The Watering Hole; Friday November 28 2014; Immigration

“. . . emotions of xenophobia — hatred of foreigners; nativism; the policy of keeping America ‘pure’ (that is, of preferring old immigrants to new) — continue to thrive.” ~President John F Kennedy

****

Fox News Hosts: Immigrants Kids Are Getting School Lunches So ‘Your Kids Are Getting Shafted’

****

Earlier this month, while plowing through some old folders and some old files on an old hard drive in an old computer, I ran across a whole pile of interesting old ‘stuff’ in the form of old essays that I had, 10 to 15 years ago, written and contributed/posted to various internet discussion groups and blogs. What strikes me about many of them this day is the fact that with a simple change of embedded names, dates, etc., the subjects/topics/contexts remain virtually unchanged.

It was just shy of ten years ago, for example, that the following “discussion” on immigration was taking place. As a long time Arizona resident, I wrote a post in response to a blog post whose topic concerned  southern Arizona’s so-called “Minuteman Project” and its gun-toting “heroes” that had, at that time, begun hanging around in southern Arizona in order to save the USA from all those illegal Mexican lazy bums. It was on April 03 2005 that I contributed the following essay — my personal view of and my personal involvement in the (observed) realities of “illegal” immigration and the consequences thereofWhat follows is the verbatim transcript.

****

I’ve lived in Arizona since 1962. During those 43 years I’ve traveled to Mexico uncountable times, both on the border and into the interior; I’ve enjoyed the close friendship of many dozens of people — from both sides of the border — who are today referred to with a sneer as “mexicans” (lower case intentional).

Twenty years ago I was a watermelon grower in the Gila Bend area, and the great majority of my harvesting crews were from Mexico, “illegals” in the current vernacular, and a finer and harder-working, more honest and trustworthy group one could never find anywhere. During harvest, at least once each week the Border Patrol would happen by and gather up most of the crew and return them to Mexico; the next morning (or at worst, on the second morning) they’d be back, a little worse for the wear but nonetheless ready to work. We paid them a fair wage, in cash, always under a two-way ‘gentlemen’s’ agreement: we wouldn’t screw them, and they wouldn’t screw us. They worked hard and were completely reliable; meanwhile, they provided us with an address in Mexico to which we promised to send their earned wages should they be hauled away and not return. On one occasion, only one, we did indeed have to send a man’s earnings to the address he had provided us. And we did. He made it back the following year, made it a point to thank us, then went back to work — this time for a higher wage than the previous year and in a better position.

Those were, in a sense, the remnant of the good-old-days; since then, laws have been passed making employers into criminals if they should hire, knowingly or unknowingly, “mexicans” who are here illegally. More recently, a gathering fever has infected Arizona, a fever I’ve not seen since the racism that infected much of America in the fifties and early sixties. There is an unreasonable and perhaps unconscious sense of fear (that’s the polite word — hatred may be more to the point) rustling through society which has resulted in efforts designed to keep “mexican” laborers out of the US. And those efforts have, in effect, caused a tremendous and probably proportional increase in illegal border crossings. Every year, dozens of innocents — men, women, children — die of exposure as they attempt to cross the desert on foot, unprepared; hundreds, perhaps thousands more, pay human traffickers — coyotes — money to deliver them to the US. Coyotes are, without a doubt, consummate scum who care nothing about humanity, only about profit (they’re probably republicans, in other words). Often, bodies of murdered “mexicans” are found in remote desert areas, shot and killed by coyotes because their payment was not there on demand, or was insufficient. Meanwhile, *legal* (I’ve lately come to hate that word) “mexicans” are also victimized in the same way, usually because they agreed to pay the coyote to bring a family member to the US but then came up short when payment was demanded.

The coyote process works, however; scarcely a month goes by where, in the greater Phoenix area alone, a collection and distribution point (usually what appears to be a private home) is not discovered along with its hundred or more occupants — illegals waiting to be distributed elsewhere. These places are, metaphorically, what wholesale produce warehouses are to a supermarket chain. In a more down-to-earth context, however, they’re parcel to an emerging slave trade.

Meanwhile, the percentage of “brown-skinned” Hispanics continues to grow, and grow, and grow. I can’t recall offhand the specific estimates, but it’s likely not too long (a decade, give or take) before “white” will be a minority in many Southwestern states, and if trends continue unabated, “white” will, one day in the foreseeable future, become a minority “race” in the US. That scares the shit out of a lot of people, and brings forth the worst traits of even otherwise seemingly decent folks: overreaction to trumped-up fear — always the Repug’s motivational tool of choice.

