Friday, March 31, 2006

Immigration Laws and the polarization of politics

I had the occasion this week to do some driving. One of those trips included time when the immigration issue was being reported on, and I got to thinking....

On Immigration I have noticed some unusual partnerships. Some Democrats are supporting the President, while there are some Republicans who are more aligned with some of the vocal democratic leaders.

It got me to thinking, is some of the polarization of partisan politics being driven by the media. The media, especially the radio/TV media, are looking for two things: sound bites and controversy. That is a combination which results in short answers and lack of clear thinking about the issues because the conversation/debate is being carried out in the media. How does this help us? You can probably guess how I answer that!

The other two thoughts which occurred to me are that the further one lives from the Mexican border, the less sympathetic a politician is likely to be to illegal immigrants. I lived in Tucson for seven and a half years. I have visited border towns, and driven along the border between Arizona and Mexico. There is a lot of wide open space out there, I don't believe that many politicians understand that.

The second thought comes back to me when I hear jingoist Republican legislative leaders talk about building a wall along the border. I hear in my head the voice of Republican President Ronald Reagan saying: "Chairman Gorbachev, take that wall down!" Now, the Berlin Wall was built to keep people in, and some of Congress want a wall to keep people out. However, in spite of its size and the number of guards, many tried, and some succeeded in getting past the wall. Won't the same be true here?

My ancestors came from another country. Some were perhaps illegal immigrants. It is the hard work of immigrants which has made this country great. I still don't understand why we restrict immigration.

Here is the "library connection." Part of my philosophy about the wall is the same as my philosophy about theft detection systems. No matter what you do, someone will figure a way around it. All you are doing is making it harder.

[Updated to correct typo in the title of the post.]

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