Wednesday, July 5, 2006

A de-facto USA enlargement

When we read that in the greater Washington metropolitan area alone, there already are 550.000 persons who come from El Salvador, there can be no doubt whatsoever that the Central American countries are already a de-facto part of an extended USA Commonwealth. Put another way, the USA—surreptitiously perhaps—has gone through its own European-style enlargement. 

This demographic fact shows that the current debate in the USA on immigration reform could benefit by being split into two parts: immigration reform as such; and a debate about some laws and regulations affecting cohabitation in a commonwealth. Doing so would allow urgent reforms to proceed more constructively and keep the debates from being taken hostage by extreme proposals like building new Maginot Lines or Berlin Walls.

Not long ago, some enemies of the recently negotiated CAFTA agreement started spreading rumors that, through it, the United States had accepted conditions that in effect bypassed current immigration laws. This is not true, far from it. However, perhaps the CAFTA negotiations were indeed the perfect opportunity to start open and transparent discussions about what I call the de-facto enlargement of the USA. As it is, trying to look for solutions to some huge but still quite particular problems through a general immigration law is really picking the wrong instrument of change.

By the way, if I were a truly desperate builder of a wall to surround the United States, looking at the map, I would perhaps have to settle with some water barriers such as the Bering Strait and the Panama Canal.

Extracted from my Voice and Noise 2006.