26 July 2010

A Great Movement of People

Before we get on with our next short reading on the "illegal immigration crisis"--or if you prefer, "undocumented worker problem"--I want to come clean with you. I am not even within a United Airlines intercontinental flight of a “solution.” I had to come clean with you because that fact will become apparent in this entry and those to follow. So why am I doing this? And what is the real reason that I think you ought to do yourself a favor and get interested, too?

It is apparent now that “immigration reform,” if it is taken up at all, will be taken up next year after these forthcoming midterm elections. If and when it is taken up, you and I are going to be treated to great political theater. I would even go so far as to say that if the pieces continue to fall into place, it could be one of the greater pieces of political theater in our lifetimes in terms of sheer entertainment value. Not on a level with the Watergate Crisis, but pretty doggoned good.

I know that attitude will offend some because of the seriousness of the issues as they relate to the very identity of the United States of America, the human suffering involved, the rage of so many on both sides. I offer no defense of the propriety of my attitude. Or let us put it this way. If I were to offer a defense, it would require a horrendous word count and involve sharing far more information about me than you could possibly stomach.

I have been studying this issue, that I promise you. Y'all are busy working at your jobs, trying to feed your babies, struggling in a miserable economy, and only God knows what else. Me, I have not a problem in the world. I have time. I can spend hours foraging for information and am delighted to do it. I not only have the time to read contemporary writing on the subject, I can read The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon and histories of Mexico and “The Mexican War,” known down here as “The U.S. Invasion,” for whatever light works like that might shed on the situation. . .and they do shed light.

On the other end of the spectrum, I have been able to chat with Mexicans who have been back and forth over that border about the when's, why's, and how's. They take one look at me with my hair down to my shoulders and immediately conclude that I could not be anything other than some curious gringo goof. That is how far into my bones this thing has gotten.

The issues we face with regard to legal immigration, illegal immigration, undocumented workers, guest worker programs, amnesty, or “getting right with the law” are fascinating. There are one or more facets to this that would be fascinating to any thinking person of any background if they put both feet in it, I am convinced. One of the primary reasons it is so enthralling to me personally is this. This is one of those rare issues on which one can in good faith argue different positions. This is a question so close that there is no point spread. It is a “you-call-it.” I looooooove those!

Not that it is going to be argued in good faith in the political arena. Far from it. Therein lies the potential for some profoundly entertaining stuff for you. But only if you go to the show actually knowing--actually knowing--a bit about the subject. Only then will you be able to spot all of the rapacious, the posers, the charlatans, the demagogues, the idiots, the clowns, and, yes, the racists who will inevitably step onto the stage of this theater. There will be people fitting one or more of those descriptions on all sides of this issue.

A quick word about that loaded term “racist.” Be cautious there. Some of the most articulate proponents of the “anti-immigration” position—a shorthand term we shall have to use—are black citizens of the United States. They have a significant stake in this game. In other words, this issue requires a legitimate discussion of race. And of course there will also be ill-concealed, illegitimate racism at work. More about that later.

While many national and ethnic groups are involved in the immigration debate, there is no doubt that Mexico is ground zero because of the border. Those groups that purport to speak for Mexican immigrants are in grave danger of shooting themselves in the foot with some of their own rhetoric, a good deal of which I have sampled.

On the other side of the coin, consider this. It was not that long ago that this appeared in a Wall Street Journal editorial:
If Washington still wants to do something about immigration, we propose a five-word Constitutional amendment: There shall be open borders.

That editorial appeared about 15 years ago. For good reason today, management's interest in cheap, submissive labor is veiled a bit more from public view, but it is still there in spades, I assure you. American labor unions, insofar as they are still players, have no choice but to bitterly fight anything that facilitates immigration.

Any resolution of this issue will not involve simply counting conservative and liberal noses. On this issue, ladies and gentlemen, the terms “liberal” and “conservative” are not predictive. But that is really moot, because there will be no political resolution of this issue.

Enough. I apologize for getting carried away. A blog entry of a snitch over 1000 words requires an apology. I just do not want you to be unprepared for this grand entertainment if it comes.

With that let us move on to getting a firmer grip on our handle on the current situation with Julie Preston's fine short piece in The New York Times of July 9, Illegal Workers Swept From Jobs in “Silent Raids.” Do not be alarmed. It is only a bit over 1,100 words.

The main point here is that the Obama Administration is enforcing the law, and it is enforcing it in a new, more effective way. However, you will also see that our quandary as to what to do about the millions of undocumented workers already in the United States, many of whom have been there for years, results in a bizarre situation.

Try to pick out the villains in the scenario set out in this piece, and we will consider that tomorrow.

Lastly, I want to assure you that we will get to the thoughtful anti-immigration position.

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