We are schizophrenic on immigration

The reason that immigration is the most difficult issue in a generation to solve is because the American people are schizophrenic about it.  On the one hand the vast majority of Americans cite illegal immigration as one of the most pressing problems in our nation.  At the same time, big majorities (between 65 and 75 percent depending on what survey you are reading) believe that we should provide those here illegally (who are working and crime free) with ability to stay here under some legal status.  And almost 60% believe that illegal aliens should be able to gain citizenship after those who are trying to do so legally have done so.

The New York Times and CBS News did a poll of 1,125 adults between May18-23.  Some interesting findings:

More than 70% believe illegal immigration weakens our economy by driving wages down. But more than 65 percent agree with a guest worker program with more than 50% believing that those guest workers should be able to become citizens (that is beyond what even the Senate immigration bill does).

57 percent think that recent immigrants have been a benefit to the country, but 35% said in the long term immigration would be bad for the country while only 28% said it would benefit us. (Presumably the rest had no opinion or thought there would be no change)

In the most dramatic example of our schizophrenic nature, a full 82% said that the federal government should do more to address illegal immigration but only 15% favored fences as the main control tool.

25% believe we should have a completely open border and 25% believe we should completely seal the border (the question I have is why there is a 10% difference between those who want to seal the border and those who think a fence is the main component to do so.)

I suppose it is only human nature that we are of two minds on this issue.  It is easy to rail against illegal immigration (as I do on a regular basis) when I think of it in terms of an ephemeral group of “them.”  However, when you put a human face to it, things begin to get more complicated.  I experienced this first-hand when I had a rare opportunity to accompany some border patrol agents on duty (I have a buddy who wears the green uniform) and they interdicted a group of illegals.  I have to admit, it was an adrenaline rush to be so close to the action and to see the agents work quickly to get the two dozen illegals corralled (they gave a feeble attempt to run, but figured they couldn’t outrun the SUV’s we were driving.  The agents lined them up and one-by-one searched them for weapons and asked various questions. 

I got a chance to ask some of the illegals questions through one of the agents who was fluent in Spanish.  There was a mother with a young girl.  They apparently did not have any connection to the rest of the people with whom they were wandering the desert south of Tucson.  According to what she told the agent, there was no husband and she could not find work to support her and her 9-year-old daughter.  I have to admit, the “tough guy” attitude I was displaying began to fade.  When the mother pulled her daughter’s backpack out of her own backpack, I was startled to immediately recognize it as the identical Strawberry Shortcake backpack that my 8 year-old daughter owns.  She then rifled through the pack looking for something, which she eventually found and handed to the agent.  He handed it to me explaining that it was the daughter’s most recent report card – she was a straight A student.  By that time I was darn near tears as I thought about what I was witnessing: a single mother with a straight-A student daughter was literally risking their lives to walk across the desert on the hope that she could find work.  As I looked at the little girl I visualized my own daughter, trying the fathom whether it was an incredible act of love that this mother would embark on such a dangerous journey or completely insane.  It struck me that love can be strong enough for us to do irrational things.  At that moment I concluded that if I was in her shoes, I’d probably do the same exact thing.  By this time I was such an emotional wreck that I walked away and sat in the truck, I couldn’t handle the impact this experience was having on me.

Since then I have drawn some conclusions. 

1 – Our border patrol agents are heroes.  To face that kind of circumstance day in and day out has to take a toll.  And yet they put the boots on every day and get out there protecting our border.

2 – We have a seriously broken system. 

3 – I don’t know the best way to solve it.  Clearly we can not tolerate the continued lawless flow of illegals.  At the same time, as Reagan said, we are the “shining city on a hill” and to get here legally takes literally decades.  I generally support a fence, and using advanced technology to supplement.  I also think that we are woefully short of manpower on the border.  And, I think we need some sort of guest worker program.  As to what to do about those here already?  I tend to the subscribe to the “attrition” theory that if we strengthen employer sanctions for those who employ illegals and make sure non-citizens are not getting welfare and other government benefits some of them will go back. 

