A Deal with el Diablo: The Immigration Bill's Dirty Fine Print | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

A Deal with el Diablo: The Immigration Bill's Dirty Fine Print

Much of this country's legislative history is built on compromise. Indeed, deal making among lawmakers has contributed to a robust, if sometimes flawed, system of American democracy. One of the most famous compromises in American history, the Missouri Compromise of 1820, delayed civil war but allowed human bondage to persist at a time when England, France and Argentina had already abolished slavery. In the immigration deal announced last week-- a dire example of the shortcomings of compromise--U.S. senators have proposed allowing the modern equivalent of indentured servitude, in the form of a temporary worker program, to persist in the 21st Century.

In a 2003 speech at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Federico van Gelderen, a publisher at the Spanish-language weekly "Que Pasa," called the system of Latino migrant labor in the United States "a sort of modern slavery of Hispanics." This comparison may sound shocking, given that African-descended slaves came to this country in shackles, while Latino immigrants cross the border voluntarily. But the distinctions begin to blur when considering the temporary worker program, whose regulated exploitation of labor legislators have worsened in the proposed immigration bill.

Under the current temporary (or, in its more commonly and cynically used terminology, "guest") worker program, enacted in 1986 with the Immigration Reform and Control Act, "agricultural employers who anticipate a shortage of domestic workers [may] bring nonimmigrant foreign workers to the U.S. to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature." Though intended to fill gaps in domestic labor, the program actually exists as a legal loophole for unregulated and underpaid labor. Organizations such as Human Rights Watch have observed widespread reports of exploitation under the program, by means of unfulfilled contractual obligations, intimidation tactics and coercion. The uniquely dependent status of guest laborers--they are bound to one employer, who provides their meals and housing, and they must work until they can pay off the debt of their transportation costs-- allows their employers to take advantage of them with little fear of legal recourse. "Many work sites don't come up to code in terms of having adequate shelter and (workers) being able to clean (themselves), just your basic stuff," says Altha Cravey, professor of geography at the University of North Carolina. This breakdown of infrastructure is particularly harmful in the case of guest workers, many of whom speak little or no English, depend financially on their bosses to pay off debts and reside in intimidating territory far from home (which, more often than not, is somewhere in Latin America).

Under the proposed immigration deal, this guest worker program would become even more exploitative by eliminating the possibility—slight, as it is—for guest workers to ever become U.S. citizens. As the New York Times editorial board wrote eloquently today:

The agreement fails most dismally in its temporary worker program. "Temporary means temporary" has been a Republican mantra, motivated by the thinly disguised impulse to limit the number of workers, Latinos mostly, doing the jobs Americans find most distasteful. The deal calls for the creation of a new underclass that could work for two years at a time, six at the most, but never put down roots. Immigrants who come here under that system--who play by its rules, work hard and gain promotions, respect and job skills--should be allowed to stay if they wish. But this deal closes the door. It offers a way in but no way up, a shameful repudiation of American tradition that will encourage exploitation — and more illegal immigration.

Say what you will about immigrants, legal or illegal (Please do so here, actually, because I'd love to guage public opinion among JFP readers.), we must not allow this system of modern peonage to persist. Yes, we need migrant labor. The Mississippi Coast would not be rebuilt if we did not have it. Period. And, believe me, that includes illegal immigrants. You don't want them? You don't have Gulfport. But must we continue this shameful history of exploitation in order to obtain legal migrant labor?

By the way, the immigration deal calls for current illegal immigrants to pay $5,000-- a fortune for many, including myself-- and return to their home country for eight years in order to qualify for a "Z Visa" and stand a chance at reentering the country legally. I'll write another column about illegal immigrants soon. There's a lot more to dive into. But I will say this, now: Todos somos inmigrantes. We are all immigrants. Just like the impoverished immigrants of Ellis Island, many Latino immigrants don't have $5,000 to spare-- and certainly not eight years to lose.

Previous Comments

ID
112923
Comment

msaldana, We are NOT all immigrants. I was born here. Although my ancestors were immigrants; I am not. I am an American. Not a hyphenated American. I am an American.

Author
LawClerk
Date
2007-05-20T21:24:31-06:00
ID
112924
Comment

Just like the impoverished immigrants of Ellis Island, many Latino immigrants don't have $5,000 to spare-- and certainly not eight years to lose. there is a difference between the immigrants at ellis island and the immigrants flowing across our borders today--at ellis island imigrants were logged and came into this country legally. this comparison does not fit. now, i am not saying this bill is a good one--i haven't really had to time to read it's 1400 pages nor do i think that i will have a chance to. but i do know that almost everyone is missing the boat on this one. until we make the backlog to become us citizens move faster, this problem will persist. We should welcome hard-working people into this country . . . i don't think that anyone is really arguing otherwise. They just need to come in and be documented as they cross the border and have avenue towards naturalization. It is the US governments fault for not making this an easier process. but then again, just because it may be difficult or a hassle to do something the right way, doesn't give anyone the right to do it the wrong way and circumvent the law.

Author
djames
Date
2007-05-20T22:02:56-06:00
ID
112925
Comment

Djames, you're right-- the situation today is far different than Ellis Island in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Illegal immigrants do enter the country at a much higher rate today-- but they are fulfilling a critical need in a rapidly changing global economy. Immigrant labor--both legal and illegal-- maintains the U.S. economy in ways we may never be able to fully comprehend. What we do know is that migrant laborers today do the dirty work--on the killing floor of slaughterhouses, in the washing rooms of hotels and, as I pointed out, in the rebuilding of cities--that nobody else will do. Punishing illegal immigrants for circumventing the law would be like pulling an ambulance over for running a red light. This argument might appear extreme to you, but migrant laborers provide the labor that keeps this country alive. Pull the plug on everyone who has crossed the border without documents, and our economy collapses. I agree that the immigration process should be streamlined. However, the "avenue towards nationalization" this bill proposes is futile, in the case of the temporary worker program. After working, legally, under the most inhumane conditions for six years, temporary workers will never be able to become citizens. Does this not strike you as wrong? Exploiting immigrants' labor and sending them home flies in the face of our American principles of upward mobility, open markets, multiculturalism and, yeah, freedom. By the way, Law Clerk: Are you of Native American descent? I suppose that wouldn't include a hyphen. Otherwise, you're not any more "American" than anyone else here.

Author
msaldana
Date
2007-05-20T22:53:10-06:00
ID
112926
Comment

The problem with your argument, msaldana, is that it's not really any different from the 'well, it was a crackhouse' argument FM and his cohorts used in court to stay out of prison for what should have been the clear consequences of their disobeying the law. I also don't agree with you that our economy would collapse if we no longer had illegal immigrants to do 'the dirty work' - (which, by the way, plenty of legal, American citizens do as well). The country would suffer a temporary shock if all illegal immigrants were gone tomorrow, but then millions of American citizens now living on welfare or unemployment could get back to work and/or we'd figure out a way to eliminate (through rethinking, retooling, reconfiguring) many of the 'dirty jobs' these illegal immigrants now do. 'LawClerk' wasn't maintaining that he was more American than anyone else, only that he's not an immigrant - nor am I nor anyone else born in this country. Of course the vast majority of American citizens who presently live here are the *descendants* of immigrants - that's not the question - but they are not now immigrants and they are here legally. To me the unspoken question in this debate continues to be why Mexico doesn't reform its society and economy so that its citizens don't have to illegally cross the border to make a decent living at jobs they probably don't really want to be doing. Where's Mexico's accountability for this situation? Why are they not educating their people? By the way, Japan, as far as I know (I'm always open to corrections if someone knows more about the Japanese economy than I do) gets along quite well without massive numbers of illegal immigrants so why should we need them? We don't.

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-20T23:55:58-06:00
ID
112927
Comment

Here is a good take on the bill and how it is being rushed through by both sides. not so fast

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-05-21T00:01:10-06:00
ID
112928
Comment

Here's another article on the bill from the LA Times: http://tinyurl.com/2d9qgq

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-21T00:45:38-06:00
ID
112929
Comment

Lucdix, you seem to imply that illegal immigration has caused welfare and unemployment-- or that, by eliminating undocumented workers, these problems would also be solved. This simply is not true. Illegal immigrants occupy an underclass in the U.S. that no one in their right mind would enter-- if not in the compromised position of the undocumented worker. I find it interesting that the first three posts have turned on illegal immigrants as the culprits of our immigration crisis. (At this point, I will address this argument, since it seems to be the most controversial. I will also remind readers that not all immigrants are illegal. But let's talk about the illegal ones.) Yes, many immigrants have chosen to risk their lives to cross the border illegally and work in the United States-- subjecting themselves to exploitation at every step of the way-- but, for many of them, they did not have a choice. The system of globalization-- and, in the case of Latin Americans, the history of U.S. regional hegemony-- has created massive inequities of wealth. We must own up to our own economic policies, view the systems they create as a whole, and not point our fingers at the pariahs at the bottom of the heap as the reason why we can't control our borders. I really could go into the past 200 years of U.S. foreign policy in Latin America, but I would probably bore some of you to sleep. Just consider this: When we invade a country, or control its economy or depose of its democratically elected leaders, these foreign policy decisions have consequences. We have done these three actions in just about every country in Latin America over the past 150 years or so. (If you'd like, I will give detailed examples later.) When we sign free trade agreements with Mexico, but ensure that our corporate farm industry receives billions of dollars in governmental handouts so that Mexican farmers cannot compete with the Iowa corn industry, this means that Mexican farmers cannot eat. When you are starving, you find ways to survive. To compare a poor corn farmer from Chiapas to Frank Melton is absurd. One has power; one does not. One takes advantage of others; one is horribly taken advantage of.

Author
msaldana
Date
2007-05-21T01:16:50-06:00
ID
112930
Comment

Here's one policy decision to consider. Keep in mind that this is the foundation for legal Mexican emigration: From 1942 to 1964, the U.S. government brought temporary Mexican laborers into the country under the bracero ("day laborer," derived from the Spanish word brazos, or "arms") program. At its peak in the 1950s, the program brought 400,000 Mexicans into the country per year, mainly to Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. The program was initially conceived to compensate for domestic labor shortages during WWII, but continued afterwards with the legislative endorsement of Public Law 78. Passed in 1951, the law stated that growers had to offer domestic workers the same jobs they offered braceros, certify they could not find domestic work before hiring braceros, and pay braceros a "prevailing wage" approved by the Department of Labor. Though in theory the program seemed reasonable, in practice it failed not only domestic farm workers but Mexican guest workers as well. Domestic farm wages were depressed and domestic farm workers displaced. According to historian Ernesto Galarza, the prevailing wage promised braceros was "only an official veneer laid upon [grower] association[s’] wage fixes." Growers took advantage of Mexican laborers by underpaying them, overcharging them for substandard food and lodging and spreading their hours thin over a large number of readily available workers. Though such abuses were widespread, few Mexicans complained because they were in such vulnerable positions: many desperately needed to pay off debts they had incurred from crossing the border and few were comfortable voicing concerns in a foreign country and tongue. In fact, only one in 4,300 braceros ever filed official grievances. The ones who did were often sent home and blacklisted from future work in the United States. The temporary guest worker program proposed in the new immigration deal has powerful resonances with the bracero program. If we continue policies of legalized exploitation, we cannot blame anyone but ourselves when some immigrants choose the illegal kind.

Author
msaldana
Date
2007-05-21T01:20:24-06:00
ID
112931
Comment

Well, living on welfare and living on unemployment are two different things, and I did not say that illegal immigrants caused either - but I do maintain they contribute significantly to both *continuing* and both are detrimental to this country. If you have a choice of easy living on welfare or getting a job you may not want to do, you choose welfare. But welfare was originally meant as an emergency measure; it has, however, become a way of life for many and one which harms us as a nation because it encourages people to not finish school, to not learn trades, to not find the initiative to start businesses, to have children other taxpayers will end up paying for, etc. The US got along just fine before welfare and would do quite well without it now and no, I haven't forgotten about the Depression. Yes, I think that eliminating undocumented workers would help us as a nation and an economy and that a vast majority of the jobs these people now fill American citizens can and should do - and/or many of these positions could be eliminated entirely. Yes, it would take some readjustment. No one I know of has any complaints about legal immigrants. Of course we need legal immigrants here - intelligent, educated ones just as the newest bill is trying to encourage - legal immigrants for whom fluency in English, for instance, is a requirement, for whom advanced degrees are a requirement. My question is why is the Mexican economy not creating the conditions so that their own citizens have jobs? No one is pointing fingers at 'the pariahs at the bottom of the heap' - why they're here is obvious - they want a better life for themselves. But why can't they find that life in Mexico and why should we be (the US) providing that better life at the cost of taking away jobs which American citizens could and should be doing? If Mexican farmers can't compete with the subsidized Iowa corn industry, whose fault is that but the Mexican government's? We haven't been at war with Mexico since 1847 to my knowledge. Couldn't the Mexicans have done something with their country in the meantime so that their citizens don't need to migrate illegally to the US to find work? "When we invade a country, or control its economy or depose of its democratically elected leaders, these foreign policy decisions have consequences. We have done these three actions in just about every country in Latin America over the past 150 years or so." Well, that's too general a statement for me. Let's just talk about Mexico. If I understand these sentences correctly, you're saying the US is entirely to blame for Mexico's economic troubles? The Mexicans have had nothing to do with it whatsoever? Sorry, but as far as I'm concerned, that's a copout. Comparing Frank Melton to a poor corn farmer from Chiapas? When did I do that? Your argument that illegal immigrants just wanted to find work to feed their families therefore they should not have to obey the law makes no sense. The whole point of our discussions here about Frank Melton has been that he's not above the law - nor are you, nor am I, nor is an illegal immigrant - no matter what reason he/she thinks *should* put him/her above the law. You can't just pick and choose which laws you want to obey with impunity. Do you seriously think I or any other American citizen can just go to Mexico, start working, and demand the rights of any Mexican citizen without having applied for and been granted citizenship? (continued in next post)

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-21T02:39:24-06:00
ID
112932
Comment

(continued from above) When "we" sign free trade agreements? Who is "we"? The Mexican government signed off on these agreements just as the US did - and not at the point of a gun. Further, people who are 'horribly taken advantage of' ***let*** themselves be horribly taken advantage of. If illegal immigrants don't like 'wage fixes', what are they doing here? They're *letting* themselves be taken advantage of. Do I condone American farmers doing that? Of course not. I don't think we should be importing labor at all or, if so, then only with a limited intelligent guest worker program which is fair for all parties involved. But if all you know how to do is pick crops, you're not going to make the money an aerospace engineer does - sorry. "Few Mexicans complained because they were in such vulnerable positions: many desperately needed to pay off debts they had incurred from crossing the border and few were comfortable voicing concerns in a foreign country and tongue" Well, why were they in such vulnerable positions? Why did they cross the border thus incurring the debts? Why did they come to a country illegally, thus guaranteeing them fewer rights than a citizen would have and not knowing the language? I was a legal resident of Germany for 15 years (not connected to the military or a US company in any way). I informed myself before I went, I spoke the language (through prior study and intensive continued study while I was there), I had a technical skill in high demand. I did not let myself be exploited; to the contrary I earned excellent money the entire time I was there. Yet these people come to the US illegally (thus live in fear), don't speak the language, are unskilled labor so, almost literally, 'a dime a dozen' - they have no market advantage whatsoever, and, sure enough, they're exploited. It's not rocket science to figure out why it happens and there's no reason why it should continue to happen. All it ultimately does is undermine the US economy. In the US we need educated people with technical skills fluent in English, innovators, inventors, entrepreneurs - not unskilled laborers who take jobs from Americans who could be doing those jobs (since they've not bothered to learn skills). If they did not have welfare as an alternative, sure enough, they'd go to work in the meat processing plant. The economy would *not* collapse if all illegal immigrants were sent home tomorrow. As I said above, sure, we'd go through a period of shock, but we'd certainly survive and be forced to rethink at least some of our priorities. I don't want anyone to go to bed hungry, certainly not illegal immigrants who, in fact, based on my observations, are hard workers. Yet they either need to fulfill all requirements of American citizenship - not expecting to get a pass - or live with the fact that they can only be here on temporary visas. I know about the bracero program and I also know the repatriation which took place in 1954 because of exactly the problem we have today. What this says to me is that in the 53 years since 1954 Mexico has done nothing to improve its economy so that its citizens don't need to leave to find work across the border. A country relying on its citizens being illegally in another and sending home remittances to keep the economy afloat needs to rethink its priorities as well.

