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Commentary: Take your share of responsibility for illegal immigration

  • Story Highlights
  • Columnist says hiring illegal immigrants is the root of the problem
  • Americans prefer to blame Mexico for illegal immigration, Navarrette says
  • Mexicans come to United States for one reason: jobs, columnist says
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By Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Special to CNN
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SAN DIEGO, California (CNN) -- A reader wrote in to complain about illegal immigration, not exactly a rare occurrence. He was concerned about his tax dollars paying for services for illegal immigrants.

Ruben Navarrette Jr.: If you hire illegal immigrants, don't complain about what they cost you in tax dollars.

Never mind that he is probably being subsidized by the very phenomenon that he refuses to subsidize. And I'm not talking about the price of tomatoes. If his town is home to a hotel, restaurant or other business that relies on illegal immigrants and then pays taxes and pumps money into the local economy -- money that goes to pay for police, fire, sewage etc. -- it will wind up benefiting Mr. Don't Use My Tax Dollars.

The reader offered a scenario -- "Where you hire people to clean your toilets, they decide to stay in your house and they bring friends. You end up paying for their schooling and other privileges."

You see the problem: "Where you hire people to clean your toilets." Hmm. These people are here illegally, and yet you hire them to clean your toilets, reserving the right to bellyache about them and what they're costing you. It's the first act -- hiring illegal immigrants -- that sets the rest of the story in motion. I have a solution: Clean your own toilets, or at least make sure that those who clean them for you are in the country legally. Or, shut up already.

Sometimes you need to give it to people straight. I wish that former Mexican President Vicente Fox would have dished up some straight talk to CNN's Wolf Blitzer during an appearance last week in "The Situation Room." There to promote his new memoir, "Revolution of Hope," Fox fielded a question from CNN's Lou Dobbs delivered via videotape. Dobbs wanted to know why the Mexican government can't come up with policies that reduce poverty in Mexico so it doesn't have to continue to export its poorest people into the United States. Video Watch former Mexican President Vicente Fox talk about immigration with Wolf Blitzer »

It's not that simple. Mexico has now had just seven years of democracy under the rule of Fox's National Action Party -- following on the heels of more than 70 years of corrupt governance at the hands of the Institutional Revolution Party. The United States has had more than 200 years to get democracy right, and it still has to work out the kinks now and then.

Blitzer asked Fox to respond to Dobbs and asked why so many Mexicans want to come to the United States. The host suggested that it's because this is a country of immigrants.

Again, not that simple. Oh, it's true that the United States is a country of immigrants. But in this case, what matters is that this also happens to be a country full of people who hire illegal immigrants. There is only one reason why so many Mexicans want to come to the United States: because there are so many jobs waiting for them here.

Some Americans still prefer to blame Mexico for illegal immigration. Of course, why wouldn't they? That sure beats taking their share of responsibility for it.


Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a member of the editorial board of the San Diego Union-Tribune and a nationally syndicated columnist. You can read his column here.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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