Saturday, April 24, 2010

condemn illegal workers instead of illegal employers

As a televisual satirist, Stephen Colbert dances along a fine line; by provoking laughter over serious subject matter, he runs the risk of trivializing his chosen topics, as well as other people's pain.

In the following episode of his regular segment, "The Word," Colbert takes on Arizona's new, draconian, and blatantly racist anti-immigrant law. I appreciate the points that Colbert gets across here to his mainstream audience, but there's one factor in this decades-long immigration "debate" that I wish he'd also covered -- the persistent focus on workers, rather than on those who illegally employ them.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - No Problemo

Amidst the laughter he provokes, Colbert makes several excellent points. He also provides a phrase that I think deserves the meme-like status of his earlier linguistic creation (the word "truthiness"). By which I mean: with a great national debate on immigration coming up soon (or maybe not so soon?), I hope the term "Juan Crow" catches on to describe not only Arizona's new law, but also the misguided, vitriolic and commonly white sentiments behind it. Unless, that is, the term perpetuates the stereotype that most Mexican men are named Juan?

However, one important point Colbert leaves out is that discussion of immigration is almost always focused on the workers, instead of on the (mostly white) employers. After all, by hiring these border-crossing workers, aren't they also doing something illegal? If so, why is there so much focus on the workers, and so little on the employers?

As Joe Feagin points out at Racism Review,

One critical part of the “immigration debates” is just how powerful the conservative framing of these issues is. Conservatives frame it as “illegal immigrants” or “illegal aliens,” while even liberals are focusing on “undocumented immigrants” and “immigration problems.” This is yet another example of how we get trapped in deep unreflective frames.

How about reframing the entire debate as about “lawless employers,” “illegal employers,” and “illegal employment”? Mostly white employers are certainly at the center of this national “problem.”

Yes, that's an answer right there, isn't it -- conservatives manage to frame most national debates, thanks in no small part to the ubiquity of corporate media outlets, which naturally promote and enact business-friendly conservative policies. And so, in turn, most Americans, conservative and liberal/progressive alike, tend to play along.

Thank goodness for the Internet, eh? Or maybe . . . not? Are the grassroots possibilities of the online revolution managing to shift the corporate media's framing of such debates? Can anything be done, for instance, to get most people thinking about illegal employers, instead of workers?

At the very least, we can find out online about forms of action we can take that the corporate media fail to mention. Here, for instance, is an online petition you can sign -- "Shame on Arizona" allows you to sign the following pledge to boycott the state: "As long as racial profiling is legal in Arizona, I will do what I can to not visit the state and to avoid spending dollars there."

I've never actually been to Arizona, which I gather is beautiful; needless to say, but I'll say it anyway, supporting the state's (soon-to-be ironically flagging) economy by "paying" a visit no longer interests me.

h/t for the video: Irene's Daughters


  1. To paraphrase the words of someone else: "It's not like immigrants can come to America, ambush us in the parking lot and literally take our jobs. Employers like Walmart are illegally giving them jobs."

    But why blame white people when you can work yourself into a mouth-foaming frenzy by screaming at the horrible immigrants?

  2. This isn't particularly relevant to the post but this whole AZ thing has got me thinking...

    Where is the outrage in the northern border states for the illegal (Canadian) immigrants?

    If someone speaks with a British or German accent, is that probable cause to ask them to prove their immigration status?

    Just wondering.

  3. @Julia

    White immigrants aren't immigrants, (definitely never illegal immigrants). No, that dirty word is reserved for dirty brown people. White immigrants are expatriates. They come here to work, pay taxes, obey the law and contribute to society in a meaningful way, unlike immigrants. Words matter.

  4. But why blame white people when you can work yourself into a mouth-foaming frenzy by screaming at the horrible immigrants?

    Mm-hm. *nods* Dividing and conquering is such a classic. Great method of keeping poor people poor - just pit them against each other.

    White immigrants aren't immigrants, (definitely never illegal immigrants). No, that dirty word is reserved for dirty brown people. White immigrants are expatriates.

