November 13, 2008
Condelezza Rice on Immigration
From a NY Times article that is to be published in the upcoming Sunday magazine:
WHY FREE TRADE WILL COME UNDER ATTACK.
Mexico has benefited from Nafta. In the current globalfinancial crisis, of course, a lot of people are going to be questioning free trade and international integration and all of those things. . . . Yes, the financial system clearly got out of kilter, and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and the president and Congress are dealing with that. But it shouldn't go to the core principles of markets, the importance of open trade, the fact of globalization — which is not going to go backwards.
IMMIGRATION POLICY IS FOREIGN POLICY.
We didn't get comprehensive immigration reform. . . . I think everybody knows that this president tried. I remember the first foreign-policy meeting that I went to with the then-governor, before he was inaugurated, was with the then-governor, soon to be president of Mexico, Vicente Fox, and they talked about the need to fix this problem. I am a firm believer in defending our laws and defending our borders. . . . But it's also true that there are a lot of hardworking people in this country who live in the shadows.
IMMIGRANTS ARE CENTRAL TO AMERICAN IDENTITY.
I was a major proponent of the temporary-worker program and finding some way to normalize the status for these people. I think that it goes to the core of who we are. I hear some people talking about, well, maybe there should be a timeout on legal immigration, check your last name and see whether or not it came over on the Mayflower.
WHY SOME IMMIGRANTS SHOULD STAY — AND SOME SHOULD STAY HOME.
Improving the economic conditions that would allow people who are clearly ambitious — if they're going to walk across the desert to get here, they're ambitious people — improving the capability of those people to stay home and contribute is the last piece of that puzzle. Comprehensive immigration reform is the one thing I wish we'd been able to do, and it's going to have to be done, and I hope it's done soon.
November 13, 2008 | Permalink
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Condelezza Rice on Immigration:
Thank God she will be gone in January!
Posted by: Thomas Lillich | Nov 13, 2008 7:25:03 PM
As usual, the irrelevant comment of Thomas Lillich fails to address even a single issue, which unfortunately is the reason that constitutes all of his snipes to be a waste of all of our time. On the other hand, for once he happens to be correct, in that it is a very good thing indeed that the Bush administration will soon be over. That being said, one assumes that Lillich is implying that the reason that he is happy that Rice is leaving is due to her comments from this post, (it is hard to say for sure, since as usual Lillich is vague in his demagoguery - but this does fit his pattern).
It is ironic that in this one instance that I do agree with Lillich, it turns out that I disagree 75% with the reason why I agree with him! In fact, I agree 75% with Rice's comments. I can think of many, many reasons why Bush has been a total disaster, but Rice's comments are primarily right on, and this is not at all why I think that Bush was a poor President. So, yes, I agree with Lillich in his comment here, but I take solace in the fact that I don't agree with why I agree with him. Crazy, I know.
I do not agree with the first 25% of Rice's comment. I do not believe that Mexico has benefited from Nafta, (at least not as well as many people assume). Most of the manufacturers that I know in Mexico invested heavily to ramp up production for Nafta. At first, they were able to gobble up quite a bit of our production, (good for them, bad for the U.S.). Unfortunately, once we decided, (or should I say once Walmart decided through their lobbyists), to eliminate Quota from China and other countries, Mexico got blown away by their far east competitors. Many factories have been idled, and many industrial real estate developments have been sitting uncompleted or abandoned. Rice argues here for the benefits of globalization, and while in principle the arguments have merit, it is the method in which we, (during the Bush legacy), have chosen to embrace globalization that I disagree with. We should not have followed the path of looking to cheaply import more than we export. We should not have allowed the ill-advised outsourcing of our manufacturing base. Manufacturing jobs are the backbone of any industrial economy, and we have gravely jeopardized our economie's strength, so that Walmart can sell us more and cheaper products. Now we are left with fewer tools in which to energize our economy, and will in many ways have to start from scratch to do so. Our resulting trade deficit has become an albatross around our necks, that we will have to deal with for probably decades or more.
Ironically for Mr. Lillich, to re-energize our stagnant economy will require all of our might and abilities. We will need 100% of our workforce to pull ourselves out of this mess, (not just the 85+/-% of our "legal" workforce). We're in a tight spot, and we need everybody on board - "all hands on deck" - to rise above this economic retraction.
Rice makes a good point when she says that the people that came here are ambitious. I make the argument all the time that it is the strong willed, brave, and proactive that come here, legal or otherwise, if that is the only way that they can escape a life of poverty and destitution. It is the weak and scared that don't come. Those are are too scared or lazy to reach out for a better life. We should be embracing our undocumented, and not shunning them, but I digress.
Posted by: Robert Gittelson | Nov 14, 2008 1:30:45 PM
'It is the weak and scared that don't come. Those are are too scared or lazy to reach out for a better life.'
I find that type of rhetoric offensive. Maybe they just respect U.S. law, prefer to achieve something in their own country, refuse to abandon family, etc. These are commendable reasons and I don't think being poor relative to American wealth makes you a loser if you don't come to America (or any richer country) legally or illegally. As a practical matter, the vast majority of the world's population is poorer than us, many virtually or literally penniless, and couldn't all come here anyway.
I don't think it's good for a government official like Rice to imply that ignoring the country's law is what a foreign national should do if they're ambitious. 'Git' (who called you that, Horace?) makes explicit the less talked about other side of that viewpoint--if coming to the U.S. illegally demonstrates good characteristics, those with opportunity to come but don't are by implication lacking something--ambition, courage, etc. I will never label someone who plays by the rules a sucker or imply that it's immoral not to ignore immigration law.
Posted by: Jack | Nov 14, 2008 10:24:48 PM
Jack makes a reasonable point, and I should clarify my remarks. Jumping the fence and entering illegally should not be the first resort for impoverished people, but rather the last resort. My argument is that when all other legal options have been exhausted, the people that have chosen to break out of the poverty cycle and not settle for a life of poverty for themselves and their families deserve some respect for having the fortitude to seek a better life. The option of reaching out for a chance at a better life in the United States is not available to most Asians and Africans, but has historically been possible for our neighbors south of the border. You shouldn't blame them for taking the chance that is geographically unavailable to overseas residents. If a building is on fire, you don't blame people for escaping through whatever exit they can reach. The difficult decision, in terms of morality, is whether it is more moral to feed your starving children, or follow the letter of the law. When it comes down to that ultimate difficult decision, (and it often has to reach that level of "life or death" decision before action is taken), I suspect that the moral high ground could very well belong to the survivalist. I believe that my point is, that one shouldn't label these people as criminals or lawbreakers, until one has "walked a mile in their shoes", even if that path takes you over the border.
Posted by: Robert Gittelson | Nov 15, 2008 7:18:45 AM
I don't think anyone cares what she thinks on this subject. She's on her way out, and good riddance.
Posted by: eh | Nov 15, 2008 12:29:20 PM