Sunday, April 03, 2005

Not Your Father’s Minutemen

No matter how one views Pope John Paul II, the review of his life and accomplishments that comes with his death surely exemplifies a life well-lived. His acceptance of everyone, and of all religions, is a model of inspiration and humanity.

That’s why the story of the volunteer "Minutemen,” swarming on the US-Mexican border in Arizona, is more disgusting and downbeat than if it happened at another time.

200 people from around the country have arrived at this location in the Arizona desert to try to “spot” people attempting to enter the US from Mexico, and then report these immigrants people to the border police. The border patrol has stated that they don’t want the help, naturally, since these vigilante amateurs are carrying weapons, and anyone could get needlessly hurt.

Some of these “great Americans,” naming themselves after the Minutemen of the American Revolution, are of the deeply-held belief that incoming immigrants, who lack documentation, are ruining the good ole USA. They write and email President Bush and feel like they are not being listened to. So they've mustered a posse in order to prevent the destruction of life as we know it in this land of the free. I am not indebted to them for what they do or for what they stand.

In several studies done in the past decade on the effect of immigration, documented and without documentation, or what is notoriously referred to as “illegal,” the conclusion is that overall the influx of foreigners to this country has greatly benefited the economy, as well as the citizens of the United States. One such report is summarized:

“Immigration benefits the U.S. economy overall and has little negative effect on the income and job opportunities of most native-born Americans, says a new report* by a panel of the National Research Council. Only in areas with high concentrations of low-skilled, low-paid immigrants are state and local taxpayers paying more on average to support the publicly funded services that these immigrants use. "Immigrants may be adding as much as $10 billion to the economy each year," said panel chair James P. Smith, senior economist at RAND Corp., Santa Monica, Calif. …the vast majority of Americans are enjoying a healthier economy as the result of the increased supply of labor and lower prices that result from immigration… The panel's long-term estimates indicate that on a national level, the majority of new immigrants and their descendants
will add more to government coffers than they receive over their lifetimes."

Therefore, I can only conclude that the vigilantes in Arizona are motivated by things other than patriotism and duty-to-country. These things include primarily racism and xenophobia, two of the lesser admirable traits among us humans. One of the Minutemen says that illegal immigration is slowly eroding American society and another says that if this keeps up we’ll have a real national crisis. Their notions come from their hate, not from reality, and they’re right about a crisis, but for different reasons. We have a “national crisis” right now, because so many of these Minutemen’s fellow Americans go along with their ignorant ideas of fear and bigotry. The rest of us can only hope that no one gets hurt out in the desert of Naco, Arizona, in the next few weeks.

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