Help, There Are Illegal Immigrants Under My Bed!!

Novelist Lionel Shriver is pissed off at illegal immigrants because, among other things,

3) Having followed the rules on immigration – and complicated rules they are – I resent folks who cheat and get away with it. 4) The entire world seems to believe they have a right to live in my country, but it doesn’t work the other way around; other countries are as defensive of their borders as they are oblivious of mine, and I bristle at the double standard.

The problem here is that Shriver conflates two responsibilities. Migration from one country to another happens as a result of individuals’ actions, while border control–whether in countries that receive or send immigrants–falls under the purview of government action. Being angry at illegal immigrants here in the U.S. because of the way their home countries’ governments act toward immigrants from a third country is silly. If these illegal immigrants could control their governments, they probably would have forced them to create jobs so they wouldn’t have had to come here in the first place.

Shriver’s aversion to illegal immigration has worsened, she says, since visiting the U.S. recently:

I have got the immigration bug worse than usual since I flew into JFK this week, where the jumble of foreigners queuing at passport control was indistinguishable from the jumble of foreigners – taxi drivers, fast-food vendors – on the other side of customs.

What’s with the assumption that the taxi drivers and fast-food vendors in New York are ‘foreigners’? How does she know whether they are native born American, naturalized Americans, or immigrants–let alone legal or illegal? Or is it their skin color that pegs them as foreigners?

The rest of the article is an indignant denunciation of the American system, which Shriver believes encourages illegal immigration because of loopholes in the law, and because the law itself is never applied. Rather than direct her anger at illegal immigrants, Shriver would do well to ask why those loopholes exist. I’ll tell you why: Because this government is quite happy to have cheap labor who a) will do the babysitting, elderly care, washing, cooking, cleaning, and oh yes, even fire-fighting, b) will contribute millions of dollars in sales taxes and other taxes, c) has no representation in Congress and cannot vote and, most important, d) can be used to ‘wag the dog’ when something else goes wrong–an illegal and immoral war for example.


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