “There isn’t a war with mexico.”

    Isn’t there? What do you call an invasion of millions of people across a national border, in defiance of the laws of the invaded country and with the support and encouragement of the invading country’s government in order to appropriate the resources of the invaded country and send them back to the invading country? I call it an undeclared war.

    Doc Rampage (47be8d)

  12. Isn’t there? What do you call an invasion of millions of people across a national border, in defiance of the laws of the invaded country and with the support and encouragement of the invading country’s government in order to appropriate the resources of the invaded country and send them back to the invading country? I call it an undeclared war.

    Well, they’re not all from mexico. They’re also not quite invading us. And they’re not quite appropriating. They’re working. They’re also not killing us. This is not an armed conflict. Not a military conflict. If anything some people here want to make it a military armed conflict, with their fantasies of shooting families on the border. Our very own berlin wall nightmare.

    No thanks wingnuts.

    actus (6234ee)

  13. Hey, wait a minute, Mr. Maxwell. What difference does it make whether the invasion is obvious or insidious? If you will forgive me for presuming your heritage by your name, the Anglos, the Saxons and the Jutes, who displaced the Britons, were at first just “migrants” too. (Did I spell “Anglos” properly?) Have we really gotten decadent in just two hundred years?

    nk (bfc26a)

  14. It is absolutely necessary that American media start pressuring local Hispanic media for encouraging illegal entry into this country. Mass appeal morning shows are effectively urging Mexicans to flee a corrupt nation and enjoy the benefits of a lawful nation, all under the guise of humanitarianism. These guys like El Cucuy and El Loco and El Barfo should DEMAND that natives in Mexico rally for honest government and an end to corruption, as well as a business infrastructure that provides fair wages. Demand reform from the villain Vicente Fox.

    Goddam criminals. Ungrateful bastards.

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  15. Fox is done for come the July 2 election (he is not even running), so no need to waste any more time dealing with him. Probably the best possible outcome is that the candidate from his PAN party, Felipe Calderon, wins the presidency. At least one observer of Mexican politics thinks he might be a more dedicated reformer than Fox has turned out to be. The worse-case scenario is probably that the hardcore leftist, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the PRI, wins the election. There is a strong possibility he would go the way of a Castro or Chavez and follow statist anti-market policies that would put the brakes on the so-so Mexican economy. He would probably try to counter this slowdown by encouraging even more of his citizens to go find work with Tio Sam up north, so we would be in an even bigger mess than we are in right now.

    The wild card in the three-way race is the political hack from the corrupt former ruling PRI party, Robert Mazrado. Apparently he is running third in the polls right now on a platform that is pretty much devoid of any specifics on what he would do if elected.

    In any case I wouldn’t put too much faith in the ability of Los Angeles, Phoenix, or Houston morning show hosts to impact Mexican politics. Recent weeks have shown them that they can do more to affect events north of the border than they can do in Meh-he-co.

    JVW (d667c9)

  16. That’s my point: the absurdity of morning hosts who absolutely brought out the masses and urged demonstrations to promote breaking the law. The times we live in… unbelievable. This is not the same thing as Cesar Chavez.

    I do wish the American media would call it for what it is. Hispanic broadcasters should have a different message, and how obscene that it doesn’t revolve around fixing Mexico. What next? Tea parties for bank robbers? The LAT would probably give that positive coverage.

    We all know Mexico isn’t going to change. What a shame the local Mexican media isn’t being called on its outrageous and backward “problem solving.”

    Sell your house now, because California’s great real estate value isn’t going anywhere but south. Literally.

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  17. It sounds like Evan Maxwell is a member of the “lie back and enjoy it” school of coping with rape, the rape of our country.

    dchamil (d70d2c)

  18. I do wish the American media would call it for what it is. Hispanic broadcasters should have a different message, and how obscene that it doesn’t revolve around fixing Mexico.

    Well, hispanic broadcasters reach people from further than mexico. Number 2, people in the US don’t really reform mexico that much.

    actus (6234ee)

  19. As far as the idea that “people in the US don’t really reform Mexico that much,” these rallies have done A LOT of prep work to encourage people, but with the wrong message.

    Mexicans who can’t hear the broadcasts now will be over sooner than you think. My point about Hispanic broadcasters urging people to rally and break the law is being lost. Mexicans, here in the US and those stuck in the corruption, should not look to illegal entry and popping out babies for citizenship as the answer. Our media should have a few commentators come out and do more than report on the rallies. Report on the organizers as well.

