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Your thoughts on the immigration debate?
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Xose



Rexistrau: 24 Och 2003
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Llugar: Washington, D.C.

MensaxePublicao: Mar May 02, 2006 12:36 pm    Asuntu: Your thoughts on the immigration debate? Responder citando

I'm interested to see how you all view the immigration debate currently going on in the U.S., since this board is dedicated to the descendents of Asturian immigrants.

Personally, I am a little annoyed that my great-grandmother had to sit in exile in Cuba for close to two years with her two American children waiting for a legal path to enter the country, while modern-day illegal immigrants walk right into illegal jobs in this country, then complain that they don't get the same rights and privilages as U.S. citizens.

I also don't buy the "we couldn't make it without them" argument. Undocumented (and off the books) labor keeps wages artificially low, and until we start cracking down on the employers who are allowed to let people work off the books, the problem cannot be solved. We can't build a wall, but we can make and enfore fines on corporations that make it disadvantageous for them to pay illegal immigrants an gnat's hair short of nothing to do jobs that unskilled American workers would love to do, were they given fair wages to do them.
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Art
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Rexistrau: 17 Feb 2003
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MensaxePublicao: Mie May 03, 2006 4:22 am    Asuntu: Responder citando

Thanks for starting this thread, Xose. I was wondering when we'd get to this topic.

I'm going to copy here a series of emails from recent days... with permission from Corsino and Terechu.

-----------------------

Gracias para empezar este hilo, Xose. Me preguntaba cuando empezamos a discutir este tema.

Voy a copiar aquí una serie de emails de los días recientes... con permiso de Corsino y Terechu.


Ultima edición por Art el Mie May 03, 2006 5:08 am, editau 1 vegá
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Corsino



Rexistrau: 15 Feb 2004
Mensaxes: 157
Llugar: Fort Worth, Texas

MensaxePublicao: Mie May 03, 2006 4:23 am    Asuntu: Responder citando

[from an email to members of the children's refuge group, with permission from Corsino]

Although some members of our group think that political subjects are best not discussed because they are divisive, I do not think that it's necessarily the case. Discussions of any type need not be divisive. They are divisive mainly when vicious and inflamatory language is used in personal attacks on individuals. Therefore I'm not reluctant to write about my views on the subject of illegal immigration, about which there are ungoing massive demonstrations.

Since most of us are either immigrants or descendants of immigrants, I don't expect that we are against immigration. Neither am I. What I do think is that there's a right way and a wrong way to immigrate.
The ongoing protests are probably against making illegal immigrants felons. In that sense, I agree with the protesters. Making them felons is too strong a measure. A felony on anybody's record is almost impossible to overcome, regardless of what the individual does thereafter in life Although there should be some penalty, maybe a misdemeanor would be sufficient.

However, in my opinion, neither the U.S. nor Mexico (in this case) is seriously attempting to solve the immigration problem. Any measure to limit immigration with laws is only a temporary solution. The problem has to be attacked at the source, which means that Mexico, for instance, has to change the way they operate. In a manner of speaking, they need to "bite the bullet" and do whatever is necessary to raise, or import, enough food to feed their masses.

I'm not an economist, so I don't have the perfect solution, if there is any. I do think that instead of spending millions of dollars building fences or walls along our borders, the money could be better spent helping WILLING countries improve their economy. However, I get the impression that most countries are rife with corruption ( to some extent the U.S. included) with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, so those countries would have to do their part too.

I shall now retreat into my underground bunker.

Corsino.
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Art
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Rexistrau: 17 Feb 2003
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MensaxePublicao: Mie May 03, 2006 4:26 am    Asuntu: Responder citando

Corsino, be sure you're sitting down....

We agree almost totally. It seems obvious to me that the real problem is the lack of opportunity in Latin American countries. Corruption and playing decks stacked in favor of the rich and powerful are at least part of what's preventing the poor from doing better there. I'm sure, too, that these problems are human problems, not just Latin problems. That's part of why we're seeing so much trouble in Muslim and Arab countries.

