Friday, July 14, 2006 | Ron Davison does a better job than some with comments on the costs and benefits of illegal immigration. But, as he says, his numbers are conjecture and his assumptions are just assumptions.

Here are some other conjectural numbers and assumptions:

If you look at the local Spanish language press and check the ads, you will find that the advertisers keeping those papers alive are businesses obviously aiming at a middle class market. Furniture stores, car dealers, real estate agents, bakers, travel agents, home furnishings, money lenders, etc. These businesses are making bank off the Mexican market, some of which are, presumably, of less than legal status. There are several newspapers full of ads; these are not driven by charity but are signs of a robust, stable and growing economy. One lesson that should be learned is that the Mexican market – in all its forms – is a powerful force providing economic backlift in the local and national economy.

The second broad assumption is that illegals who may be costly produce children who are born Americans. Though these are also costly, they are on the way to becoming cultural Americans like anybody else and they mirror the experience of other ethnic groups and their immigrant and assimilationist history. These people need to have the same guarantees and safeguards as anyone else if they are going to contribute to the society the way everyone else does.

What so many on either side of this debate forget is that Americans are made, as well as born, and making Americans is a blending process that takes a generation or three to do properly. The beauty of the 14th amendment is that it recognizes that some people are likely to become American – even they are not at present – and must be given the opportunity to do so.

What are the costs? That is not the question. We can posit more accurately what the benefits of new blood into the society may be and work toward making those contributions more lasting and powerful.

Media ought to have a more prominent role in that effort, instead of inflaming the hot heads and ratcheting up the racist hatred that oozes out of some pundits. The drive for ad revenue shouldn’t come at the expense of human lives, dignity or a place at the table. Going the way we’re going is only going to Balkanize the U.S. along racial, ethnic and class lines and stop the smooth flow of society by concentrating on the E Pluribus instead of the Unum.

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