4 – I thank God every day that I was blessed enough to be born in this great country, a place that offers so much opportunity that people risk their lives every day to get here.  Quite different than the experiences of people risking their lives to get OUT of a country – think Eastern Europe during the Soviet rule.

The bottom line is that something needs to change.  Unfortunately, as long as we as a nation remain schizophrenic on this issue, I don’t think we’ll solve it anytime soon.

In the meantime, I occasionally wonder what happened to that little girl, the straight-A student.  I replay it all over in my mind, watching her getting in the back of that border patrol truck and watching it drive away, headed to Nogales to drop her off on the other side of the border. 

Then I look at my daughter… and it makes me want to cry.


  1. We are not so schizophrenic as the phrasing of the questions in the poll make us appear so. With the question phrased in a stilted way, you can get a response that all of the Southwest United States should be returned to Mexico. Politicians and organizations have used these types of polls – called push polls – forever, however, they are getting much more skilled at the art.

    Example: Do you believe that a citizen should have freedom from government intervention to acquire the medical care they feel necessary?

    Do you believe that you should be able to pay a doctor thousands of dollars to partially deliver your baby, stick a scalpel through the base of the babies skull and murder the baby, then to make sure that the baby is dead, suck out the brain matter and finally pull the remains out of the womb and dispose of it?

    Different responses will be given to those two questions about the same procedure. The same type of crafting the quesiton is a certain way is the process used to acquire support for the illegal invasion of our sovereignty and the projected total demise of our way of life.

  2. That was a wonderful and thoughtful post. One of the best I’ve seen on this issue. Thank you, AZGOPInsider.

  3. Excellent post.

  4. Iris Lynch says

    Thoughtful, emotional and provoking. But again, please think of the life (your daughter) YOU must protect. IF there are ONLY 12 million illegals, and there is but 24 hours allowed to process their Z Visa, do you believe that these men (and worse)from a culture that believes 12 year olds are fair game, are going to be issued a Z Visa? Yes, they will.

    It is the job of all of us to not let our natural sympathy for the underdog lose sight of what we are creating in this Brave New World that our children and grandchildren will need to cope with.

    It is far more realistic to help Mexicans change Mexico. It would be better for them and better for our posterity. The TRUTH is that these poor people are being USED by the POWERS that be for their OWN use…not ours, not immigrants.

  5. cactusmouse1 says

    I don’t want to sound hard-nosed but, are you aware that the US allows more LEGAL immigration than all other countries combined? There is a way to get in to the US legally.

    The questions in the poll that AZGOP Insider posts are phrased in such a way to elicit the desired response. We’re not as schizophrenic as the polls seem to suggest.

  6. SonoranSam says

    This is one of the best essays on immigration I’ve read in quite some time.

    I’ve had similar experiences. One that haunts me occurred when I was standing in line at a Costco behind a young man about the same age as my teen-aged son. His parents were clearly undocumented.

    The young man was thumbing through a study guide for the SATs. We chatted briefly about test strategies.

    And then I realized that, if I was right and his parents were undocumented, he probably was not a citizen either. Given the law that AZ just passed there was no way this kid could go to college.

    I wish Russel Pearce would read your post.

  7. Conservativetothecore says

    Randy is being schizophrenic on Immigration! He just put out a letter now SUPPORTING Senator Kyl. Don’t back down Randy! Kyl lied to us! Do not forget that-you can’t go back now, stand strong!!! Don’t let them bully you- illegals are coming over in record #’s, and you need to stand strong and do whats right for America!

    “For the first 48 hours, Republicans came in to re-register as independents. Another tore his voter card up in our office and discarded the pieces on our floor. Another simply left his Republican registration cards on our desk and said he wouldn’t need them any longer.

    Far too often in politics, we fail to give our grassroots their due voice. We call on them each election year to work for our party and our candidates, and then they are all too often ignored until the next election cycle. That’s not the type of Republican party we want in Arizona. We understand our voters and our Precinct Committeemen and our volunteers and our local parties are the foundation of our coming victories.

    In the past 48 hours, since we engaged on this issue, by stating the Arizona Republic Party does not support the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2007, our phone calls, emails and faxes at the office have remained just as firmly in opposition to this legislation, but they now include thank-you notes and contributions from individuals who haven’t donated to the party in years. We’ve even had people come into HQ to re-register as Republican after leaving the party just days ago because they felt their voices were not only heard but amplified.

