Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The National Pretend Crisis

That's my new name for the "Illegal Immigration Crisis." It's made up stuff. Like most of the republican schemes you can turn what ever they say backwards. The stuff they say only makes sense when you view it through the looking glass. Like their "Patriot Act" was mostly we're going to eavesdrop on conversations and keep track of anybody who disagrees with us, or how their "war on drugs" has mostly turned into price supports for cartels and smugglers.

I know that I'm dating myself, but does anybody else out there remember when we had The National Pretend Speed Limit of 55mph on the highways of the country? They posted all kinds of signs, had swarms of officers patrolling the highways to bring down the vast majority of our population who was ignoring the law. They had to ignore the law. When laws are crazy, rational people simply refuse to obey them.

That's where we are with our immigration laws. Batshit crazy. Most of the counter measures are counter productive. Eight miles from where I write this is the city of Mexicali. Over two million people live there. A large part of the economy here depends on citizens from Mexicali coming across the border to do their shopping. That's one of the reasons that the biggest shopping mall around here is a mere four miles from the Port of Entry. On an average Monday morning the wait at the border is an hour and a half. That means that nobody in their right mind will wait there in line for that amount of time, be confronted by arrogant and oftentimes rude Customs Agents when all they wanted to do was come shop at Diamond's Department store. There are a lot of business on both sides of the border who are suffering or closing because there isn't easy access to cross the border.

We used to on a whim, decide "Hey, let's go get some Chinese food." Go into Mexicali and treat ourselves to some of the finest Cantonese and Hunan you'll ever find. Not anymore. Our aggressive and arrogant posture on the border makes that kind of thing impossible. Now, crossing the border means long waits, searches, stupid questions and other things that make it just not worth the bother.

So, who benefits from all this? My suspicion is that the folks who are trumpeting the loudest about the "illegal" question are the people who have the most to gain by keeping hard working immigrants in illegal status, and therefore more easily cheated and exploited. They aren't concerned in the slightest about laws, or the rule of law, or even simple human decency. They want to make sure that their next construction project doesn't have to pay a living wage to the folks who do the framing and pour the concrete.

It's a very simple situation. People from Central America up through Mexico are starving and only want a chance to work their asses off to better their lives and feed their families. They can't do it in the places they were born so they come here. They are not illegal, they are the best, the most courageous, and some of the finest people you will ever meet. They are risking everything for a small chance at being able to live in a decent human way. The laws that have made crossing the border more difficult have not even begun to stem this human tide. They have enriched the coyotes (pronounced COY-oh-tay) who smuggle them. Fees for being guided across have gone up over 300% in the last two years. The first effect of further clamping down border access will be to make these vile and vicious criminals far richer. They will also be certain to spend some of this new found wealth on bribing Customs and Border Patrol Agents. That's what the drug smugglers did, that's what the rum runners did during prohibition. That's what any rational human being will do when confronted with crazy laws. They refuse to obey them.

We didn't quit drinking because of Prohibition. We haven't quit doing dope because Nixon declared war on it. We won't stop illegal immigration by making the laws about it even crazier. We will only encourage more rational folks to disobey this insanity.

When will these people realize that they can't solve a problem using the same thinking that created the problem in the first place? My other suspicion is that the whole "immigration" thing is nothing but bullshit smoke and mirrors so that the Republican candidates won't have to talk about how thoroughly and completely they have fucked up the Middle East.




Blogger seventh sister said...

I may have mentioned this before on your blog but here it is again: I think that the only way to help this "crises" is to make it easier for people to make a decent living where they are. Some organizations who are doing that are Kiva (kiva.org) and other microfinance organizations as well as Ten Thousand Villages and other retail outlets that support fair trade practices. I volunteer for both of these organizations and there are many similar ones out there if you take a look around.

I agree with your positions on these issues and I look for way that I can make an impact because I feel that anything worth complaining about is worth doing something about.

2:47 PM  
Anonymous horsedooty said...

Tom Russell singer/songwriter now living in El Paso, TX wrote this song and it is a slightly humorous take on the border and the 19th Century Solution to a problem that does not exist.



yo soy Horsedooty!

3:27 PM  
Blogger Phydeaux Speaks said...

and a most excellent rant it was, too!

4:08 PM  
Anonymous TheCunningRunt said...

Well said and right on, MB. It's an invented problem, and a very effective bit of Circus.

And seventh sister, thanks for that info. You're right about what needs to be done. Unfortunately, the people making our "immigration policy" aren't trying to help poor folks in Mexico and Central America. They're promoting xenophobia while assuring a steady enough flow of cheap labor to boost the profits of employers.

5:51 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

absolutely right 7thsis. there are many excellent people who are laboring in extreme circumstances to try and help improve the conditions to the south of us. one of the continuing problems they encounter is that when they improve things to the point of rising above abject poverty it attracts the attentions and the predations of the local government.

for my part, i spend a couple weekends a month out in the desert stocking up water stations. it's a small thing, but it's a good thing.

8:16 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

As Thomas Friedman dubbed us, "The United States of 9-11," so anything xenophobic flies. Your last paragraph is spot-on -- yet another distraction from the Crusades.

Damn Mexicans, damn Hillary, damn Middle Easterners -- all trying to horn in on their parade. How long and how high can they build their walls, and when will the dikes give way? And will the pressure to do so come from within, or without?

8:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In recognition of the significant contributions to our country by our proud and independent Spanish-speaking citizens, we have developed a comprehensive program to help achieve equal opportunity... To provide the same learning opportunities enjoyed by other American children, we have increased bilingual education programs almost six-fold since 1969. We initiated a 16-point employment program to help Spanish-speaking workers, created the National Economic Development Association to promote Spanish-speaking business development and expanded economic development opportunities in Spanish-speaking communities.

We will work for the use of bilingual staffs in localities where this language capability is desirable for effective health care," - the Republican Party platform in 1972.

From a saner time........

- oddjob

8:49 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thanks for that, oddjob. Perspective is sorely needed today.

11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(The sad part is having to call 1972 a "saner" time!)

- oddjob

12:51 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

my mexican friends run toward the whole social conservative thing. they are interested in many of the same things that the republicans claim to support. mexican culture treasures the extended family. it is the basis of their society. the catholic church is still hugely strong. in that, the mexicans are much like the irish. they owe a debt of survival to the church, yet, at the same time, the church holds them back in very important arenas and there is that whole genocide thing which the jebbies and the inquisition started out with.

most of the mexicans i knew during the times of eisenhower (the last real republican) were staunchly republican. that was before the party sold its collective soul as the party of lincoln to the grandsons of jeff davis.

those. fucking. bastards.

1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

in that, the mexicans are much like the irish.

And virtually any Mediterranean culture you care to mention (religious affiliation varying, of course).

- oddjob

2:01 PM  
Blogger BadTux said...

AMEN, brother. I've been saying this for a while, that the whole "illegal immigration" debate is just a way to make sure that the illegals stay illegal so that the elite can get slaves with no legal status who can be worked to death in unsafe conditions and ripped off and the rest of us can get the shaft.

I have my own plan for how to deal with the whole issue of "illegal immigration", but that's a subject for another post on my own blog. Maybe tomorrow.

12:26 AM  
Blogger Sherry said...

a wonderful rant. we need rants like yours.

10:31 AM  

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