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-21T02:41:27-06:00
ID
112933
Comment

Lucdix, I'll have to make this brief because I'm approaching press deadline. While I disagree with several of your points, I'm glad you are viewing the problem systemically. The U.S. did not hold a gun to Mexico and force it to sign NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement). However, we did strongarm several provisions through the negotations-- and subsidizing our agricultural industry does not exactly conform to "free trade." As I've said before, we (the U.S.) should hold ourselves accountable for the policies we set. Double standards, such as the Iowa corn example, only hurt our credibility on the global market. They also have widespread consequences, and the "poor Chiapas farmer" example is just one I'd like us to consider. One note, when you write: Well, why were they in such vulnerable positions? Why did they cross the border thus incurring the debts? Why did they come to a country illegally, thus guaranteeing them fewer rights than a citizen would have and not knowing the language? You are referring to comments I made about the bracero program-- a legal immigration program. I know you understand the distinction, but your mistake underscores an important point: one method of legal immigration the Senate bill proposes-- a guest worker program--is in many ways as harmful and exploitative as the system of illegal immigration. Just something to consider.

Author
msaldana
Date
2007-05-21T07:15:53-06:00
ID
112934
Comment

Just briefly regarding 'a poor Chiapas corn farmer' and Frank Melton - both lawbreakers. The fact is that by the present estimate at least 12 million people have entered the US illegally - i.e., broken the law - each with what he or she felt were good reasons with no evil intent. Yet if you tell 12 million people it's okay to break the law 'for a good cause' what right do you have to censure Frank Melton who maintains that what he did was for a good cause? Or do you feel that the illegal immigrants 'good cause' makes it okay for them to have done so whereas you don't (or do you?) agree with FM's actions? You're asking for them to be given a pass because we needed the labor here to grow our economy according to some (which I frankly doubt) and the Meltonites are asking for him to be given a pass because it was a crackhouse (which I have no way of knowing) although his actions (and many others) were clearly illegal. You're either saying that you condone clear lawbreaking or that the law was or is wrong. Or do you dispute that? I don't see any other interpretation to wanting to give 12 million people amnesty. "We (the U.S.) should hold ourselves accountable for the policies we set." - yes, we should - and the Mexican government should be ashamed of itself for not having done more with its country after its many years of existence. As far as a guest worker program being just as harmful as the system of illegal immigration, then those workers have the choice to participate in it or not. The reason the Mexican workers are here, though, is that they clearly see being here legally or illegally as a better thoice than poverty in Mexico - but what you don't address, msaldana, is why the Mexican economy is as poor as it is. And if the provisions of NAFTA are not favorable to Mexico, why did the Mexican government let itself be strongarmed? What form did this strongarming take?

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-21T08:15:36-06:00
ID
112935
Comment

Lucdix, I recommend you spend some time around actual people who have been on welfare to disabuse you of the notion that there is "easy living on welfare." The majority of welfare recipients are single, white women, and unless you provide them with adequate day care, you will not move them into the workforce. It has little if anything to do with illegal immigration, and your apparent perception that there are able-bodied men just lounging around, fat on welfare money, is humorously out of touch with reality. I do not deny that illegal immigration reduces jobs available to low-skilled labor in the U.S., and I am sympathetic to union arguments that illegal immigration drives down wages. But unless you have some explanation that makes more sense, welfare has nothing to do with it. Beyond that, you have such a priveleged viewpoint. You act as if it was through your own hard work alone that you were in Germany properly, while illegal immigrants who come to the U.S. are vulnerable because of their own incompetence, indifference or laziness. I don't know whether I even need to refute your take on illegal immigration, which seems to be that illegal immigrants have failed to adequately analyze the market for their skills and/or move up the wage ladder, therefore, whatever happens to them is their fault. You were able to go to Germany as you did because: a) you worked hard, and b) you got a wonderful, nearly free education from our government, and c) you come from a wealthy country, where wages are high enough you can save money, etc. Your situation does not compare, at all, to that of a poor farmer in Oaxaca. It's like you're in a corvette, and they're running on foot, and you shout back from the finish line: "Hurry up, you lazy SOB! I did it. It's easy!"

Author
Brian Johnson
Date
2007-05-21T08:48:27-06:00
ID
112936
Comment

This day and age is definitely different from Ellis Island's heyday - not the least because the biggest single source of immigration is from right next door, not several time zones away. Cheaper to take a bus to the south shore of the Rio Grande than it is to pay for a steamer to take you from Hamburg, Germany to Boston or New York. Furthermore, this is fundamentally a GLOBAL issue. the European Union nations have issues with illegal immigrants from Africa and the former Soviet Union just as we do with much of Latin America (NPR recently had a story of Icelandic tensions with immigrants from Poland, of all places (plus the Phillippines, etc.). Don't even ask about France and it's tensions with North Africans! As for solutions to the North American aspect of this serious issue -- we'll probably have to deal with this on a NAFTA level (I know good and well this is "good in theory" kind of things, but this is the best I can come up with. If nothing else, it gives us an ideal to shoot for). (a) Investment - work to decrease investment barriers between our three nations (Canada too, you know). Get Washington, Ottawa, and Mexico City to amend the treaty to give preferential membership to NAFTA nations. That should encourage more investment in Mexico, sort of like 50 years ago when New York and Chicago financiers invested money in the South, jumpstarting the South's industrial development. (b) Labor - again, NAFTA membership should have its privieleges (sp?). Extend the treaty to free movement of labor..BUT ONLY if we three nations set certain minimum standards of labor legislation (i.e., Mexico will have to strengthen its labor standards in certain ways. It's beginning to be able to afford this now - by global standard's it's a medium-wealth nation). Likewise, Washington and Ottawa must have legislation that offers many of the same protection to guest workers (safety standards, wage standards) as native workers do. (c) Good old fashioned armtwisting - As distasteful as that is, I think it's somewhat morally reasonable given that Mexico IS in a comprehensive treaty with us and Canada. Put pressure on them to upgrade their legislation and regulations - including anti-pollution ones. (d) The toughest one of all - encourage US resident Mexican citizens to vote for progressive Mexican candidates. Now this is not the job of the government, but rather of connecting one-on-one in day-to-day relations. If at all possible, seek out Mexicans working here who have any inkling of political inclinations and encourage them to write or email their family and friends back home with descriptions of US laws. If enough do so, then ideas will filter back south of the border, thus influence the political climate down there. Ok, especially that last one was probably unrealistic, even patronizing. I guess my point was that ALL parties have to move past hysteria and their traditional ways of doing things. The only thing we can all agree upon is that the established ways do not work. So, what's going to be OUR (both "ours") solution?

Author
Philip
Date
2007-05-21T09:07:01-06:00
ID
112937
Comment

By the way, Mexico has been making great strides economically in the last 20 years: They have reduced poverty from 50 percent in 1994 to 17.6 percent in 2004. Not too shabby. The World Bank reported that the country's Gross National Income and income per capita in nominal market exchange rates were the highest in Latin America, at 753.394 billion USD, and 7,310 USD respectively, and as such, Mexico is now firmly established as an upper middle-income country. After the slowdown of 2001 the country has recovered and has grown 4.2, 3.0 and 4.8 percent in 2004, 2005 and 2006, even though it is considered to be well below Mexico's potential growth. Note that Mexico's economy is growing more quickly than ours, and it is the largest economy in Latin America. The biggest problem they have now is that wages remain low, and unemployment is about 25 percent. Thus the tide of immigrants. Still, Mexico has seen remarkable improvement.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2007-05-21T09:20:48-06:00
ID
112938
Comment

Well, as a matter of fact, Brian, I have spent plenty of time around 'actual people who have been on welfare' - my first job after college was working in a community action program in Baltimore's inner city and I did it for years. As to whether or not it's easier to live on welfare or work on the floor of a slaughterhouse, I'd say it's pretty clear that the former is much easier or do you disagree? If the majority of welfare recipients are single white women with children, well, they put themselves in that position - there's no need to get pregnant in a country where you have contraception easily available. If they have no marketable skills, that's their fault and decision. Why should I provide someone with daycare who hasn't been responsible enough to not get pregnant? The one single white woman I know who is in that situation is not relying on the state to pay for the daycare for her child. She works to pay for the daycare a neighbor provides - at a blue collar job - using a skill she taught herself. She wouldn't think of taking welfare or charity from anyone. As far as there being able-bodied men just lounging around, well, Brian, yes, there are - but no, I fully realize they're not 'fat on welfare money' - yet they are able-bodied men who could be working yet don't want to work on the slaughterhouse floor either. So your solution is to let illegal immigrants continue to be part of an 'underclass' - msaldana's words, not mine - which lets them do that while the taxpayers - or illegal activities (drugs, crime) - fund others' lifestyles? I'm not out of touch with reality for a second. The crime problem in Jackson and elsewhere is directly related to the lack of decent, high-paying jobs - but to *get* those jobs you need skills and to get those skills you have to stay in school and work at learning them. "I do not deny that illegal immigration reduces jobs available to low-skilled labor in the U.S., and I am sympathetic to union arguments that illegal immigration drives down wages." Well, we agree on this. Now explain to me why 'welfare has nothing to do with it'. It's real simple, Brian. If you can get welfare, you don't work. If you have a child so that you get money to raise that child and feed the child and yourself, you don't work. Children don't come into this world by accident. The women who have these children could all be contributing to the workforce and if they want better wages than they'll get at the local fast food restaurant, they have to get an education - not have another kid. (continued in next post)

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-21T09:33:01-06:00
ID
112939
Comment

(continued from post above) My privileged viewpoint as far as going to Germany legally? Let's just take the first part of that paragraph. I didn't say anything about illegal immigrants being vulnerable because of 'incompetence, indifference, or laziness'. Don't put wo'rds in my mouth. I said lack of skills. They're not incompetent, they're not indifferent - they're in fact courageous enough to make the trip here illegally to work hard, they're not lazy - to the contrary. But they're filling mostly unskilled positions that Americans could fill - and depressing wages to boot, encouraging illegal labor practices, etc. As far as whatever happens to them being their fault, though, yes, I stand by that. They're here, not in Chiapas, through their own free will. They came here illegally hoping for a better life and may even have found it if it's not a good one. Certainly their remittances back home are a substantial support for the Mexican economy. But no one forced them to come here - to the contrary - they were motivated to come though the lure of better wages plus all the benefits they get in many states (decent schools for their children, etc.) whether they're legal or not. And why are the jobs available? Because Americans don't want to take them. Why don't they want to take them? There's no economic imperative for them to do so - there's always welfare or crime as an alternative - and these jobs are not all on the slaughterhouse floor by any means. Was it through my own hard work that I was in Germany legally? Yes, it was. My parents paid taxes in my home town for my elementary education, but I paid much of my own way after that - working summers, on vacations, and during the school year. I spent a year at a German university on a full scholarship from the university. It was my initiative to return to Germany to work and to learn the language and the skill I practiced there (before I went, I might add) to do as well as I did. As far as free education, though, is there no free education in Mexico? You're not addressing the central problem here, Brian or Matt - that the Mexican state is doing nothing to prevent the mass exodus of its citizens across the border to a country where they live illegally but partake of benefits paid for by US taxpayers. The Mexican government should take care of its own citizens but it's easier to look the other way, let them slip across the border and send money home. If I'm 'in a Corvette' it's because I bought the Corvette through hard work and educating myself and having the initiative to start my own businesses - here and in Germany. Was it easy? No, it sure wasn't - but I never expected a free ride and I didn't break any laws to get anywhere I have, let alone break them and then expect my host country or state or city to look the other way - which is what an amnesty is, which is what a dismissal of Frank Melton's case is.

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-21T09:38:48-06:00
ID
112940
Comment

Interesting discussion here. I am learning a lot from everyone's comments. However, I read one comment that I felt the need to address: And why are the jobs available? Because Americans don't want to take them. Why don't they want to take them? There's no economic imperative for them to do so - there's always welfare or crime as an alternative - and these jobs are not all on the slaughterhouse floor by any means. I think that is an unfair generalization to make. I have two relatives who used to do janitorial work at night in an office building, and the entire crew was fired and replaced by immigrants who would take lower wages to do the same work. I have nothing against immigrants and I don't blame them for what happened. I blame the employer. To me, this is all about wanting to be paid a living wage and to be treated fairly. Some employers are getting around that by exploiting illegal immigrants. Also, I think that illegal immigrants being trapped into working here in order to pay for being smuggled over the border is a form of indentured servitude. Since Blacks have been down this road before through slavery and sharecropping, I believe that some of them won't take these jobs because it is a reminder of the not-so-distant past. Personally, whenever I see footage of immigrants picking crops, I am reminded of slaves picking cotton. In addition, some employers still won't hire you if they think you are overqualified. I remember a few years ago when I was in between jobs and I was desperate to find work. I heard about a job at a hospital transporting patients, and I decided to apply. Well, when the person in charge asked to speak with me (same day - didn't even leave yet), I was told that I was overqualified and should apply for a clerical job. Well, I did, and I didn't get that either. I have a bachelor's degree and I have done post-graduate work, plus I have experience using Microsoft Office, Lotus and AS400. Hmmm...