    Illegals are being encouraged by the ever growing list of Hispanic formatted radio stations. It is frustrating, discouraging, unbelievably wrong. I’m happy America is built on the idea of (legal)immigrants. I’m tired of the Mexican problem. I’m tired of seeing funds and services dwindle away but made available to people who are here by illegal means.

    The problems are across the border. The solutions should happen across the border as well. Mexican media is having a huge impact because the numbers have been exploding for so long. The domino effect is now in progress.

    Hispanic broadcasters have the power to present an entirely different message, and I view it as one of the biggest ripoffs of my lifetime. Do you ever hear them talk about birth control or not abusing the generosity of this nation? I didn’t think so.

    They are urging more illegals to make the trip and syphon off our limited funds. It’s wrong, it angers me and makes clear where this country is headed.

    Legal entry, no coddling, no more Hispanic nonsense (in my dreams).

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  20. Mexicans who can’t hear the broadcasts now will be over sooner than you think. My point about Hispanic broadcasters urging people to rally and break the law is being lost.

    Rallying isn’t breaking the law. If anything, these broadcasters are urging that people ask to be made lawful.

    Our media should have a few commentators come out and do more than report on the rallies. Report on the organizers as well.

    In the DC rally the local coverage was fantastic. Like most of the city, they were probably quite amazed.

    actus (6234ee)

  21. Re: 21
    Honestly, I feel you are twisting my words. To stay on topic, the pisterola deejays are doing MORE than asking people to rally. IMO, they aren’t suggesting that illegals “ask to be made lawful.” Unless that means having politicians rubber stamp the process to make organized robbery perfectly legal.

    They’re asking non-citizens to continue to travel over the border in droves and live off US funds and services.

    It’s satisfying to read of immigrants who took the long route… the route filled with red tape and paperwork… to get here in order to contribute to this country.

    Best case scenario: Current immigrants will be displaced by the incoming droves, necessitating public aid for their own living expenses!

    We may be on different sides of the fence, pardon the pun. I want more border protection, especially now in the post 9/11 climate.

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  22. They’re asking non-citizens to continue to travel over the border in droves and live off US funds and services.

    I haven’t heard of that. I’ve heard of them calling out people to marches.

    actus (ee8621)

  23. LOL. Thanks for the laugh. Do you work for the LA Times?

    I think there’s a very specific reason why illegal immigration is being encouraged by Hispanic media. Living conditions are rough there, and as usual, the US is expected to pick up the slack.$$

    The question is, can we bastardize our paychecks any further? Schools, hospitals, communities – all eroding.

    MIGRATE LEGALLY. Contribute don’t leech. Do you think Mexico will provide you with any of the conveniences and compensation that are extended here? We both know the answer to that one.

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  24. I think there’s a very specific reason why illegal immigration is being encouraged by Hispanic media.

    Were do you see it? I occasionally watch some of the major networks. I heard here in DC the spanish DJ’s were really into the rally. But thats about it.

    actus (6234ee)

  25. The LA Times has had several front page spreads. It’s a big story in SoCal and in media circles. And obviously, it’s deserving of front page coverage. But the LA Times has a deep bias towards anything white, wealthy, well-off or self-reliant. IMO

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  26. Yes, there have been migrations of populations in the past. But unlike the Eloi US, the populations of the areas invaded typically resisted violently, until they repelled the migration or were overwhelmed. Mass migrations have invariably been interpreted as aggression. I can’t think of any time in history when mass migration was actually encouraged by a host, unless it was a deliberate importation of helot or slave labor.

    It all seems so natural and congenial when one invokes inevitable “natural” processes over which we purportedly have no control. It’s like the shift of tectonic plates: just another force of nature at which we can only gape in wonder and astonishment, and enjoy the trip.

    This kind of determinism is of course one of our popular modern demonologies. It not only explains everything, it relieves us of any responsibility to account for our future or the futures of our children.

    By the way, a recent Pew poll of Mexicans showed that 40% of all Mexicans (48 million people) expressed a desire to emigrate to the US, and a recent Zogby poll showed that 58% of Mexicans believe the southwest United States belongs rightfully to Mexico. In that same Zogby poll, 57% of Mexicans believe they should have the privilege to enter the United States without permission (i.e., illegally).

    MD (71415b)

  27. In that same Zogby poll, 57% of Mexicans believe they should have the privilege to enter the United States without permission (i.e., illegally).

