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January 29, 2007


Jack Jones


Good topic but I think on this front you're wrong and in comparing last century's immigrants with the current inflow is wrong and perpetuates the silly notion that this is all about cold hearted "meanies" keeping nice Mexicans out of US.

In my personal opinion, and by the way I'm jewish and was born outside the US, the immigrants who came to American from Europe at the start of 20th century came when America's social welfare system did not exist, where America needed "bodies" and where lack of fast and effective assimilation would result in a person starving on the streets.

Today, the situation is very different -- the Latin America "immigrants" who come are not coming as possible Americans but as wage earners, their assimilation is close to zero: http://www.amazon.com/Mexifornia-Becoming-Victor-Davis-Hanson/dp/1893554732, our waste in supporting a dual language sociaty is growing through the roof (immagine if in 1907 voting ballots would be printed in English, German, Yiddish, and Polish), and on top of all this we still need to cover social expenses of food, health, and education of illegal immigrants. I am not opposed to legal immigration from any part of the world, I am completely against illegals crossing our boarders!

Jack Jones


Another item from former Gov. Lamm

Jesse S

"I was asked, for example, why, almost twenty years after the dismantling of the Berlin Wall - with all the ugliness it symbolized - here is the winning superpower of the Cold War planning to build a new, even bigger Berlin-style wall."

That's an easy question to answer:
West Germany wasn't trying to keep people out to protect themselves. East Germany was trying to keep people IN. Otherwise everyone would have fled to West Berlin so they could be free.

I have no problem with people legally coming to the US to make better lives for themselves. But unless Mexico is going to start paying us to take millions of their citizens, why should we let them come here, take jobs and public support and ship money back to Mexico?

Shocked and awed

Irving posts a commentary on the competing goals of businesses (shareholder value, ratings) versus goal we all share of doing right. The first replies are just shy of rants on immigration. I'm shocked that they missed the point. Irving's question is really much broader than immigration through one border. He's asking about the company that decides not to produce a medicine that alleviates suffering because it would fail to generate the required internal rate of return on investment. He's asking why product safety is second to product sales. He's asking why truth and information seem to be less important than ratings and advertising revenue.

I'm not sure I believe that "it's different this time." I'm not sure it matters to me who builds the fence or which side is "in" or "out". According to dictionary.com, the root of "awe" is "achos", the Greek word for pain. When I read the initial responses that cite Hanson and Lamm, I feel "achos". Demonizing people may bring ratings, but it does not bring answers.

Jack Jones

"Shocked and awed" response is emotional but illogical. Forget for a moment about a company making a business decision on IRR, let's consider an indidual -- should I take a vow of poverty and give-away all my "worldly possesions" to help others improve their position in life or should I rationally decide to give 1% or 10% or 50% based on my, INTERNAL, moral compass? The same is true of a corporation which is actually owned by its shareholders -- they need and apply basic business logic to determine goals, objectives, and which projects will be funded and which will not. I am not in support of gauging or monopolies which take advantage of consummers, but I am also not in support of every corporation committng "hari kari" so that "Shocked and awed" can live in an illogical world.

Brian O'Donovan


Thank you for for this thoughful post on immigration. When I read some of the comments posted in response I am reminded of the need to stand up for what we believe are fiundamental rights and wrongs. One of my fundamental beliefs is that our shared identity as humans is much more important than the relatively minor issue of what country we happend to be born in. After all the notion of a nation state only arose relatively recently in evolutionary terms.

I hope you enjoy your retirement.


Momed Cass

Having spent some time on Mexico while at an intenational bank, I think that the Mexican elite is about the most irresponsible of any in Latin America. The 45% of the population that is at the bottom of the social structure (=Indian or indegenous) have been left out of the economy since Spanish days. Mexican Government policy for years has been to export this "problem" into the US.

On the tormenting of minorities, you can add the current US official policy and media attacks on Muslims living here, even when they are citizens and have come here to escape tyranny back home, as did the Jews and other Europeans in earlier days. And the denial that this does not take place.

Charles H. Green

Thank you for a thoughtful piece. I am very struck every time I go to Rio de Janeiro of what we can be like if we continue to wall ourselves off from the rest of humanity. It is not a pretty picture.

On a separate but related point, this country needs to get its social costs under control as the baby boom generation comes up. The biggest and best solution is to increase immigration--including, unlike other waves, a significant number of younger, not necessarily skilled, laborers. We need people in entry level service jobs, we need people to pay into social security, we need people to get us past the "rat in the python" huge blip that is the boomer generation. Greater Mexican immigration actually helps us quite a bit--legal or illegal. But legal would be better.