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-05-21T10:20:23-06:00
ID
112941
Comment

Hi, L.W., You're right - I should have added that to the paragraph but it got lost in the shuffle. Yet that's part of my point - and the unions' points - that low-paying immigrant illegal labor takes jobs Americans could be doing - and this isn't limited to 'minorities'. My brother-in-law (white) worked as a janitor at night for years to pay his rent and his way through college. Yes, the employer is to be blamed but unless there's enforcement of labor and immigration laws, this practice will continue - and if there's amnesty, the situation gets even worse. As far as jobs like these being a reminder of the not-so-distant past - well unless someone has acquired skills, those are the jobs available to them if there's no income coming from somewhere else such as the state. I have a college degree and have done graduate work towards an MFA and, when times have been tough, have still done menial jobs to pay my way (through temp agencies which just want warm bodies) - and I completely understand the 'you're too educated for this job' situation because it's happened to me as well. But that's not the situation here. I've had people not hire me because they're worried that I, with more education, would be gunning for their jobs when nothing could have been further from my mind. What we ultimately need, however, is a high-tech economy with as few 'dirty' jobs as possible and it is possible and many economies / countries in this world prove that. If a crop requires intensive manual labor, do we really need the crop? We will probably always need janitors but a tremendous amount of dirt and waste comes from throwaway packaging, for instance. Do we really need all that plastic and paper which needs to be cleaned up? If we do need it, can't people learn to not toss it by the side of the road or on the sidewalk (or face stiff fines if caught doing so?)?

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-21T10:40:48-06:00
ID
112942
Comment

A few more thoughts on this situation. 1. if employers can't get cheap, illegal labor to take certain jobs, they'll a. go out of business (not a problem except perhaps for municipal property taxes since the money they pay to illegal immigrants gets sent to Mexico anyway in most cases - yes, I know that some illegal immigrants help support local economies, but gainfully employed American citizens would as well) b. be forced to hire American citizens and/or legal immigrants with work visas 2. I'm often asked if, as the price of hiring American citizens instead of illegal immigrants, I would be willing to pay higher prices for produce, etc. My answer is that yes, I would, but I don't necessarily believe that would happen and we need to think and produce locally in this economy anyway.

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-21T10:52:58-06:00
ID
112943
Comment

Lucdix, I don't see how it benefits our country socially, economically or morally to force single women to leave their children alone at home while they work minimum wage jobs. I understand that these women are responsible for their own behavior, and I'm sure they understand it too--it's not like anyone wants to be on welfare, like anyone is proud of it. But how does it help any of us to force them out of the home for a wage that won't even lift them out of poverty? What happens to their kids? It's not socialism to insist that society look out for its own best interests by helping single mothers who have children, even if those women did make mistakes. (God help us if we are foolish and suffer the consequences.) It is not my "solution" to let illegal immigrants remain an underclass, though that position was intensely tempting. I should not have put words like "lazy" in your mouth, but don't pretend that our alternatives are taking your position on immigration or embracing the status quo. In other words, don't put words in my mouth. The working class in general has been devastated by the last 30 years of essentially conservative government. Our fading support for higher education, which was supposed to be free for people who went to state schools, is a disgrace. A white male with a high school education today makes far less in real dollars than he would have in 1972, and he is less likely to have health care. Education is more expensive. All workers, including undocumented workers, should make higher wages. Every person in the U.S. should have basic health care. This is the wealthiest and most powerful nation on Earth. If not for virtue's sake, it should be a matter of pride. As for Mexico, where is your evidence that Mexico is "doing nothing" to prevent illegal immigration? Isn’t it more accurate to say that Mexico is trying but failing to stem illegal immigration? You could even suggest that they aren’t trying very hard. But nothing? My point about the “corvette” is that you did not get it through hard work alone. It’s a bit much for someone who had all the advantages of growing up American to lecture poor Mexican farmers about “hard work,” when your hard work, had you been a Mexican peasant, would not have gotten you to Germany. Finally, your Melton comparison would be more interesting if you didn’t stretch it so far. First, an “amnesty” for illegal immigrants has nothing to do with a jury acquitting Melton. They are completely different processes. Second, Melton is a powerful person who holds public office, and his alleged abuses were committed while he was acting as mayor. Holding Melton accountable for what he did is different from going after poor, undereducated migrant workers. That’s true even if we accept that all people should be subject to the law, even undocumented workers. The two simply aren’t the same.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2007-05-22T09:25:20-06:00
ID
112944
Comment

norplant.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-05-22T09:31:13-06:00
ID
112945
Comment

Nice try Brian. The rule of law is still the rule of law. You can't quote rule of law while discussing Melton's alleged crimes and blithely excuse people who break the law by coming to this country. In a weird twist of logic, you want to prosecute one because he does have money and power while excusing the other because the people committing the crimes are poor and from another country. Ever heard of situational ethics? This is a perfect example of them. If it agrees with your politics, then let them break the law. If it doesn't, then prosecute them.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-05-22T09:42:38-06:00
ID
112946
Comment

The rule of law is still the rule of law. You can't quote rule of law while discussing Melton's alleged crimes and blithely excuse people who break the law by coming to this country. Sure you can. Especially if you're questing the "rule of law" and whether it's moral, ethical, constitutional or American. Come on, 'Fish, in this state, we've had to question the state's "rule of law" many times over the years.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-22T09:46:35-06:00
ID
112947
Comment

They are here illegally. If you want to discuss an amnesty, that is one thing. However, they did violate the law by coming here and are in violation while in this country. Your argument is a great one for anarchy. You didn't change the Jim Crow laws by just disobeying them. You changed them by using the legislative and judicial process to remedy what was wrong in those laws. Now if you consider laws that classify being here in this country without our permission to be unconsitutional, then say so. because that is an awful lot what your post sounds like.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-05-22T09:52:53-06:00
ID
112948
Comment

No one is calling for anarchy, 'Fish. Don't be absurd. I'm responding to your very facile comment that one should not challenge current immigration policy because it's the "rule of law." Don't puff up what I'm saying in order to try to make yourself make sense.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-22T09:59:14-06:00
ID
112949
Comment

not trying to clarify what I said. They are here illegally. I don't see a moral or consitutional problem at all with having laws that require certain criteria be met before access to this country is granted. They are just as much in violation of the law, a moral and constitutional law at that, as Melton was. However, I do have a little bit of a problem in picking and choosing which laws can be obeyed due to the concerns you mentioned. You may not have meant anarchy but it could be read that way and I have read anarchists who used that line of reasoning to jutify their refusal to conform to the law.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-05-22T10:29:10-06:00
ID
112950
Comment

That's fine. Debate the ins and outs of the law. But it doesn't work to say that the discussion isn't valid due to the "rule of law." Part of our freedom of Americans is to debate, agree, disagree with the "rule of law." That's the only point I'm making here, 'Fish. There is nothing in my statement that indicated a call for anarchy, fool.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-22T10:36:47-06:00
ID
112951
Comment

I don't see a moral or consitutional problem at all with having laws that require certain criteria be met before access to this country is granted. Oh, and that's pretty much what Jim Crow laws were. And the back of them were broken by disobeying them—with nonviolent civil disobedience (not anarchy). I'm actually not discussing immigration here with you at all; I'm too swamped to go there today. All I'm saying is that your attempt to win a point by playing the "rule of law" card does not work in this discussion. The debate is over what the "rule of law" should be—and you can't answer that by stating emphatically what the "rule of law" is, and then say that's that. That's not even logical. In other ways, I'm challenging your fallacy. (And I'm done for now. Have an editor's note to write. So don't be offended when I don't throw another bucket of cold water on you in a few mintues. You know I love you anyway. So to speak.)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-22T10:39:44-06:00
ID
112952
Comment

fool? Where have I insulted you? I can imagine your response if I called you one. Now back to your post, when you said questioning a law, did you mean debating if it should be enforced or obeyed, or if it should be repealed?

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-05-22T10:40:36-06:00
ID
112953
Comment

you also can't compare every law you disagree with or think should be repealed or enforced to Jim Crow laws.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-05-22T10:41:44-06:00
ID
112954
Comment

(Kingfish, if YOU don't know by now when I'm raggin' you ... Come on. It's a term of endearment for you. I thought you liked it when I play rough with you.)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-22T10:42:04-06:00
ID
112955
Comment

Brian, just briefly on this comment: I don't see how it benefits our country socially, economically or morally to force single women to leave their children alone at home while they work minimum wage jobs. Well, of course it doesn't - they've already taken themselves out of the skilled labor force by not learning any skills (if they've left school at 16, they can't have many) and by their choice(s) to have children, evading responsibility for their own lives and expecting others to pay their way since they've set up a 'learned helplessness' situation for themselves, so it's a fait accompli. Yet yours is a straw man argument. How much of a 'mistake' can it be if it happens again and again and you get more money for each child? As far as these statements: All workers, including undocumented workers, should make higher wages. Every person in the U.S. should have basic health care. I agree except for the 'undocumented workers' part since I don't feel we need 'undocumented workers' who flount our laws just as their employers do. The 'undocumented worker' problem would, however, be solved very quickly if employers spent at least a week in jail for every undocumented worker they employ - that would get the message across fast. Overnight the problem would disappear. Re Mexico 'doing nothing' to stop the flow - well, actually, it seems to me the Mexican government is, in fact, doing the opposite - it wants the flow because it wants the remittances from the undocumented workers to shore up its economy - so, to my mind, they're doing nothing to stop the flow and instead are encouraging it. Think of all those people they don't have to provide basic services for. By the way, I'd like to add that in all of this, I don't fault the Mexican workers for wanting a better life and my observation has been that they are very hard workers. Yet if we need this foreign labor (which I personally doubt when we have millions of people in this country who are on welfare or unemployed) then it needs to be legal right down the line.

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-22T10:54:10-06:00
ID
112956
Comment

By the way, since I introduced Germany to this discussion, while Germany also has 'undocumented workers' - i.e., illegal workers - it has far fewer than many other countries because employers face heavy penalties for employing them. To get its economy back on its feet after WW II German employers recruited and paid the way for vast numbers of guest workers, mostly from Mediterranean countries (the majority from Turkey), and economically (as opposed to culturally) the program has worked very well. Depending on where they work (mostly in larger enterprises such as automobile concerns), they are members of unions, pay German income taxes, get health insurance, paid vacations, etc. - and still send plenty of money back to Turkey - or stay and retire in Germany. But if they want to (and not all do) they still have to apply for *citizenship* as any foreign national does and their children, if born in Germany, are *not* automatically Germany citizens - they must apply as well - plus demonstrate fluency in German, show a certain educational level, etc. In other words, for the vast majority, it's legal right down the line. The major problems which arise are cultural. The first generation seldom speaks fluent German, which leads to communication problems, and the other problems arise (in the case of the Turks) from being members of an Islamic culture in the middle of a predominantly Christian or secular society. They're not an unpaid underclass unless they have, in fact, entered Germany illegally when, if they have, they're subject to the same exploitation which happens with illegal aliens here. It's way past time to make some sense of the situation here and go to an intelligent guest worker program after which, if you fulfill the requirements (English fluency, education, enough money in the bank so that you're not likely to become a ward of the state), you can become an American citizen.

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-22T11:32:34-06:00
ID
112957
Comment

Nice try, King. I'm on press deadline, so I'll have to comment at greater length later, but I did not "blithely excuse" illegal immigrants breaking the law. Instead, I wrote that it is wrong to pretend that Melton's alleged crimes and the crimes of illegal immigrants are morally equivalent. Yes, the law applies to everyone, but the argument that prosecuting Melton and aggressively prosecuting illegal aliens are morally equivalent simply doesn't fly. That's like saying: Look, if you're going to call for Melton to be prosecuted for breaking the law, you have to support going out and jailing prostitutes or your position is completely incoherent. Actually, I don't, and it's not, because the crimes in question are not morally equivalent. The law itself distinguishes between crimes where there is a victim and crimes where there is not. Calling for public officials to be held accountable simply does not lock anyone in to a position where they must call for say, traffic misdemeanors to be prosecuted with the same vigor we prosecute felonies. If necessary, I will enumerate at great length later on why this argument is spurious, but its seems obvious. As for anarchy, there's a lot of straw sticking out of that man. Shouldn't we have already descended into anarchy by now, considering that the rule of law has been flouted for so long?

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2007-05-22T11:58:16-06:00
ID
112958
Comment

When Frank Melton can do with impunity what he did on Ridgway Street, that *is* already anarchy. Nothing says that because you have anarchy in one place you will have it everywhere, but when you grant amnesty to 12 million people here illegally, you're definitely contributing towards even more widespread anarchy. If you're calling for amnesty for illegal immigrants, what is that otherwise than 'blithlely excusing' them from breaking the law? That's what amnesty is - a decision to nullify a law by fiat. 'The law itself distinguishes between crimes where there is a victim and crimes where there is not' - yes, it does, as it should. However, there *are* victims if we let 12 million people ignore the law and grant them amnesty - the American legal system is a victim just for a start - but mainly American citizens who could be working at those jobs and can't get work because it's already taken by illegal aliens at a lower wage with terrible working conditions, no health insurance, lax safety precautions, and so forth. That's a crime - with many victims - of major proportions. While there may be *some* jobs illegal aliens take which American citizens would not want to take, there are many which American citizens would be happy to take if they were available - not all the jobs are working on slaughterhouse floors. American taxpayers also pay for services provided to illegal workers including education in already crowded public schools - in California, at least - where I know it to be the case, probably in other states and municipalities. We're not talking about a 'victimless crime' here at all.