    And the ones who already live here are most assuredly not descendants of illegal immigrants. And I mean illegal in every sense of the word - theft, rape, murder, enslavement...pick one. Pick two or three even.

    Ah...but we can't say that.

  5. The problem I'm having with this point you're making Macon is that blaming the employers still suggests that there is something wrong with folks from down south working here. The international border with Mexico is an arbitrary conceptual line, drawn by conquest and European colonialism. Whether you're talking about immigration or employment, to refer to it as illegal implies that northern (read: white) people should be working those jobs instead of southerners who most likely are far more indigenous to this hemisphere than their whining minutmen counterparts. Why not phrase the debate around illegal statehood?

    I'll aknowledge though that focusing on the employers rather than the employees may be a bit of a lesser evil, at least.

  6. Rochelle - LOL - Maddox, right? He's a jackass about women, but I agreed with his points in that article.

  7. The crickets are in high decibel mode on this subject. This is the same stuff when you hear about these drug lords fighting in Tijuana. Now, just where do you guys think a lot of that money they're fighting over comes from?

    Yes, "real Americans", your southern border is headed toward Berlin Wall status, but your north, east, and west is Swiss cheese, like your rhetoric!


  8. @Sonic

    Yup lol. He really does piss me off sometimes, but that time he really said some good stuff.

  9. You don't sound very well versed on this issue, macon.

    Whether it be in internet online forums, letter to editors sections, editorials, discussions on tv, etc. I always hear the common refrain "we should go after those who employ illegal immigrants."

    In fact, there's an entire legislative effort on the part of anti-illegal immigration groups to try to come up with new, better ways to make it harder to employ illegal immigrants. Look up E-Verify.

    You expose your ignorance of the issue when you talk about "conservative framing" as if there's a unified conservative position. In fact, anyone who is interested in the issue knows very well that's there's a famous split between Cheap Labor, Big Business Repubs who are in favor of the status quo and/or amnesty, and the more Nativist (for lack of a better term) Repubs who want an end to out of control illegal immigration.

    If you're looking to ask interesting questions rather than the usual stereoptypical stuff about how racist conservatives are, you might want to look into why a considerable number of Dem voters are opposed to out of control illegal immigration. Look into how that group breaks down by ethnicity/race. I don't claim to know the answers, but I bet they might surprise you.

  10. Gadsen,

    It's you who's exposing ignorance, or at least bad reading skills.

    The quote by Feagin discusses the general conservative framing of these issues. The fact that pockets of conservatives here and there do target illegal employers rather than (or is it along with? come on, now. . .) employees does next to nothing to mitigate the fact that conservatives in general do the opposite, nor, more to the point, that they've managed to get just about everyone else to do the same. I'd bet everything I own that if you took a cross-sector poll of Americans and asked what comes to mind when they hear the phrase "the illegal immigration problem," most people would have immigrants come to mind far sooner than their employers (who, for many, wouldn't come to mind at all). And that would happen because generally, conservatives have managed to frame the debate in terms of the former, rather than the latter, and they've done so by relentlessly and viciously attacking the former, often in racist terms, while mostly ignoring the latter.

    And by the way, I'm not interested in claiming that white conservatives are racist and white Dems/liberals/progs/whatever are not. Both are, and in some ways, the forms enacted by the latter are worse.

  11. This stuff about who's "illegal" does not interest me personally as much as why people can be illegalized. I don't think that if we even tried to focus on "illegal employers", would we get people to jump off the backs of brown people. I feel like having a framing contest over who's more "illegal" would lead to those with less social capital, namely immigrants, getting shat upon over and over.

    I'd like to try, or re-try, an argument that calling people who are brown illegal is an overtly white supremacist worldview.

    This is a worldview where descendants of people whose land was DOUBLY taken from them trying to live on that land once again are considered ILLEGAL human beings by the proud descendants of the people who robbed, pillaged, murdered, and raped to get that land.

    I don't get why we'd want to support the term "illegal", because as said by Rochelle and Moi, it's not a term made anymore to talk about the law, but to describe "undesirable" people.

  12. I have never thought about it that way. Although I must confess that I've never had much of an opinion about illegal immigrants, so far up north.

