Angry New Yorker

Sunday, October 05, 2003
Whose freedom?

The problem with discourse regarding immigration today is that if you say something viewed as being against immigration in any form, more often than not, you'll inevitably be tarred by the left as a "rascist" or a "bigot". The situation has gotten so pathetic that even legal immigrants who've becomes citizens themselves (i.e. Arnold) are labeled as racist if they suggest immigration should be curtailed, examined, or, that even current laws on the books should be enforced. against illegal immigrants.

The fact is that immigration today (legal and illegal) has skyrocketed. That's not my opinion. That's the U.S. government's. Just take a look at the annual Yearbook of Immigration Statistics (formerly entitled Statistical Yearbook of the Immigration and Naturalization Service), available at At 253 pages there is a huge amount of information and statistics in this volume, but a quick look at the highlights listed on page 3 of the Yearbook provide a good summary of the situation:

"Highlights for 2002 include:
  • Legal immigration in 2002 (1,063,732) was lower than in 2001 (1,064,318). [Ed. but nearly 400,000 higher, still, than 2000].
  • Thirty-eight percent of all immigrants were born in North America (21 percent in Mexico) and 32 percent were born in Asia.
  • Sixty-five percent of all immigrants intended to reside in six states: California, New York, Florida, Texas, Illinois, and New Jersey.
  • Nearly one of five immigrants intended to reside in New York City or Los Angeles.
  • Refugee arrivals dropped in 2002 by 61 percent to 26,787 from 68,925 in 2001.
  • INS Asylum Officers approved 36 percent of asylum cases adjudicated in 2002.
  • Total nonimmigrant admissions in 2002 (27.9 million) decreased by 15 percent from 2001 (32.8 million). Nearly half were from four countries — the United Kingdom (15.4 percent), Mexico (15.0), Japan (13.1), and Germany (5.0).
  • The largest proportion of H-1B petition workers approved (197,537) was born in India (33 percent); the second largest proportion was born in the People’s Republic of China (10 percent).
  • The INS naturalized 573,708 persons in fiscal year 2002; forty-one percent were born in Asian countries, followed by 30 percent from North American countries.
  • California was the intended residence of 26 percent of persons naturalizing, followed by New York with 16 percent.
  • The number of deportable aliens located during 2002 declined 23 percent to 1.1 million.
  • The number of expedited removals declined almost 51 percent; other types of formal removal increased 6 percent.
  • Nearly 71,000 criminal aliens were removed; Mexico lead all countries of nationality with nearly 56,000 (79 percent).

Next, a quick look at the Executive Summary - Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: 1990 to 2000 (January 31, 2003), available at, rounds out the picture by revealing, in its first sentence, that "[t]he INS estimates that 7.0 million unauthorized immigrants resided in the United States in January 2000." Seven million. That's nearly an entire New York city's worth of people in this country illegally.

Yet, even with all these hard facts and figures it's apparently impossible to have a reasoned discourse about immigration these days. Over in Flushing Meadow park this afternoon, October 4th, 2003, the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union sponsored a gathering called the "Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride" which culminated after a national bus ride in Washington and New York City. I'm claiming Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union is behind the mobilization because the IWFR website at is clearly copyrighted by the union, which leads me to the consideration that the union is as a secondary purpose looking for ways to boost its membership, and a large influx of aliens granted citizenship via some amnesty program would do just that.

But the fact of the matter is this "Freedom Ride" is a mockery of the 60's civil rights freedom rights. Apparently the fact that these people were "free" to slip over the border or to come to this country, and "free" virtually to work here, and "free" to organize, and just as "free" to leave the U.S. doesn't qualify as an aspect of "freedom." The Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride, which I quote from its website, has as its goals and demands five items:

"Policies that: 1) Reward work by granting legal status to hardworking, taxpaying, law-abiding immigrant workers already established in the United States; 2) Renew our democracy by clearing the path to citizenship and full political participation for our newest Americans; 3) Restore labor protections so that all workers, including immigrant workers, have the right to fair treatment on the job 4) Reunite families in a timely fashion by streamlining our outdated immigration policies; and 5) Respect the civil rights and civil liberties of all so that immigrants are treated equally under the law, the federal government remains subject to checks and balances, and civil rights laws are meaningfully enforced."

Let's examine each point in turn. Item one is essentially saying "reward us for coming into this country illegally because we're already here". Item two, reading between the lines, appears to say that a large influx of people who, in many cases, have no experience with democracy will in short renew our fitful democracy. Item three I'm not sure what it's saying. Item four is saying "we're here, whether illegally or legally, now let our family members come over too, now." Item five is mumbo jumbo.

All this highlights the point that we need to have a discussion about immigration. We need to openly debate what kind of country we are, what kind we want to be, and where immigration and how much of it fits into the best interests of this country. Painting any discussion about curtailing or examining immigration as rascist is counterproductive and short-cited. Sooner or later the discussion will be had, and the sooner the better for everyone, the U.S. and the world.

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