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Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: American Nativism Looms at the Polls

  1. #1
    Sunday, December 16, 2007



    American nativism looms at the polls

    posted by lenin

    The cracker ******* vote is probably not as large as many people outside America take it to be. For example, these cracker ******* minutemen seem to consist of a small number of Aryan supremacists and classic Western vigilantes - certainly of the variety that launched pogroms against the Irish, the Chinese, the poor from Oklahoma, labourers, communists, trade unionists etc, but much smaller than their forebears. They are capable of spotting a potential meat factory labourer or gardener with binoculars directed across cactus-strewn borderland, and such an unfortunately witnessed interloper might well end up being beaten or murdered. And the superpatriots have spread geographically from a base in conservative regions of California into Arizona and Texas, and have branches in several other states. Yet, as a movement they remain a narrow sect, eminently ignorable by national politicians. Yet, despite this, they have acquired some striking support not only from local radio 'hell-in-a-handbasket' hate programmes, but also from California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger back in 2005, when his attacks on public spending caused his poll numbers to slump. With characteristic McBain-like eloquence, he has showered praise on the efficacy of the Minutemen, depicting them as conscientious citizens looking out for fellow whiteys. They have made an impact on GOP politics as well. While Pat Robertson has offered a sizeable portion of the religious right vote to Rudi Giuliani, Jim Gilchrist, the former Marine and co-founder of the Minutemen movement, is wooing the racist right for Mick Huckabee. Huckabee was supposedly a centrist on immigration and had attacked racism and nativism during the migration debate in 2006, but he has now discovered the virtues of the Minutemen, and produced an authoritarian set of policies to woo this unpleasant substrate. Gilchrist's one-time colleague, Chris Simcox, has attacked him for this nomination, and it may be that the already schismatic movement splits over this as well. However, the vendetta merchants have an audience among comparatively privileged people, at least among a layer of middle class white Americans, whose intense boredom and alienation in an increasingly bizarre society seeks redress in resentful and violent attacks on the usual targets.

    GOP candidates, such as Mitt Romney and Tom Tancredo preparing attacks on immigrants as key to their electoral strategy. However, alongside them are some opportunistic Democrats, who must vigilantly hold forth against the misunderstanding that they are soft on the dark-skinned. Democratic candidate John Edwards, who likes to present a left face, is promising a crack-down. Perhaps Edwards, addressing a mainly white audience in Iowa, is trying to appeal to a working population that has been destroyed by neoliberalism and by 'free trade' deals such as Nafta, which has cost 1 million American jobs according to the Economic Policy Institute (although Iowa was not one of the main states affected by Nafta). Since Edwards supports that particular agreement, planning merely to renegotiate it, and since he is one of those who supported giving Bush fast-track powers to negotiate further such trade agreements, it wouldn't be his style to point out that the problems for working class communities in Iowa do not originate with immigration. Barack Obama is cracking down on border controls as well, lest those illegal immigrants turn out to be terrorists - the Latino Catholic division of Al Qaeda is apparently sending shock troops across a poorly manned border day and night. Bill Richardson, the conservative Hispanic-American Democrat with 8% of the vote, also favours tougher border controls. The Democrats are not the aggressive attack dogs on immigration, but none of the main candidates appears all that interested in defending the communities who have suffered a wave of state repression and accompanying vilification since their mass protests in 2006. Groups like ANSWER and the ISO have done well to harrass the Minutemen and have also done what they can to support the immigrant labourers, but the order of the day among the political class is for a more intense crackdown (with tacit approval for heightened exploitation by employers, who have most to lose with a politically self-confident immigrant movement).