    Over the summer, my bf worked a job with a lot of undocumented Mexican workers. He got 500 dollars for a week of work, doing roofing in San Antonio. More than I make in a month with my minimum wage job.

  13. I think it should be "Santiago Crow."

    I used to live in AZ. It is very pretty, but it's also very racist.
    White people there would claim to not be racist and in the same breath say the nastiest things about Mexicans. Like every day.
    And then of course they'd hire them for menial labor and pay them peanuts under the table.

  14. FWIW some [not all] of my students (white, I believe) griped because I used the phrase "undocumented" instead of "illegal" to describe immigrants without legal papers: they said I was biased.

    Agree that immigration policy debates don't line up on the usual left/right continuum. And that the debates/framing gets very racist, and that focus is usually on the workers instead of the employers.

    I've heard from the Workers Rights Center folks in my town that some employers exploit undocumented workers, while other employers treat them well. But they can't try to "reward" employers for good behavior because then they get the employers in trouble.

    What's happening in AZ is horrific, but really also is what's happening all around the country. In my community, spies are reporting suspected "illegals" and immigration police from out of town are coming in to arrest them. Not to mention self-appointed local police who are turning themselves into ICE (immigration) agents on a kind of vigilante basis. It's mostly not reported in the local news. I heard about it at public hearings.

  15. @ ch555x

    "Yes, "real Americans", your southern border is headed toward Berlin Wall status, but your north, east, and west is Swiss cheese, like your rhetoric!"

    Nicely put.

    Here in Palm Beach, FL (probably other places as well), affluent WP refer to the Mexicans (or any other Central American they can't distinguish anyway) they would allow inside their homes as "domestics." Realllllllly respectful and not at all condescending.

  16. Something else white people do, in my experience: Think that "undocumented immigrant" is synonymous with "unskilled Mexican man."

    An extraordinary number of people who rail against so-called illegal immigration appear to be unaware that millions of undocumented immigrants are not from Mexico, and that 40% of the 12 million undocumented people didn't walk across any border. They came on legal visas and then fell out of legitimate status -- by overstaying, by a screwup in paperwork, by other purposeful or accidental actions.

    IME opinions on immigration are overwhelmingly emotion-based and no amount of factual information will change the terms of the debate. Witness this comment about the Arizona governor (from a NY Times article):

    Grant Woods, the former state attorney general, spent more than an hour on the telephone with Gov. Jan Brewer, a fellow Republican who was considering whether to sign into law the nation’s toughest immigration enforcement bill.

    The governor listened patiently, Mr. Woods recalled, as he laid out his arguments against the bill: that it would give too much power to the local police to stop people merely suspected of being illegal immigrants and would lead to racial profiling; that some local police officers have been abusive toward immigrants; and that the law could lead to costly legal battles for the state.

    When he hung up, Mr. Woods knew he had lost the case. “She really felt that the majority of Arizonans fall on the side of, Let’s solve the problem and not worry about the Constitution,” he said.

    Laws like Arizona's aren't about finding a reasonable solution to a complicated question. They're an emotional, reptile-brain expression of fear and bigotry.

  17. Bah, what the AZ laws and the general 'conservative framing' of these issues totally miss the idea of immigration reform itself. It's not just about kicking people out of this country, people who are contributing to the local economy (tens of billions in AZ), but it's also about stopping undocumented immigrants from coming in.

    And the answer is DEFINITELY NOT building walls or any crazy xenophobic and racist actions. Someone stated here that we are really conveniently forgetting the drug violence in Latin America is partially fueled by the US War on Drugs and skewed US/Latin American relations. We are forgetting that our trade liberalization and the shit that happened because of NAFTA is part of the reason why these folks are coming here.

    On a very radical (by which I mean, getting to the heart of the issue) level, what Lutsen said is absolutely true.

    The boundary between the US/Mexico is just a symptom of our postcolonial and imperialistic geopolitical superstructure... This was not the land of white folks, of 'real Americans.'

    I can't get over the AZ Law. Wtf are these people thinking. How is it ok to stop people and ask, hey where are your legal papers?