What's stopping us from decreasing tension and feeding our social security finances? Near as I can tell, it's another batch of the occasion US disease, xenophobic protectionist fear-mongering, but the usual suspects you point out. That is pure and simple a big part of the picture--fear-mongers. We've always had them, always will, but these days they're getting far more press than they should, to the detriment of all of us.

Walter Lippmann

Thanks to a Google notice, I found this blog, enjoyed the comments, and have a few remarks to share.

My father and his parents lived in Cuba from 1939 to 1942. They were German Jewish refugees from Hitler and couldn't get immediate entry into the United States. They waited in Havana for three years until their lottery number came up and they moved to the U.S.

Back in those days there was nothing like the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 - still on the books - which guarantees any Cuban who get to the United States the ability to remain in the country while immigrants from elsewhere are mostly deported, as the tragic experiences of the Haitians and Mexicans demonstrates.

At a time when there's so much contentious debate in the United States over immigration, the continued presence of a whole series of special rights, privileges and advantages for one single group - Cubans, stands out clearly, but is neither understood or even known about by many people.

So while a Berlin Wall is being built facing Mexico, there's an open door for all Cubans. In fact, there's even a special program in place now to lure Cuban doctors, who are providing medical care to needy people all over the world, to get them to defect.

People from all over the world try desperately to come to the United States where they hope they can do better in one way or another. This is understandable. Cubans have a special reason: they know that if they get to the U.S., they can remain. Is that fair? I think not.

My father learned Spanish during his time on the island, a tool useful to him for the rest of his life. I still struggle with my Spanish, but that's a work-in-progress. I'd like to thank you, Mr. Berger, for the blog and having such discussion.

My father took me to see Cuba in the summer of 1956, and, though like many Holocaust survivors, he never spoke to me about his past lives, the impact of his previous experiences was one which was always part of our family.

As an adult I worked as a social worker for Los Angeles County for 31 years. Helping people has always been important to me. After retirement I got involved in helping to get that Cuban child Elian Gonzalez back home with his dad. Later on those few dozen contacts morphed into an electronic news service focusing on Cuba, which is what I occupy my time with these days. Immigration is a big, big issue which can't be solved easily or quickly. Your Cuban experience and my experience as the child and grand-child of immigrants can give us a lot to talk and think about. Being Jewish adds to this.

One last point: about that wall: an commentary on the wall which was posted in the Cuban press a few days ago, talking ironically about the use of undocumented immigrants to build the wall to keep out such immigrants!

Again, thanks very much,

Walter Lippmann
Havana, Cuba
when not in
Los Angeles, California
April 4, 2007


>>After all the notion of a nation state only arose relatively recently in evolutionary terms.>>--Brian O'Donovan

Indeed, before we had nation states, we had absolute monarchies, and before that feudalism and before that, tribalism. Those were all great systems -- let's return to them! I mean, life is so much better today in Africa where they still appreciate a good old-fashioned tribal war like Rawanda!

This issue isn't about demonizing a group of people. It's about maintaining our national sovreignty and because of it, our right of self-determination. We have the right to say who gets into our country and who doesn't; a people who forfeit that right are no longer sovereign, no longer exercising self-determination and therefore, are no longer free.

I see that many here seem to think that self-determination is not needed anymore -- it's just an old-fashioned, outmoded concept. In a few decades, when US politics is even more heavily influenced by the corrupt, drug-gang controlled "government" of Mexico and other cruel and corrupt Latin American narcospheres, perhaps the point of self-determination will finally bore through some of the brainfog being exhibited here.

>>Greater Mexican immigration actually helps us quite a bit--legal or illegal. But legal would be better.>>

Importing 10s of millions of low-skilled, poorly educated Third Worlders coming all at once, from the same culture, with no "time out" for assimilation, is not of help to any one. Replacing First World accountants earning 100k per year with legions of Third World dishwashers earning 6 dollars an hour isn't going to pay for anyone's social security.

In addition, people aren't interchangeable widgets; culture counts. 10s of milions of unassimilated Mexicans will not perpetuate our America -- it will just create Amexico. Samuel Huntington was 100 percent correct when he noted that if the US was founded by Spanish or French or Portuguese Catholics instead of Anglo-Protestants, it would not look like the US -- it would look like Haiti or Mexico or Brazil.

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