The fact that so many come here to the US makes me think that even though we certainly have plenty of corruption and unfairly stacked decks, things must be at least a little better here. Did you ever think you'd hear me say that!?
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Corsino



Rexistrau: 15 Feb 2004
Mensaxes: 157
Llugar: Fort Worth, Texas

MensaxePublicao: Mie May 03, 2006 4:29 am    Asuntu: Responder citando

Well, although I don't think that passing new laws or building fences is the solution to illegal immigration, something needs to be done to stem the flow. Right now, our economy can absorb the immigrants because business is relatively good and they constitute cheap labor. However, there's a big headache just over the time horizon. A recession will arrive, as it always does periodically. House building will decrease, putting a lot of the roofers out of work. People will cut back on spending putting cooks, waitresses, and store clerks out of work. Can we afford millions of additional people on unemployment compensation and/or welfare?

Corsino.
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Terechu
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Rexistrau: 24 Xun 2003
Mensaxes: 1561
Llugar: GIJON - ASTURIAS

MensaxePublicao: Mie May 03, 2006 4:31 am    Asuntu: Responder citando

Here's my two-cents worth. If there are nearly 12 million illegal immigrants (how can a person be "illegal", anyway?) working in the USA, it's obviously because there are 12 million low-paying jobs nobody wants and because despite the fact that those 12 millions jobs exist, the US Government doesn't see it fit to issue entry visas or work permits to foreign workers.
Ever wondered why? Because illegal immigration is big business. The world's no. 1 industry, the food industry, is almost entirely in the hands of multinational corporations, who also own most of the farm land in the USA and much of Europe's. If they had to pay regular salaries, their profits would shrink considerably. On the other hand, corruption and poverty in Latin America has been driving people northwards and will continue to do so. Today Bolivía's president Morales has nationalized the country's gas industry. I don't know if that will be good or bad for us, but it certainly will be very good for Bolivians, who are dirt-poor despite all their natural resources. Maybe now they will become rich like Saudi Arabians or Kuwaitis.

By the way, be grateful you're not being flooded by hoodlums from Eastern Europe like Spain is. Our crime rate is up something like 2000% in the last 5 years, most crimes being committed by organized mafias from Rumania, the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia (mostly Kosovo-Albanese). I am talking about hardened war veterans and mercenaries who are used to kill, who are now out of a job, and who think nothing of slitting your throat to steal your cell phone. Unfortunately they give all Eastern Europeans a bad name.

But it's also true that the social situation could become explosive and something needs to be done, so... Somebody has to do something and it's incredibly pathetic that it has to be us/you. (Gerry Garcia). Very Happy
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Art
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MensaxePublicao: Mie May 03, 2006 4:33 am    Asuntu: Responder citando

Something I've been wondering about is the idea that people come here to the US to take all the low-wage jobs that no American would want. These were jobs that average Americas did want just a generation or two back. What changed? I think what changed was that labor became globalized. Wages in Mexico, for example, put pressure on American companies to pay less here (or to export their factories to Mexico). And then, since the wages are so low that those who used to do the work won't work for that paltry amount, we clandestinely accept immigrants who will take the jobs. (Of course, then we complain about them coming, too!)

Since that change occurred, we've become used to amazingly cheap prices.

Perhaps the question we should be asking is why we're paying people wages they couldn't live on decently? I say "we" because anyone who lives here is benefiting from the cheap prices of restaurant meals and merchandise at Wal-Mart. There's also the benefit that when immigrants and their kids pay taxes, they're helping sustain Social Security by adding more workers to support all the retirees (that's us!).

But there are costs to this exploitation of immigrants. When an immigrant works for lower wages, they know they're underpaid, so that only lasts a few years or one generation. The children of immigrants expect better wages. So the cycle has to continue: new immigrants take unconscionably low wages; their kids look for normal jobs; new immigrants come to take the low-wage jobs, etc. Do we want to continue that cycle indefinitely? We're exploding in population. And what happens if the second generation doesn't find better opportunities? We could see serious social disturbances, like in France.

