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Thursday, July 15, 2010

How to talk to a conservative about immigration reform

Immigration activists have done a beautiful job mobilizing their base, primarily Latino immigrants and their supporters.  From my point of view, we have a lot of work to do in mobilizing the main-stream voter.

Conservatives take a variety of forms, from the gun advocate who wants to keep his pistols to the wealthy businessman who resents having to tote “papers” around with him which, to wealthy conservative fisherman has been their passport while trolling the coast of California.  Then there are the border security advocates who are convinced undocumented immigrants from Mexico somehow put their financial security at risk.  The problem with pro-immigration activists is we are not able to see it from the point of view of conservative Republicans who we often confuse for the average fruit cake.
When Luis Gutierrez proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) he put lots of feed in the bill for the conservatives who normally would oppose the measure.  The first thing we as activists need to do is find a right winger and then corner him for a heart to heart chat.  Here is what we should say:

Border Security

1.  Section 101 The Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 (CIR ASAP) addresses border security.  If you really want to guard the borders immigration reform does it!
2.  If our border patrol was not occupied chasing poor people through the desert they would have plenty of time and man-power to chase drug dealers and terrorists.  Thse guys would be the only ones left trying to sneak across the border.
3.  Face it, most people who want to come to the United States much prefer to walk through the turn styles at the check points than risk their lives crossing the desert.  There is always the occasional back to nature bunch who prefer the three day hike, but frankly, that is a luxury most poor people can't afford.
4.  CIR will fund a billion dollars a year for four years to beef up our nation’s seaports.  The sea ports are one of our weakest links in border security.  You can hide a lot in a shipping container!

1.  Statistics show, those who suffer abject poverty are significantly more likely to commit crimes against society.  Every one of us is part of society and we are not keep about being attacked.
2.  Those who go to college are much less likely to find themselves attacking society.  
2.  The Dream Act will allow young people to get a college education.
3.  In doing their part, these young people will have to be proficient in English, have a clean criminal record and meet stringent requirements. 
4.  One of those requirements includes a choice of graduating from college or serving in the nation’s military.
5.  Productive citizens pay taxes.  Let's invest our tax money in the brick and mortar of schools instead of the brick and bars of prison.  

Path to citizenship

1.  Depending upon the country from which the immigrant is from, the “line” for citizenship is 14 years long!
2.  Not many people are willing to wait for an hour in line at Wall mart.  Not many immigrants are willing to wait 14 years for the American Dream!
3.  Despite claims to the contrary, not many Americans are willing to work in the fields for 10 hours a day at low wages.  In a recent call to action, the United Farm Workers offered to let any citizen or lawful permanent resident take the job of an undocumented worker picking crops in the fields.  So far there have been almost no takers.
4.  The proposed path to citizenship is six years long before waiting lines.  Applicants will have to pass a rigorous back ground check, pay a healthy fine which could add 3 billion smacks to the treasury and demonstrate proficiency in English.
5.  Applicants will be issued a driver’s license.  That will allow them to get automobile insurance.  Most of us like the idea of every driver having auto insurance just in case there is an accident!
6.  Those who do not take the government up on the offer will be subject to sever penalties.  One part of the reform law is to identify all people in the country.


What do you want to bet if they militarize the border, target shooting in the desert will be over?  I can’t think of a worse place to bring out the Glock 9 to plug your retired HP Printer for target practice than near a little hill with armed soldiers on the other side!


Many of us are not excited about these provisions, but it is part of the give and take for immigration reform.  Conservatives will rub their hands in glee over this part of reform.  It is exactly what they have been asking for all along! 

The job of educating ignorant people does not belong to ignorant people.  That is why they are…well…ignorant.  The job of bringing the facts to the voting population is yours and mine.  It is not as fun as speaking to a base which supports the cause.  However, it is a necessary task and we must all accept the challenge.

Reasonable people understand you can’t have it both ways, ask for border security but refuse the law that will provide it; not want to be subject to the words “papers please” but refuse a law that will prevent it; help focus border security on the bad guys instead of poor people but refuse a guest worker program.

When you meet someone who won’t at least listen to the facts, it is your first clue you have bumped into a fruit cake masquerading as a conservative.  They are not true conservatives, they are just unreasonable.  Don’t waste any more time on them, they might even be dangerous!  Move on the the next cat, there are true conservatives who can think their way out of a paper bag…you just have to find them! 

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