Friday, May 1, 2009

Swine flu: An illegal immigrant?

You just knew this would happen.

A virus gains a foothold in Mexico. It appears in the United States. And anti-immigration forces go nuts.

Ok, technically, anti-illegal immigration forces. The outbreak of swine flu north of the Rio Grande is, in their view, largely attributable to the unregulated flow of people into El Norte.

It's a handy argument for those who have made clamping down on illegal immigration their personal cause. But that's all it is -- a handy argument.

Let's be honest. The travel of the swine flu to the States would have happened without illegal immigration. Global society, remember? (Hell, it looks like even a White House staffer has caught the bug.)

That's not to say securing the border is an unworthy goal. It's definitely something that must be done for many reasons, not least of all national security. But if we can't be realistic about it and the issues that accompany it -- and dismiss the obviously ethnocentric baggage that often tag along in such debate -- we're not going to get anywhere.

It'd be better to talk about this reasonably, instead of using the "NAFTA flu" as a political cudgel. Because until we figure out a way to make legal immigration more widely available and mitigate the factors that lead to illegal immigration, no amount of resources will secure the border.

Unless, of course, you want to redeploy those troops in Iraq to the Mexico border.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love this blog. I just wrote my article about fleeing from Mexico and escape the bug and then realized I'm one of those crazy people. But most of all I love how you linked it to illegal immigration because after spending 5 months in Mexico it has opened my eyes to so much. I think that Americans are just as ignorant about the swine flu as they are about immigration...sad