    I am South Asian, not a citizen but a perm resident. I don't carry my immigration papers around with me. I also am mistaken for Hispanic a lot because I live in Texas, have brown skin, etc.

    And how are people just saying, oh this is not racial profiling inherently... it might lead to that, but we will tell our police officers not to be racist!


  18. plastiknoise said:

    "We are forgetting that our trade liberalization and the shit that happened because of NAFTA is part of the reason why these folks are coming here."


  19. Another excellent post, and I especially liked the link in your last paragraph that was about how ordinances in other areas have backfired.

    It spoke of Prince Wm County, VA. They may have backed down a bit, but plenty of places in Virginia are hostile toward Latinos (and blacks). And accountant was telling me how two business owners were hit hard by the economy and decided to return to Mexico where they could do better. One of lesser factors in their decisions was the cops beefing up raids to find illegal immigrants. One guy owned a restaurant and that kind of stuff is not cool when customers are eating lunch or dinner, and was pure harassment.

    I swear, racism makes bigots so stupid. They'll shoot themselves in the economic foot rather than be fair.

    What pisses me off are that when a bigot is fair, it's not because he's being a decent human being, but because he can't get away with doing what he or she really wants to do. Most minorities can feel these vibes and it makes for a lot of stress too.

  20. I'm a white guy, and I approve this message. And this blog. And these comments.

    I'm sure I have nothing to add that hasn't been said many times before. But I'm not gonna let that stop me.

    One thing I want to say about white racism/white privilege is actually not something I said at all:

    "I remember my father telling us that all white people are racist, including me and Sarah. But I didn’t understand what he meant at the time. He meant that we are blind to the depth of our own prejudice...."

    --Emily Kunstler

    Bias tends to be extremely difficult to identify in oneself, and we all come hardwired with some form of it. So in some sense, and to some degree, people have an excuse to be biased -- but only up until the point that their bias has been clearly illuminated for them. After that, it becomes a conscious choice.

    Keep shining the light and spreading the love, everyone.

  21. Mike, I am guessing (praying)that your were being sarcastic with this:

    I'm a white guy, and I approve this message. And this blog. And these comments.

    If you meant it in all seriousness, well, thank you for your approval. I'm sure that means a lot to the POC's and others who read this blog to know that a white dude, other than Macon, has given us his permission for us to read and comment here.

    Thank you.

    Anyway, are you trying to say that because people do not realize the depths of their biases that they should be excused for their bigoted remarks or actions that come out of those biases? behaviour?

    Look, I cannot change what people choose to think of me because of my gender and / or ethnicity, but I WILL do something about discriminatory actions directed towards me and other people of colour who have been racially discriminated against.

    I look at it this mess with my money, my educational pursuits, my livelihood and where I choose to lay my head at night, and the gloves will come off. If you mess with my god-given right to walk and socialize in places where everyone else has the ability to walk without harassment, the gloves will come off. And when they do, I will most likely not be thinking about whether you realize what shit is coming out of your mouth or whether you think your actions are discriminatory.

  22. While I agree with the sentiment expressed, framing the issue to exclude employers isn't really an example of "stuff white people do" so much as an example of "stuff rich, powerful, and connected people do."

    As another comment mentioned, "Dividing and conquering is such a classic. Great method of keeping poor people poor - just pit them against each other." The right likes to demagogue about this issue, but doesn't actually do anything about it because having a work force willing to work for low pay, without benefits, and without the ability to organize or protect themselves is a capitalist's wet dream.

    The upper-class left can approach this issue from a human rights perspective, and be pro-immigrant because, hey, most of these immigrants are not coming here to do the jobs that college-educated liberals do.

    I am one of those college-educated liberals, but I grew up in a poor, rural, area. When I was a kid, a high-school dropout in my hometown could support a family on a salary doing manual labor or construction. Not lavishly, but without having to live in a house with 20 other guys. Today any low-skilled jobs like these are done by Mexican and South American laborers who work for a fraction of what their white counterparts once did.