Last November, Red-state Arizona passed a referendum which was couched in an “honorable” protect-America-from-illegal-immigration-$$-expense pretense, but which really grants legal permission to harass by virtue of profiling (let them greaser fuckers know who’s in charge here in Amerikuh).

And, of course, last but by no means least, out come the gun nut vigilantes, the fruitcakes for whom a gun is little more than a pecker-extender, a deadly weapon which helps (in their own dementia) portray them as “Real Men” rather than the cowards they truly are. Sometimes I wonder: if gun ownership could somehow be (gender)-restricted to that small percentage of males who are happy and satisfied with the size of their schlong, would all the gun companies go broke within the year?

Probably not, but the NRA’s membership would fall off to nothing, and in the process a huge portion of the Repugs financial base would fall into the toilet — where it belongs.

Let’s recognizing this emerging fruitcake posse for what it really is: the American equivalent of the German Sturmabteilung — the SA, brown shirts, storm troopers — those paramilitaries that Hitler found most useful and used accordingly. In other words, WAKE UP America!

****

Later that same day — April 03 2005 — a response was posted, one that I felt was ‘worthy’ of immediate comment. Here, then, is my response to commenter who called himself “SmirkySmirk. His comments are highlighted in red.

****

SmirkySmirk:
I have been a SoCal resident since 1982 and during that time have witnessed a steady meltdown of the economic, educational and social landscape: formerly pleasant areas of town are now crime-ridden, drug-infested, gang polluted ghettos-this phenomenon is growing and spreading now to other areas; elementary schools are overcrowded to the point of bursting, where housing historically the greatest number of students per classroom-and growing (moreover 2/3 of the 5th grade children in the SF Valley school district B system do not speak English- typical and in some areas of Los Angeles County the incidence of non-English speaking children is much higher); wages have been decimated in parts of SoCal since the 1980s (many laborers are working for well below the state and federal minimum wage- I personally knew dozens in my area working for $4-$6/hr. and there is no reason for me to believe their plight was unique); and finally a subject I rarely hear addressed in debates on illegal immigration but equally relevant- the impact of illegal immigration on the critical housing shortage in Southern California that has led to exorbitant rents in even the seamiest parts of town; furthermore, the delivery of healthcare, particularly in Los Angeles, is in acute crisis with many shelters closing due to shortfalls caused in large part by the burden of low payed illegal immigrants overtaxing the system.

What I object to is people reacting to immigrants with unjustified and implacable hatred for what is the failure of the Federal government to do its job. What I object to is business getting a free pass on a problem they have created by transferring the cost of maintaining their underpaid, undocumented workers onto the shoulders of society.

Oh, and I also object to anyone turning a purely economic issue into a humanitarian one and accusing the opposition of odious racial motivations or inhumanity for objecting to illegal immigration.

The problems of illegal immigration will never be solved via vigilante posses, nor will they be solved via a modern day “Maginot Line” of contiguous military security. There is no necessity, either, of opening the borders for all of Mexico and Central America to move north into the US. But none of that’s to say or suggest that there aren’t solutions amenable to all concerned.

The big problem began in the sixties with the elimination of the Bracero program during the Lyndon Johnson administration. That program allowed Mexican nationals to come to the US and work, to send their money home, and to return home after their work stint was completed. The program was, indeed, plagued by employers who treated the workers effectively as slave labor, but that was a problem addressable by means other than slamming the door.

The solution, of course, will take place naturally if and when the economies of the US and Mexico come into a sort of equilibrium, whether by a declining US standard or an elevating standard in Mexico (illegal immigration along the Canadian border isn’t much of a problem, for perhaps obvious reasons). Equilibrium between Mexico and the US is a long way off, however, at least if the gap is to be closed by Mexico attaining par prosperity — there are way too many political and cultural roadblocks in Mexico for that to happen in the short term. OTOH, the US is in a position to assist AND to reduce its border problems at the same time by resurrecting some form of the old Bracero program, this time in a way which denies practices of exploitation. That is, in fact, the one suggestion Bush himself made during his first four years that I could agree with.

Of course, we could nuke the place I suppose, but both that and an impermeable armed border sound a little rash.

Why am I not surprised that someone who has profited so much as yourself financially from illegal immigration are also an advocate for it. Can’t find US citizens to do the work? Don’t give me that crap! Pay A DECENT WAGE AND BENEFITS and you will have droves of Americans lining up at your door to work for you. But, you’re right, I’m sure Americans probably would not work for the pittance wages you paid illegals to do the work.

