Yesterday, there was the now traditional May Day immigration rally. Unlike the past few years, this was a smaller rally. I think that the whole issue seems to have disappeared from people's radar screens for now. Both parties are probably happy with this. The issue is very divisive. People don't want to be overrun by hordes of illegal aliens but I believe most people also recognize the value these folks bring to our country. And people really do not want to be in the position of deporting parents of children born here.
I think the real problem is not the immigrants we know but those we don't know. Everyone in the US knows an immigrant. And generally they like the ones they know. Growing up we had one guy across the street who was an immigrant from Italy and a guy down the street who was an immigrant from Egypt. No one had a problem with them. In fact, most people liked them, felt they were hard workers and nice people.
The issue is the immigrants we don't know -- the nameless faceless people who hang out at Home Depot looking for work. I am someone who is usually accused of being an "open borders" type, but I think the real problem here in the US is simply a matter of human nature -- people have a fear of the unknown and the "other".
The other problem is in Mexico. This is not an issue that just popped up, rather something that has been brewing for a century. Namely, the fact that successive Mexican governments have refused to reform the country, and instead send their excess population to the US. It has only gotten worse under the leadership of Fox and Calderón. And to make it worse for Mexico, those who have left probably represent the most ambitious of their lower classes. The rich have no reason to leave and the middle classes probably feel they can still make a go of it. But if you are poor and ambitious, the government has basically said "Go North!" So Mexico is basically exporting those people who would be helpful in building up a better Mexico.
I am sympathetic to illegal immigrants and their plight. I believe generally in free movement of goods and people. And considering that we do not have the all pervasive and suffocating safety net that Europe has, the kind of people that come here will be the hard working people we want to attract. But wandering around the fringes of the rally yesterday, I think it would be easier to be sympathetic if many of those marching were not wearing Che Guevara tee shirts or carrying signs for some Trotskeyite organization such as the ISO or ANSWER.