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-22T12:18:30-06:00
ID
112959
Comment

I see no evidence that the U.S. is on the brink of anarchy, and past amnesties have not produced anarchy. Furthermore, I can think of no reason why granting an amnesty to undocumented immigrants would destroy law and order. It might or might not increase the flow of such immigrants, but anarchy? I think it's worth noting that the "amnesty" proposed in this bill does not let illegal immigrants off the hook. It requires that they pay a large fine, that they enter the immigration process at the back of the line, that they return to their home countries to apply for permanent residency, that they demonstrate proficiency in English, etc. These punitive measures, right or wrong, hardly qualify as blithely excusing immigrants' violation of the law. Rather, it punishes them to the extent that is practical. The alternative, it seems to me, is to arrest and deport 12 million people, which is both inhumane and impractical. As for victims, I meant victims in the sense that the law identifies victims, not abstract victims like you describe. In a sense, jay walking has victims, for its undermines respect for the rule of traffic laws. However, I submit that when the victim is "the American legal system" or American workers in general, that is not, you know, an actual victim, at least not in the sense that there are murder victims. If you define "crimes with victims" so broadly, it becomes meaningless because then every crime has victims. The distinction becomes useless.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2007-05-22T13:43:32-06:00
ID
112960
Comment

you know as well as I do that law is not going to pass and that it is a complete joke. Once they give them legal status, alot of that stuff goes out the window. They will not return home. We haven't enforced the law yet, we are not going to start now. Amnesty is one thing, repeated amnesties are another. At some point, the repeated granting of amnesty is simply a failure to enforce the law. If it were up to me, I'd go after the corporations hiring them and really start nailing them for violating the law, in other words, go after the demand side because they are artificially depressing the amount paid for wages. I'd use trade policy and also put pressure on institutions like the world bank to put pressure on Mexico to reform its economy so it does grow and thus create demand for jobs at home in Mexico (Mexico is filled with monopolies, liberalizing the economy and breaking up monopolies like the telecommunications company would do wonders for competition and growth). However, I would change the law about if a child is born here, he/she is automatically an American citizen. that is madness and few if any other countries have such a law. Immigration is fine. Some illegal immigration will occur and that is something we have to live with. However, wholesale resettlement of countries is something else entirely different and that is what I oppose. The French used to get rid of the dregs of their society by starting wars and using the draft to cleanse society as was stated by a few of their politicians in moments of candor. Mexico has gotten smarter, instead of starting a war, just encourage them to move out of the country.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-05-22T13:51:40-06:00
ID
112961
Comment

As for victims, I meant victims in the sense that the law identifies victims, not abstract victims like you describe. I don't see the victims I describe as being abstract at all. These are people whose jobs have been stolen by the employers of illegal laborers. As a rough count, I'd say there at least 36 million victims - people adversely affected by the commission of a crime - 12 million illegal immigrants plus an average of two other people a legal American citizen (or legal immigrant) wage earner would be supporting. Additionally, 12 million people are not contributing to our tax base yet using the resources paid for by legal workers. Furthermore, I can think of no reason why granting an amnesty to undocumented immigrants would destroy law and order. It might or might not increase the flow of such immigrants, but anarchy? Well, anytime you say you're going to choose to obey a law or not, that's a step towards anarchy - and that's precisely the way Frank Melton operates - picking and choosing which laws he decides he'll obey - if any. As far as 'arresting and deporting 12 million people' - well, it's already been done, though not on this scale. Repatriation worked in the US in 1954. Those who were not directly deported left on their own - and freed up those jobs, I might add. A characterization I strongly disagree with is from Kingfish above: The French used to get rid of the dregs of their society by starting wars and using the draft to cleanse society as was stated by a few of their politicians in moments of candor. Mexico has gotten smarter, instead of starting a war, just encourage them to move out of the country. I'm not suggesting for a second that the illegal workers now in the US are the 'dregs of their society'. If anything, they're the opposite - they had the courage and the motivation to try to find a better life for themselves. Unfortunately they do it at the cost of jobs which 12 million American citizens could be filling, earning income from which would be recycled into our economy(and I don't just mean WalMart or Target) and not Mexico's

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-22T14:25:00-06:00
ID
112962
Comment

Kingfish, your language underscores a major problem in this thread: the "dregs" to whom you refer are people. It may surprise you that just because someone doesn't speak your language, doesn’t mean he isn't intelligent. Just because he performs inhuman amounts of hard labor does not mean he is less than human. Lucdix, I’m glad you have acknowledged the humanity of immigrants, at least. Kingfish, you refer to the "madness" of the American policy of granting citizenship to children born on our soil, and the fact that few other countries share this policy. However, few other countries are anything like the U.S. A large part of our identity is that we are a country born of immigrants. When I say we are all immigrants, I mean that quite literally. (Ironically, indigenous Mexicans are some of the few people who can lay claim to being native to territory within the United States, along with Native Americans.) At one point or another, one of our ancestors came from another place, and eventually we were born here. When we begin the business of deciding who can, and can’t, join the club, we run the risk of heading down a perilous path of nation cleansing, to borrow Kingfish’s phrase, and intolerance. Something tells me that the rage many have expressed toward illegal, and mostly Latino immigrants, is founded in something more than mere legal arguments. We have a long, and at times ugly, tradition of shunning immigrants, and later welcoming them into our society. It takes us a while to comprehend history, but eventually we get there. Lucdix, when you refer to the "cultural" problem of Turks in Germany, this is the classic xenophobic argument. I'd like to think we've gone beyond pointing our fingers at minorities within the U.S., because of different languages and customs. In fact, we are far ahead of other parts of the World on this front, precisely because of our unique history of immigration. Latinos have already contributed a vibrant culture to the U.S.-- since we're focusing on Mexicans here (by the way, many Latino immigrants come from other parts of Latin America, via Mexico). Many may not agree with me, but—like it or not—many Latinos are already American. (Latin Americans would remind us, by the way, that they are already American, without ever setting foot in the United States.) As per the “rule of law” argument, which has dominated this discussion instead of the larger, more important issues, Brian’s made it about as clear as it can get.

Author
msaldana
Date
2007-05-22T17:49:45-06:00
ID
112963
Comment

dregs is what the French politician said when I read the story, not mine. Take it up with him, that is how they saw it. Its also how they see it in Mexico. We are Americans. We were all another country's dregs. where did I say nation cleansing? Where? put it in quotes. Also, where did I say they were lazy or didn't work? Once again putting words in my mouth based on what you THOUGHT I wrote. Where the hell did I say someone was not intelligent because he didn't speak my language? Go f yourself scumbag. That was pretty f'n ignorant of you to say that as I never said ANY such thing you scumbag. I said I have no problems with immigration. I even said there will always be some illegal immigration that goes on. What I do mind is the wholesale resettlement of entire nations. That is why I have a problem with. You can't find anywhere where I have posted againt immigration or immigrants. I have not said they were lazy or stupid anywhere. I referred to them in terms of their socioeconomic status and how their own countries see them, which is true. Do you think Mexico would raise hell if its professional class suddenly hightailed it to the US? Of the Mexican government would. However, it encourages its low income or unemployed population to come here as it helps them avoid reforming their economy and taming their oligarchs. Next time read what I write before you start slandering me. If I get banned for this post fine but I'm not going to sit back and take this kind of garbage when I didn't write it. By the way, some of those terrorists arrested last week in the Fort Dix plot were illegal immigrants. I'm sure they were hard workers as well and quite intelligent. Lets just open our borders and worry about security later.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-05-22T18:05:06-06:00
ID
112964
Comment

Where the hell did I say someone was not intelligent because he didn't speak my language? Go f yourself scumbag. That was pretty f'n ignorant of you to say that as I never said ANY such thing you scumbag. 'Fish, you just signed your walkin' papers. It's been nice. Well, not really.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-22T19:15:29-06:00
ID
112965
Comment

Matt, you constantly use the word 'immigrant' without the accompanying adjective 'illegal' but the ***legality*** of their presence here is what's at issue. This makes me curious about your overall views on immigration. Are you against any immigration laws at all? Is it okay to be illegally in this country if you're from Latin America since it's part of 'America'? If so, would it also be okay with you if there were 12 million Kenyans, 12 million Italians, 12 million Indonesians and 12 million Russians all here illegally? Re cultural problems between Turks and native Germans - the classic xenophobic argument? I'm describing real, day-to-day problems which exist in Germany due to a culture clash. The Turkish workers are predominantly Moslem and 'old school'. This includes routine oppression of women - wives and daughters - expressly forbidden in German law plus many other basic cultural differences which separate them from the citizens of their host country - including not speaking other than very basic German if that. With regard to 'the business of deciding who can and who can't 'join the club', we run the risk of heading down a perilous path of nation cleansing' according to your words (which I don't remember Kingfish writing anywhere), but that's what immigration laws - ***everywhere*** are about and rightfully so. Is it a 'perilous path' to decide that you don't want criminals in your midst? Where do you draw the line? To the contrary, it's not a perilous path at all but an eminently sensible one to prefer skilled, well-educated immigrants to low-skilled poorly-educated immigrants. Is it a perilous path to decide who you want as a life partner? You have to make a decision there, too. Life is about decisions. To me, at least, this is not an ethnic question at all. I would be just as distressed by massive illegal immigration from any other country as from Mexico. The point is that it's illegal yet you want American citizens to ignore that because you see the immigrants all as 'poor farmers from Chiapas' so ignoring the law is (in your view, at least as I read it) justified. That's why I still say that my comparison to Frank Melton, also a lawbreaker, is valid. Frank's supporters don't think the law should apply to him, you don't think the law should apply to illegal immigrants if they're poor farmers from Chiapas. It has nothing to do with Frank's wealth - his supporters would be on his side even if he were poor because, in their view, he's 'doing something about crime' even if he's breaking the law. To them, he 'has no evil intent' so he gets a pass. Illegal immigrants don't have 'evil intent' either - to the contrary - but they're still breaking the law and we're remiss if we look the other way. (continued in post below)

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-22T19:31:17-06:00
ID
112966
Comment

What happened to all that Chick Ball love?

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-05-22T19:31:36-06:00
ID
112967
Comment

(continued from post above) I have nothing whatsoever against 'Latinos'. My mother, from an old Natchez family, grew up in Cuba and loved it (her father had a business there). I loved Cuba when I visited it years ago. I love Spain, I'd love to get back to Mexico which I've visited several times. You're missing the point. As far as language, it's insanity to encourage official multilingual policies in the US - they only contribute to complication and miscommunication - and I'm saying that as someone who speaks and reads and writes a wide variety of languages, including Spanish. No one is 'pointing fingers' at minorities here - we're 'pointing fingers' at ***lawbreakers***. No other ethnic group coming to the US has ever expected us to become a multilingual society just because they don't want to bother to learn English. All other ethnic groups - French, Germans, Chinese, Italians, Vietnamese, Koreans, Armenians - have done everything they could to learn English and integrate themselves into US society. Certain Latinos, however, refer to themselves as 'La Raza' - 'The Race' - (as in 'The Master Race'?). What's up with that? That phrase alone connotes ethnic Latino arrogance by those who use it. Incidentally, Matt, you're playing nonsensical word games with the word 'American'. It is clearly used in this context as shorthand for 'Citizen of-or pertaining to-the United States of America'. Everyone here knows we're in a country located on the continent of North America south of which are Central America and South America, citizenship in any of the countries in Central or South America not being the equivalent of citizenship in the United States of America. That's like saying that because both India and Korea are part of 'Asia' there's anything significant in common between them or that a citizen of one is a citizen of the other since they're both 'Asian'. The 'rule of law' has dominated this discussion since that's what the issue is, not whether an illegal immigrant comes from Colombia or Canada or France or Fiji. Illegal is illegal.

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-22T19:32:55-06:00
ID
112968
Comment

I will also add, 'Fish, that you have accused other people of putting words in your mouth, as have we all. Why is it that you suddenly have to use this kind of language with Matt Saldaña? I should let Matt curse your a$$ out in Spanish just for good form. Sigh. It does seem like the anti-immigrant disease is one of the worse we're dealing with these days. Lucdix, you too are getting pretty weird in this one. I'm really surprised that YOU don't understand why the logic of arguing about Melton's criminal actions and the issue of immigration are simply not analagous. Two important issues, but you can't compare them.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-22T19:34:16-06:00
ID
112969
Comment

I just explained the connection once again above, Donna. Melton's supporters feel his actions were justified because he had no evil intent whereas advocates of illegal immigration argue that the immigrants have no evil intent - but in both cases the law is being broken - and I don't buy the analogy of the ambulance racing to the emergency room running red lights. There's no emergency connection here. In fact, I'd say that Frank Melton did, in fact, have 'evil intent' whereas illegal immigrants do *not* have evil intent but I feel it's important to have clear immigration laws which we actually enforce (otherwise, why are they on the books?), particularly when millions of people in this country are out of work.

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-22T19:40:37-06:00
ID
112970
Comment

Additionally, when you speak of 'the anti-immigrant disease' in my case, at least, that's a false accusation. I am *not* 'anti-immigrant'. I *am* against illegal immigration and I am for strict immigration policies favoring skilled, educated immigrants as opposed to admitting unskilled, poorly-educated immigrants who are taking jobs from American citizens since they're cheaper and employers don't have to worry about health insurance and safety standards - or are you for that?

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-22T19:44:38-06:00
ID
112971
Comment

Matt, you constantly use the word 'immigrant' without the accompanying adjective 'illegal' but the ***legality*** of their presence here is what's at issue. This makes me curious about your overall views on immigration. Isn't the issue, actually, whether current immigration laws make sense? You can't discuss that point if you jump past that question and just try to make it all about whether or not people are violating the current laws. That's kinda cheating and belies your sincerity on trying to discuss the issue itself. This particular twist in logic reminds me almost directly over debates over Jim Crow laws (OK, that I read about). I'm not saying you're doing that intentionally, but the effect is still there.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-22T20:00:38-06:00
ID
112972
Comment

I am, in fact, curious about Matt's overall views about immigration - whether it's okay that this country has 12 million illegal immigrants from Mexico and South America (all I'm talking about, not legal immigrants) and whether it's okay in his view that they're here because they're from 'America' as opposed to, say, 12 million illegal immigrants from Morocco or Kenya or Sri Lanka. I haven't read his answer to that question yet. Here we're talking about illegal immigrants and their employers who have no interest in conforming to current immigration laws so, yes, that's the first question to be cleared up and that's what this immigration bill is trying to do; it's obviously not a simple question. But in the meantime to argue that 'we need this labor, whether legal or not' is, in my view, false. We have at least 12 million American citizens out of work who could fill those jobs, paying for their families, houses, and more. I'm sorry if they're not high-prestige jobs but they're still jobs and, as American citizens, they'd have far more bargaining power to better conditions than illegal immigrants who yes, are subject to the worst sort of exploitation because of their illegal status. Now help me out here - how does this discussion connect to Jim Crow laws? Are you arguing that because Jim Crow laws discriminated against black American citizens and were thus illegal and needed to be changed, that's equivalent to our present immigration laws which discriminate against illegal immigrants? Well, yeah - that's what immigration laws are about. They're not citizens, Donna - and there are specific paths to become an American citizen - to live and work here legally - which they have not followed. That's what the bill is trying to help them do. In the meantime, they're taking jobs from American citizens - not all of which, as I've said several times now, are on the slaughterhouse floor. I don't see anything I've written as being a 'twist in logic'. To the contrary, I see your comparing this situation with Jim Crow laws as a 'twist in logic'. How does this in any way have to do with racial discrimination against American citizens?

