Where would the United States be without its recent immigrants?

The plain answer is:

(spoiler alert!)


(wait for it …)

Not in a good place.

Let me show you why, from some just-released data from the National Science  Foundation.

Do you see what I see?

foreign born

And compare this:

foreign born 3

Did you notice that among the ENTIRE US science & engineering workforce, a full 9 PhD holders out of every 20 was an immigrant?

Let me say that in a different way: 45% of all American employees with doctorates that work in engineering or ANY of the sciences, repeat, 45% of them are in fact immigrants.

That’s huge.

Heck, most of my doctors and nurses and medical technicians, and my kids’ doctors, over my nearly 7 decades, have been immigrants, and we have all had major things happen to our bodies. (My wife is absolutely indestructible and never gets sick at all, lucky her. She clearly has an amazing immune system and temperament: she worked for decades with very young children in the DC public school system!)

Where would American science and technology be without them?

Certainly not in first place.

Probably lagging the rest of the world by a lot.

Speaking of which, here is the current situation as far as an official government report shows:

us global mfger

Anybody feel like researching how much of that Aircraft/Spacecraft manufacturer category in 2016 in the US was military, and how much was civilian?

I know some very, very smart and hardworking people from places like the Caribbean, Central America, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and South or East Asia — many of them holding all sorts of advanced degrees in all sorts of areas: medicine; civil or mechanical or electrical engineering; literature; mathematics; biology; and they work in the US as cab or bus drivers; secondary science teachers; clerks in all sorts of service or retail places; painters or other construction workers. Sometimes in nice IT jobs but even so, under current rules, they have to wait half a century to become American citizens.

Some of my immigrant friends and acquaintances have explained to me how the game is rigged: because of all kinds of complicated rules and regulations, they will never, EVER be able to even obtain a legal green card. I’ve seen a chart in the Washington Post that showed how immigration as a board game, only it was for real; and one that nearly every single player was going to lose: they would NEVER in this life be able to become a legal US citizen.

And in some cases, particularly from central America, if they return home to stay, either voluntarily or by getting deported, would be subjected to extortion by the local Mafia. The criminals find know exactly how long the returnee had lived (and hence probably worked) in the USA and how much they were likely to have earned during that time. The criminals then would demand some fraction of all that money, or else. It’s also the case that they can tell the difference between a person who has been to the USA and one who has never done so, just by their body language and dress – but even dressing like a never-left would not escape their notice.

I innocently asked, “pero, ¿si no pagan?”

The answer was, if you not pay, then they either start cutting off toes or fingers, or killing a child, or breaking bones, as a signal. If the first signal is ignored, then they kill the rest of the family. Knowing this, other friends and family members of the returnee do everything they can to raise the funds to pay off the criminals.

(The police are absolutely no help and are even part of the gang. There is a miniseries called Rotten on Netflix mentions this, as have articles in the New Yorker with titles like “When Deportation is a Death Sentence.”

Let me remind you: a century ago, say, 1920, there were literally millions of Russians, Poles, Italians, and Eastern Europeans, including a lot of Jews, spending large sums of money that they had saved up to purchase a ticket on a transatlantic passenger steam ship, or else they had taken out loans or work contracts to have someone else. The details are different, but there is sort of a constant drumbeat of anti-immigrant rhetoric here in the US that changes its target over time. Once it was aimed at the Irish. A century ago there were a whole lot of derogatory nicknames in common use slurring the members of each of the groups I mentioned, and others I can’t even recall. (Here’s a list of such slurs if you’re curious, but not time-specific).

My point is that right-wingers seem to have a real thing about immigrants, even though they have been one of the best things about America – unless you are an American Indian, or were imported as an enslaved laborer from Africa. They often heap all sorts of contempt upon them, in a racist manner as well. I find it a way of dividing the working class against itself.

Now as far as moving from one country to another is concerned, we know that very wealthy people, and thus the enormous sums of money that they control, can go wherever they want, whenever they want, and even live however they want. So why can’t the rest of us? Iron Curtains, Border Walls …  would it not be a good thing if people can go where they want, live where they want, work where they want? Or at least, it sounds like something a Libertarian should want, no?

Obviously, there need to be some regulations and limits. What if zillions of people suddenly wanted to go to territory X for some reason for a long period of time, and there weren’t enough sewers or waste treatment plants to deal with all the extra poo and pee — not to mention what if they hadn’t made plans beforehand to get enough food, water, shelter, and other social services and amenities beforehand? It would be a disaster, and so many facilities like parks and museums and concerts rightly limit the number of people who can enter at any given time. So some limits there should be on how many people can go to some place… But how? The system we have here is insane.

