By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
So it's not just the United States that's gone mad on immigration. France is acting just as strangely, too. The French Parliament was considering a plan offered by the head of its Socialist Party to abolish or amend a decades-old immigration law. The law criminalizes aid to illegal immigrants provided by French citizens. If it passes, the Parliament might as well abolish all immigration laws period. If one aids and abets a thief, one is considered to be conspiring with that thief, and is charged accordingly. But if one is aiding an illegal immigrant, no such conspiracy exists?
All this stems from the reaction to a recently release French movie, Welcome, which glorifies the plight of an illegal Kurdish teenage immigrant trying to make his way from France to the United Kingdom and glorifies as well the French citizens who come to his aid.
The Observer described the film and several predecessors earlier this year:
Like The Class, a hard-hitting depiction of life in an inner-city school released last year, and La Haine, the cult film that brought the plight of young immigrants in France's deprived suburbs to global attention in 1995, Welcome is another example of gritty French cinema that will provoke a storm of controversy. To win back the affections of his liberal wife, the swimming instructor—played by one of France's best-known highbrow actors, Vincent Lindon—prepares his Kurdish protege for a cross-Channel endurance test in which the most difficult obstacle will be evading immigration officials when he reaches the English shore.
Allow me to explain, as I always do when I write on this topic, that illegal immigrants themselves are not bad people. Most of them are good people born into bad situations. But mass illegal immigration is bad because if too many people crowd into a lifeboat, it sinks. We are already experiencing that sinking feeling here in the United States as our farms, green spaces, and open land get rapidly carved up by overdevelopment. And the current recession disproves forever the theory that swelling population (and its attendant swelling consumerism) prevents economic decline. U.S. population has grown by record levels during the past three decades, and economic down cycles persist with impunity. So, too, in France.
But for filmmaker Philippe Lioret to compare today's illegal immigrants to World War II-era Jews trying to escape Nazism is over-the-top.
Jews were trying to escape certain torture, starvation, execution, and theft of all family belongings. The young man in the film (and thousands more in makeshift camps in Calais) are trying to find work and better themselves financially. They are engaged in understandable pursuits, but to compare them to Jews fleeing Hitler is an insult.
Lioret's glorification, however, is quite comparable to those trying to grant "amnesty" (which they refer to as "a path to citizenship") for the 12 million-plus illegal immigrants now living in the United States (some put the figure closer to 20 million).
To do so is seen in some quarters as breaking our own immigration laws and making them feckless and unenforceable. Instead, we should be about helping educate the children when these immigrants come. If they had an educated middle class, they could create their own economies and would not have to try to break into ours. Their women, if educated, would bring fewer children into poverty and that would help break the cycle of poverty that leads them to emigrate in the first place.
So we should ignore our bleeding heart liberals who want a "path to citizenship" and the French Parliament should ignore its Socialists. Instead, both countries should work to end poverty, not sanction illegal behavior.
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