    But conversely, I’m very concerned about the direction that some criticism has taken, most especially toward U.S. Senator Jon Kyl, who has served our state and our nation with great dedication for two decades now. I was forwarded an email today containing a letter from Congressman Trent Franks who addressed this issue so eloquently that I would like to quote directly from his letter:

    “I understand that some people may disagree with Senator Kyl’s position on immigration reform. However, I believe that the vitriolic rhetoric recently used by some to condemn Jon Kyl is highly inappropriate and shameful. I urge anyone who may disagree with Senator Kyl to do so respectfully and to refrain from attacking the personal integrity of this honorable man,” wrote Congressman Franks, according to the email.

    Over the course of his distinguished career, Senator Kyl has earned a lifetime “A” rating from the National Rifle Association. He has frequently earned near-perfect or even 100 percent ratings from such organizations as the American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform, National Right to Life, National Federation of Independent Business, US Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Prosperity, and the list goes on.

    Senator Kyl is considered one of the ten most effective US Senators in Congress today. From protecting our paychecks to protecting our families to protecting our nation, Jon Kyl has been Arizona and America’s most dedicated patriot for decades. He has fought our tough battles time and again, and tomorrow he will be there fighting just as hard with just as much pride. More than once I’ve heard Senator Kyl referred to as a statesman, not a politician.

    As a party, we must remain committed to our principles each and every day. We must engage the Democrat majority in Congress each and every day for the benefit of our nation, our state and our party. But in our vigilance in defense of our liberty and our rights, we must not allow ourselves to deteriorate into the politics of hate or personal destruction which all-too-frequently characterize the Democrats’ attacks on our candidates at election-time.

    We are at an important time here in Arizona when a reenergized grassroots can play a tremendous role in our hopes and aspirations for victory next year. To the more than one million men and women who make up the Arizona Republican Party, I am still humbled each day to serve you as chairman. Together, we can – and will – accomplish great things.



  8. Hey, SononanSam! I bet Russell Pierce wishes his son was here to read that post too!

  9. The bottom line is this bill stinks. The people who are trying to ram it down the throats of the American public are either too arrogant to listen to their constituents, given bad information from their staffs, or deliberately selling out our country in the future for political expediency and personal benefits.

    These Senators are either total morons that cannot figure out what they wrote and are supporting, or they are selling us out. It is that simple. Well crafted push-polls are merely cover for their skullduggery.

    I pray for a “burning bush” experience for them on the way back to Washington in ten days. In the meantime, please continue to call, fax, and e-mail the Senators today and throughout next week. Keep the heat on – it will be the defining difference ONLY if it continues to be applied.

  10. Amen brother! Randy Pullen – stand strong! Senator Kyl flip flopped on immigration. His past record pales in comparison to his stance now on immigration. He lied to us- Don’t give in! Watching you on tv- man, I am proud to be a Republican!

  11. There are literally BILLIONS of people in the world that live in conditions far worse than anyone in Mexico. We can’t let all of Mexico in let alone the BILLIONS who are worse off than they are.

    Nor can we give amnesty and reward those who have come here illegally. That’s a betrayal of the MILLIONS who have come or who are waiting to come through the immigration system LEGALLY.

    You may feel heartless when you put a human face on the lawbreakers being apprehended and deported. But how many homeless families have you allowed to take up residence in your own home? Are you heartless because you turn them away? For whatever reason, they are breaking and entering our country – no different from a homeless family breaking and entering your home and expecting you to allow them to live there and even support them. The law is the law and breaking the law has its consequences.

    There are millions of single mothers in this country who don’t have cars to get around. Should they be allowed to steal a car and keep it just because we feel sorry for them and their straight-A daughter with the cute Strawberry Shortcake backpack?

  12. Sonoran Truth Squad says

    You know, the silly thing is that if they would just secure the border, most folks, even on this blog, would let them have all the real guest workers the economy needed… But they won’t secure the border, so you know this is all just a scam…

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