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Orson Scott Card on Immigration

Orson Scott Card is a bestselling author and columnist.  His novel “Ender’s Game” has recently been adapted into a movie.  He occasionally writes columns on political matters, including immigration.  He has had some very cogent things to say about the topic, some of which I have excerpted here:

From his article “What is This ‘Crime,’ Really?”:

So what is this vile crime of “illegal immigration” that requires us to throw out hard-working people who do jobs that no American was willing to do (not at those wages, anyway, not while living in that housing)?

It consists of crossing over an arbitrary line that somebody drew in the dirt a century and a half ago. On one side of the line, poverty, hopelessness, a social system that keeps you living as a peasant, keeps your children uneducated and doomed to the same miserable life you have — or worse.

Wouldn’t you take any risk to get across that line?

…..

We Americans, what exactly did we do to earn our prosperity, our freedom? Well, for most of us, what we did was: be born.

Yeah, we work for our living and pay our taxes and all that, but you know what? I haven’t seen many native-born American citizens who work as hard as the Mexican-born people I see working in minimum-wage jobs in laundries and yard services and intermittent subcontracting projects and other semi-skilled and unskilled positions.

I have no idea which (if any) of the people I see doing this work are legals and which are illegals — but that’s my point. Latin American immigrants, as a group, are hard-working, family-centered, God-fearing people who contribute mightily to our economy

….

And if all you can say to that is, “It doesn’t matter, send them all home, give them no hope of citizenship because we don’t want to reward people for breaking the law to enter our country,” then here’s my answer to you:

Let’s apply that standard across the board. No mercy. No extenuating circumstances. No sense of punishment that is proportionate to the crime. Let’s handle traffic court that way.

The penalty for breaking any traffic law, from now on, is: revocation of your license and confiscation of your car. Period. DWI? Well, we already do that (though usually for something like the nineteenth offense). But now let’s punish speeders the same way. Driving 50 in a school zone — lose your license and your car! Driving 70 in a 65 zone on the freeway? No license, no car. Not coming to a full stop at an intersection? No license, no car.

No mercy, no exceptions, no consideration for the differences between traffic offenders.

Oh, you don’t want to live under those rules? Well, you can’t deny that people would take the driving laws much more seriously, right?

“But it wouldn’t be fair!” you reply.

That’s right. It wouldn’t be fair. Yet that’s exactly the same level of fairness that I hear an awful lot of Americans demanding in order to curtail the problem of illegal immigration.

The only thing that makes illegal immigration a problem is that it’s illegal. If we simply opened our southern border the way all our borders were open in the 1800s, then would there be any continuing burden?

In this country, we have a long tradition of punishing only the individual who does wrong, not his entire ethnic group. (Though, come to think of it, there are a lot of people who would like to change that — but that’s another argument.)

The voice of bigotry speaks: “But they’re dirty, they don’t speak the language, they live in such awful conditions.”

Hey, buddy! They’re dirty because they’re poor and exhausted and they work with their hands and they sweat from their labor! They don’t speak the language because they weren’t born here and in case you’ve never tried it yourself, learning another language is hard. And they live in awful conditions because they’re doing lousy, low-paying jobs and sending the money home.

Of course, these complaints are often disguised ways of saying, “We don’t want them here because they’re brown and most of them look like Indians.” Only we know better than to admit that’s our motive, even to ourselves. So we find other words to cover the same territory.

Efforts to “protect English” are the exact equivalent of those signs saying “No Irish Need Apply” or the rules limiting the number of Jews who could be admitted to prestigious universities or the laws telling black people where they could and could not sit in buses and trains. English doesn’t need protection. People need protection from those who would hurt them because they weren’t born to English-speaking parents.

From “Ethnic Cleansing or ‘Amnesty’” (This article describes a hypothetical scenario where all illegal immigrants are rounded up and deported.  When Card refers to a character as a “fuzzy headed liberal” he is being sarcastic):

When Serbians ask why we bombed them for trying to expel native Albanians from Kosovo, when we’re doing the exact same thing, we don’t bother answering. We don’t have to answer. We’re the world’s only superpower, and therefore everything we do is right.

It’s not ethnic cleansing, we carefully reply. It’s not because they’re Spanish-speaking brown-skinned people that we think they posed a danger to America. It’s because they didn’t have green cards.

The Republican spokesman nods wisely. “They broke the law even coming into this country.”

“What if it was a stupid law?” asks the liberal.

“It was the law, and they broke it.”

“Look,” says the fuzzy-headed liberal, “we made up these laws. It’s not like murder or theft or rape, where one person is infringing the rights of another. We just decided, arbitrarily, which people could come into our country and which could not. Our rules favored the rich; the poor in other countries weren’t welcome.

“But there they were, starving in their own country,” the bleeding-heart liberal goes on. “And the only thing holding them back from feeding their children was a border and a set of completely arbitrary rules. Stupid, needless rules that kept the workers in one country from getting the jobs that were waiting for them in another.”

“That’s treasonous!”

“No, sir, you are the traitor. You’re the one who declared that America was no longer a nation built around an idea, which accepted all who embraced that idea. Now it’s just like any other nation on Earth. It stands for nothing except for holding on to what we’ve got and making sure there’s no room for the people most desperate to come and join us.”

“They didn’t want to live under our laws!”

“Yes they did. All we had to do was change a law that made far less sense than the traffic laws Americans break or bend all the time! If you make breathing a crime, then yes, all the breathers are criminals, but the people who made the laws are the stupid ones.”

“How dare you! We’re the ones who wanted to keep America American!”

“America is a nation that thrived because of a constant infusion of eager new citizens. You have closed the door against the best and bravest of them. You have cut off the lifeblood.”

“At least we’re still speaking English!”

“That’s right,” says the fuzzy-headed liberal. “It takes a lot of brains and determination to learn to speak two languages fluently. We kicked out six million people who were willing to try to do that. And what we have left is … you.”

From “Homework and Perry’s ‘Mistake’“:

But what I kept hearing was that the main reason Perry stumbled was because he actually defended Texas’s policy of charging in-state college tuition rates to the children of illegal immigrants. What cost him, people are saying, is that he said to anyone who opposed that policy, “I don’t think you have a heart.”

Never mind that these are children who did not choose where they would live, or whether to come illegally into our country. Never mind that, legal or not, these children are still residents of our country and we all prosper if they get an education so they can get well-paying jobs instead of remaining desperately poor — a breeding ground for crime and welfare.

I mean, isn’t the anti-immigrant hysteria all about how these dark-skinned Spanish-speaking people don’t learn our language, go on welfare, and commit crimes? Wouldn’t getting an education for their children go a long way toward making sure they learn our language, don’t go on welfare, and don’t choose a life of crime?

But let’s just forget the rational arguments and think a little bit about who we are and what America means. Is it really the belief of significant numbers of Republicans that America will be a better place if we, as a society, punish children for their parents’ misdemeanors?

Now, there’s a thought. Maybe it would work! Suppose that instead of losing your license when you’re convicted of driving drunk, your children were taken out of school for a year!

Or if you get too many points on your driver’s license, your children’s grades for that year would be dropped a full letter grade in every class, with no possibility of appeal or explanation.

Oh, isn’t that fair? You think it’s wrong to punish children and interfere with their future just because of their parents’ law-breaking?

Then you must be a Republican In Name Only … because apparently true-blue dyed-in-the-wool Republicans refuse to support a presidential candidate who thinks that the children of illegal immigrants should get the state-resident tuition rates for the schools in the state they reside in.

Evan