Wednesday, May 03, 2006

My Day With Immigants

Funny thing about the day without immigrants - five immigrants report to me and all showed up. Of course, all of them are here legally and most or all of them are citizens. The protest was actually a Day Without Illegal Immigrants but they don't like to admit that this their status.

My wife and I checked. We saw a couple of Mexican restaurants closed. Nothing else seemed to be affected. Granted, Columbus, Ohio is a long way from the Mexican border but there are enough Mexicans here to support five Mexican groceries (which were closed) and a weekly Spanish newspaper.

Cities with larger Hispanic populations had bigger demonstrations but no city in the US actually had to close.

So what now? Yes, the illegal immigrants have shown that they can organize and mount a protest that has a minimal effect on the economy. They cannot do this often. The whole reason that they are here is economic. If there are many of these protests then the numbers will drop significantly - either because people cannot keep taking time off to protest or because they went back home after losing their American jobs. Either way, the threat of further protests is a bluff.

I'm not sure what the point was, anyway. When a million citizens turn out to protest, politicians listen because this represents a million votes. This is not an issue with illegal immigrants.

This could change if a voting rights bill co-sponsored by Hillary becomes law. This law would allow anyone with a driver license to vote. If Democrats take control of Congress this Fall then we might see legislation like this passed. In the meantime, illegal immigrants don't offer much of a threat.

Their biggest strength is a humanitarian appeal - they are already here, they came here for jobs, can't they stay?

Mass protests demanding immediate, unconditional citizenship erode the natural goodwill that many Americans feel.

When House Republicans first passed tough new legislation, they were fighting the majority opinion. I expect people to become both more polarized and more hostile because of the protests. This could prove a godsend to Republicans in the Fall.

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