{elucidation: If someone can show they’ve been working here and other than having a passport/document problem, they’ve been model citizens, then sign them up for language courses and any other type of education they might need so they can fulfil US requirements for, say, medicine or science doctorates or engineeers or licensed electricians or plumbers or whatever. Let them be covered by labor law for the hard, difficult jobs that they do. In the parts of the US that I’ve visited in the past ten years, an enormous fraction of the workers I see in construction, agriculture, sanitation, and the entire service sector are immigrants or native-born Americans with brown skin. A relatively small fraction are Americans of European descent unless you get pretty far away from cities.

However, there has clearly got to be some regulation of movement.Same thing here. But in 1920, the frankly fascistic rhetoric of radio personality Father Coughlin was preaching against immigrants and leftists of all stripes. A few years later, 1924, the US passed a very clever immigration law that was carefully crafted to exclude certain of those same groups. This law, and many others like it regarding miscegenation and sterilization, were passed all over the United States and were upheld by the Supreme Court; Hitler and his acolytes were effusive in their praise for those American laws, saying that they helped them to inspire and refine the language of the Nazi German-nationality laws that made it easier to steal the treasure and lives of so many German and European Jews. Before and after Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, many Jews and others did their best to escape living under the Nazis, but because of the anti-immigration law of 1924, they could not get a permit, and then perished in the gas chambers and mass, self-dug graves before guns or sharpened shovels of the Third Reich or the Soviet bloc. Some couldn’t get out, some couldn’t get in. So many wonderful Jews were wiped out, but without the presence of so many Jewish scientists fleeing Hitler, would the United States have built the atom bomb? I doubt it very much. Remember reading about the Manhattan Project, anyone?:

Among the scientists who fled Europe were Albert EinsteinHans BetheJohn von NeumannLeo SzilardJames FranckEdward TellerRudolf Peierls, and Klaus FuchsEnrico Fermi‘s wife Laura was Jewish; after the 1938 Nobel Prize ceremony, he and his family left for the United States.

Objectively, anti-immigrant sentiment functions much like forms of racism: it allows the rich and powerful to divide and conquer the rest of us – the working class, so that we cannot unite to win any reforms at all.

  • we need a good national health plan for all that covers optical, dental, acute, addiction treatment, suicide-prevention, long-term, emergency, hospitalization, physical therapy, mental health, pregnancy, and pre-existing conditions.. It’ll cost some money to organize it but some wealthy corporations who do the paperwork in our exceedingly complicated and unfair system would lose out. It may cost more simply because there are a lot of poor people who can’t afford to have treatments done under the present system, but really need them
  • Better pay and real benefits like some sort of defined-benefit retirement pensions for everybody. Some sort of legal and human rights for employees in most situations; employees are free to democratically select organizations to represent them as a group which should have real bargaining rights and responsibility for accountability to its members
  • Removing the wealthy from power and figuring out a better method of choosing leaders.
    • A fair and equitable lottery for all state, local, and national elections would be one approach like they did in Athens . Right now the elections results all seem to depend on showmanship and financing, not on actual, good ideas. So billionaires and their acolytes dominate both the economy and the government, and lots of policies that overwhelming majorities support, but which are good for the billionaires, don’t get put into law, and vice versa.
  • Figuring out how to
    • Understand and fix the environment;
    • Deal effectively with scarier and scarier threat of anthropogenic  global warming;
    • fix the infrastructure and transportation systems;
    • develop new energy sources; and
    • preserve, not destroy, vital habitats for wildlife
    • Preventing the sixth extinction
  • Forgiving the debts of students, those who went bankrupt in the past 25 years, and those who still owe legal fees due to poverty
  • Re-enfranchising all those who have served their jail sentences
  • Actual education and job training for adults, including those currently in jail
  • Improving our schools in a real manner by letting teachers and other educators be in charge for a change, instead of billionaires

Many industries at one point got unionized, which meant enormous increases and improvements in working conditions, pay, and benefits for the workers in lots of major industries, including meat-packing plants. However, in the past few years, many unions in the private sector have been defeated, and wages don’t seem to have risen for workers for a very long time, even though productivity and profits and CEO compensation and bankers’ bonuses have gone through the roof.

Published in: on January 16, 2020 at 6:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

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