I’ll ignore your presumptions of profit and dismiss them as coming from someone who knows nothing about farming. Beyond that, I’ll guarantee you that any decent farmer would happily pay a “living wage” as you call it, to each and all of his employees AND would happily add a full benefits package as well. All he would ask would be that he still be able to market his (perishable!) crop quickly and at a decent profit. I suppose you and yours would joyfully and willingly pay ten or twenty bucks a pound, give-or-take, for fresh produce? Hey, people pay that much for fresh tuna, right? Why not for broccoli? I give up, why not?

Let me ask you a question, did you provide your employees with health care and a living wage?

Nope, but that part wasn’t terribly concerning — for a small operation, margins are also too thin to provide “the bosses” with health care. As for a living wage, what is that, exactly? Is that a salary paid to one who works in an air conditioned and cushy office, a wage that goes up annually without regard to production or accomplishment (yes, I’ve worked in corporate offices too), or is it whatever accrues when one works in his fields for 12-15 hours a day, 7 days a week and hopes the markets will pay enough for him to get his costs back plus make a small profit? My instinct suggests that you’re probably damned fortunate to have a supermarket handy where you can buy your food at a reasonable price, that if you’d have to grow your own you’d be on a diet.

Or did you just expect the taxpayers to pick up the tab with subsidies to YOUR EMPLOYEES?

I look at it this way: if the taxpayers can pick up, among other things, a “defense” tab that totals more each year than the next ten or fifteen countries combined, if taxpayers are willing to reduce the taxes on those who can best afford to pay them to the tune of a hundred billion a year, give-or-take, such income shortfall to be added to an already balooning deficit, then what the hell difference does it make if they subsidize someone who works for a living too? Sorry for the smart-assed answer (not really), but that was a stupid question.

There are some very serious issues on the table surrounding illegal immigration. And dismissing concerns of those opposed to it with calumniating epithets of “racist” and “hatemonger” is a red herring that has no place in the debate over the true merits and demerits of illegal immigration. In fact, if I were Boardnanny, I would delete your post as the kind of dung that were only worthy of flowing from the pen of a troll.

I didn’t use a pen. Meanwhile, you’d be much better off if you’d take some time to investigate realities and then maybe work to delete instead the undercurrents of racism and hate that are parcel to the anti-immigration movements in the Southwest. Whether you choose to see or acknowledge them or not, they’re here and they’re becoming pervasive. And, they accomplish nothing but to further the polarization, to exacerbate the problem.

I agree with you that something must be done. But unless it’s an enlightened approach that takes the CAUSES into effect AND addresses them directly and responsibly, the result will be roughly the same as pissing into the wind.

****

As I said up top, not much has changed in the ensuing decade. Reaction to Obama’s executive actions on immigration (forced, essentially, by Congressional inaction on the matter, by Speaker Boehner’s obtuse refusal to consider ANY legitimate options to address the continuing problem) remain every bit as vitriolic as were SmirkySmirk’s responses to my attempts at rationally addressing the humanitarian aspects of the immigration issue overall. Near as I can tell, the bottom line that has come to define far too much of this country is the embedded attitude of White Superiority along with commensurate fear and hatred of any other race/ethnicity. Those attitudes have persisted since before the US gained independence; my suspicion is they’ll continue to persist well after our independence is sacrificed upon the altar of oligarchic greed.

Katrina Vanden Heuvel: GOP ‘Driven By Know-nothing Nativism’ And Was Never Going To Reform Immigration

OPEN THREAD

43 thoughts on “The Watering Hole; Friday November 28 2014; Immigration

  1. Best Buy’s website down on Black Friday

    Best Buy’s website was down on Friday morning, during one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

    The site was also experiencing issues around 9 a.m. Thursday morning when CNBC tried to load it, and separate media reports noted that it was also down late Wednesday night.

    Best Buy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    So much for the Geek Squad!😉

  2. Nice post frugal.
    The glaring inequality between any two nations with a long border will cause residents of the impoverished country to try to get access to the more fortunate one to share the goodies.
    To manage the problem, one needs to have in place programs that recognize that, and work to the benefit of all.
    I, for one, am going to rejoice for the day when the ‘white’ community is in the minority.
    BTW, teach your children to speak Chinese….

    • That was, in retrospect, the whole point I was trying to make. Why is it constantly so impossible for so many to understand that quality of the PERSON has NO connection whatsoever with wealth other than the obvious point that in human society, “money” enables the ability to purchase things which can improve life’s quality (like food, for example, or shelter. Little things)?

      I can still say with absolute certainty that of all the people I’ve met in my life, individual quality has NEVER had a damn thing to do with bank account size. In fact, I’d happily be willing to offer citizenship to millions of “poor” immigrants if, to compensate, I could permanently deport folks like the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Mitt Romney . . . maybe a total of up to a thousand “rich” assholes in exchange.

