Victor Davis Hanson on illegal immigration

Via Real Clear Politics:

As for as the immigration debate itself, we all know the truth that we suppress and the lies that we voice. Language has been the first casualty of our disingenuousness. “Illegal alien” is a descriptive, not a racist, term. In contrast, “undocumented worker” is deliberately misleading, since in most cases documents were never at issue, and not all aliens are workers. “Racism” has nothing to do with a failed system that appalls Asian- and African-Americans alike, as well as bewilders frustrated and patient Koreans, Punjabis, Africans, and Filipinos who did not cut ahead in the long legal immigration line. “Nativist” means nothing when Americans presently welcome in more legal immigrants that any other nation on earth.

Yes, illegal immigration provides a valuable source of cheap labor. But such jobs are not just those Americans will never take, but comprise work that they won’t seek out at such cheap wages. Where compensation rises, citizen workers will follow.

Yes, most aliens work hard, but a small minority of them do not, and find themselves involved in criminal activity. And given the large pool of illegal immigrants from Mexico, that small minority can still reach several thousands–such as the nearly 15,000 aliens currently locked up in the California penal system alone, at a cost of a half-billion public dollars a year.

Yes, immigrants contribute more than receive–but mostly when they are young, single, and hale. As they age, become ill, marry, and have children, those without education, English, and legality naturally draw on entitlements for a semblance of parity with American citizens otherwise impossible for such minimum wage earners.

So what fails and what works? Bilingual education in our schools, multicultural romance about a mythical Aztlan in our universities, guest worker programs that institutionalize helot status, salad-bowl separatism, and millions who cross the border illegally, all have contributed to the present disaster. But as we see with second- and third-generation model Mexican-American citizens, English immersion, acceptance of an American identity, integration, intermarriage and assimilation, legal and monitored immigration in the thousands from Mexico–all that guarantees immigrants success and energizes us the host.

Americans recoil at the volatile ethnic enclaves in France and the Netherlands–and can understand how such tribalism could quickly escalate to sectarian violence in Iraq, the Balkans, and Rwanda. Unless we curb the present influx, return to the melting pot, and salvage a legal remedy from the present illegal disaster, what we saw this week may only be the beginning of something far more dangerous from both sides of this avoidable crisis.

Read the whole thing.

PM Update: Things got nasty today at one Arizona high school. (Hat tip: Leaning Straight Up)

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