Is there anything we can do about the problem? I'm not sure, but one possible solution would be pushing the minimum wage up to a realistic minimum - one that a person could actually survive on. Even if the low-wage jobs disappeared rather than paying more, maybe that's not so bad. At the very least, I wouldn't feel guilty visiting a store that pays it's workers an indecent wage.


Ultima edición por Art el Mie May 03, 2006 6:16 pm, editau 1 vegá
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Corsino



Rexistrau: 15 Feb 2004
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Llugar: Fort Worth, Texas

MensaxePublicao: Mie May 03, 2006 4:40 am    Asuntu: Responder citando

Actually, my concern is not about immigrants that obtain jobs and pay their share of taxes. It is about those that do not pay taxes and therefore increase the tax burden on others.

As for the demonstrations of the last few days, I'm not sure that they are conveying the correct message. It is perfectly okay with me to peacefully protest proposed legislation, but I think that a lot of people are getting the impression that immigrants that got here illegally are demanding "rights" the instant they successfully wade across the Rio Grande.

Although I'm not very familiar with the proposed laws, and do not agree with some that I've read about, there are some parts that make sense and are steps in the right direction, such as additional temporary worker permits. It is a disgrace and a crime the manner in which many aliens are smuggled into the U.S. Every year, particularly in the hot summer months, there are news of immigrants crowded into tractor-trailers found dead because of the unbearable heat in the trailers.

Corsino.
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Bob
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Rexistrau: 24 Feb 2003
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MensaxePublicao: Mie May 03, 2006 11:19 am    Asuntu: Responder citando

I don't think illegal immigration is the fault of people who come to the US from other countries to improve their lives and those of their families by increasing their incomes. Just a few points to consider:

1) Illegal immigrants don't pay income or social security taxes because they are here illegally. They do pay sales taxes, etc. I'm sure they would be happy to pay full taxes in exchange for recognized legal status. Their employers don't pay taxes they owe for illegal employees either, but they do enjoy the benefit of paying low wages, leaving the rest of us to pay for schools, welfare, etc. Where should federal enforcement activities be concentrated?

2) The problem is not that American citizens lose low income jobs with no benefits to illegal immigrants. The problem is that this country permits the existence of jobs that pay too little for a decent life style. Until we level the playing field by assuring that everyone is paid a decent wage, we can't be sure which jobs US citizens would be willing to do.

3) Another problems is that emergency rooms are used as primary care centers by those without medical insurance (citizens and illegal immigrants alike), an all too common occurence in the US, even for the middle class. All of us with health insurance ultimately pay for the emergency room care of those without.

4) Xenophobia and linguistic xenophobia compound the issues. Consider the current controveresy over a Spanish version the Star Spangled Banner. Most people don't know that the US government itself commisioned several Spanish language versions of the song well before it ever became the national anthem. The problem, of course, is not that those living here but who are citizens of other countries don't want to learn English but that their long hours of work and - especially - their illegal status give them little opportunity to do so. And in area where Spanish is the majority language, why should the anglophones not have to learn Spanish? My grandfather (a factory laborer) spoke four languages. My father speaks three and understands quite a bit of two others.

5) The US is doing little or nothing to improve wages paid by American companies in other countries. Illegal immigrants come here because they can make more money than they can in their birth countries. If you could make $5 and hour in the US or the equivalent of $50 an hour in - say - Canada or Spain, would you not be tempted to emigrate? Legally or not? Fro me, it's a no brainer.

6) One of the biggest American exports in recent years has been well paid jobs. Consider, for example, how much hardware and software technical support is based in India and Pakistan, taking good jobs away from highly educated Americans. Illegal immigrants are not taking these jobs away from American citizens. The American government is permitting companies to maximize profits by exporting those jobs, taking them away fro citizens of the US and giving them to citizens of other countries.

