Immigration, illegal or legal, is everyone’s story

MY WIFE’S GRANDMOTHER SIRI was a child so sea-sickened by the long trip in an open boat from her Norwegian fjord to the port of departure to America that she had to walk silently hidden beneath her mother’s broad flowing skirts to sneak onto the ship since no seasick person was allowed on board.

That is my favorite “illegal immigrant” story. Perhaps your family has some good ones, too.

Now is the long overdue time to reflect on these stories since our dominant political parties have reawakened to the idea that we are a country with a magnetizing core which attracts the imagination and energy of those who seek security and a better life.

Given the benefit of our American experience, plus our current knowledge of the internet where there are virtually no borders, it’s time to take a fresh look at the idea that an immigrant is some kind of barbarian.

Plymouth s cheese factories all are undergoing huge expansions because immigrants are crucial dairy farm employees. Hispanics now make up an estimated 40 percent of all Wisconsin’s dairy workers.

Some may not be fully documented, or have over-stayed permits.

But most are paying payroll taxes going for roads, emergencies,schools and public services, plus for Social Security (which they can’t ever claim). All pay sales taxes and support the local economy by buying groceries, vehicles, insurance and gas even as some may be exploited while fearing deportation if they ask for higher wages or better working conditions.Many work in “undesirable” jobs with such low pay they wouldn’t be subject to some taxes, which applies to citizens as well. American-born children of illegals are U.S. citizens by virtue of the 14th Amendment, and all children must be offered public education. An actual cost-benefit analysis is mostly guesswork and subject to the bias of those who produce them.

It’s not a one-way street, either. Many Sheboygan County residents have emigrated to other countries in search of long or short-term opportunity. The son of the prior owner of the laundromat in Elkhart Lake, for example, has helped develop the country of Latvia after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Over-regulating cross-border movement has never made much sense given how a global economy functions.

Symbolically, Kohler Co. has its globally-famous American Club (designed to serve this complicated flow) with its Immigrant Dining Room.

Unfortunately, the time frame of the benefits of a free-flowing global population are longer than the short-term viewpoints of “Man” as characterized by economist Charles Kindleberger in his elemental state is a peasant with a possessive love of his own turf; a mercantilist who favors exports over imports; a Populist who distrusts banks, especially foreign banks; a monopolist who abhors competition; a xenophobe who feels threatened by strangers and foreigners.

Certainly a way needs to be found to impose a monetary and/ or community service penalty for illegal entry, with deportation for those refusing to pay it as well as a light at the end of the tunnel for those who comply. The need for some clear such plan is obvious. The current lively debate is heartening.

Ethnic purity is in the dustbin of history. Each and every one of us is a citizen of the earth as our one country.

Our pizza cheese is at stake. — Barry Johanson, Publisher

At issue:
Illegal immigrants
Bottom line:
Fresh look, solution needed


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