      Unless or until this country gets over its obsession with the money/wealth/power equation and learns instead to recognize intrinsic qualities that are far more valuable, we will continue to make zero progress. And no immigration reform legislation will ever become reality.

      And the dregs (e.g. Boner, McConnell — to name but two) will remain in charge.

  3. On a sad note, my 93 year old Dad passed away early Monday morning. He had a great life, WWII Navy veteran, married to my Mom for 70 years. The best damn fisherman you ever knew.

  4. How far are America’s ethnic/racial haters willing to go in their efforts to destroy everything good and decent this country once pretended to stand for?

    Republicans Mull Barring Obama From Delivering State Of The Union Address

    Politico reported yesterday that congressional Republicans are weighing a variety of tactics to “address” their disgust over Obama’s immigration policy, and “GOP aides and lawmakers” are considering the idea of “refusing to invite the president to give his State of the Union address.”

    Late last week, Breitbart News also ran a piece of its own on the subject: “Congress should indicate to President Obama that his presence is not welcome on Capitol Hill as long as his ‘executive amnesty’ remains in place. The gesture would, no doubt, be perceived as rude, but it is appropriate.”

    Oathkeepers Patrolling Ferguson; Prepared To Use Lethal Force

    Cliven Bundy in 2016!! Yay!! Down with darkies!!

    • WTF is wrong with these people??? The President has the Constitutional authority to issue amnesty! And the executive action wasn’t amnesty, either, so I really wish the RW Infotainment Coalition would stop lying to people and saying it is.

    • Better yet, have him deliver the address in shackles, from a basement closet. Right LushRimbaugh?

    • Not only that, here’s what the Constitution says about the State of the Union:

      He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient…

      It doesn’t say how often he must do it (not even annually), nor what time. It doesn’t say where he has to do it. And it doesn’t define the medium he must use to do it.

      If Obama wants, he can pick a very, very cold day in February and address the Congress and the Nation from the shores of a sunny beach in Hawaii, while wearing a bathing suit. Then, when he’s done, he can turn around and, instead of just dropping the mic, take a dip in the ocean. All perfectly Constitutional.🙂

      Or he can tell them to go fuck themselves, he’ll do it right before he leaves office. The Constitution does not give the Congress any authority to dictate terms of the SOTU. It is, literally, entirely Obama’s show. The only thing he can’t dictate is when he wants to go on Capitol Hill and address them. But since he doesn’t have to do this from Capitol Hill, that doesn’t really matter.

      • DICTATOR!! MONARCH!! THIS HERE’S AMURKA NOT KENYA!!

        Symptoms of Ebola seem to be rather simple and generally curable when compared to, say, those of that so-called Republican virus which attacks mainly the brain, causing dementia and ultimately an internalized intellectotomy. Vaccine for Ebola is apparently going to be ready for widespread use in mid-January. No word yet on any impending cure or even treatment for Republicanism (they apparently tried tanning beds without any success).

    • I hardly think anyone at Breitbart is in a position to say what’s “appropriate.” I say this with the confidence of someone who has been personally insulted by Andrew Breitbart.

    • So much for all the hoopla about domestic violence the NFL has been playing ads about.
      Now I get to root for whoever plays against the Ravens.

      • I don’t ken pro football that much.

        BTW, that strange sound coming from Georgia is all the Bulldog fans hollering ‘SooWee’!

      • The Ravens gave up their rights to him by cutting him outright so he’s free to sign with any team. That being said; I find it all but impossible to watch football any more. It has nothing to do with the way the players or the league have acted though I think it’s pretty clear that Goodell flat out lied about what he knew and he has to go. The thing that has turned me off is the fan reaction. I realized, though I should have known, that the target audience is composed of loathsome ignorant savages and I don’t wish to identify with them in any way. Some of the comments I’ve seen regarding Adrian Peterson’s “right” to beat children with an effing weapon are the most vile I’ve seen on any subject.

      • A judge ruled the league violated its own policy by, in effect, suspending him twice for the same offense. The judge believed Rice when he said he had told Goodell everything about the elevator beating. But I understand the Ravens cut Rice from the team back in September, so even though he’s eligible, he has no NFL job as of now. Only a team stupid and tone deaf enough (like the Jets, or possibly the Raiders) would sign him now. And given the league’s new policy of more permanent bans for domestic violence, why would any team take on a known domestic abuser?

        After seeing what he did in that elevator, I have no sympathy for Rice. I hope he never works in the NFL at any job ever again. I hear Walmart is hiring for the holiday season rush. Maybe he can distinguish himself there and get a new career.

    • Apologies if this is a repeat.

      Science vs. Religion
      Is it a nativity scene
      or two Tyrannosaurus Rex
      fighting over a watermelon?

Comments are closed.