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  Don’t Feed the Immigrants
Huddled masses threaten America’s borders

by Allan Uthman

It’s a rare occurrence in America these days that popular protest garners much media attention. The three-year anniversary Iraq war protests which occurred this month, for instance, drew nary a glance from TV news producers. But when half a million Mexicans turned out in L.A. to protest a draconian bill being decided in the Senate this week, “whitey,” in the form of Wolf Blitzer, got scared and decided to pay attention. The bill in question’s House version, sponsored by horrible troll James Sensenbrenner, approves a 700-mile fence along the Mexican border and makes it a felony be an illegal alien, or to aid one in any way, including to feed one. Naturally, Sensenbrenner handed this unconstitutional baton over to Bill Frist in the Senate.

Beyond L.A., there were large protests in Chicago, Phoenix, Milwaukee and Denver. In Georgia, “tens of thousands” (CNN) participated in a work stoppage to protest a bill which would bar illegals from state services and charge them extra to wire money home. It’s a sad state of affairs when illegal immigrants are the only group in America willing to assert their power to strike. If everyone in this country who was against the war, for example, didn’t show up for work next week, you can bet the farm that the last US soldier in Iraq would be flying out in the last plane by Friday. Instead, the poorest, least empowered people in the country are schooling us on how to protest effectively. Perhaps an unintended but fortunate consequence of the seemingly unstoppable influx of Hispanics will be that they’ll teach us how real popular resistance works. (Certainly, the ‘60s reenactment strategy hasn’t helped much.)

The debate has produced strange bedfellows—on one side, xenophobes and labor unionists, on the other, Hispanics and business lobbyists. As usual, the proposed solution is the worst of both worlds. Whether you’re for or against open borders, the “guest worker program” proposed by celebrity Senators McCain and Kennedy and backed by Bush is not the answer. Look beyond its friendly name what you see is indentured servitude.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that importing cheap labor screws up the system for American workers. But what do you do about it? A distressing number of people seem to support the ham-fisted and cost-prohibitive notion of arresting and jailing, or at least deporting, every illegal immigrant in America. This is not only virtually impossible; it’s just a stupid way to go about it. In situations like this it’s much easier to stem demand than supply.

It’s a bit of a detour, but a good analogy for this can be found in another recent story focusing south of the border. On March 22nd, the US government indicted 50 high-ranking members of FARC, a leftist militia opposed to Colombian president Uribe’s conservative government, on drug-trafficking charges. To be sure, FARC makes money from the cocaine trade, as Colombia’s deadly right-wing paramilitary groups also have. The reality is that the US has been supporting Uribe’s side in a Colombian civil war, in the interests of privatization of Colombia’s resources. We have defoliated huge swaths of Colombian jungle and farmland with poisonous chemicals and provided private troops to do battle with FARC, at an enormous cost to the US taxpayer, but these operations receive almost no mainstream scrutiny due to the cover of the Drug War.

But the term doesn’t fit. The truth is you can’t stop cocaine by destroying crops or arresting producers, because there’s always more where they came from. You could defoliate Colombia in its entirety, and next year production would shift back to Bolivia, or over to a neighboring country, or even to Africa. As long as Americans are willing to pay $40 for a tiny baggie of Marching Powder, someone will find a way to get it to them. This isn’t just conjecture; a RAND study found money spent domestically on treatment to be 23 times as effective as that spent on source eradication. RAND also found that drug treatment is 15 times as effective as jail time in reducing serious crime. So, if we’re serious about the drug war, how come we’re not spending our money on that stuff?

It’s the same with illegal workers. Just as it makes no sense to target a limitless supply of cocaine, it makes no sense to target an unending stream of undocumented workers, when two or three CEO arrests would do the trick. Hiring illegal immigrants is just that: illegal. If the people in charge of businesses felt that they could be prosecuted for illegal aliens hired by their underlings, they could easily put a stop to it, dramatically reducing the demand for such workers and necessitating a raise in wages. If the president or your congressman was at all interested in stopping such things, then that would be thing to do. It wouldn’t end the “scourge” of Mexican maids and dishwashers, but it would go a long way toward reducing demand for undocumented labor, which would naturally cut the number of people coming here, pleasing even the racists. As a solution, simply enforcing preexisting labor laws seems elegant—and it’s the president who’s charged with enforcing the law.

So why doesn’t he? Because in the end it is not regular racist hicks, but business lobbyists that decide Bush’s positions. And a lot of domestic industries—agriculture, food processing, contracting, retail—are quite happily exploiting illegal labor, and like junkies with full wallets, they’re not planning on quitting anytime soon. They, their lobbying group (the Essential Workers Immigration Coalition), and Bush all say that illegal immigrants do the jobs “Americans won’t do.” This is a lie. Americans will eat gorilla testicles on television. Illegal immigrants do jobs Americans would do, but for a lot less money than Americans would do them for.

As a force for evil, racism has nothing on greed. Think about it: racism played a large part in slavery, but its driving force was greed. No amount of racism would cause a society to drag hordes of people away from other lands just to mistreat them—only greed can make such a thing real. Now there’s another business opportunity, another permanently disenfranchised racial underclass to enslave.

Some critics of the guest worker programs are focused on stemming the flow of people who are culturally different from them into the country. The National Review’s Rich Lowry worries about “the threat to America’s national cohesion from an ever-growing, poorly assimilated Latino population.” Mainly, he’s afraid they’ll vote for Democrats. Cat-killing Senator Bill Frist, on both wrong sides of this issue, supports a guest worker program but opposes a provision making illegals who are already here eligible for guest worker status. This, he says, “most Americans would see as amnesty.” Which is ironic, since amnesty would elevate their prospects and reduce their negative drag on wages instantly. In reality, what do you do with an illegal immigrant with children who, born in America, are automatic citizens? Throw the parents out and give the kids to foster parents? These people risk their lives to get here, because they fit the description written on the Statue of Liberty, and the ungrateful squatters who live here now want to treat them like they stole something.

There’s nothing wrong with people who speak different languages coming to America—that’s how everyone got here. What we really should be stemming is an influx of poverty, which a guest worker program would do nothing to alleviate. If Mexicans could immigrate legally, they’d be entitled to the same employee protections we all enjoy, including minimum wage—and they’d have as hard (or harder) a time getting a job. If we want to stop illegal immigration and its deleterious impact on our job pool, then we need to make legal immigration a realistic possibility for these people, and stop pretending there’s not enough room. What we should not do is tell them, “sure you can come here and clean our toilets, but you’re not good enough to be one of us.” What we should not do is actually legislate a second-class category of American. I can’t believe we’re even thinking about it.



Idiot Box by Matt Bors
Big Fat Whale by Brian McFadden
Perry Bible Fellowship by Nicholas Gurewitch
Bob the Angry Flower by Stephen Notely
Deep Fried by Jason Yungbluth

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