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-22T20:21:06-06:00
ID
112973
Comment

Kingfish, what are you doing? I can understand why you took offense at some of what Matt wrote, but you essentially flipped the table over and threw a beer bottle at him. Luc, I genuinely share your concern about how undocumented workers may depress wages and take jobs from the working class. That said, cheap immigrant labor is a small part of the problems workers face. Larger problems: a) falling real wages b) erosion of health care and retirement benefits, c) dwindling public support for education, which has become stupendously expensive, d) the destruction of American manufacturing. I don't know what to do about immigration, but I do know a few things we shouldn't do. Mass deportation is a horrifying prospect, worthy of Milosevic. Imprisoning immigrants is even worse. So what are we to do? The bill the Senate is considering attempts to solve the problem by closing the borders but providing a path to citizenship for the 12 million already here. Honestly, what would you do instead? It bothers me when Americans act as if being an American is something they did, as if it makes them a good person. The truth is, all it makes any of us is lucky. Our country has seen some of its most shameful moments in its periodic spasms of immigration hysteria. Just as in previous panics, there is great alarm about immigrants not learning English, though every indication is that Spanish speakers are learning English faster than previous waves of immigrants. In any case, they certainly adhere to the pattern that has held for two centuries, which is that some in the first generation never learn English but their children always do. And all this panic about people who are generally Christian with a largely European culture? Cripes. I know you've written that you don't feel that way about immigrants, but xenophobia is driving the public discourse. That and that motherf*cker Bill O'Reilly.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2007-05-22T21:08:13-06:00
ID
112974
Comment

Lucdix, I haven't yet argued the issue. As the moderator, I'm responding to specific illogical statements that have been made, which hurt the discussion—specifically saying, or implying, that a discussion about the immigration laws aren't valid because "illegal immigrants" are breaking laws. There is a specific logical fallacy being violated here, but I forget what it's called. And this fallacy is the same as those who used to argue that "agitators" were breaking the law and acting against the order of law -- without discussing what's wrong with the law. That's a pretty tight analogy. Admittedly, this is a simplification of what has been said by several here, but it is the way y'all are coming across in several places and in some direct statements. If you don't want to come across that way, you might rethink some of the statements. They're drowning out your other points. And per what Brian said, I can say unequivocally that I am as against "immigration hysteria" as I am against "illegal immigration," and I'm not Latino.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-22T21:27:20-06:00
ID
112975
Comment

Nice, Brian: It bothers me when Americans act as if being an American is something they did, as if it makes them a good person. The truth is, all it makes any of us is lucky. ... and, of course: I know you've written that you don't feel that way about immigrants, but xenophobia is driving the public discourse. That and that motherf*cker Bill O'Reilly. Down with xenophobia. Up with intelligent discourse.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-22T21:29:29-06:00
ID
112976
Comment

You know, after reading Kingfish's and Lucdix's responses to Matt, I assumed he must have really unloaded on y'all above. But you know, reading back, I just can't see what he said to bring on such wrath in return. The tone of the response to his comments (not to mention the hate words) is rather alarming. Immigration hysteria, indeed.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-22T21:36:20-06:00
ID
112977
Comment

Our country has seen some of its most shameful moments in its periodic spasms of immigration hysteria. Just as in previous panics, there is great alarm about immigrants not learning English, though every indication is that Spanish speakers are learning English faster than previous waves of immigrants. In any case, they certainly adhere to the pattern that has held for two centuries, which is that some in the first generation never learn English but their children always do. And all this panic about people who are generally Christian with a largely European culture? Cripes. Brian, maybe you should come over here for a minute.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-05-22T21:38:07-06:00
ID
112978
Comment

Hey, Brian, Well, I can understand why Kingfish took offense at what Matt wrote as well (I don't believe Kingfish ever used the words 'nation cleansing'), but as always, even though it's not always easy, it's important to stay civil in here - and everywhere else. Kingfish and I certainly don't always agree, but I feel in this discussion we've been mostly in sync and I, of course, feel I'm completely 'on base' about what I've been writing (and realize others may disagree). "Cheap immigrant labor is a small part of the problems workers face" - I agree - but it *is* a real problem which nevertheless has to be addressed - it's gotten out of hand. Outsourcing is another problem. Our own citizens not working hard enough to acquire the skills they need in our modern economy is still another problem. In other words I'm seconding all of your points. What to do? Well, tightening the borders for one. I wish it didn't have to come to that but if that's the only way so be it. That's why we have borders - and walls to houses and locks on the doors. There's been a lot of discussion as to how much this present bill represents an 'amnesty'. Well, there's no question that it's a partial amnesty. I don't like the idea of 'massive deportation' either - if that means federal marshalls escorting people out of this country with guns - but, as I wrote above, if you come down hard on employers, the problem will solve itself overnight - a week per undocumented worker would do it - that's assuming you really want to enforce the law. Since they're here, since we shouldn't be a nation which treats anyone badly (including at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo) - as absurd as it is since they've broken the law, we should help them get home - but then, if they return before they're legally allowed to, yes, put them in jail. Sorry, I don't really want to put anyone in jail, but if a crime has no negative consequence, it will be repeated. If you want to argue that illegally crossing a border is not a crime, though, then we're not on the same page - yet is is a crime, as far as I'm concerned (and the immigration law says) and a crime with definite, real (not abstract) victims all around. I haven't read the bill, just the main points the news organizations have brought, but from what I've read so far it makes a lot of sense to me. Could a better bill be written? Probably. I'm just going by what makes sense to me. If you overlook a law being broken, you one, contribute to the law being broken, two, encourage it to continue being broken. So the question I have for Matt Saldana and others who seem to support the idea of looking the other way is how long they want to look the other way and whom, coming across the border illegally, would you stop and whom would you let past? Are the Spanish right to stop the refugees from Africa who cross straits of Gibraltar? They're just looking for a better life, too. Do you stop the Congolese and let the Panamanian through because he or she is 'American'? That's the thesis of the National Council of La Raza who believe that the southwest of the US belongs to them, whoever they are, because of their Hispanic heritage. But, to be honest, it no more 'belongs' to them because they're Hispanic than it does to us, since Mexico and South America only became 'Hispanic' after being conquered by Spain so, since many US citizens are of European ancestry and since Spain is in Europe, we're all equally entitled to the land, right? As far as being American being something I or anyone else here has done, well, obviously, none of us has any control over that and no, it makes not a single one of us a good person. Yes, we are lucky. No disagreement there. (continued in next post)

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-22T22:09:57-06:00
ID
112979
Comment

Kingfish and I certainly don't always agree, but I feel in this discussion we've been mostly in sync and I, of course, feel I'm completely 'on base' about what I've been writing (and realize others may disagree). I feel like I just stepped into an alternative universe. Have you read the posts above? Obviously, you disagree with Matt. Fine. But his comments seem very measured, and they have drawn such ugliness in return. Are you truly in sync with this statement by Kingfish, lucdix?: Where the hell did I say someone was not intelligent because he didn't speak my language? Go f yourself scumbag. That was pretty f'n ignorant of you to say that as I never said ANY such thing you scumbag. The problem is, Kingfish doesn't seem to know or care how he often comes across. But I'm rather shocked to hear that you're "in sync." I'm pretty much done on this thread. It is sickening me at this point.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-22T22:15:58-06:00
ID
112980
Comment

(continued from post above) I am in no way xenophobic. To the contrary, I believe we can learn a lot from other countries and the wonderful people we've had contribute to American culture who were not born here. Nevertheless, we're still talking about *legal* immigrants - my grandparents and father among them - not someone who has illegally crossed a border and expects to be welcomed with open arms - then takes a job from someone who has been born here or come here legally and played by the rules (as both my father and my grandparents did). I see no indication that Spanish speakers have any great interest in learning English based on the time I've spent in the southwest, in Florida and California, or Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana, for that matter. Yet I think it's the purest of insanity in a nation this large to set up official bilingualism in any area. It only brings chaos, confusing, and misunderstanding. And people *can* learn foreign languages and should have to - fluently - to gain American citizenship. Europeans do it all the time, the Japanese do it, the Scandinavians do it, Africans do it - why do Spanish speakers want an exception for their language? No other ethnicity demands this. I would be for making English the official national language with no exceptions (and I'm multilingual). However, I really don't see the 'panic' as being about Latino culture, Brian - I see it as being about an invasion of non-English speakers who are taking American jobs illegally - and the illegal actions of their employers, of course. We would have the exact same situation if we'd been invaded by Moroccans or Fijians or Indonesians. I don't know what Bill O'Reilly's position is on this - I don't listen to him or any other right-wing spewers of hate, but I can guess, and I'd hate to think I'd be in agreement with him in any way and doubt I am. Nevertheless, I feel that any general amnesty would be a serious mistake and, of course, not solve the problem. The problem is with Latin America's economies first and foremost but we bear the brunt of this illegal labor taking jobs which could and should be filled by American citizens or legal immigrants. Should we give these people a chance to become American citizens? By all means - but not hand them a free pass just for showing up to undermine our economy. Donna - this has nothing to do with 'xenophobia' and nothing to do with 'immigration hysteria' - it was to do with breaking the law, pure and simple, and giving 12 million people who have done so a pass and undermining labor laws to boot. Have you seen me write anything xenophobic? If so, where? If Matt 'unloaded' on me, I must have missed it. I'm just waiting for the answer to my questions.

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-22T22:19:10-06:00
ID
112981
Comment

Donna - this has nothing to do with 'xenophobia' and nothing to do with 'immigration hysteria' - it was to do with breaking the law, pure and simple, and giving 12 million people who have done so a pass and undermining labor laws to boot. I disagree. If it weren't about the blindess of xenophobia, I suspect you would see the logical fallacy you just repeated yet again. There are more than one way to be xenophobic, or to sound like you are. And for the record, I don't think I've ever met a racist who believed he was racist, either. Just sayin'. I really am done here.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-22T22:22:32-06:00
ID
112982
Comment

No, I'm not 'in sync' with that statement, Donna - I said 'mostly in sync' in the sense that we both agree that illegal immigrants are, by definition, breaking the law and should not be given a free pass. The only ugliness I've seen in response to Matt came in the post from Kingfish you banished him for. You read no ugliness from me. I'm just trying to get an answer to a simple question.

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-22T22:23:12-06:00
ID
112983
Comment

Which 'logical fallacy' is that? No, I really don't see it, am not trying to give you a hard time. If you are, as you wrote above, in fact against illegal immigration, then where do we disagree?

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-22T22:27:00-06:00
ID
112984
Comment

Lucdix, I don't know if you're being purposefully dense here. Why in the world would I ever make a statement like "I'm against illegal immigration" in a conversation where we're trying to discuss what immigration laws should be? That's idiotic. Let me say this slowly: You can't have an intelligent discussion about what immigration law should be if you declare from the outset that you're blanketly against "illegal immigration." Why is this so hard? I've repeated the same thing over and over again, and the fact that you cannot understand this fallacy gives the impression of xenophobia, or something. I'm not going to say the same thing again if you don't get it this time. G'night.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-22T22:33:02-06:00
ID
112985
Comment

I'm against "illegal immigration" or as it SHOULD be "illegal MIGRATION" since, in a specific instance, pure Mexicans are merely migrating from one section of the north amerikan continent to another, but I support "legal immigration" and "legal migration." why would anyone, in an intelligent discussion of course, support anything illegal? :-)

Author
cityofjacksonms
Date
2007-05-22T22:40:33-06:00
ID
112986
Comment

Thanks, Donna - at least I see where we disagree. I do, in fact, believe that you can have an intelligent discussion about immigration laws if you say from the outset that you're against illegal immigration - that the question then becomes what immigration policy should be so as to write immigration laws which make sense. I am *for* legal immigration and feel that it's an important part of national policy which should be carefully fine-tuned and fully enforced. The question then becomes what the parameters should be - but it should not be negotiated with a gun to your head in the form of 12 million people who are already here illegally - be they from Latin America or Norway.

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-22T22:42:57-06:00
ID
112987
Comment

why would anyone, in an intelligent discussion of course, support anything illegal? :-) Uh, see Civil Rights-era laws. Of course, intelligent people can be for things that are illegal (like integrated schools), especially if they believe those laws are illegal or unconstitutional. The problem in these discussions is that people are just declaring themselves against "illegal immigration" without regard to whether the existing laws make sense. That doesn't send itself to very smart talk. And it's what white Mississippians did 40 years ago. Thus, my original point.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-22T22:48:50-06:00
ID
112988
Comment

This is not a 'civil rights' issue. This is not a 'Jim Crow' issue. We are ***not*** talking about American citizens being denied their rights. Your argument would then be that illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay here because why? As I understand it, you're arguing that present immigration laws are somehow 'unjust'. Is that correct? What's wrong with the existing immigration laws?

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-22T22:55:24-06:00
ID
112989
Comment

Alright Luc Dix. I’m not sure why I’m allowing you to engage me, since the more you talk about how un-xenophobic you are, the more you sound like the racist white guy who has plenty of black friends. I see no indication that Spanish speakers have any great interest in learning English based on the time I've spent in the southwest, in Florida and California, or Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana, for that matter. Wow, you sound so cultured. You’ve lived in that many states and you speak multiple languages? Unfortunately, this is one of the most innane statements I’ve heard. The inability to speak English is a crippling handicap in this country, and no one would willingly choose to have this disadvantage. I’m sure this is difficult for you to comprehend, since you are versed in the languages and cultures of the world (Norway! Fiji! Africa!), but it’s actually quite difficult to learn a language after the formative years of one’s life. Even more so when living in a frightening environment. Knowing that people like you disapprove so strongly of my presence in your country, I—as a Latino illegal immigrant (since this is the only example you care to discuss)—wouldn’t venture outside my safety network either. This phenomenon is not new—it was called ghettoization, when Upstanding Americans turned their hatred against Jews, Irish, Poles and Italians at the beginning of the 20th Century. Why don’t they speak our language and learn our culture? Because they are scared to death, and in a vulnerable position to do so. It’s a vicious cycle, one that can only be broken by cultural acceptance—something I’ve seen very little of in your posts. Now, what did you want me to respond to? Kingfish’s comments, on which I based mine, were as follows: The French used to get rid of the dregs of their society by starting wars and using the draft to cleanse society as was stated by a few of their politicians in moments of candor. Mexico has gotten smarter, instead of starting a war, just encourage them to move out of the country. In other words, Mexico’s found a smarter way to “cleanse society,” in Kingfish’s mind. Frightening. In turn, I borrowed Kingfish’s phrase (which he claims some French guy said and put him up to repeating.)

