Immigration Now, Immigration Tomorrow, Immigration Forever

Reason's pieces on immigration ("Immigration Now, Immigration Tomorrow, Immigration Forever," August/September) delivered a cogent and complete set of arguments on the issue but were most important for their central question: What threat does illegal immigration pose? I have been fully in the outraged Tancredo-Dobbs camp about this, and the fundamental nature of your question gave me pause. Now let me return the favor.

Do we owe the rest of the planet a living? Illegals come here because there is an opportunity for prosperity that comes from laws that are taken seriously and enforced fairly. They are far less likely to be shaken down by police, or extorted from, or cheated here than they are at home. If property laws are worth enforcing here, then why are those related to sovereignty treated with such contempt?

Reason is never so vexed as when property rights are under attack. Where is your outrage over the rights of those whose properties are damaged and liberty threatened as the flood of illegals washes over them daily?

Is there value in a sense of national allegiance, of shared purpose? And if so, is it worth defending, or do we let it degenerate into a quaint anachronism that couldn't survive our 21st-century sophistication, like setting out a flag on the Fourth? Most illegals do want to speak English and do want to assimilate, as have most immigrants historically. But historically we couldn't have conceived of groups like La Raza fueling a sense of entitlement that, having already corroded purpose and self-reliance among the native-born, is now seen as an inalienable right even for those who broke the law to get here.

The ideas that illegals come to the U.S. mainly to work, that our prosperity will likely increase with them here, that our culture will be richer as a result, are all worthless if the America that results is a balkanized collection of self-interests vying for status as most aggrieved. I'd like to believe all your stats about the inexorable progress of assimilation, but this is the age of asymmetrical warfare, and with narrowcasting, quotas, and enforced bilingualism, I don't buy that those who have forced their way in today are as committed to this country as were earlier generations.

Bob Simeone

Pittsburgh, PA

I don't spend my workday sitting comfortably in an air-conditioned office, instead being self-employed in janitorial and other service industry labors. You know the work Americans won't do. With the uncontrolled flood of illegal immigrants into California labor and housing markets, the blind laws of supply and demand have decreased wages and inflated housing costs, creating great suffering for legal immigrants and native-born alike. Let's not even get into the impact on schools and health care. But as usual, those with problems have no power, and those with power have no problems.

I'm very disappointed by the apples-and-oranges comparisons to past periods of immigration offered by your magazine's narrow and insulting thoughts on this subject. It left me fearing the issue will never be resolved until illegal immigrants begin taking jobs or depressing the wages of politicians, corporate CEOs, social activists, and smug opinion magazine editors.

Stephen Bankhead
Watsonville, CA

Much of what you wrote is true of the vast majority of illegal immigrants streaming across our border. What was missing is the flip side of the coin, the impact of assimilating all these immigrants.

How long before speaking English is no longer a requirement for citizenship, or until they require ballots to be printed in a foreign language? The Clinton-inspired executive order continued in force by Bush that all sorts of services must be available in foreign tongues is creating a modern tower of Babel.

Thanks to opportunistic politicians who pander to separatism and ethnic identity over national identity, more and more second- and third-generation immigrants fail to identify primarily with the United States. Contributing to this trend are people like the immigration attorney whose next area of concern is granting voting rights to illegal aliens because they are the de facto majority in many communities. Combine this with the view held by some Mexicans that the better part of the Western United States rightfully belongs to Mexico and should be taken under the banner of "reconquista," and it is a recipe for disaster.

Proactively, we need to make official the verbal cement that binds us together as a people, no matter what our color or origins are, by establishing English as the official language of the United States.

Matt Ryan
Bremerton, WA

Illegal immigrants are hated because they are poor, because they work too hard, and because they're illegal.

Americans have always secretly hated those poorer than ourselves. We want richer people to pay for our children's education; we don't want to pay for poorer people's children. We want to live and shop among the rich; we seize and destroy poor people's homes and businesses ("blight"). As the former denizens of low-rent districts become homeless, they lose their humanity and become stray dogs.

Illegal immigrants do take jobs Americans won't do, but that's only part of the picture. They take jobs because they will work harder than Americans. Our affluent laziness becomes resentment, then spite, and finally hatred.

Immigrants are illegal in the sense that someone lost in a blizzard who breaks into an unoccupied cabin to save his life is illegal. He doesn't hurt anyone, he pays for the damage, and his illegality is forgiven. He had no choice and no criminal intent.

The cure for their illegality is obvious and easy: Make them legal. These people have taken great risks and endured great hardships to become Americans, in fact if not in name. Ayn Rand said it best: "What did you do to become an American, just get born?"

Tom Porter
via the Internet

Happy 40th Birthday, Star Trek

I was surprised to see seven-and-a-half pages of kudos to Star Trek in Reason ("Happy 40th Birthday, Star Trek," August/September). Star Trek is a massive cultural phenomenon. But at the risk of dragging out the favorite dead horse of the pimply and pasty everywhere, I feel Star Wars fits your "free minds and free markets" moniker better.

Star Trek, in which the massive Federation can fulfill society's needs and wants through a replicator, sends out government agents to meddle in the business of others. Star Wars is the story of Luke Skywalker, who must fight back after the highly centralized Empire kills his family, mere farmers trying to live their lives on Tatooine. His journey from his home planet is made possible via private contract with one Han Solo. Along the way he learns of the ways of the Jedi, an oppressed minority religion sitting close to extinction due to Imperial genocide. We also meet Lando Calrissian, whose private mining operation is unjustly coerced by the Empire into meeting its leader's arbitrary will. Eventually the Rebels, a multicultural volunteer army, defeat the fascistic Empire, amid much celebration across the galaxy.

Jared Barber

Richmond, VA

Thanks to Tim Cavanaugh for pointing to the new fan-produced Trek on the Internet. This stuff is a form of community theater amateur, to be sure, but with modern technology even amateurs can put on a decent play. This could well herald the future of indie film production. Once again we Trekkies are early adopters who lead the way into uncharted space.

Sam Coppock

Chandler, AZ

Reason news

Cory Maye, the subject of Radley Balko's investigative report "The Case of Cory Maye" (October), is no longer condemned to die. On September 21, Judge Michael Eubanks ruled that Maye's original attorney was incompetent during the sentencing phase of the trial, and that he should receive a new sentencing hearing. Balko put Maye in touch with the lawyers who handled his appeal. At press time, Eubanks had yet to rule on several other defense arguments; at the very least, Maye is temporarily, and perhaps permanently, off death row.