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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

A Missing Sentence

One sentence that is lacking in the (entirely fake) effort to help the Dreamers is “The kids did nothing wrong so we shouldn’t punish them but we need to make sure that we don’t end up with another group of 800,000 such kids after we help the current ones get papers.” 

The problem is that even if all Dreamers receive US passports today, this will in no way prevent the restoration of the underclass of the perennially scared and insecure two seconds down the road. We need to ask ourselves if we want there always to be a large group of traumatized young people who grew up in conditions that are designed to thwart in them the very qualities needed to be successful and well. We need to ask ourselves if we are refusing to see how much the existence of this group benefits our own children who have an enormous in-built advantage of growing up without this profound anxiety over deportation. 

There is such a thing as collective will. If a phenomenon exists for a long time and doesn’t go away, we need to look at which collective need it nourishes. 

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12 thoughts on “A Missing Sentence

  1. “The kids did nothing wrong so we shouldn’t punish them but we need to make sure that we don’t end up with another group of 800,000 such kids after we help the current ones get papers.”

    I agree that that is key and that no one wants to deal with it because none of the solutions are very pleasant. They’re all bad just in different ways.

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  2. Exactly how unpleasant would it have been to legalize the parents in the first place?

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    • When do you start legalizing them and (just as important) when do you stop?

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      • They’ve got a patchwork system. All Cubans are legalized immediately, for instance. I’d like to find out first: if you give work visas to people who apply for them, and then have a green card application process that is less baroque than what we have, and a path to citizenship, will there really be “too many”? Will there be more than there are now? Or will the numbers actually remain the same, just with fewer associated problems?

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      • P.S. Note that for some nationalities it takes years just to get a tourist visa to the US.

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    • If the position that is arrived upon collectively is “let’s give everybody US passports at the border”, that’s great. But it’s got to be consistent, right? Because I’m in the country since 2003, and I’m still paying processing fees for my immigration case, providing documents from 25 years back, and trying to prove something.

      It would be very helpful if Americans arrived at one shared underlying principle and made it known. Otherwise it does seem like people are being tortured with insecurity and worry on purpose. And being sicced against each other, too.

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      • And hey, I completely respect the right of the American people to come up with any defining principle whatsoever. Whether it’s “nobody comes in ever” or “open borders for everybody now and forever”, that’s fine. But you’ve got to make up your minds, folks. Make up your minds because the way it is right now is not good.

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      • Yes, the whole thing is incoherent and needs serious work.

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  3. The extreme solutions (open borders and effectively closed borders) would lead to catastrophe in different ways.

    The basic problem is that the US economy depends (or people in power think it depnds) on having an underpaid underclass without as much rights as the rest of the country. Immigration was opened up again in the mid 1960s when it looked like Blacks were, thanks to the Civil Rights movement, going to stop being that underclass.

    Until you solve the underlying economic paradox causing the problem you’re not going to be able to do anything meaningful regarding any type of immigration.

    Naturalizing the dreamers is just treating the symptoms in a way that makes the underlying problem worse in that it will provide incentives for millions to make it to the US however they can and wait for the next amnesty….

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    • I think it’s psychological a lot more than economic. I might be a loser of globalization but he’s a loser in a much greater degree. My kids’ future is uncertain but her kids’ prospects are so uncertain that mine look downright fortunate next to them.

      Nobody does this consciously but the desire is so powerful that it creates its own reality.

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      • I agree with Cliff and would say the unconscious of the US is political, and that its dependency on having an unpaid underclass is the problem that cannot be named without upsetting everyone’s illusions too much.

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  4. Theory:

    (1) Neo-conservatives don’t believe in a collective anything. There is just money.
    (2) Neo-conservatives the radical left don’t believe in the power of the free market.
    (3) Neither side is willing to recognize that the problems we are trying to fix may already be resolved.

    My theory, based on Pew data, on incidental data from a study I did for a major state university on recruiting students, and on conversations with 100 visitors from outside the US to our Airbnb this summer is:

    (A) The US is now considered by many a substandard place to live based on the high cost and poor access to healthcare. One Ukrainian doctor who visited with us suggested that the toleration of medical errors in the US is “immoral.”
    (B) US culture is considered negative. Europeans don’t want their children to be “Americanized”. Europeans will bring their kids to the US for boarding school or college, and then return to Europe on completion. However, some with younger children are simply leaving now. If they work for a global company, it’s a simple as asking for a transfer, and they are.
    (C) Hispanics are working in the US for 3-5 years and then returning to Mexico. There is no net migration of Hispanics to the US from Mexico. Conversely, the number of Americans living in Mexico has doubled to 2 million and growing. Most of these are undocumented, and Mexico doesn’t care as long as they commit no crimes. The “wall” will reduce US sales to Mexico (our third largest trading partner) and cost jobs in the US. However, the “free market” has already solved the immigration issue. BTW, Mexico has universal healthcare now.
    (D) We may see, before the end of this decade, either zero population growth or negative population growth in the US. As I’ve written elsewhere, NJ would have zero growth without immigration; one-third of the counties in the state have negative growth. The impact of that on the US economy as a whole would be severe. Japan represents the model of what happens with negative growth. It’s not been pretty.

    I particularly like the point that by chasing Americans out of the US, Social Security payments are going to subsidize the Mexican economy. The law of unintended consequences wins again.

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