7) It is not easy to find workers willing to do yard work and odd jobs around the home, at least in my area of the country, even if we are willing to pay decently (say $20 an hour). If we can find someone, there are tax forms to be filled out, records to be kept, etc. An impossible burden for most of us. We could channel more jobs into the legal and tax-paying category if the local, state or federal government would act as a hiring agent. We could call up, pay via credit card, and have someone show up to do the work. If the government couldn't collect taxes under those circumstances, no one could.

Cool The US already permits the hiring of non-citizens for good jobs. My department's last hire was a Canadian citizen of Chinese decent. We hired him for the simple reason that he was the best qualified candidate. All we had to do was argue that to the government authorities, and to make the case that there we no US born applicant with equivalent qualifications. The rules seem to be considerably different for university and corporate jobs than for laborers.

9) Illegal immigrants tend to move into legal jobs when they can do so, and their children and grandchildren even more. My grandparents from Asturias were legal immigrants who worked extraordinarily hard to provide better lives for their children. The jobs their children, grandchildren and greatgrandchilden have or have retired from are quite good by the standards of most of the world (firefighter, sheet metal worker, ESL teacher, FBI agent, university professor, probation officer, aquafauna culture consultant for an entire state, corporate executive, airline pilot, etc). When they arrived in the US in 1913, there was no income tax or social security tax. If they had come illegally rather than legally, would it have made any difference in their and their descendants contributions to American society? I don't think so.
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Eli
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Rexistrau: 30 Mar 2005
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MensaxePublicao: Mie May 03, 2006 8:01 pm    Asuntu: Responder citando

Good thread, I agree with most of what’s been said. Some things I disagree with and some I know to be incorrect. I’ll only point out what I disagree with and what I know to be incorrect.

Xose, I have mixed feelings about what you said, while I agree in principal I should point out that the statement fails to acknowledge reality, as Bob well said a little later “Illegal immigrants come here because they can make more money than they can in their birth countries.” Often times these people can’t make any money at all, so they go where ever it might be that they need to go in order to survive and provide for their families. You would to under the same circumstances.

Corsino, couldn’t possibly agree more with you. Only one note on what you’ve said “It is about those that do not pay taxes and therefore increase the tax burden on others.” undocument immigrants (not sure I like illegal) not only do not increase the burden on others but in fact the opposite is true. For instance if an undocument immigrant is employed at Wal*Mart, Sears, Home Depot or any other United Statesian company the company does not pay this man/woman ‘under the table’ he/she gets his paycheck like everybody else, deductions are taken from his pay for Social Security, Fica, Federal and State taxes etc. however, because he/she is undocumented he is unable to claim any benefits afforded to the average United Statesian or US resident i/e unemployment, food stamps etc. So you see, they pay into the system but are not allowed to participate with the benefits others do. Now, it is true that many do not pay taxes, these people however work in an economy all to itself, in DC there is an entire vibrant community of undocumented people that thrives and is not registered. This industries usually start as a tiny little shop somebody selling beans and rice, before you know it, they have a market on their hands and employ dozens of people from their community. Entire businesses being run with in an economy that is not part of the ‘normal’ economy. These people often do not pay into the system, they don’t not because they don’t want to, but because they can’t. They can’t declare the business, doing so would force them to close. A ‘black market’ of sorts.

Agree 100% with Art, can't imagine anybody would disagree with any of that though.

To Bob’s “1) Illegal immigrants don't pay income or social security taxes because they are here illegally.” I would pretty much reply in the same manner I just did to Corsino.


On Terechu’s comment “Today Bolivía's president Morales has nationalized the country's gas industry.” I said this was coming sometime ago in another thread, Peru will follow shortly the options there on the upcoming elections are now between a socialist and a communist who thinks of himself as a nationalist (worst combination imaginable). This is a joke about what’s going on in Bolivia...