    Branding any lower-class whites who attempt to address this issue as racist is an easy way for upper-class white liberals to feel good about themselves and superior to their white trash lessers. Of course, poor whites have more in common with "illegals" than they do with the wealthy of their own race, but it'll be a cold day in hell before they admit that.

    This issue has been framed as a race issue, and not a class issue, by both the right AND the left. The fact that this is so has been a total victory for those in power, at the expense of the working class of all ethnicities.

  23. Such profound irony! These illegal employers are essentially white Americans who don't want to pay their taxes...yet it's TP activist histrionics behind this hateful legislation.

    I used to be the office help for a cleaning company for newly constructed homes that hired near-exclusively undocumented hispanic ladies. The owner was a Tea Party classic- white, upper middle class, self-righteous, Islamophobic, and demanding that the gov't do something about her health problems and "families" as long as she didn't have to pay any taxes.

    On top of that she was racist and generally bigoted about anything not heterowhitechristian.

    The usual game for such employers goes:
    - Advertise only in spanish newpapers, if at all. Word of mouth goes a long way; for better or worse. (She ultimately had to place ads in a spanish newspaper because negative word got around about her practices.)

    - "Ask" for a SSN, but don't keep no copies.

    - Parcel out the good work to your favorites.

    - Give the crap work to any complainers. If a complainer shows up in the office with anyone who speaks english or with their husband, they were fired.

    - Designate them as independent contractors; pay them in checks. That way your books are in line and it's up to them to pay their taxes.**

    - When SS Administration calls you on the bogus SSNs, send them "new" ones (buys you about 5mos) indefinitely.

    **SSA requires you to start retaining taxes on individuals who submit an invalid SSN more than twice. I suspect she never did certainly didn't happen when I was there.

    All in all, it wasn't nearly as exploiting and cruel as some white-owned outfits that take advantage of these folks, but it's a good example of how they're pigs.

  24. Yes focusing on the workers instead of the employers is dumb and probably racist, but it misses the larger issue, manly the believe that immigrants (and particularly illegal immigrants) are harmful to an economy. It is about as close to an economic fact as you can get, that allowing labor mobility across political/economic borders makes economies grow faster. An immigrant might "steal" a job today, but allowing immigration leads to more jobs tomorrow. People who don't understand economics refuse to believe this. As a rebuttal, I usually point out that in my field (Statistics) I would be made materially better off if we halted immigration (if you look at graduate programs, most of the good programs in math/stats/econ are dominated by "international" students with very few "domestic" students.) but I support free immigration because it makes the quality of my field better.

    The other problem is the idea people have about immigrants coming to America illegally. People say "I'm not against immigration, but when they break the law, don't pay taxes and send all their money back to ...." If you just had smarter immigration laws, like "hey anyone who wants to move to America can." then there wouldn't be any (or at least much less) illegal immigration, and the proper taxes would be paid. The "sending the money back to ..." argument is kind of true (or at least it could be) but can be shown to have a positive economic effect as well.

    If people only understood the economics of the situation, this would be a much different discussion.

  25. @RayBun
    And just who do you think comprises the "rich, powerful, and connected" anyway? POC may very well do this too, but this is overwhelmingly done by White people. Don't derail.

  26. @Rochelle -

    You are absolutely correct, the "rich, powerful, and well-connected" are overwhelmingly white. The majority of welfare recipients in this country are also white.

    Sorry if I wasn't clear. It is certainly true that white people, regardless of class, tend to "condemn illegal workers instead of illegal employers" as the title of this entry suggests. What I was trying to say is that this tactic may be engaged in by white people from all classes, but it only benefits white people of one class - the upper one.

    The things that benefit whites who are "rich, powerful, and well-connected" do not necessarily benefit those whites who are not.

  27. @Ray Bun
    The things that benefit whites who are "rich, powerful, and well-connected" do not necessarily benefit those whites who are not.

    I know.

    This issue has been framed as a race issue, and not a class issue, by both the right AND the left. The fact that this is so has been a total victory for those in power, at the expense of the working class of all ethnicities.

    By the way, this also sounds like a derail.

  28. By the way, this also sounds like a derail.

    I'm wondering about this too, Ray Bun. Why do you think that point is so important in the context of this blog about "stuff white peeps do"?