    How many americans think otherwise? that we can enter mexico without permission. I’d say its a lot. I hate getting visas.

    [When did you last get a visa to go to Mexico? — P]

    actus (6234ee)

  28. You think we should deport the criminal element? So do I and everyone and anyone that came into the country without the proper paperwork is a criminal. If not, why don’t we open the prison doors and release hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizen that by your defination are not criminals. They only broke a little law also.
    Selective enforcement of U.S. laws will be the death of the country and your grandchildren (if you have any) will pay dearly.

    Scrapiron (9f37aa)

  29. Of course we could stop mass illegal immigration. Any suggestion otherwise is foolish. We could put up a fence along the whole border and staff it with regular army and shoot anyone who tried to cross.

    Frankly, the traffic would be going more the other way in that case.

    Kevin Murphy (6a7945)

  30. [When did you last get a visa to go to Mexico? P

    I never got one. Just crossed the bridge. Didn’t have to ask for permission.

    [Right. Very few people want to go to Mexico to live and take advantage of the free education and social services. — P]

    So do I and everyone and anyone that came into the country without the proper paperwork is a criminal.

    11 million Elians. Lets get to it boys, deploy the sub machine guns.

    actus (6234ee)

  31. That comparison is totally irrational. Elian and incoming droves of illegals are like apples and oranges. Maybe when millions more journey north, they’ll let a few terroristas through, too. What are borders for anyway. They only count if you’re the head of Mexico.

    It sounds like you live in or around DC. You need to be somewhere like Los Angeles to really feel the problem. Our beloved Main Street in LA is now a poor mock-up of a Mexican village.

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  32. That comparison is totally irrational. Elian and incoming droves of illegals are like apples and oranges.

    Sounds like htere are other criteria besides ‘anyone that came into the country without the proper paperwork.’

    It sounds like you live in or around DC

    Right next to mt. pleasant and columbia heights. The Immigration rally was organized across the street from my place.

    actus (6234ee)

  33. There won’t be 11 million Elians.

    We’re sending the rest of the family back too.

    Angry Clam (a7c6b1)

  34. We’re sending the rest of the family back too.

    for real? No more florida cubans? Can you please spare DC’s ethiopians? I like their restaurants.

    actus (6234ee)

  35. When did you last get a visa to go to Mexico? P

    I got one the last time I went there to live for an extended period of time.

    Xrlq (e7740a)

  36. [Right. Very few people want to go to Mexico to live and take advantage of the free education and social services. — P]

    Ok. Great. But they do like the pharmacies. I don’t see what this adds?

    actus (6234ee)

  37. Actus, your ability to not-see things never ceases to amaze. Are you truly incapable of understanding why the Mexican government might not want to limit Americans’ ability to spend money in Mexico, while the American government would want to limit Mexicans’ ability to come here to live on the backs of taxpayers? Or is this a distinction you simply don’t want to see?

    Xrlq (f52b4f)

  38. Liberals make me freakin sick. Always hooking some half-baked sympathetic do gooder shtick to their thinking.

    End rant.

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  39. Are you truly incapable of understanding why the Mexican government might not want to limit Americans’ ability to spend money in Mexico, while the American government would want to limit Mexicans’ ability to come here to live on the backs of taxpayers?

    I do see it. But I also don’t see whats the big deal with asking mexicans if they want to come in without visas. I’d bet most people want to travel without them.

    actus (ebc508)

  40. I think you’re missing the point, Actus. The question was whether Mexicans should be allowed to enter the country without visas, not whether they would prefer not having to get a visa. Surely you don’t believe that 43% of Mexicans actually like getting visas?

    Xrlq (2dc424)

  41. Surely you don’t believe that 43% of Mexicans actually like getting visas?

    No, but I think the answer to ‘should’ is tied up with the answer to ‘prefer.’ It doesn’t surprise me that mexicans don’t think they should have to get visas, like it doesn’t surprise that americans think the same, because they don’t like getting them.

    actus (ebc508)

  42. “What we are talking about in the present debate is a much more elemental and probably uncontrollable human process called “migration.””

    The inevitability meme, eh. This is just ridiculous. The pro-immigration arguments are intellectual bankrupt. At least those touting the inevitability hypothesis have given up trying to prove massive illegal immigration is a great thing. Now it’s just inevitable, we surrender? Give me a break. The “war” for control of our borders hasn’t even begun. Our efforts with respect to illegal immigration on the border and in the interior are merely window dressing.

    hans gruber (33936f)


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