For the most part, America's immigration and illegal alien problems cannot be simplistically attributed to selfish evil people who knowingly and reprehensibly profit from cheap labor at the expense of the quality of life and standard of living of their fellow citizens. Neither can one attribute racist, xenophobic, nativist or bigoted motives to those who favor a stable population and the rule of law. They may be called restrictionists, in the non pejorative sense of that word, because they do indeed wish to restrict immigration and tailor it more precisely to our exact needs rather than to the demands of all those who wish to come here.
Concerns about dwindling natural resources, the environment, the quality of life and the standard of living are not the province of the uninformed. Many climatologists and other scientists are legitimately concerned about green house gases and the extinction of species. The interesting aspect of their concern is their failure to address the most obvious source of green house gases people -- too many of them, and the things they demand -- autos, highways, petrochemicals, medicines, grain, beef and pork, fish and energy.
The clashes between people whose own particular backgrounds, values, loyalties and cultures cause them to favor policies differing dramatically from those people with different backgrounds, values, loyalties and cultures are the root of many of the problems. Some see this divide in terms of what they deem to be in the national interest -- a stable population, the preservation of: natural resources, the quality of life, our standard of living, our language and the rule of law. Others see it in terms of reuniting families, humane treatment of illegals, de facto open borders, employer and government culpability, and faulty immigration laws.
Still others believe that people have basic human right to migrate and live wherever they wish. They believe that national sovereignty and national boundaries are irrelevant and that the laws of labor supply and demand should govern even if it leads to a regional or hemispheric equilibrium in the standard of living of all concerned. The latter, of course, would mean a significant decline in the standard of living of most Americans so this viewpoint enjoys little support, if any. Almost all rational people agree a nation has a right to secure its borders and protect its national sovereignty.
The clash is sometimes described as between "old timers" (nativists?) and "newcomers" (recent immigrants and illegal aliens) as particularly vehement because those whose families have been here for many generations feel that their heritage and their country is being stolen from them by the upstarts. The old timers see these upstarts as having little or nothing to do with the founding, development and defense of this country.
Of course, some of these upstarts did participate in the early exploration of North America, in the subjugation and exploitation of indigenous peoples, in the building of the transcontinental railroad, and more recently, the construction of highways, bridges, buildings and streets. And certainly it can be conceded that el Indio pobre de Mexico has provided much of the labor needed to harvest the field crops and produce of the orchards. This has been the province of the migrant farm worker for a long time.
America depends on manual labor. But this is not the same as writing and ratifying the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution; establishing schools and public education; colleges, churches, businesses; braving the dangers of the frontier and hostile Indians; persevering through drought, starvation, floods, famine, disease and pestilence; and defending our country against all enemies foreign and domestic.
In several major wars, citizens stepped forward to defend our country at great cost in lives, crippling injuries, family tragedies, and treasure. Is it any wonder then that these people and their descendants feel strongly about their country, language, culture and the rule of law?