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Is Race a Factor in the Current U.S. Immigration Debate?

by Matthew Jame Little

posted in News and Society

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The immigration debate is not based on race, but on economics with 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. who have come for a better standard of living. People from other countries can earn more money here than where they come from. (President Bush said that he wanted a guest worker program to have illegal aliens doing the jobs that Americans will not do.) Race and citizenship in America is a sensitive issue. It's impossible to raise the issue of citizenship without addressing race. By 2010, a quarter of the population will be foreigners or the children of immigrants. Arizona is the first state to have a law that will try to stop illegal aliens from being smuggled over the border. There are about 1.5 million legal immigrants who come to the U.S. each year. This has not changed since 1990 with 140,000 on employment-based visas. Another group holds reunion visas, and 50,000 immigrants will get their green card. The immigration system is broken and is in need of reform. Angela Kelley, the vice president for immigration policy, says that the laws do meet the nation's economic needs. She belongs with the Centre for American Progress, which is a progressive leftist institution.
The New Deal Coalition of Roman Catholics, blue-collar labour unions, and conservative Republicans do not want higher immigration into this country to be based on economic or racial grounds. Republicans are racially polarized over amnesty for illegal aliens whose base is predominantly white while Democrats have the support of three-quarters of the non-white population and a sizable minority of white voters.The GOP wants harsher laws on illegals coming over the border, such as more fences, tougher border controls, and the institution of penalties on companies that employ undocumented workers. They oppose amnesty for the illegals who have a poor education and few skills with the economic climate not getting any better in the U.S. and the birth rate declining by 1.5 percent which is below replacement level. Deportation of illegals would damage an economy that is already suffering. The Democratic liberal progressives and cultural elite want immigrants to take low-paying jobs to bolster the U.S. economy. So the issue has more to do with economics than race.
The majority of immigrants come from Mexico, which has been an issue in the United States for a long time. It has created controversy about redistribution of wealth from the unskilled U.S. workers to employers. Bush wanted a temporary guest worker program but did not support amnesty for illegal immigrants. Sixty percent of the American public are opposed to more illegal immigration, whether it be on racial or economic grounds.
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