    Much of the anti-immigrant racism currently informing presidential bids is regulated and sustained by the 'war on terror', which has cast an automatic pall of unacceptability and disloyalty on even legal migrants. Yet, lest we forget that bashing the poorest and most exploited is part of an American tradition that precedes even the conquest of the Philippines (a model for today's occupation of Iraq in so many ways), I suppose it's worth mentioning that the antiwar Republican candidate, Ron Paul (very much favoured by the libertarians at Antiwar.com) supports massive state investment in attacking immigrants. So much so that the far right Federation for American Immigration Reform gives the candidate a 100% score in supporting immigration restrictions. He blames the welfare state for having created immigration, on the grounds that you get more of what you 'subsidize'. Well, it seems to me that if you subsidize state repression, you get more of it, and have no business calling yourself a libertarian. It is a point usually ignored by the soi disant anti-statists of the American right - the history of immigration controls in the US shows that measures initially contrived to attack and restrict migration become the basis of domestic surveillance and repression. Worse, however: one or two liberals and even radicals who ought to know better are rocking to the Ron Paul Revolution, because of his stance on the war, on civil liberties, and his general aura of incorruptibility. The fact that his stance on practically everything else is indefensible and disgusting has passed by in silence from these people. A petty reactionary with a good stance on the war is still a petty reactionary.

    Despite the appalling performance of the Democrats in control of both houses of Congress, the decisive issue at the 2008 presidential election will, I suspect, still be the 'war on terror' and the general disaffection with it. The GOP candidates are swinging to the hard right, partially in response to the growing right-ward lurch of Democrats, but mainly because they are desperate. Faced with insurmountable hostility to the Bush administration and the Republican Party, they are unwilling to abandon the 'war on terror', which adventurist strategy still broadly retains the support of their corporate sponsors. Hobbled by the NIE, to some extent (not, noticeably, by any Democratic attack), they have to stimulate the basest of bases, the lowest of the low, the scum of the earth who despise the wretched of the earth. The nativist reactionaries do not constitute most Americans, but then they don't have to. Their role is to prise apart the natural alliance between the disenfranchised white working class, African Americans whose ethnic cleansing from New Orleans is an accomplished fact, and hyper-exploited immigrants - all of whom lose out from the 'war on terror' and the current neoliberal orthodoxy. If, against the constant, oppressive reality of growing class domination, the culture warriors and rabid nationalists can harness the directionless, pre-political anger of many Americans, the ruling class may weather the oncoming recession without having to combat or accomodate any sustained movement for reforms and social change.

  2. #2
    Sunday, December 16, 2007



    American nativism looms at the polls

    posted by lenin

    The cracker ******* vote is probably not as large as many people outside America take it to be. For example, these cracker ******* minutemen seem to consist of a small number of Aryan supremacists and classic Western vigilantes - certainly of the variety that launched pogroms against the Irish, the Chinese, the poor from Oklahoma, labourers, communists, trade unionists etc, but much smaller than their forebears. They are capable of spotting a potential meat factory labourer or gardener with binoculars directed across cactus-strewn borderland, and such an unfortunately witnessed interloper might well end up being beaten or murdered. And the superpatriots have spread geographically from a base in conservative regions of California into Arizona and Texas, and have branches in several other states. Yet, as a movement they remain a narrow sect, eminently ignorable by national politicians. Yet, despite this, they have acquired some striking support not only from local radio 'hell-in-a-handbasket' hate programmes, but also from California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger back in 2005, when his attacks on public spending caused his poll numbers to slump. With characteristic McBain-like eloquence, he has showered praise on the efficacy of the Minutemen, depicting them as conscientious citizens looking out for fellow whiteys. They have made an impact on GOP politics as well. While Pat Robertson has offered a sizeable portion of the religious right vote to Rudi Giuliani, Jim Gilchrist, the former Marine and co-founder of the Minutemen movement, is wooing the racist right for Mick Huckabee. Huckabee was supposedly a centrist on immigration and had attacked racism and nativism during the migration debate in 2006, but he has now discovered the virtues of the Minutemen, and produced an authoritarian set of policies to woo this unpleasant substrate. Gilchrist's one-time colleague, Chris Simcox, has attacked him for this nomination, and it may be that the already schismatic movement splits over this as well. However, the vendetta merchants have an audience among comparatively privileged people, at least among a layer of middle class white Americans, whose intense boredom and alienation in an increasingly bizarre society seeks redress in resentful and violent attacks on the usual targets.