  29. @Macon: "Why do you think that point is so important in the context of this blog about "stuff white peeps do"?"

    Macon, in your original post, you asked "Can anything be done, for instance, to get most people thinking about illegal employers, instead of workers?"

    One way to get more people thinking in these terms would be for whites, PoC, undocumented workers - everyone - to realize that those whites who are often the loudest critics of illegal immigration have more in common with the economic interests of illegal immigrants than they do with their employers, and the elites who are fanning the flames of hysteria around the issue.

    You stated in an earlier post that "The blog's purpose is to delineate and understand how de facto white supremacy works, especially as manifested in the common feelings, thoughts, and behaviors of white people."

    One way that white supremacy works is by exploiting class differences. What would it mean for white supremacy if poor whites sided more with impoverished groups of other races on most issues, instead of with wealthier members of their own race? One of the effective tools of white supremacy, one of the ways it works is, as Moi termed it earlier, the "divide and conquer" strategy, typified by Jay Gould's boast "I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half." This is much easier to pull off if the two halves are of different ethnicities. Then you don't even have to hire them, they volunteer.

  30. @macon and @RB. I'm pretty sure that there was a post on SWPD that explicitly posed the question of whether it was productive to point out to WP how racism is harmful to them. Do you remember the one, macon? Or am I out to lunch about this? I can't find it.

  31. @macon. Yep. thanks.

  32. Actually, fgi, I was neither being sarcastic nor patronizing. I just meant that I approve, as in, thumbs up, this is cool, I dig it. A positive reaction to what I found here. I can see how it's possible to arrive at the impression you did,, not what I meant.

    "Anyway, are you trying to say that because people do not realize the depths of their biases that they should be excused for their bigoted remarks or actions that come out of those biases? behaviour?"

    No, not at all. Bias should be called out, not given a pass. (That's why I like this blog, at least what I've seen of it so far.) What I was saying was that I can understand -- and more importantly, it is worth understanding -- how people can be deeply biased and be unaware of that fact. Default human nature primes each of us to be ignorant of how things are, and at the same time utterly certain that our beliefs about them are correct. Overcoming this generally requires real-world experience with the area of ignorance. Until this happens, there's virtually no void of knowledge in an ordinary person's mind that isn't filled by self-serving or at least self-pleasing imaginings.

  33. Legislation just passed that essentially makes it a legal obligation for police to harass anyone with brown skin. This post has been up since Saturday, and there are only 33 comments.

    I looked up a past post about WP thinking the new tax on tanning salons is racist. 41 comments. SWPD: Slip Past Security more Easily (DUH) – 49 comments.

    Forcing Latinos to carry something akin to paperwork carried by Black South Africans during apartheid- 34 comments (including mine.)

    @ch555x Seriously...CRICKETS!!!


    If you believe this issue is deeply rooted in racism then this topic deserves sooooo much more respect than it is receiving- at least on this blog. If we are, in fact, interested in doing antiracist work WHY ARE WE NOT DOING IT RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW AS IT RELATES TO THIS ISSUE.



    Please read the comments in response to this article about an American citizen planning to boycott Arizona. This may remind you why we are needed to do this antiracist work.

    Macon D, can you please enlighten me as to why this issue does not beg comments from SWPD readers?

    Denial of constitutional rights should never be en vogue.

  34. Minnesota Action Alert-
    For the Minnesota posters and lurkers of SWPD.

    Working is not a crime
    Faith In Action Protest and Prayer Vigil
    May 2, 2010
    2:30-3:30 pm

    Ramsey County Adult Detention Center
    425 Grove Street
    St. Paul, MN

    over 65 non-white detainees, women with children "swept up" and "detained."

  35. Re: what people outside Arizona can do, posted on another blog:

    >> "From what I heard on a conference call yesterday about SB 1070, hosted by RI4A, with local, state, and national organizers and advocates, right now organizers in Arizona are making “3 asks” of people outside their state: (1) hold solidarity vigils and actions in your own community, and send pictures or video to; (2) escalate May Day demonstrations into a vocal protest against SB 1070; and (3) put pressure on President Obama and your Congressional representatives to seek a federal injunction against the implemenation of SB 1070 because local and state police are not authorized to enforce federal law, and to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform."

