I suffer from a Game of Thrones hangover. My wife and I love the show. I read all the books. And now, with season 5 ending last month, I flip through television channels aimlessly looking for something to fill the void. A little True Detective. Some Penny Dreadful. Lots of political shows. And in doing so, I realized I’m watching a real life GoT right now. Every day, we see another person enter the ring, vying to sit on the “Iron Throne” in the Oval Office. Homosexuality continues to be a contentious religious debate. Everybody hates the rich family.
And of course, Winter is coming. And the wildlings need to move south. Or in our case, winter is a few months away. And the illegal immigrants keep pouring in from all directions. Some of you, including most Republicans, believe we need to close the southern border with Mexico, like the Night’s Watch protecting the Wall keeping the wildlings out. Of course, it didn’t really work on the show. But….still. Others, like most Democrats, side with the Chamber of Commerce, believing any reform must offer amnesty for the nearly 12 million illegals already here. Yes, liberals are teaming up with the arch-enemy of unions. It’s like Sansa Stark saying, “Look, I know the Lannisters cut off my father’s head, paid the Boltons to kill my mother and brother, and left my other brother paralyzed by throwing him out a window. But I really think they are the best choice to lead Westeros.”
This is why Congress can’t seem to agree on a reform bill. At least, that’s what it looks like on television. However, a recent Pew Research Center poll shows 72% of us think reform should allow illegals to stay legally. Nearly 50% want a path to citizenship. And a little over 50% think “a lot” more can be done to improve border security. In other words, we’re the Season 5 cliffhanger–let the wildings in, put more “Crows ” on the Wall, and prepare for a White Walker attack. Easy compromise, right?
Not when we don’t treat ALL illegal immigrants the same. Just compare the two largest groups–Mexicans and Asians. As of 2012, 11.2 million illegal immigrants lived in the United States. Mexicans make up about 52% while Asians about 12%. Spanish ranks as the second most spoken language in the United States with Chinese third. While immigration from Mexico remains high, deportations keep their numbers flat. But the Asian invasion continues, making it the fastest-growing immigrant group in the country.
Yet, you don’t hear cries for a wall at Los Angeles airports. No one yells at them to “Speak American!” They’re Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid films. Intelligent, quiet, hard-working people with small families who run dojos out of their homes. Over 50% graduate with a Bachelor’s degree or higher, the highest percentage of any ethnic group in the United States. They bring in a median household income of a little less than $71,000 a year, higher than any other race, including whites. Our interactions with them usually involve dry cleaning our clothes, making our sushi and Thai food, and giving us mani-pedis. “Wax on. Wax off.”
But Mexicans are Cousin Eddie from the Vacation movies, right down to the white, patent leather shoes. An uninsured Hispanic illegal once hit my wife’s car. Turned out the woman just left a store after a quick shoplifting trip. Our Mexican neighbors like to spend their weekends with 30 of their closest friends and family eating, drinking and singing Spanish songs with a live mariachi band until the wee hours of the morning. We look at them like the rednecks of Hispanic immigrants. Loud, obnoxious people who sneak into the country. Many are Catholic and don’t believe in birth control, leading to large families. Only six percent graduate with a Bachelor’s degree or higher, meaning most come here dirt poor. Once here, they earn a median household income of less than $37,000 a year. Mexicans steal from us, literally as criminals, or figuratively, taking jobs and government benefits. They like tiger and leopard prints. They set off fireworks to celebrate EVERYTHING. “Shitter was full!”
These personal experiences not only shape our beliefs, they shape the entire immigration debate. That’s why you can’t turn on the television right now without hearing about Mexicans. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump blasts them as criminals and not only gets air time, but goes UP in the polls. National networks play up and dissect last week’s story about a Mexican illegal, deported five times, who shot a 32 year old woman in San Francisco. Every immigration reform story starts and ends with the southern border. Asians are boring. If you want viewers and votes, it’s all about the Mexicans, baby!
These beliefs cloud our judgement and create a literal Mexican standoff on immigration. By definition, it can only end when “an outside event makes it possible to resolve it.” In my next blog, I’ll explain why that outside event needs to be a change in all of us. Because, in the immortal words of the wildling Ygritte–
“You know nothing, Jon Snow.”