Author
msaldana
Date
2007-05-23T00:36:23-06:00
ID
112990
Comment

(cont. from above) Matt, you constantly use the word 'immigrant' without the accompanying adjective 'illegal' but the ***legality*** of their presence here is what's at issue. No, Luc, this is not a discussion about whether illegal immigrants are illegal. As Donna pointed out, that is a non-discussion, and it’s waste of everybody’s time for you to keep pounding your fist about how illegal illegal immigration is. As Donna pointed out, we ought to discuss the issues behind these laws and try to understand why there is illegal immigration in the first place. You seem to think it’s Mexico’s fault. I disagree. I think it’s the market force’s fault—in the system of globalization we have created with other powerful countries—and I think it’s our own fault, based on U.S. policy in Latin America over the past century and a half. When we brought 400,000 Mexicans a year into this country under the bracero program in the 1950s, we introduced these laborers to a system of exploitation, contractual fraud, and underpaid labor. In other words, under the color of the law (and, since, if something is “legal,” it must be “right,” weighed by the blind scales of justice) we systematically created an underclass of poor Mexican-Americans even before any significant wave of illegal border crossing. We also created a significant Latino population, one that has grown to become the largest minority in the U.S.. So, no, we are not talking about Fiji. We are not talking about Norway. We are talking about Mexico and a history of U.S. dominance that clearly explains why desperate laborers have chosen to break the law and subject themselves to violence and racism by entering this country illegally. Okay, and dude, grow up. Viva La Raza is like Black Power. As a light-skinned Mexican, I know the difference between race and ethnicity. To be honest, Viva la Etnicidad sounds a little lame. If you can’t understand cultural pride by minorities in a white-dominated society, you really have a lot more to work on. You don’t seem to have too strong of a grip on the illegal immigrant’s plight. (Criminals in our midst? Are you working on your next crime novel?) Furthermore, you can’t see the forest for the trees. I don’t care if it’s 12 million of them, and they’re all Mexican.

Author
msaldana
Date
2007-05-23T00:38:30-06:00
ID
112991
Comment

Since you found the quote in the post right above this question, Matt, I'm surprised that you couldn't find the questions, but here they are: * Are you against any immigration laws at all? * Is it okay to be illegally in this country if you're from Latin America since it's part of 'America'? * If so, would it also be okay with you if there were 12 million Kenyans, 12 million Italians, 12 million Indonesians and 12 million Russians all here illegally? I'll add another, related question. * Say you were a US border guard and you caught 100 people who wanted to cross the US border illegally. 50 of them are from Latin American countries and the other 50 are from non-Latin-American countries. They all have good reason to be in the US because they want to improve their lives but 50 of them are not 'American' - they're from the Congo, Fiji, New Zealand, wherever. Would you let any of these people through and if so, why?

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-23T00:48:25-06:00
ID
112992
Comment

There's nothing to understand about why there's illegal immigration - the economic situation in the US is better than it is in the illegal immigrants' home countries. Pretty simple. "The illegal immigrant's plight"? These people put themselves in the situation - and it can't be all that bad or there wouldn't be so many remittances being sent to Mexico to shore up the Mexican economy. Yes, this is a discussion about whether illegal immigrants are illegal. In my view they clearly are and yours is that they are not because there are extenuating circumstances. "The inability to speak English is a crippling handicap in this country, and no one would willingly choose to have this disadvantage." - You're wrong there. Literally millions of adult immigrants from all other countries have learned English with no major problems because they've wanted to. Illegal South American/Mexican immigrants don't feel they should have to (since the southwest is part of 'Aztlan') so they don't - and if you live in Florida or many parts of the US you don't need to since US politicians have catered to bilingualism. No other ethnic group has demanded this from the US. The only reason someone would be 'scared to death and in a vulnerable position to do so' would be if he or she were in this country illegally - which is the basic problem we've been discussing here. It's not Mexico's fault - it's the 'market forces' fault'? Who's the president of the market forces these days? Mexico has been around from 1000 BC, I just read on a page about its history. The US has been in existence just over 200 years. Couldn't Mexico in that time have developed its economy to the point where it was not at the mercy of a northern neighbor? In precisely what way has this dominance taken place if not with the cooperation of forces in various Mexican governments or corporations. Are you seriously maintaining that the United States is responsible for all of Mexico's ills?

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-23T01:08:28-06:00
ID
112993
Comment

"I'm also curious about your answer to this question, Matt: When we brought 400,000 Mexicans a year into this country under the bracero program in the 1950s, we introduced these laborers to a system of exploitation, contractual fraud, and underpaid labor. If things were so bad (and better in Mexico), why did these workers come? If, once they'd seen how terrible things are here, why did they return?

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-23T01:21:35-06:00
ID
112994
Comment

Oh wow... gone for two days and I have to read for an hour to catch up!

Author
LawClerk
Date
2007-05-23T05:10:10-06:00
ID
112995
Comment

This is not a 'civil rights' issue. This is not a 'Jim Crow' issue. We are ***not*** talking about American citizens being denied their rights. Huh. You really don't think so? There are so many problems embedded in that one statement that I don't know where to begin. First, the people enforcing and bolstering the Jim Crow laws did not believe they were talking about American citizens, either, or people who had the right to the same privileges that they did, regardless of the amount of work they had done (usually hard labor), or were doing, to build this country. You're still jumping over the basic question: how should "illegal" be defined? That is at the heart of all of these discussions, and you just can't have the discussions in a fair way if you jump sweep your hands over a group you refer to as "illegal immigrants." This is right in line with the same thing done during Jim Crow times, lucdix. It is so similar that it is painful to watch happen again. The problem with your questions is that they are framed in such a way to inhibit discussion on what America's approach to immigration, and to labor issues, overall should be. That is, your questions contain assumptions that make it impossible for me to answer them in a way that ever suit your own presumptions about "illegal immigration." I'm not saying that's purposeful; I think you're just following the crowd on this one. Your comments indicate that—that's why you're coming across xenophobic even if you don't mean to. It's important to remember that xenophobia and bigotry are not necessarily intentional—they're often byproducts of faulty assumptions. The shame is in not trying to find our own hidden assumptions and do something about them. My suggestion here is that you start listening to Matt, rather than simply listening to refute. The truth is that he has a pretty good understanding of these issues—and a perspective that doesn't often break through the preconceived "conventional wisdom" of self-proclaimed anti-illegal-immigrant Americans. You don't have to agree on every point—just listen respectfully from another viewpoint with some knowledge you may not have. That's what I'm trying to do, by the way. My own opinions about current immigration policy are not well-formed because I do not know enough. And I sure won't make my decisions based on xenophobic assumptions that remind me of the defenders of Jim Crow. My comments to you here are about how you're trying to argue this—which is setting your side up for victory and others for defeat, regardless of the quality of your arguments.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-23T08:22:47-06:00
ID
112996
Comment

If I may, I also predict that in another 40 years or so, two more people will be having a discussion about a different kind of bigotry/xenophobia, and the "anti-illegal" supporter will be distancing himself from the xenophobic statements about Mexicans from yesteryear (circa 2007). Just as some white Mississippians do today when others point out the similarity of their statements to the ugliness of yesteryear. It's really too bad that we can't see this stuff as it's being done, rather than turning it into a lesson for future citizens on how not to act. But Americans are more reactive than proactive when it comes to basic American values, so here we are.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-23T08:43:10-06:00
ID
112997
Comment

I appreciate your trying to help, Donna, but I still say these are very different issues. 'Civil rights' in the sense of the civil rights fight here in Mississippi and the Jim Crow laws concerned Amercian citizens. 12 million illegal immigrants who are not citizens, who are illegal because that's the way the law is written, don't, in my view, have the rights of citizens - which doesn't mean I want them to be mistreated. But yours is the 'fait accompli' argument - well, they're already here so what are we going to do now? Yes, the immigration laws need to be rethought and that's what this debate is about, but let's say I and 77 other people decide we're going to take up residence in your house without your permission - and refuse to leave. Wouldn't you consider us criminals? Wouldn't you call the police? What if my argument were, well, we're all Americans and we don't respect property boundaries? Frankly I think my statement stands for itself. To be treated like an American citizen, you apply for citizenship by the normal route, earn it, not just walk across the border and expect to be treated like one. What would happen if I and 12 million others went to Mexico illegally to take jobs from Mexican citizens, expecting to be treated like Mexican citizens but with special rights like not having to bother to learn Spanish because 'we're all Americans'? It wouldn't fly there and it shouldn't fly here.

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-23T09:06:11-06:00
ID
112998
Comment

Lud, this is one of the silliest posts I have seen in a long time: It's not Mexico's fault - it's the 'market forces' fault'? Who's the president of the market forces these days? Mexico has been around from 1000 BC, I just read on a page about its history. The US has been in existence just over 200 years. Couldn't Mexico in that time have developed its economy to the point where it was not at the mercy of a northern neighbor? I really hope I don't have to point out why that argument is just utterly, utterly lame.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2007-05-23T09:16:40-06:00
ID
112999
Comment

* Is it okay to be illegally in this country if you're from Latin America since it's part of 'America'? * If so, would it also be okay with you if there were 12 million Kenyans, 12 million Italians, 12 million Indonesians and 12 million Russians all here illegally? * Say you were a US border guard and you caught 100 people who wanted to cross the US border illegally... Lucdix, you seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of Latin American history. You act as though, because Mexico signed a free trade agreement with the U.S., it has any bargaining power. It doesn't. You act as though Latin American governments would prefer to send all of their hard workers abroad when they could be building infrastructure from within. They don't. There is a reason why the one commodity most Latin American countries-- and, indeed, Third World countries, including those of Africa--have to offer is cheap labor. It is because foreign companies-- some American, some not, but in Latin America's case, largely American-- have historically taken their resources, and given little back in return. I will not deny that some Latin American politicians have worsened this problem-- but the fundamental issue has been U.S. hegemony in the region. Everything begins and ends there. As Donna said, your questions are posed in a way that frame the issues to your liking. Frankly, you cannot separate the immigration question from the Latin American immigration question. The two are inextricably linked, for many reasons. First, as I've noted above, HISTORY. Telling me that Mexico was founded a long time ago means NOTHING today. Yes, the U.S. is a young country, and yes it has dominated Latin American countries where powerful Indian empires once reigned. This history of controlling Latin American politics and economics cannot be ignored, and it explains a great deal about why Latin American laborers often have little choice but to leave their countries. And, as I've noted before, the U.S. has become a Latino culture. Latinos are our largest minority. The U.S. and Latin America share many cultural similarities, and-- though it may surprise you-- most Latin Americans look up to the U.S. We are all part of the Americas. This is more than linguistics. As you seem to have time understanding, language is not everything. That answers these three "questions." You've framed the discussion in terms of Latin Americans, and then accuse me of only being interested in discussing Latin Americans. And no, if what you're implying is that I am somehow ethnically inclined towards Latin Americans over Africans, I take offense to that. I don't go around and pick out who I want in my country. I am considering who we already have here. The more I read your "questions" the more I'm disgusted by your racial hypotheticals. As for your first question: * Are you against any immigration laws at all? . Yes, I do have some problems with our immigration laws. First of all, I do not believe immigrants--even if they have entered the country illegally--should be criminalized. Brian has already explained to you what a 'victimless crime' means, and these 'criminals in our midst' are, at worst, perpetrators of victimless crimes. We should focus on discouraging immigration in the first place, but making immigrants criminals places them in horribly vulnerable positions-- and, in fact, encourages further, more substantial, lawlessness and exploitation. Secondly, I specifically oppose our "legal immigration" policy of a temporary worker program. That, in fact, was what this post was originally about. Read that post, Luc Dix, and then respond to the questions I've asked about legal immigrants. I'm done talking about illegal immigration with you.

Author
msaldana
Date
2007-05-23T09:16:53-06:00
ID
113000
Comment

I don't have time to read all the comments but I can see it's a spirited debate. I think I have the first Mexican national charged with capital murder where death is being sought for the killing a white citizen in north Mississippi. Hopefully, I can avoid a death sentence. He claims self defense. The defendant is quite a likeable fellow, in my opinion, and the hardship and suffering of his extended family here and abroad is heart-wrenching. This will be my first encounter with this kind of racism, prejudice, xenophobia or anticipated attempt at hegemony. The District Attorney is a splendic fellow though and won't intentionally or knowing feed into any of the crap mentioned above.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-05-23T09:19:20-06:00
ID
113001
Comment

12 million illegal immigrants who are not citizens, who are illegal because that's the way the law is written, don't, in my view, have the rights of citizens - which doesn't mean I want them to be mistreated. The more you make this argument, the more you sound like the defenders of Jim Crow-- a comparison that is now proving quite prescient. Also, nice mid-sentence backtrack!

Author
msaldana
Date
2007-05-23T09:22:48-06:00
ID
113002
Comment

Frankly I think my statement stands for itself. I do, too, lucdix. It also shuts down any further discussion on this issue. Yours is the only "fait accompli" argument I see here. They are "illegal"; they should not be here, period. No effort to discuss why they're "illegal" (meaning both root causes, and the efficacy of the laws that make them "illegal"). No discussion of the hypocrisy in our treatment of "illegals"—embracing them when business needs them; shunning them when they're a drain on resources. Just a statement that they're "illegal," therefore. The brand of bigotry may be different, lucdix, but the hiding behind probably-bad immigration law to simply declare that they're "illegal" under that law is just like the approach of Jim Crow defenders. This statement of yours proves it: 12 million illegal immigrants who are not citizens, who are illegal because that's the way the law is written, don't, in my view, have the rights of citizens - which doesn't mean I want them to be mistreated. (I added the bolds.) And I would explain why your house analogy is so ridiculous, but I don't think it would do any good, the way this is going so far. Everyone has their blind spots, I suppose. The question is whether we try to identify ours. I should confess something here. I grew up determined to not "be prejudiced." Meaning against black people because that was the problem that was all around me. When I moved to NYC, I learned that I was actually prejudiced toward Latinos. I didn't know this about myself before then because I had spent little time in the presence of Latinos. But suddenly I was living in a Latino (mostly Dominican and Puerto Rican, but not only) neighborhood on the Lower East Side, and I found myself feeling a bit of contempt for the people around me, their loud music, even the language I couldn't understand. At first, I justified this to myself in the ways that we all do. Then one day, I realized that I was being a bigot. Long story short, I set out to shine a light on those places in my heart and root out the darkness. It wasn't easy to admit to myself that I was a bigot toward my neighbors, but it was exhilarating to have done so. And that doesn't mean I deserve a pat on the back. That's just something we should all try to do every day, regardless of our race or ethnicity or background. And we sure should not make assumptions based on those bigotries without *listening* to people who are part of those cultures. Lucdix, it is clear that Matt's views and points confound you, and you just want to shut them down by declaring that we should all be against "illegal immigration." But your argument is only revealing its own fallacy the more you post. Why not take a few steps back and ask yourself, "What could I possibly be missing here?" Then come back to the discussion and really listen. You don't have to end up agreeing with everything, but the listening part will probably help you personally understand why this issue isn't nearly as cut and dried as you tried to make it. If you're not willing to do that, as many of our people weren't 40 years ago, then you should be prepared for the response. The process matters much more than winning an argument.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-23T09:23:31-06:00
ID
113003
Comment

You keep outdoing yourself Lucdix: Yes, the immigration laws need to be rethought and that's what this debate is about, but let's say I and 77 other people decide we're going to take up residence in your house without your permission - and refuse to leave. Wouldn't you consider us criminals? Wouldn't you call the police? What if my argument were, well, we're all Americans and we don't respect property boundaries? To put it bluntly, what in the name of sweet Moses are you talking about? If you think your "house metaphor" has any bearing on this discussion, that it illuminates the salient issues whatsoever, then you're really spinning off into bizarro world.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2007-05-23T09:24:09-06:00
ID
113004
Comment

I meant I lilely have the first Mexican national who death is being sought against in Mississippi. I also meant that the hardship and suffering are heart-wrenching. This English is some hard stuff to master which is why folks with sense have editors, proof-readers or computers they know how to use.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-05-23T09:40:50-06:00
ID
113005
Comment

You still haven't answered all the questions, Matt - the last question in particular about being a border guard - but I agree with you that this discussion has gone on way too long and I've already explained why I don't think that illegal immigration is a 'victimless crime' at all - that, to the contrary, it's particularly harmful. Brian, as far as your feeling that my statement is lame, I have no problem with that - that's your opinion and I obviously don't think mine is lame or I wouldn't have written it. I feel that to slough off all responsibility for this situation onto 'market forces' or 'American hegemony' or 'US dominance' is way too 'pat' an answer. Mexico has resources, Mexico has people, Japan has very few resources but has become a world economic power - so what has made the difference? It's subject to 'market forces' as well - every country is. And Mexico has, in fact, had over 2000 years to develop its economy as has China - and look at the difference there. Additionally, China has overpopulation as well and few resources in comparison to its population. I just don't feel sorry for Mexico. It's taken the easy way out by letting 12 million of its people cross a neighboring country's border illegally because it can't get its own economy in order. If Matt's contention is that this is because of 'US hegemony' my response is that that's an oversimplification. Xenophobia? I respect some countries more than others just as I respect some people more than others but this discussion is still about illegal immigration and while y'all don't seem to believe me, I would be just as in disagreement with the idea of giving amnesty to 12 million Canadians who'd crossed our borders illegally as I am about the idea of giving it 12 million Latin Americans, Mexican or otherwise.

