Full Disclosure
May 12, 2006

Is America saying “go home” to immigrants?

Many people around the world have for a long time viewed America as the “Land of Opportunities”. Some have even gone to lengths in referring to the United States of America as the “Promise Land”, giving it a status similar to that of Israel in the times of Moses. One may choose to refer to the United States by whichever term he or she deems best, but the reality is that the US as we know it, is a direct product of the creative and dedicated hard work of immigrants.{{more}}

More than a million immigrants in the US took part in a day of nationwide action to protest a recently proposed Immigration Reform. The protest was aimed at persuading Congress to abandon the tough measures in a Bill passed last year by the US House of Representatives. These measures include provisions that would act to the detriment of immigrants.

Who really is an immigrant? Save and except for the Native Indians who we hardly ever see or hear, everyone else in the United States is an immigrant. However, the statistics show that approximately 11.5 million immigrants presently live in the US, 75 percent of whom were born in Latin America and the Caribbean. The remaining 25 percent is composed of immigrants from every other place on earth.

The US politicians are very divided on the issue of immigration. Some are of the view that immigrants should be sent home since they create a high level of negative dependency. Immigrants have also been considered as an economist’s nightmare since owing to their uncertainty in numbers, residence, spending habits and way of life, their needs are extremely difficult to be factored into any budget. These skeptics further argue that there are many unemployed Americans, not those who are physically unable to work, but those because of the influx of immigrants they are sidelined, and forced to become dependant on the State’s welfare system in some instances.

On the other hand, another school of thought is of the view that a downsizing of the immigrant population may cripple the US workforce, since most Americans will never be willing to do the jobs that are done by immigrants. This may either be as a result of the relatively low wages attached to most jobs to which immigrants are readily attracted to, or simply because of the nature of jobs such as babysitting and other domestic related work which are not seen as a part of the American Dream.

We have lived long enough to see persons move to the US and be able to accrue great wealth through legal means. Whether wealth is happiness in this context, is debatable. We have also seen many leave our shores for the so-called “Promised Land” and after 10 or 20 years may have been able to save very little. Ones success as an immigrant is clearly dependent on ones personal drive to achieve and the willingness to work extremely hard. The saying that America is not a “Bed of Roses” is certainly true. In this regard, the issue of immigrants and immigration leaves me with far more questions than answers.

Some of these are: firstly, do people really explore all their avenues for personal development within their country of birth before they migrate? Secondly, do the benefits to be derived from remittances far outweigh those to be gained from the productive power of the people in building their own national wealth? Thirdly, are the “Brighter Lights” of New York City really worth the juggle? Lastly, is it really worth the while, to leave your freedom to spend the rest of your life looking over your shoulder as an alien in a foreign land?

The answers to these questions vary from person to person and many personal circumstances will dictate the manner in which one may choose to address these issues.

Today, technology in America is far replacing people. America is a bleeding Super Power trapped in many Hot Spots around the world wondering whether to stay or whether to leave. Can we really be upset with the US for their new sense of radicalism in the proposed Immigration Policy? Probably the US is saying that they have gotten enough out of us, and it is time for us to go home. It scares me as to where the US is anticipating to source labour to replace that which was previously supplied by immigrants.

I am not anti-America, but in many instances US policies are inhumane and unkind. The US on the one hand in assuming the self appointed portfolio of “God – Father of the World” is the main spokesperson for free trade of goods and services and the removal of trade barriers, but on the other hand, is seeking to adopt one of the most protectionist policies as it relates to the free movement of labour. The American Philosophy is definitely founded as the “Do as I say but not as I do” concept. I am uncertain as to how the rest of the world would accept such behaviour in this century.

Many have lost confidence in America’s military might since the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. The President appears to be losing credibility globally as a meddler in the affairs of others whilst its domestic affairs go haywire. In this light, the move to bring to the fore more stringent immigration laws may well be an attempt by the present US administration to conduct a game with a potentially fatal political dagger.

This may very well be the perfect time to show the United States of America what free movement of goods, services and people really means, by the creation of a viable Caribbean Single Market and Economy where our migration can focused intra-regionally. Probably, this is just another opportunity in history for us to rethink the “Promise Land”; I see Giants there now.