Wednesday, June 27, 2007

On Immigration

to steal a title idea from Mediaverse!

I had been debating whether to even touch this issue, as some in this state occassionally obsess over it, but an email I received today told me I had to do it, and soon.

I, like all of my readers who are not Native Americans, am descended from immigrants. My great-grandfather, Nicholas Glisczinzki, arrived from Poland with his parents at the tender age of 3 shortly after the end of the American Civil War. As he grew up, he learned English, but he also learned the languages of his parents, such as Polish, German, Czech, and others. My late father loved to tell me the story of how, as a 10-year-old in 1941, he walked down the street of Hamtramck, Michigan, where his grandfather's brothers lived. He told me that as they walked up and down the streets, not a word of English was spoken on the porches and in the rooms of these homes.

On my other side, I have English, Dutch, French Hueguenot and other assorted nationalities. I'm betting only the English spoke the English language when they got here, and it was a funny kind at that!

So, the irony of so many Americans who are descended from the same peoples are getting worked up over immigrants from Mexico all the way to South America is certainly not lost on me.

However, we certainly live in a different world now, as the USA now has 300 million people within these borders THAT WE CAN COUNT. The fact that Clinton's Folly (NAFTA) and the rape of American worker's rights led by 12 years of GOP Congressional rule and 7 years of Bu$h Administration policies designed to destroy the American Labor Movement has everyone in an uproar.

What I find sadly humorous is that so many of the same folks who embraced George W. Bu$h are the ones who want to run him out of town on a rail over immigration. People, what the hell did you expect? As this is a touchy subject, I won't call you idiots. Yet.

I am not enthused over the comprehensive immigration reform bill making its way through Congress; I believe that it has the potential to create a permanent underclass of "guest workers" who will only depress wages for the working class, people who can least afford it. I say that since the vast majority of people who are complaining about the issue are REPUBLICAN voters, let's wait until 2009, when we will have more Democrats in Congress and (hopefully) a Democratic PRESIDENT, and do the damned thing RIGHT.

Trapper John at Daily Kos makes just such a case here, even though Kos makes some arguments the other way right here. If we're going to do it, do it right the first time, so American corporations can no longer use H-1B Visas to export US jobs for white collar workers, and so we can properly regulate the inbound workers at the lower end of the wage scales.

We have to do this right because these undocumented immigrants will keep coming as long as they know that employers will hire them. If an immigrant is willing to pay his life savings to traffickers and endure unimaginable hardships to travel as much as 1400 miles just to be able to feed his family, they're not going to worry about some aging pasty-faced crackers with a few rifles.

Here's where I DO have problems with illegal immigration. If you want to move to America and become a citizen to make the lives of you and your family better, I'm all for it. That tells me you want to be a part of what we have, and as the descendant of immigrants, I welcome you.

If you want to come here just to make money to send back home, I DO have a problem with that, without going all Lou Dobbs on you. THAT directly affects the wages of Americans, especially at the lower end of the scale.

However, the only way this can work is by focusing on the key point; the EMPLOYERS. Whether it's a corporation misusing H1-B Visas to outsource American jobs, or a building contractors hiring undocumented workers so he can avoid using Union carpenters, or some wealthy person hiring illegal immigrants to landscape or clean their house in order to avoid paying Social Security, they should all face loss of livelihood in order to ensure that illegals stop coming here.

What, you LIKE cheaper housing and cheap landscaping and cheap cleaning? TOO FREAKING BAD. For the undocumented, we should make it easier to become a citizen, since, if done properly, we should enable those who want to become Americans the real chance to do so.

For the EMPLOYERS, it will force them to hire people who want to be citizens, and stop them from artificially depressing wages. And if they ignore the law, give them the moral equivalent of the death penalty, a fine so severe that it will put them out of business or cause them to go into bankruptcy.

Stop whining, employers; you KNOW this is true; the whole "guest worker" is designed to drive American wages down to a third-world level. No wonder Bu$h likes the idea.

Now, I can just hear one my real heroes, Senator Ted Kennedy, tut-tutting me, and offering his standard line, "The perfect is the enemy of the good". This bill isn't even GOOD, Senator, and we can afford to wait for the real thing. Those who have whined the most about immigration are those who supported Bu$h the most, and they DESERVE to take in the shorts until they figure out that the Democratic Party is the only one that truly serves their interests.

Then, in 2009, we can have the next President, a DEMOCRAT, sign the greatest immigration reform bill ever, a progressive masterpiece. Until then, let's just wait a while so people can fully grasp the real issues here.

Flame away, or not!


leftwingcarolinablue said...

You make a good case. I am not comfortable with waiting and chancing next year's Presidential politics, but it's what we may have to end up doing. Glad you posted on the issue.

nut-meg said...

I like to piss people off on this issue, because I always just say "Let them come!".

I too am opposed to the "guest worker" thing, but mainly because it is exploitation. The only way I'd approve of such a program is if it required all workers to be paid a prevailing wage. For me, the idea is not to provide a source of cheap labor, but an opportunity to help people from economically depressed areas.

I do not have a problem with people sending money back home. Because "back home" is likely a scene of unimaginable poverty. And especially in Latin American culture, your family is everything. You take care of your family, no matter what. If only more people here though that way.

They are already being exploited in America, who are we to tell them how to spend their hard earned $3/hr? However, if these "guest workers" were paid a prevailing wage, they would have more to spend. Their wages would be on par with Americans doing the same jobs.

Apparently, there ARE jobs Americans can't or won't do. They are having a hell of a time getting people to pick friut in California, what with the border vigilantes and all. They are offering something like $20/hr. I would pick fruit for $20/hr, but I don't live in CA.

The most ironic thing about these Bush drones turning on him over immigration is that it's his own damn fault. He's stirred up so much racism with his fearmongering, his terrorists-pouring over-our-borders scenarios, and he has made his followers so afraid, that this they simply cannot abide.

The mentality we are dealing with here is "Nevermind that all the 911 hijackers entered the country legally, we just might as well abolish brown people! That'll end terror once and for all!"

Anyway, as is always my conclusion on these topics, I'm just glad I don't think that way.

vibinc said...

NAFTA stacked the deck against the middle class, both here and in Mexico. Don't believe me? just google "Nafta and Mexican Middle Class" and you get all kinds of articles, some dating back to 2001, squarely pointing to NAFTA as the prime reason. Illegal workers won't stop coming until they have a reason to stay in Mexico. Period. I know I'm oversimplifying, but I think you get my meaning.

As for immigration "reform", this country needs a check-up from the neck up. We ARE a country of immigrants. The heart and soul of our nation is defined by our willingness to take people from all over the world. The harsh reality for the right is that the xenophobia machine that has served them so well, is now tearing them apart.

All you West US Senators out there weren't supposed to buy into the rhetoric, just use it against the Democrats. Much to Mr. Bush's dismay, they seem to have bought into the rhetoric. Now they're lost and don't know what to do.

I don't trust this administration to roast a bag of peanuts. This can wait until '09

Austin said...

Yes, I am one of those idiots that voted for Bush. What was I thinking? Actually I don't guess I was thinking. We only think in terms of two parties in this country where there are hundreds, but the media and the major two refuse to acknowledge that they exist. I did not cast a vote for the current crop of shit in office today at either the state or federal level. The only two that are left from my stupid votes are Blackburn and Bush. The rest are from the rest of you. I do love you all!