==========================

REVOLUCION!
Nota de Prensa

El gobierno boliviano ha decretado la nacionalizacion de los hidrocarburos especialmente el gas. El gobierno tambien ha prometido la reparticion del gas a todo el pueblo. Por ello comunidades indigenas estan bajando de las alturas en grandes cantidades listos para recibir GAS LICUADO en grandes baldes.


En una gran fiesta popular teniendo como invitados a Fidel Castro, Ollanta Húmala y al Comandante Chavez, Evo Morales estara repartiendo Gas Licuado, cigarrillos y fosforos a todas estas comunidades idigenas.

Se espera una gran celebracion.


Viva Bolivar!

==========================

Now, something that I think is the real problem looming in the horizon and nobody is talking about. The congress passed a bill criminalizing undocumented workers in the US, along with many other measures already enacted by the executive branch these things are creating a problem that will in time explode right on our faces. Twelve million felons overnight, unable to work, unable to provide for themselves or their families. Twelve million people that need food, if they go out they will face prison time and deportation. Honestly now, if you were to put yourself in their shoes for just one minute, what do you think they will do when they can no longer provide for themselves and their families in a normal way? Turn themselves in and say “Ohh well, it was good while it lasted... just deport me now!” Do you really?!

If these policies continue, these people will in time become cornered and desperate, what do desperate people do? That I fear.

Elí
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Art
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Rexistrau: 17 Feb 2003
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MensaxePublicao: Mie May 03, 2006 8:54 pm    Asuntu: Responder citando

Above I mentioned that one solution is raising the minimum wage in the US.

The other solution that seems obvious is that we have to pressure other governments to open up their political and economic systems so that poor people see a future for themselves in their countries. Maybe we could help some in with funding those efforts, too.

But the real change necessary from the US side is a huge shift in priorities. In general, the approach of American governments (of any party) has been to ignore the peasants and get chummy with the rich and powerful. We do that in the name of "defending American interests", but that usually turn out to be the same as the business interests of large corporations, doesn't it?

Sure, this is what governments everywhere typically do. My point is that it's short-sighted and it's causing us problems. The end result this time around has been "Islamic Terrorists" and "out-of-control immigration". In a sense those aren't our real problems. Our fundamental policies at home and abroad are the real problem, but I don't hear any politicians or talking heads addressing that.
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Xose



Rexistrau: 24 Och 2003
Mensaxes: 338
Llugar: Washington, D.C.

MensaxePublicao: Xue May 04, 2006 2:14 pm    Asuntu: Responder citando

Well, like I said, it bothers me immensely to see companies hire undocumented labor for under-the-table "day worker" wages that don't even approach the established (already too-low) minimum wage and then have the gall to say that "Americans don't want these jobs." You'd think that a toilet never got cleaned or a lawn mowed before the latin immigrants arrived. Hogwash!

Step 1 (the absolutely most important step): We need to crack down on illegal hiring in this country and enforce our labor standards rigorously. Enforce SUBSTANTIAL fines for breaking hiring laws and show business that we mean it.

Step 2: We need to make legal immigration policies that actually reflect the world today. Ireland does not need all the lottery spots it gets, for example. Give people the chance to come here legally and with dignity, like our forfathers did.

Step 3: We need to deport illegal aliens from this country back to their own. I'm sorry, but yes, a person can be "illegal" when it comes to not following the laws of the land. Can you imagine if I just showed up in Spain and started demanding that everyone speak English to me, pay me EU benefits, and give me a job? It's a rediculous proposition.
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Bob
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Rexistrau: 24 Feb 2003
Mensaxes: 1740
Llugar: Connecticut and Massachusetts

MensaxePublicao: Xue May 04, 2006 2:23 pm    Asuntu: Responder citando

Xose wrote:

Cita:
Can you imagine if I just showed up in Spain and started demanding that everyone speak English to me, pay me EU benefits, and give me a job? It's a rediculous proposition


Actually you or I or anyone with a Spanish born grandparent can qualify for Spanish citizenship after residing in Spain legally for a year and doing the necessary paperwork.
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Xose



Rexistrau: 24 Och 2003
Mensaxes: 338
Llugar: Washington, D.C.