    The second of those two links is the site TakeMulattoBack linked to, FWIW.

    Something else non-Arizonan U.S. people might consider doing is writing letters to everyone who is anyone in your local and state government not to duplicate the Arizona bill. (or the next one that is coming, which targets CHILDREN! sheesh).

  36. Does anyone know a source for any decent stats on:

    - How many people are in the US illegally (is that a decent compromise term?)?
    - How much they contribute to the economy in terms of taxes paid, money spent on other businesses, etc.?
    - How much they 'cost' the economy in terms of services consumed (e.g., health care, education)?
    - How much of the money they earn goes back to their home country as remittances (in other words, how much they're extracting from the economy)?

    If B - C - D is a positive number, Lou Dobbs should just STFU. I've looked a few times, but haven't found any. Seems like having decent answers to those questions ought to be a prerequisite to having an opinion on the overall situation.

  37. Also, a question (and if this is too OT/derailing ignore it):

    Has anyone else here every gotten the impression that immigration is the Panic Issue that turns a lot of otherwise-conscience-having WP into hate maniacs?

    Is this just patriotism gone really, really wrong? Is it all sorts of latent racism being poured into one issue? What is going on?

    I mean, it's certainly true that often WP fail to see we've been divided and conquered and all, but with immigration from the south, in my experience it's more a case of: are aware they've been divided and conquered, and do not care. They would rather trample on others, even though they know it's bad for themselves. And yes, I have heard anti-immigration/anti-migrant (same thing!) people phrase it in basically those words.

    Have any of you observed this as well?

  38. Truth is America needs to get real about its immigration policy and practices across the board once and for all.

    We need to do away with racial PREFRERNCE and racial PROFILING at all points of entry into this country.

    Illegal should be just that ILLEGAL no mater your race, nationality, class, social status, etc.

    American employers should be punished for hiring people who do not have legal status.

    Foreign-born workers without proper paperwork should not enter the country, or overstay once visas expire.

    Bottom line -- immigration policy and practices should only be about one's legal status. Nothing more, nothing less. It should never be based on one's personality, beliefs, character, race, religion, creed, etc. (i.e. s/he is a nice person, has a good work ethic and family values, etc.)

    If American would just enforce the rules, sans the emotion, rhetoric, preferences and profiling then I think we could get to the point where we could have a realistic discussion on true immigration reform that is fair to everyone involved.

  39. @dersk. I think that to focus on money too much (as in make knowledge of it a prerequisite for an opinion) is to miss the point. It's about the quality of people's lives. It's about justice. It's not about calculating who wins. Because the game is rigged and WP always win.

  40. @dersk


  41. @dersk

    Here is some info I copied from the Immigration Policy Center. Here is the link:

    The University of Arizona's Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy estimates that the total economic output attributable to Arizona's immigrant workers was $44 billion in 2004, which sustained roughly 400,000 full-time jobs. Furthermore, over 35,000 businesses in Arizona are Latino-owned and had sales and receipts of $4.3 billion and employed 39,363 people in 2002, the last year for which data is available. The Perryman Group estimates that if all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Arizona, the state would lose $26.4 billion in economic activity, $11.7 billion in gross state product, and approximately 140,324 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time. Putting economic contributions of this magnitude at risk during a time of recession would not serve Arizona well.

    But as Karen L. stated- the money is not the issue. Money was the reason (at least in part) for slavery, apartheid and the Holocaust. $$$ tends to blind the moral compass...

    I also think reducing this issue to a cost/benefit analysis totally objetivies the humans effeted daily by these disciminatory pratices.

  42. Why are people comparing this to Jim Crow?

    Santiago Crow?

    Juan Crow?

    Really now? Not all non-white experiences are the same.

  43. Please sign the Color of Change petition to to Gov. Brewer of Arizona, President Obama and Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano:

  44. @Lee - nice trick! Don't know why I was unable to find stuff earlier.