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-23T09:42:07-06:00
ID
113006
Comment

Why not question why others think your statements are "lame," Lucdix? Your logical problems are front and center—you're showing them better than we can—but you just don't seem to care on this issue. It's all about blasting the "illegals." And you can't expect people to answer questions that are set up on such an illogical premise. And I don't even understand the border guard question. (My mind is working on an analogy about all the deputies who lined up to keep blacks from voting when it was against Mississippi law, because it was "illegal," but why bother.) Obviously, we need an intelligent immigration policy so that, er, 70 people don't show up our house in the middle of the night and move into our living room. (smirk) Such a policy is what we're trying to get at and discuss here. But your declarations are not helping us get to that point, even as it is very representative of the more entrenched attitudes of too many Americans who don't want to have the discussion, either. You are, however, doing a stellar job of showing how difficult this debate is with people such as yourself who do not even want to have it, much less even listen or consider intelligent alternative views on the matter. Getting people with your entrenched views to examine your own thoughts is probably the greatest challenge of all here. As it was 40 years ago.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-23T10:02:35-06:00
ID
113007
Comment

[it] They are "illegal"; they should not be here, period. No effort to discuss why they're "illegal" (meaning both root causes, and the efficacy of the laws that make them "illegal"). We've discussed the 'root causes' many times in the course of this discussion, Donna - I know why they're here - they want a better life - and the reason they're 'illegal' is that they've broken the law. If you want to argue that the law should be changed, then I'd love to know on what basis you feel it should and how specifically. Why should we give a free pass to people who have broken the existing laws and taken away work from legal American citizens besides? That's what you're arguing for if I'm not mistaken. Brian, I think the 'house' argument is perfectly clear and not ridiculous at all - you don't. We've discussed all of the other aspects of this situation as far as I know. I have to get some work done today so if I don't respond to a post for a while that will be the reason.

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-23T10:03:29-06:00
ID
113008
Comment

Luxdix, it would also be helpful to understand that bigotry tends to be motivated by economics, not simply a hatred of a certain ethnicity or skin color. During Jim Crow times, many white people supported bad laws because they did not want black people taking their jobs and opportunities (even as their labor and taxes were helping build wealth for white Americans). A good immigration policy is a goal, if we can decide on what "good" is (and it isn't what's necessarily already the law, as Jim Crow taught us, thus the nonsensicality and irrelevance of your "already illegal, therefore" argument.). But we must also spread abundance in order to guarantee it for ourselves and our country. That's the spiritual side of me talking, granted—but I believe that history shows that trying to limit opportunities for other humans (I prefer that word to American, in this case) ultimately hurts us. The goal should be removing barriers to opportunity for more people, even if that p!sses off the current keepers of the spoils. And, no, I don't mean communism. ;-)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-23T10:09:48-06:00
ID
113009
Comment

Why should we give a free pass to people who have broken the existing laws and taken away work from legal American citizens besides? That's what you're arguing for if I'm not mistaken. Then you're deaf and haven't listened to a thing I have said. Which doesn't surprise me considering your previous posts. You need to work on your blind spot, lucdix. I'm out.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-23T10:11:48-06:00
ID
113010
Comment

AP is reporting today: The Senate began debate on a proposal by Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, to allow visas to be revoked without court review. "Current law allows aliens to run to the steps of our country's courthouses and take advantage of our system," Grassley said, warning that potential terrorists could stay in the country if his change was not adopted. Also expected was an effort by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to crack down on illegal border crossers with mandatory prison sentences, as leaders in both parties sought to alter elements of the broad agreement that are drawing criticism from their core supporters. The measure would toughen border security and create a new workplace verification system to bar undocumented workers from getting jobs. It would create a point system for future immigration applicants that would place less emphasis on family connections and more on education and skills in demand by U.S. businesses.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-23T10:14:59-06:00
ID
113011
Comment

Sure enough, even though I have a lot of work to do, it's hard to stay away from this discussion because I feel it's important. I found the 'border guard' question very simple to understand and have not yet gotten a clear answer from Matt. What was difficult to understand about it for you, Donna? Here it is again: ================= * Say you were a US border guard and you caught 100 people who wanted to cross the US border illegally. 50 of them are from Latin American countries and the other 50 are from non-Latin-American countries. They all have good reason to be in the US because they want to improve their lives but 50 of them are not 'American' - they're from the Congo, Fiji, New Zealand, wherever. Would you let any of these people through and if so, why? ============== And for what it's worth, I'll repeat what I said above - that I would be just as much in disagreement with 12 million Canadians - or any other group - being given amnesty under these same circumstances as I am about 12 million Latin Americans - and the Canadians are also 'Americans' if we define that term as living on one of the American continents. Now I've gotta get to work but I'll be reading comments, assuming there are more, through the day.

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-23T10:28:24-06:00
ID
113012
Comment

I'll let Matt deal with your "border guard" question—one that still makes little sense to me. It's bizarre that you're insisting that people answer these kinds of questions that are so built on top of your assumptions about "illegal immigration," but I have a feeling he can handle that one. I'm too weary of your suppositions to even try. But you should learn that it simply frustrates other people to build a house of cards and then insist that people climb up on its roof with you. That is, no one should feel obligated to answer questions that are based on faulty logic from the get-go. And for what it's worth, I'll repeat what I said above - that I would be just as much in disagreement with 12 million Canadians - or any other group - being given amnesty under these same circumstances as I am about 12 million Latin Americans - and the Canadians are also 'Americans' if we define that term as living on one of the American continents. Oh, and I meant to mention already how useless I thought that last graf is, and how it indicates that you do not understand what we're saying. at. all. Congrats on being equal opportunity on your brand of xenophobia—or is it naked nationalism?—lucdix. The award is in the mail. I repeat: Try listening.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-23T10:39:38-06:00
ID
113013
Comment

================================================= I didn't directly answer your border guard question, LucDix, because it was so racially offensive that it didn't warrant a response. But here it is: no. In the hypothetical situation that I was employed as a border guard, I would not let anyone into the country without documents, because it would be my job to do so. I would not give preferential treatment to anyone based on race, ethnicity or national origin. Now, spin this as you will. The fact that you've constructed convenient hypotheticals that skirt the actual issues at hand is further evidence that you are a) being inflammatory and b) not engaging in intelligent discussion. I've responded to all of your direct questions, now, and I'm really done engaging with you. I've written plenty of posts that offer a deeper look into some important issues to consider: history, market forces, culture, and your own xenophobia. I'm tired of your megaphone-wielding, asterisked, bizarro scenarios, which have dominated this discussion. Just because you are shouting doesn't make you any more right. Thank you for all the asterisks and underlines by the way. They certainly make your arguments more valid. ====================================================

Author
msaldana
Date
2007-05-23T11:00:52-06:00
ID
113014
Comment

Lud, Your house analogy is spurious because we are not talking about invading private property. We are talking about people violating "status" laws, i.e. they have not followed the proper procedures in entering the country. Those two are quite different. If you can't see why, I can't help you. Beyond that fact, saying that illegal immigration is like 77 people moving into your house is extremely distorted. If the house is the U.S., let's assume a family of five. The proportional influx of illegal immigrants would constitute, at most, one-fifth of one person squatting in the house, not 77. (300 million Americans, 12 million illegals, you do the math.) Of course, it doesn't sound as compelling if you say, What if one-fifth of one person squatted in your house? What would you do? What?!

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2007-05-23T11:02:35-06:00
ID
113015
Comment

Thanks for answering the question, Matt. Since you don't want to 'further engage' with me, I suppose I'll never know why in that situation you would not let anyone into the country without proper documents but find it okay that people who *have* entered this country without documents should be given amnesty, which is what is being proposed, even if with many conditions. As far as the 'racial' side of this discussion, you were the one who introduced the concept of Latin Americans / Latinos also being "American' so I assumed that your point was that they should be given a pass because of that. I don't know why you would have brought it up otherwise. It's certainly not an uncommon attitude. I don't see asterisks as shouting, by the way - I use them for emphasis because in these long paragraphs it's easy for words to get lost - the word 'not' for instance - which can make a meaningful difference in a sentence. I don't shout - I inflect just as I would when speaking to someone directly in order to emphasize specific words. Yes, there's a difference. You use italics for emphasis; I use asterisks. I have no problem using italics instead and will in the future if asterisks bother you.

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-23T11:19:00-06:00
ID
113016
Comment

As for your point about Mexico and its long history, it is ridiculous beyond description to write that Mexico should have a more developed economy because it has been around since 1,000 BC. By that logic, Iraq should have the most developed economy in the world, since they've been going strong since at least 3,000 BC. The reason why it doesn't is that a few things have happened since then, such as: a) the iron age, b) the industrial revolution, c) European colonialism. Do I really have to spell out for you how asinine it is to treat economic development like a crosscountry race? Shucks, those Mayans have had 3,000 years to build a modern service economy. What have they been doing, twiddling their thumbs?

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2007-05-23T11:23:36-06:00
ID
113017
Comment

Wow, luc, you're really missing the point, aren't you? Do you really not see the difference between Matt's response about "if he were a border guard, he'd do his job" vs. questioning the laws, and their effects on actual human beings? Or are you just faking obtuseness, because it's fun for you?

Author
kate
Date
2007-05-23T11:24:19-06:00
ID
113018
Comment

[sarcasm]I dunno Brian, I think those Aztecs and Mayans really all saw themselves as part of larger state, which spoke Spanish, about 1000 years ago. That is what really gave them the leg up on their neighbors. Makes perfect sense to me. You're just quibbling. [/sarcasm]

Author
kate
Date
2007-05-23T11:27:24-06:00
ID
113019
Comment

If one fifth of one person squatted in my house, I'd still call the police, and I just used the house as a simple example. No, my numbers were not in the proportion of 12/300 - but there are certainly towns and city regions in this country where the proportion is much higher and there are no jobs for US citizens because they're taken by illegal foreign workers. Property rights versus status? Well, this goes back to the question of whether illegal immigration constitutes a victimless crime or not. I maintain it's a crime with victims and that American citizens should be able to find work at a business if that business is operating on American soil - and that, if they can't, they're victims of an invasion of the country which belongs to them as citizens. However, if you don't feel this country belongs to its citizens, then you won't buy the argument.

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-23T11:29:17-06:00
ID
113020
Comment

Luc, dude, got any data to support this: but there are certainly towns and city regions in this country where the proportion is much higher and there are no jobs for US citizens because they're taken by illegal foreign workers. Not that I doubt the credibility of what you say, it's just that I doubt the credibility of what you say. Now, I am not extremely well versed in immigration and its effects on our economy, but I think you're overstating things when you say that "there are no jobs for US citizens". I'd be curious to see some real data on the positive and negative effects of immigration, and also some information on why, historically, it's the immigrants who suffer rather than the folks who hire them.

Author
kate
Date
2007-05-23T11:35:40-06:00
ID
113021
Comment

I really hope Lucdix is being intentionally obtuse here. Either way, the comments are bordering on revolting at this point. Educational, but revolting. A slight tangent this reminds me of: Rev. Ed King wrote a heartbreaking account of a police officer ordered to guard the black teens herded into the livestock barns at the Fairgrounds after a march here that was considered illegal. (I think it was the one after Medgar Evers' murder, but I could be wrong. They did it more than once.) Anyway, King was herded there, too, as an activist supporting the teens. They had to stand for hours with their arms raised in something like 100-degree heat. The white police officers were horrible to them. But Rev. King wrote about one officer, though, who clearly questioned what they were doing, but did it anyway, because it was his orders to uphold "the law." At the time, that was considered a perfectly reasonable response, and is a pretty powerful metaphor for all the white people who upheld Jim Crow laws because they were "the law," even if they hurt people along the way. Clearly, this country belonged to the citizens that the most powerful and privileged citizens said it did at the time. Little has changed on that front today. It was a great piece, and very powerful. It led to quite a debate in our office when I brought it up one day. Once again, lucdix, you're putting your cart before your horse here: However, if you don't feel this country belongs to its citizens, then you won't buy the argument. Which citizens? The ones you annoint, or the ones someone else does? Once again, you lead us directly back to the problem with this whole thread: You don't want to talk about the specifics of immigration policy. You just want to lambaste "illegals." I feel sorry for you.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-23T11:41:00-06:00
ID
113022
Comment

The reason why it doesn't is that a few things have happened since then, such as: a) the iron age, b) the industrial revolution, c) European colonialism. The iron age, the industrial revolution, and European colonialism all affected the 'New World' including the United States - yet our economy is much more robust than Mexico's. With everythng Mexico has going for it - according to this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexico I have trouble seeing why 12 million of its people have to illegally cross the US border to find work. However, if your argument is going to be 'exploitation' by the evil US hegemony again, I will say right now that I see that as a copout, so we probably won't agree on this either.

