Guest Column: We did not cross the borders, the borders crossed us

Due in large part to CNN commentator Lou Dobbs’ nightly segment “Broken Borders,” immigration reform has become a hot button issue. There have been mega-amounts of heated rhetoric (hot air) on all sides of the debate. Our good neighbor to the north, Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, responded in typical Republican fashion by introducing a bill that would make felons of just about everybody and everything. True to form, the Republican-controlled House passed the measure with lightning speed. They are still unclear on the concept of compassionate conservatism. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed in the Senate. There is still hope they can come up with a more humanitarian approach.

The title to this piece is a phrase I saw on a sign during television coverage of one of the many marches across this nation in recent weeks. It made an impression on me because it rang so true. We Americans must remember that, prior to the Empire Wars of the 1800s, much of Texas, most of California, and virtually all of the southwestern United States was part of Mexico. Remember the Alamo? There was no imaginary line stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean.

One must also remember that the indigenous people of Mexico are native to the Americas. White Anglo-Saxons are not.

I would be remiss if I did not attempt to dispel other myths pertaining to Mexican immigrants. No. 1 among them is the myth that Mexicans are taking American jobs. The truth of the matter is, CEOs of American corporations have taken American jobs and off-shored them to China, India, South America or anywhere else they are able to exploit cheap labor. Talk about a disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street, every time a corporation announces it is going to lay off 10,000 American workers, Wall Street gets all giddy, and the Dow Jones shoots up 100 points.

Myth No. 2 is that Mexican immigrants are holding down the wages in this country. No, that would be the United States Congress. Congress has not voted to raise the minimum wage since 1997. There have been, however, seven congressional pay raises since the last time Congress raised the minimum wage—a total of $31,600. Someone working full-time for minimum wage earns $10,500 per year. The lame excuse most often cited by our elected “representatives” for not doing so is for fear it may cause inflation. Congress seems to be very concerned about inflation. Starvation, not so much.

So, who would inflation harm the most? The worker who is making a higher hourly wage? Again, not so much. It would, however, lessen the value of the millions of dollars held by the idle rich. So who is Congress trying to protect? The common citizen or their wealthy benefactors? You make the call. If the minimum wage were raised, all other wages would rise proportionately.

As a side note, today [April 12] I read a blurb in the Rockford Register Star about Richard Fairbank, CEO of Capital One Financial. It seems that in 2005, Mr. Fairbank, via salary, stock options and whatever, knocked down the tidy little sum of $250 million. The article went on to say, “His personal haul exceeded the annual profits of more than 550 Fortune 100 companies, including Goodyear Tire, Reebok and Pier 1.” ‘Nuff said!

One final thought. Ronald Reagan said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down the wall.” Today, many Americans are saying, “Mr. Bush, build a wall.” What’s wrong with this picture?

Carl Thompson is a Machesney Park resident and a citizen for progress of the human race.

From the April 26-May 2, 2006, issue

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