What follows is our third installment of "Diner with Duke and DuctapeFatwa: A liberal discussion of immigration".
Part I : Here
Part II: Here
IMMIGRATION III: DUCTAPE FATWA RESPONDS AND POINTS OUT A FEW OBSTACLES
First of all, I do not think that your two or three generations is accurate. People who have been in the US for ten years, working at the jobs you refer to, low paid, etc., their children have grown up bilingual, and in a few years will be able to assume their own role in the political process, thus relieving those who struggle with what they perceive to be a problem of that burden. And almost any plan, yours or anybody's, that involved any substantial change, would, in the absence of tens of millions of Minute Men supporters storming the capital, take at least that many years to "adjust" in order to provide a corporate incentive for endorsement.
I agree with you that it would be wonderful if employers would provide on-site English classes, adult literacy (both reading and writing and computer) literacy classes, paid time off to take them, etc. so that their employees would be able to mobilize upwardly. However, this would hardly be in the employer's interest. In fact, leaving immigrants out of the picture entirely, you cannot have failed to notice that the entire education of the underclass is focused on training individuals to sit quietly until an appointed hour, and follow instructions.
Employers whose profits depend on cheap labor are not likely to be inclined to sacrifice the contents of their own pockets in order to expedite that cheap labor becoming more expensive.
Add to that the fact that tomorrow's cheap labor construction worker, regardless of where he purchased his papers, if he can learn bricklaying, can earn more money per hour than he would if he went to college and became a teacher. And considerably more than if he merely gets a liberal arts degree where if he is lucky, he may get a job in a posh department store selling footwear. This is one of the challenges faced by teachers, when they try to convince the older children of immigrants to remain in school.
Fostering language skills would, in an ideal world, take precedence over fostering per hour earnings, but this is a cultural issue that cannot be addressed by having immigrants fill out forms. And the money that is paid into the social security system going into the cost of the forms and their processing, while I think many would support just about anything that would keep it out of the pocket of the immigrant, I'm not sure that would be the best selling point for the target audience themselves.
I don't mean to suggest that you would not have any takers, I just don't think the chances are good that you would have enough to make a difference to either the anti-immigration people or the politicians, who of course serve the corporations, and I just do not see any extra money for the corporations in your plan.
The status quo basically sucks, however it does provide certain benefits, and certain trade-offs, for both worker and employer. The main objection to this status quo, at least to the more intelligent of the anti-immigrant sector, is that they realize that it is the employer who has the short term advantage, as mentioned previously, the children of the people who come to US to work will not be limited to low paying jobs, nor taxation without representation, and every time a white lady has a baby, 5 indias have babies, who will grow up bilingual, and with as much chance for upward mobilization as the children of native born parents in all but the most affluent classes have, which I will grant you is next to none, but if you talk to the Minute Men and friends, they are not unaware of the changing demographic, and the changes in other things that will surely come with that, barring explosion of course, which is far from certain.
There is also the fact that a man who has had only 3 or 6 years of formal education, unless someone is going to pay all his family's expenses and put him through a 4 year degree program, even if he learns English, is not going to be able to come out of his English class, put on a Brooks Brothers suit and get a white collar job on the fast management track. The increased hourly wage he will get for learning English, once it is taxed, is not going to mean that much to his family's lifestyle, but multiplied several hundred times it will mean something to his employer's profit, so the employer would be better off firing him, and hiring someone who does not speak English for fifty cents or a dollar less an hour.
I think your plan would be most appealing to more "elite" immigrants, usually from South America, who for reasons best known to them find it expedient to depart their homelands as changes occur in the region, individuals who have advanced degrees and could probably get visas, but prefer not to remain in the home country for what can be a somewhat lengthy process. There are many individuals of this sector, who have been arriving with regluarity in the US since the early nineties, many have relatives already here, with ample resources to help them get on their feet (some have been so patriotic as to arrive in the United States bringing their homeland's national treasure with them, even going so far as to make the sacrifice of holding these assets in their own personal bank accounts for safekeeping). These folks are indeed an English class or two away from, if not the boardroom, at least a corner office, and they love to fill out forms.
But at this time, by far the largest group of people coming to the US to work are people from Mexico and Central America, who enjoy resources neither monetary nor educational, at least in the sense of education recognized in the personnel offices of the sparkling office parks, where they are more likely to find themselves replenishing wilted beds of pansies than arranging the schedule of the Sixth Vice President for Project Implementation.
These are stalwart, courageous young men (and some women) who come from little blink and you'll miss it towns in Guerrero and Oaxaca, from even smaller mountain villages in Michoacan, from the countryside of Nayarit and Chiapas, who may introduce themselves in the old style, Juan Lopez, para servirle a usted y la Virgencita de Guadalupe, men, and soon-to-be men with little brown felt scapularios around their necks, made by their grandmothers, put over their heads when she blessed them for the journey north, as also blessed them their mothers, their fathers, men and soon-to-be men who can work faster and better and harder than any native born Estadosunidense, and yes, they will do it for 90 hours a week for next to nothing, and live 12 in an apartment, sleeping on the floor and eating nothing but beans and tortillas, because in this way they can send money back home to their viejos, and if they scrimp even more, in a year, maybe less, they can buy paisage for la verdadera, and once she is there, and their child is born, your son's boss, maybe his Senator, his President is born. (Not that you will mind by then, as you learn Spanish from your grandchildren who call you Lito, even though not a single one has their mother's blue eyes) And back in the pueblito, where once leaned a stick and leaf house now stands a sturdy house of concrete blocks, two whole rooms, and outside are goats. Their parents and little sister will be OK. She is even going to school now, since 3 of the brothers have come. She will be able to work in Mexico, and care for the aging parents, meet an educated man, and her children will also go to school.
The process of reclaiming the continent is well underway.
No special card, no set of initials, not even 50 cents more an hour, can compare with that.