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-23T11:42:18-06:00
ID
113023
Comment

Oh, and if it isn't obvious from the King story, it is quite possible that the police officer "doing his job" might come back later and ask that those teens' arrests be expunged. You know, give them amnesty for something that it was his job to police them for doing under current law -- because the law he was told to uphold was wrong. I bet we could find a military example or two as well if we looked hard enough. The border guard argument falls flat, Lucdix. Find another one.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-23T11:45:16-06:00
ID
113024
Comment

Wow, what an interesting dialogue! For me, the issue is too complicated to take a side, but I do have a question. This year, the U.S. is celebrating Jamestown's 400th anniversary. Could you say that those settlers who came here were illegal immigrants? I don't think they got permission first.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-05-23T11:47:24-06:00
ID
113025
Comment

Luxdix, what is most disturbing about your posts so far, illustrated well by the last one poo-pooing a hegemony argument before it's made, is that you are closing the door on even considering a point that might weaken your "anti-illegal" argument (despite its inherent weakness by fallacy from an argument standpoint). Why? You don't have to answer—I prefer that you not, because it will only be more of the same circular anti-illegal rhetoric, I'm sure—but at least consider it yourself. What is so difficult to you about having a discussion with folks who believe in fashioning some sort of workable immigration policy, but who don't just want to slam the door on "illegals" without examining the laws that make them "illegal"? Why is this so onerous to you personally? There has to be a reason that you are throwing up so many walls to a simple debate on the issues with your ad nauseum excuse of "because they're illegal." You are randomly throwing out uneducated statements at this point without interest in looking at the gray areas or facts that don't support Bill O'Reilly-esque hysteria. Why?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-23T11:52:16-06:00
ID
113026
Comment

Sorry, Kate, I can't back up the argument that there are 'no jobs' for US citizens in these towns - I should have said 'few'. In this case, I'm thinking of farm communities in the Central Valley of California (a state I know well), but I don't have the statistics to prove that at my fingertips so just discount it if you'd like. Donna, I still say that this is not a 'Jim Crow' situation but if I take your analogy, I'd hate to think that illegal immigrants are treated that way, but they may well be from time to time. Nevertheless, it's their illegal presence here which makes that possible. That's why something has to be done - all we're really discussing here is what exactly needs to be done and we disagree on that. As far as this country belonging to which of its citizens, my answer is that it belongs to all its citizens and that they should have the right to be able to work here without their jobs being taken by illegal immigrants.

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-23T11:57:17-06:00
ID
113027
Comment

Lucdix, I'm not saying it is a "Jim Crow situation." Are you capable of trying to understand my posts here? I'm saying that the approach to defending potentially bad immigration law by saying that violators of it are being "illegal" is very similar to the approach that Jim Crow apologists TOOK TO BAD LAW THEN. I'm also saying that a major underlying cause of racism against blacks was the fear of losing jobs and opportunities. I'm being specific here, not general, on this point. Try to wrap your head around this, please, without rewriting what I'm saying. That said, I am also not saying that the anti-immigrant hysteria from a macro level has nothing whatsoever in common with white supremacy in America, because obviously it does. There are plenty of white folks who simply do not want to be in the minority. Not saying that's you, but many of the folks coming up with the awful illegal immigrantion policies you defend do fit under that umbrella. Like during Jim Crow times, we have to be careful to consider the motives of the people we choose to follow, or people end up mistaking us for them.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-23T12:11:30-06:00
ID
113028
Comment

You know CA well, do you? A state with an economy larger than most countries? Which part? San Diego, Humboldt, Sacramento, ? I lived there for 18 years, and I don't claim to know "California" well. I do know that your notion that immigrants stealing all the jobs is hogwash. Dude, did you miss the part where "mexico" didn't exist 1000 years ago, or are you, again, being obtuse for the fun of it. It statements like "Mexico has been around 1000 years" that make you sound like a moron, at best. Why should I believe anything you say, when you make obviously false statements like that?

Author
kate
Date
2007-05-23T12:13:26-06:00
ID
113029
Comment

I think that the 'hegemony' argument is a copout, Donna, but I really don't want to spend much more time on this and you don't want me to respond, so I'll leave it at that. I feel that Mexico and other Latin American countries are letting their citizens down if they have to illegally cross the US border to find work. Why this situation is so onerous to me personally? It's not on a real time basis - I have work, I'm happy - but I'm not happy about American citizens being put out of work either by illegal immigrants or outsourcing. We need the jobs here. I also feel it's important to let anyone break laws with impunity - and I'd guess that you don't either. Where we disagree, as I see it in this context, is over whether or not present immigration laws are just. Nevertheless, I know firsthand that jobs are not available in many parts of California because they've already been taken by illegal immigrants, thus depriving American citizens of the chance to be gainfully employed and, as far as I'm concerned, that's a crime with real, not abstract, victims.

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-23T12:16:00-06:00
ID
113030
Comment

I knew the California example was about to hit the wrong mark with Kate. ;-) Lucdix, why not use all this as a call to action to go study up a bit, as I used to tell Kingfish when he made ridiculous assertions based on clicking into Wikipedia for a couple minutes. Seriously. I mean that with respect. I don't claim to be an expert on immigration policy, although I do OK on the topic of bad argumentation, and I'm studying and listening to people like, say, Matt who is Latino and has a pretty impressive Latin American studies background. That doesn't mean I'll ultimately agree with him, but it sure doesn't mean that I'm going to throw asinine sound bites at him in order to pretend I know more than he does. You know, about stuff like MEXICO. Meantime, I suggest reading this story. I had to judge the Casey Medals last week in two categories, and this story was up for the nondaily award. (There was another amazing immigration package up in the daily-series category I judged, but I'll have to find the link.)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-23T12:22:23-06:00
ID
113031
Comment

Luc, do you "know firsthand" about jobs in CA like you "know" that Mexico has been a country for 1000 years? You. Have. No. Credibility. Do some research, and back up your arguments. Or, stop posting.

Author
kate
Date
2007-05-23T12:26:22-06:00
ID
113032
Comment

Luc, do you also know what the BENEFITS of immigration have been in this country?

Author
kate
Date
2007-05-23T12:27:00-06:00
ID
113033
Comment

Lucdix, you just keep rolling yourself into a ball. You're calling the hegemony a "copout" in this statement is priceless: I think that the 'hegemony' argument is a copout, Donna, but I really don't want to spend much more time on this and you don't want me to respond, so I'll leave it at that. I feel that Mexico and other Latin American countries are letting their citizens down if they have to illegally cross the US border to find work. Now, this one reminds me of all the white supremacists who like to say that African Americans should give thanks every day for slavery because, if it weren't for the slave trade, they wouldn't be in this great country and they'd be back over their hellhole of a homeland. Uh, there's something in that argument. Do you really not understand that the specifics of hegemony might just have some sort of effect on Mexico's ability to provide good jobs to their citizens? Matt has tried to engage you on those sorts of specifics in many ways, but you have just spit rhetoric about "illegals" back his direction rather than engaging in a real conversation. As far as I'm concerned, you might as well by standing outside his window calling him a "spick" (don't know how it's spelled) with the amount of respect you are affording him and his knowledge/background here with your comments. With due respect.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-23T12:29:30-06:00
ID
113034
Comment

Kate, you know benefits don't matter when something is illegal. Besides, who is benefitting by a fifth of a person crawling up in bed with you? LOLL. OK, I must stop. I'm getting punchy now. And a little edgy. I'm gonna go get a massage or something. Adios.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-23T12:32:07-06:00
ID
113035
Comment

Hi, Kate, Yes, I'd say I know California well. I've lived in San Francisco, Berkeley, Santa Cruz and environs, and LA and environs. I've never totaled it up but it's probably close to 15 years total. I've also traveled in CA extensively from north to south and east to west including Ukiah, Humboldt, Sacramento, Bakersfield, the Sierras, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Death Valley, San Diego, Joshua Tree, Big Sur and I could continue. I never said that immigrants have stolen all the jobs in California, only in certain areas and occupations and that it's particularly true in the Central Valley and parts of LA. Of course 'Mexico' didn't exist 1000 years ago - just as 'Europe' didn't exist 1000 years ago as an entity, but there have been people in both places for over 2000 years, so my question is why, since 'Mexico' has existed, has it not developed its economy to the point where it can keep its people employed so they don't have to illegally cross borders? Is your answer 'hegemony' too?

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-23T12:32:27-06:00
ID
113036
Comment

I believe I've answered your question above about whether I know about California firsthand or not, Kate - or did you have other questions with regard to that? As far as the benefits of immigration - the question here is the benefits of illegal immigration and I say that any benefits it might bring are outweighed by the fact that employers give jobs to illegal immigrants which US citizens could be filling - and disregard safety standards and more. I really am out of this discussion for the moment - I have work to do - and I still say that the 'hegemony' argument is a copout. It's up to the Mexican government and people to resist the hegemony - assuming it exists - if they don't want it. I don't see any great point in a further discussion about this, though, because I'd say our relative positions are pretty clear and none of us is about to convince the other. Or does someone disagree with that?

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-23T12:42:48-06:00
ID
113037
Comment

Actually, I'm convinced by both sides! What are y'all talking about? That's how convinced I am. But I admit I ain't right bright and it's unlikely to change. I'm studying albeit slowly Mexican culture and psychology so as to be a competent advocate for my client when his trial comes about. I'll admit that, although I lived in Texas 12 years, I did little to understand Spanish or Latin or Mexican culture although I had many encounters with the same that were usually negative such as treating me inferior to whites in restaurants and other places although I'm a very good tipper and operates above race. As far as I've been able to tell there is friction between blacks and Latin/Spanish/Mexicans as well as with whites and other groups. I'm still trying to determine whether this tension can be resolved favorably to all. I guess one of the big questions to all is why shouldn't everyone (white, black, latin, asian, orinetal, et al) look out for their own seperate interests since this is what I suspect each group mostly think the other is doing anyway. What percentage of us do otherwise? Is the issue more complicated than this?

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-05-23T13:07:09-06:00
ID
113038
Comment

Luc, if you know CA so well, then please explain how, for example, the strawberries would be harvested without illegal workers. Luc, MS was made a state before many others. So, why are we the poorest state? Is it because we're all a pack of morons? Or are there other factors at work? Go. Do. Some. Research. It's obvious you're making this stuff up.

Author
kate
Date
2007-05-23T13:26:58-06:00
ID
113039
Comment

Luc (aka, "Too Lazy to Do My Own Research"), here's a web site with some good info: http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/library/articles/hottopics/immigration.html First report in the list is here: http://www.cfr.org/content/publications/attachments/ImmigrationCSR26.pdf Skimming through that report, it seems that one can conclude that the overall effect of immigration (legal and illegal) is pretty much negligible to the overall economy. As to the cost/benefit analysis of trying to cut down on illegal immigration: For the sake of argument, take literally the estimate that illegal immigration was costing the economy the equivalent of 0.07 percent of GDP annually as of 2002. In that year, the Immigration and Naturalization Service spent $4.2 billion (or 0.04 percent of GDP) on border and interior enforcement, including the detention and removal of illegal aliens, in a year in which half a million net new illegal immigrants entered the country. The $13 billion in proposed border security spending for next year is already two-and-ahalf times that figure at 0.10 percent of GDP. With the already huge increases in spending, the flow of illegal immigrants across the southern border (as measured by apprehensions) is estimated to have fallen by about 27 percent last year. How much money would be required to reduce illegal immigration to zero? Even far short of sealing the borders, the funds spent on extra enforcement would vastly exceed the income gained from eliminating the net fiscal transfer to households headed by illegal immigrants.

Author
kate
Date
2007-05-23T13:41:41-06:00
ID
113040
Comment

I'm not making it up at all, Kate. How would strawberries be harvested without illegal workers? With legal workers. I've already said above that if the result is higher prices, I'd be willing to pay them, but I don't think it would be. I've also said that there might be a shock to our economy if we had to do without illegal workers but it would be temporary. I love strawberries, but they can be harvested just about anywhere and easily. I used to grow them in my front yard in Capitola. I've also harvested them myself from strawberry farms in other places in Santa Cruz County. Why MS is still so poor? I'd say that a large part of the reason is our Jim Crow heritage - I've never denied that - only that a 'Jim Crow' comparison doesn't fit this situation - whereas Donna does believe that. I do not feel that Mississippians as a whole are a 'pack of morons' at all. Where did that come from? In fact, I've met a higher proportion of educated people in Mississippi than I ever did in Los Angeles. I see the Jackson Free Press and a free exchange of opinions and information a pivotal force for at least some of the change in Jackson, MS - and have told Donna that numerous times, i.e., an important voice against 'moronity' if there's such a word. Other factors at work in MS right now? Redneck attitudes (which I seldom find in Jackson itself), black separatists, white separatists, politics as usual. However, because I don't agree that we should give amnesty to illegal immigrants, I still don't see myself as a conservative, although others here may see it that way. How many 'conservatives' do you know who are for universal healthcare? I am. I simply don't think it's in our best longterm interests to encourage illegal immigration - do you? What, precisely, do you think I'm making up?

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-23T13:50:29-06:00
ID
113041
Comment

Interesting links, Kate - but a quick browse through them tells me that the basic message is that it would cost too much money to send these people home and that it doesn't make much difference to the economy overall whether workers are legal or illegal but illegal labor is more flexibly controlled - in other words illegal labor is good for business owners - they love it and it's pretty clear why. What else is new? Who wouldn't love lower costs and not having to worry about safety regulations, paying social security taxes, paying severance pay, paying a decent hourly wage, paying for vacations - all the social gains we've made in labor relations through the years?

Author
lucdix
Date
2007-05-23T13:59:21-06:00
ID
113042
Comment

This is a very interesting discussion. Before reading some of this I hadn't completely made my mind up on what I actually truly think. I'm still evolving on the issue and thank Matt for posing it. However this story reminds me of the fractious community meeting to decide how a grant should be spent. The two sides invited an adult friend who had taken up playing the saxophone. Everyone figured he would play a few spirituals or some Motown, STAX or TSOP to break any tension that arose. The saxophone player was initially asked to play some spirituals but guickly said he couldn't play any and the meeting went on. After a while he was asked to play some Motown to which he likewise said "I can't play any." After another break he was asked to plays some STAX but he likewise said he couldn't play any and the meeting moved closer to an end. Right before the meeting was about to adjourn without any agreement or compromise, the presiding officer asked the saxophone player to play some TSOP or at least Mary Had a Little Lamb, but as expected the saxophone player said he couldn't play that either. An attendee who had been silent the duration of the meeting finally stood up and said I still don't know how I believe the money can be better spent as of yet, and that both sides have made some interesting points he would take into consideration for a next meeting. That attendee went on to say, "what I want to know most importantly though is why y'all kept referring to that mother _____ as a saxophone player?

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-05-23T14:19:27-06:00

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