In an episode of 30 Rock Jack Donaghy, Alec Baldwin’s character, goes to find a new cast member for TGS from the “real America” and fails This assumes that the idea of real America is rural countryside, most likely in the South. Which makes little to no sense because math alone tells you more Americans live in urban and suburban centers. This haunts the amazingly proficient congress, which postulates that immigrants not speaking English hurt real Americans. Even though the rural areas in the South self inflict pain on themselves through poor education that effectively doesn’t make them relatively better at English.
The conundrum of the “real America”, no matter how arbitrary and frivolous, is very common among a wide variety of people. It’s a narrative as interesting as reality television. Mr. America is trying to survive against the vague attempts of Mr. Mexico to find a job. Except, to “team America” a Mexican working hard is not really lifting themselves by the bootstraps but rather taking jobs from “real America.”
President Obama’s speech on immigration is actually not that new. Every Republican president before the turn of the millennia did the same. H.W Bush and Reagan passed executive orders to help illegals. They leaned to the normal and human emotion that people who want to come to the US are actually driven. They realized that “real America” isn’t a pick up truck by a riverbed but rather tolerant and hard working people.
Moreover, the newly elected Governor of Texas has some big shoes to fill in. After all, arguably a Governor of Texas does nothing besides sue the executive. The complaints of Governor-elect Abbott seem to be that helping poor stranded illegal immigrant children is too much of a cost and not an interest to a state that can afford to do so. Helping children some how takes away from the cattle farmer or whatever outdated icon. Especially, when the state runs surpluses and clearly has a growing population. All of this is in ignorance; Texas is a state that can link the majority of its success to a productive Hispanic immigrant community.
Helping humans who are willing to work without help is called “Shamnesty” by the generation that experienced up until the 1990s the greatest amount of government assistance. This generation, Baby boomers and Gen X of “real America”, clearly have no help from the government. So, it makes perfect sense for the government to kick people out who look different because a lacking passport/visa makes you a pollutant to aboveground pool parties.
Now the nativist opinion is not special to the rural and less diverse parts of America (with exceptions), it inflicts most countries of the world. But what is captivating is its existence in Western democracies. The world isn’t fair. If you attend any college you are far ahead, if you attend high school in America you are far ahead, if you attended elementary school you are far ahead. Believe or not being born American makes you far ahead. Now, allowing those who would also like to get ahead doesn’t hinder one’s success. And implying that cultural differences as an issue ignores this country’s history and clear proof of previous positive immigration experience. As well, citing security threats fails the test, as the world is safer today than the days of open immigration.
I have written with some sincerity previously on the issues of immigration. Majority of economic literature clearly points out that immigration is almost always a net positive. The general argument against this is of course “real American” culture. Whatever that means, I think that people who are sane will say that there is no main American value besides liberty and freedom. Those who lost their sanity to “real America” will say the same yet criticize immigrants for lacking family values. Even when Hispanic families hold up family values much tighter than the South, aka the “real America”.
Every conversation I have had with anyone about illegal immigration takes the same turn. Ask them why they want illegal immigrants, some 15 million, kicked out they give you the most surface level answer in the entire history of Western philosophy. To them it’s because “this is our country,” as if they own it. They feel like another individual with a different birthplace coming to live miles away from them and never interact with them is somehow like in their backyard. Little do they know that immigrants offer new ideas and push technology. They are one of the main factors that lead to the United States’ economic and cultural success. Anyone not willing to concede this might as well not be a “real American.”