MensaxePublicao: Xue May 04, 2006 3:47 pm    Asuntu: Responder citando

My grandpa was born in Clarksburg, alas.

Sad
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Eli
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Rexistrau: 30 Mar 2005
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Llugar: Luray, VA. US

MensaxePublicao: Xue May 04, 2006 3:56 pm    Asuntu: Responder citando

Xose, I can’t help but smile at parts of your post. “ You'd think that a toilet never got cleaned or a lawn mowed before the latin immigrants arrived. Hogwash! ” you should know that as a descendant of Spaniards you too are ‘Latin’ and Hispanic...

Cita:
We need to deport illegal aliens from this country back to their own. I'm sorry, but yes, a person can be "illegal" when it comes to not following the laws of the land.


That was just funny Smile you know that the land the US occupies today was once the domain of several hundred independent Indian nations right? You know how that land was gained? Wonder if the Native Americans felt the same way... that’s just funny.

People will move from one place to another in search of a better life. Today those places are Western Europe and north America, in the past it was at some point America and Australia even today the US is not the only destination for immigrants from the rest of America. Argentina for instance is the second most sought after destination but in a percentage of immigrants to native population Argentina would come in at number one. The folks that moved into north America centuries ago took it by force from the natives, the ones that are moving in today are much more civilized. But remember this much, if the US ever attempts massive deportations my guess is that about 1% of these would be deportees will become belligerent and as much as they want to be our friends today, tomorrow these same people will see us as their enemies, and act accordingly. Think of 120,000 people with the mind set ‘yeah I’ll go, but before I do, I’ll take ten of them... I’ve got nothing left to loose’. The one thing we can not afford is to make enemies of those that WANT to be our friends. Do you really think that a man that’s been living here for the last ten years will be willing to move back to the Sierra Madre mountains were he needs to burn donkey dung to boil his water? And do it willingly? Most will but I bet my bottom dollar that among the young folks (and most are relatively young immigrants) at least 1% will sooner become a martyr than go quietly. Look at what they’ve put up with this far just to have a job... wade through muddy rivers, cross deserts on foot, evade border patrol agents, run from vigilantes, procure fake documents, beg for a job, work ten times harder than anybody else to keep that job. Do you really think he will go quietly?

Not long ago I saw an interview, think it was on CNN the interviewee (forget whom but a Senator or Congressman) said “if we take everything away from them, they will ‘self-deport’ because they wont be able to make a living here anymore.” I couldn’t help but laugh at this man. How is it possible to be so incredibly disconnected from reality, and hold a position from were his decisions will affect the lives of millions? Whom ever thought that up? Rumsfeld? ‘Yeah we don’t need more troops in Iraq, they will view us as liberators...’ unreal. True most simply aren't willing to die but all it takes is 1%

While the US can build a wall that will keep everybody out, have it manned like the Romans did with their walls, it can not put 12 million people in cattle trains and send them off. Never mind the world condemnation, just try to put yourself in the shoes of these people, would you go? I would never allow anybody to do that to me, I’d sooner die fighting... and I’m not a young pup anymore I’m 45, can only imagine what 18-24 year old people would do. Visiting Cuba in 1957 Hemingway saw a revolutionary man blow himself up in order to kill a soldier, upon seeing this he said “Batista will loose this war” when asked why he said “a man willing to die for his convictions is worth 100 paid soldiers” (somebody should tell that to Rumsfeld), how many United Statesians are willing to give their lives to this cause? I’m not lol

Cita:
anyone with a Spanish born grandparent can qualify for Spanish citizenship ...


You know Bob, the same is true of Italy. Think theirs goes further back, up to 5 generations.
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