    @Karen - absolutely agree with you, in terms of this particular law. But since all the right wingers keep asserting that illegal aliens cost the US economy and are more criminal, it'd be handy to be able to wipe those off the table and drill down to what the real arguments are.

    BTW, I was an illegal immigrant here in Holland for quite a while, as were most of my colleagues who moved over at the time from the states. The only one who ever got turned away from the airport was an Indian woman...

  45. Damn, things are going to hell in a handbasket. As if the law weren't bad enough...we've got more and more privileged power brokers suggesting things like implanting microchips in illegal immigrants and stopping feeding the poor. Holy crap. No, this rhetoric is nothing new...but with big budget cuts on the horizon, there's going to be a lot more upheaval.

    This country is looking more and more like a slow-motion train wreck of colossal proportions. And we haven't even made it past the leading edge of the reality check yet. I am deeply concerned about the years ahead. I am very, very grateful that the people overwhelmingly elected a higher class of human being to the presidency this time...but I wonder if it will be enough. The rightist leaders are pushingpushingpushing relentlessly to protect the corrupt establishment, the rightist followers are outraged and mobilized and angry for all the wrong reasons, and I don't see comparable intensity on the left.


    I just hope we can find and make the best possible use of the opportunities in the crises.

  46. "condemn illegal workers instead of illegal employers"

    That is referring to people like me.

    25 years ago when I started my business nobody cared if your employees were illegal or not. Latino immigrants were the only people willing to do the kind of work I was doing.Fast forward to today and illegal immigrants are the scape goats of society; a diversion to distract Americans from the real powers that are fucking them. In the mean time the men who have invested most of their lives in my business, who kids are born here, who were allowed to buy houses but aren't allowed to drive cars anymore what are they suppose to do? Go back to Mexico? And what am I suppose to do? Fire them all? Try to find legal people who can do their job as good as they can? I could put an add in the paper and I would get 0 responses from people qualified to do their work that pays 150.00 a day.And that's in today's economy. If I go down they could probably find other work though at lower wages and they would probably survive provided the government doesn't cart them away. If they go down I will go down as I can't replace them.

    Their are moral issues here that get lost in all the political grandstanding that are spineless leaders do.
    The reality is a lot more complicated then you think. Waiting 20 years to get your green card isn't a comprehensive immigration policy.

    The Jon and Ken Show (talk radio) is organizing to have a similar measure put on the ballet here in California in the fall. They make their living whipping up hysteria over populist issues here in L.A. and If they had their way all illegal immigrants would just disappear.They claim that illegals take jobs from "real Americans" though they had no specific examples.Just paranoia. The truth is that in the trades you get paid for what you produce and contractors would rather pay more to hire somebody to get the job done faster as that makes them more money.If legal workers can't produce their not going to get hired over illegals.Going after "illegals" would effect construction, landscape, plumbing, electrical, just about every trade you can think of. The cost of goods and services would increase dramatically and the money spent locally by "illegals" would vanish. Sounds like a perfect solution for our weak economy.

    As far as going after illegal employers I will tell you how that will go down.The little guy will get fined out of business and get bought out by big company's that can afford the fines. Corporations like Walmart and McDonalds have the political clout to mold legislation that benefits them. Just like health care was written by the health insurance industry and the current Wall Street debate will in the end by influenced by stock brokers you can be sure that this will go down the same path. The rich will just get richer...

    I believe that irregardless of where you come from you have the right to work. Declaring a persons entity as illegal is a human rights violation.Likewise I have a right to choose who I want to work provided that I'm not exploiting them. At least that's how it should be.

  47. Mike, why are you making this about you? Seriously...

  48. @Rochelle...

    "Illegal employers" are in the title of the post. Mike is an illegal employer.

    There are many legit grounds on which to criticize his post (being rather self-serving, for example, is the first that springs to mind). But to ask "why are you making this about you?" is more than a little ridiculous (as someone who employs illegal workers, it IS about him) . . .


    An article from CNN about how "some hispanics" support the bill in Arizona. I can't believe that CNN is engaging in mass "but my black friend says" syndrome , but that's what it seems like. Sigh.


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