Thursday, April 13, 2006

Listen to what passes for immigration debate and it soon becomes clear: Illegal aliens are bad for our character.

Take New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Deporting illegal aliens, he told WABC-AM radio host John Gambling, would wreak havoc on golf courses across America. “You and I both play golf,” Mr. Bloomberg said on the air. “Who takes care of the greens and fairways in your golf course?”

As I recall, French royalty got the guillotine for less, in part because Les Masses didn’t share this Let Them Play Golf mentality. But nobody stormed City Hall over what writer Lawrence Auster called “Bloomberg’s Marie Antoinette moment” because in our society, Mr. Bloomberg represents the new breed. Once, Americans were renowned for a can-do spirit that never wanted to wait for tomorrow. Now, Americans exemplify a can-be-done-for spirit that wants to be waited on forever.

Something of this attitude filters through when Sen. Hillary Clinton, New York Democrat, directly addresses pro-amnesty marchers as the people who care for our children, our elderly, our hotels, our restaurants, and our lawns. Our lawns? “You are the faces of those who give us a good day’s work and often not for a fair day’s pay,” she said — which has to make you wonder what she pays her gardener.

If a Virginia landscape company recently examined by The Washington Post is any measure, not enough. The company offers $7.74 per hour (less than my neighbors pay enterprising teens for the same hard work), and Americans, the company says, aren’t applying. Rather than raise wages, thus following elementary rules of supply and demand, the company relies, like many businesses, on what the Post almost snobbishly dubs “imported labor.” The report continues: “Significantly higher wages might work [to attract US laborers], but that increase would be passed on to unhappy consumers, forcing Americans to give up under-$10 manicures and $15-per-hour paint and lawn jobs.” Horrors. What next — higher green fees? Pricey lettuce? Not for nothing did Patrick Henry say, Give me cheap produce or give me death.

In what might be called a paean to peons, the New York Daily News recently celebrated the illegal-alien economy. “They clean your office while you sleep and comfort your kids while you’re away at work. They prepare your morning coffee, deliver your lunch and clean your plates when you dine out,” the Daily News wrote. Frankly, this conjures an image closer to support staff of the British Raj than other Joe Yankee fans. The paper continues: They — the illegals — are “the backbone of an underground economy that relies on low-wage workers performing menial tasks.”

No word on whither low wages should this “underground economy” go legit via government amnesty. Maybe that’s because just talking about amnesty boosts the numbers of illegal aliens trying to get into the country. The article does go on to offer an inadvertent inkling as to why this black-market for labor exists in the first place, and why it is so vehemently defended, particularly by American elites.

The insight shows up in a vignette about Arlene, an “undocumented nanny.” She not only takes care of the kids, the paper notes, but “she’ll make breakfast, change diapers, and keep up with afternoon play dates…wash your laundry, clean the apartment and cook dinner for you when you get home.” Says Arlene: “The parents really depend on it…We literally make it possible for them to work.”

Them? No, Arlene makes it possible for the mother to work. The “underground economy” is actually the backbone of the three-career family: working Dad, working Mom and working Nanny. In other words, defending the illegal economy isn’t just an expression of the To-the-McMansion-Born attitude of the nouveau riche. There is also the strong possibility that the more affluent sector of society — the dual-income family of the upper middle class — couldn’t exist without it.

The impact of immigration law enforcement, then, goes beyond national security and cultural identity: It goes to the heart of the American family. Without the “undocumented nanny” to fall back on, many middle class mothers would have to stay home. Such a shift would have untold repercussions, not least of which would be on Junior. Without two-career parental largesse, he might actually grow into the kind of teenager who is willing to work hard and cheap — busing tables, washing cars, working construction and cutting grass. In short, the model young citizen.

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