Why aren't Americans still talking about the abducted Nigerian school girls or the VA crisis anymore? The reason is that we have an attention span only long enough to process talking points and media driven outrage; a fatal flaw when it comes to creating solutions to complicated dilemmas. Groups like the Tea Party would rather focus on immigrants who break the law than look in the mirror and ask how our own decisions (and lawbreaking) cause the problems we face.
As for the current immigration crisis with tens of thousands of desperate children at our borders, these young people are fleeing violence and political mayhem in their home countries for a reason. We helped foment this chaos with our drug habit. They're choosing to risk death in order to immigrate to a country that hires illegal immigrants for a reason. Americans, possibly even Lou Dobbs, hire illegal immigrants. This crisis, and the entire immigration issue, rests squarely upon the shoulders of the American people. If we didn't buy the drugs that have ruined Central America or employ the illegal immigrants who represent over 5 percent of the U.S. labor force, we would not have an immigration problem. Unlike the Tea Party and Murrieta protesters who think illegal immigrants are invading the country, we caused this immigration fiasco long before courageous young people decided to flee their countries in search of political asylum.
According to MSNBC.com in 2013, the United States is the world's largest consumer of illegal drugs. As stated by Yardena Schwartz of MSNBC, our war on drugs has entailed, "more than 40 years, $1 trillion, and 2.3 million imprisoned Americans since the war began" and still "the U.S. still leads the world in illegal drug use." Not only are we tops in the world in drug use, but we're second only to Scotland in the consumption of cocaine. As of 2008 according to the UN, there were around 6.2 million cocaine users in the United States. Also, about 40 percent of high school students have tried marijuana. The insanity of allowing marijuana to remain a Federal offense is highlighted by the fact that half of the drug seizures in the world are cannabis seizures. Furthermore, if budgets are about values, then a closer look at how much Americans spend for drugs will speak volumes. According to the Rand Corporation, U.S. citizens spend $40.6 billion on marijuana, 28.3 billion on cocaine, 27 billion on heroin, and 13 billion on meth. All this money on drugs should lead to a question that Gov. Rick Perry and the Tea Party will never ask: Who supplies our voracious appetite and demand for drugs?
A Guardian article in 2013 titled, Guatemala's president: 'My country bears the scars from the war on drugs' our demand for drugs is the primary reason Guatemala and other countries in the region are experiencing such profound social and political turmoil:
In any war there are innocent victims. In the 40-year war on drugs, the central American state of Guatemala can lay claim to being just such an innocent casualty. It has been caught in the crossfire between the nations to the south (principally Peru, Colombia and Bolivia) that produce illegal narcotics and the country to the north (America) that has the largest appetite to consume them. Guatemala does little of either.
The problem is that the drugs - principally cocaine - have to be transported from the producing countries to the US, from the south to the north. Unfortunately for Guatemala, it's in the way...
The situation in Guatemala has become more serious as Mexican cartels - taking refuge from an attempt to militarily defeat them - have inserted themselves into Guatemala and sought to control the trafficking routes through that country. And with the cartels come other nightmares: kidnapping, extortion, contract killers and people trafficking.
The cartels are now posing a serious threat to the Guatemalan state, as Pérez Molina concedes: "Drug traffickers have been able to penetrate the institutions in this country by employing the resources and money they have. We are talking about the security forces, public prosecutors, judges. Drug money has penetrated these institutions and it is an activity that directly threatens the institutions and the democracy of countries."
The article goes on to explain how Nicaragua is receiving Russian weapons to fight drug cartels and Honduras has become a nation of drug transit. The sad reality of American politics is that Laura Ingram will have no problem advocating that entire families be deported, but will remain silent about our role in causing havoc in countries like Guatemala. In a saner world, the Murrieta protestors would replace their nativism for genuine concern about America's demand for drugs. As a result of our illegal drug addiction, CNN reports that, "Drug gangs have gained control of major chunks of Central America." The consequence is that young people have no choice but to flee or "work for the drug lords." Furthermore, the violence is so horrendous that the choice is to "flee or die."
Our willingness to employ illegal immigrants to do jobs that Americans won't do is another reason for the border crisis. While Tea Party types like Rick Perry will evoke conspiracies or "patriots" will shout hate filled statements at bus loads of children, the truth is Americans hire illegal immigrants. According to the Pew Research Center (a non-partisan source) in 2011, illegal immigrants are important to the U.S. economy:
There were 8 million unauthorized immigrants in the workforce in March 2010, down slightly from 2007, when there were 8.4 million. They represent 5.2 percent of the workforce, similar to their proportion for the past half-decade, when they represented 5 percent to 5.5 percent of workers.
States with the largest share of unauthorized immigrants in the workforce include Nevada (10 percent), California (9.7 percent), Texas (9 percent) and New Jersey (8.6 percent). Because unauthorized immigrants are more likely than the overall population to be of working age, their share in a state's workforce is substantially higher than their share of a state's population.
Sorry, but when illegal immigrants make up 10 percent of Nevada's workforce, and at least 9 percent of the workforce in California and Texas, then illegal immigrants are integral to the economy. One out of ten employed people is an illegal immigrant in Nevada, so don't blame the poor people doing the dirty jobs, blame the Americans who hire them.
As for the tired and blatantly false allegation that illegal immigrants drain the country of resources, the Congressional Budget Office analyzed the accusation in 2007:
Over the past two decades, most efforts to estimate the fiscal impact of immigration in the United States have concluded that, in aggregate and over the long-term, tax revenues of all types generated by immigrants -- both legal and unauthorized -- exceed the cost of the services they use. Generally, such estimates include revenues and spending at the federal, state, and local levels...
The amount that state and local governments spend on services for unauthorized immigrants represents a small percentage of the total amount spent by those
governments to provide such services to residents in their jurisdictions.
If illegal immigrants "exceed the cost of the services they use" just from their taxes, it's safe to say that their economic impact (taking into account their work in agriculture and other sectors that aren't filled by citizens) is profound.
Overall, we created the mess at our border. The brave young people currently there deserve political asylum after we negatively impacted their countries because of our drug habit. It's against the law to buy $28 billion of cocaine and it's against the law to hire illegal immigrants to pick our crops, but we do both. It's time to face the reality that we've caused the border crisis.
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