    GOP candidates, such as Mitt Romney and Tom Tancredo preparing attacks on immigrants as key to their electoral strategy. However, alongside them are some opportunistic Democrats, who must vigilantly hold forth against the misunderstanding that they are soft on the dark-skinned. Democratic candidate John Edwards, who likes to present a left face, is promising a crack-down. Perhaps Edwards, addressing a mainly white audience in Iowa, is trying to appeal to a working population that has been destroyed by neoliberalism and by 'free trade' deals such as Nafta, which has cost 1 million American jobs according to the Economic Policy Institute (although Iowa was not one of the main states affected by Nafta). Since Edwards supports that particular agreement, planning merely to renegotiate it, and since he is one of those who supported giving Bush fast-track powers to negotiate further such trade agreements, it wouldn't be his style to point out that the problems for working class communities in Iowa do not originate with immigration. Barack Obama is cracking down on border controls as well, lest those illegal immigrants turn out to be terrorists - the Latino Catholic division of Al Qaeda is apparently sending shock troops across a poorly manned border day and night. Bill Richardson, the conservative Hispanic-American Democrat with 8% of the vote, also favours tougher border controls. The Democrats are not the aggressive attack dogs on immigration, but none of the main candidates appears all that interested in defending the communities who have suffered a wave of state repression and accompanying vilification since their mass protests in 2006. Groups like ANSWER and the ISO have done well to harrass the Minutemen and have also done what they can to support the immigrant labourers, but the order of the day among the political class is for a more intense crackdown (with tacit approval for heightened exploitation by employers, who have most to lose with a politically self-confident immigrant movement).

    Much of the anti-immigrant racism currently informing presidential bids is regulated and sustained by the 'war on terror', which has cast an automatic pall of unacceptability and disloyalty on even legal migrants. Yet, lest we forget that bashing the poorest and most exploited is part of an American tradition that precedes even the conquest of the Philippines (a model for today's occupation of Iraq in so many ways), I suppose it's worth mentioning that the antiwar Republican candidate, Ron Paul (very much favoured by the libertarians at Antiwar.com) supports massive state investment in attacking immigrants. So much so that the far right Federation for American Immigration Reform gives the candidate a 100% score in supporting immigration restrictions. He blames the welfare state for having created immigration, on the grounds that you get more of what you 'subsidize'. Well, it seems to me that if you subsidize state repression, you get more of it, and have no business calling yourself a libertarian. It is a point usually ignored by the soi disant anti-statists of the American right - the history of immigration controls in the US shows that measures initially contrived to attack and restrict migration become the basis of domestic surveillance and repression. Worse, however: one or two liberals and even radicals who ought to know better are rocking to the Ron Paul Revolution, because of his stance on the war, on civil liberties, and his general aura of incorruptibility. The fact that his stance on practically everything else is indefensible and disgusting has passed by in silence from these people. A petty reactionary with a good stance on the war is still a petty reactionary.

    Despite the appalling performance of the Democrats in control of both houses of Congress, the decisive issue at the 2008 presidential election will, I suspect, still be the 'war on terror' and the general disaffection with it. The GOP candidates are swinging to the hard right, partially in response to the growing right-ward lurch of Democrats, but mainly because they are desperate. Faced with insurmountable hostility to the Bush administration and the Republican Party, they are unwilling to abandon the 'war on terror', which adventurist strategy still broadly retains the support of their corporate sponsors. Hobbled by the NIE, to some extent (not, noticeably, by any Democratic attack), they have to stimulate the basest of bases, the lowest of the low, the scum of the earth who despise the wretched of the earth. The nativist reactionaries do not constitute most Americans, but then they don't have to. Their role is to prise apart the natural alliance between the disenfranchised white working class, African Americans whose ethnic cleansing from New Orleans is an accomplished fact, and hyper-exploited immigrants - all of whom lose out from the 'war on terror' and the current neoliberal orthodoxy. If, against the constant, oppressive reality of growing class domination, the culture warriors and rabid nationalists can harness the directionless, pre-political anger of many Americans, the ruling class may weather the oncoming recession without having to combat or accomodate any sustained movement for reforms and social change.

  3. #3
    Losing Our Minds over Immigration

    Created by eric_at_rockridge (Rockridge Institute staff member) on Friday, November 30, 2007 02:06 PM

    On the issue of immigration, politicians and much of the mainstream media are playing with our minds. By repeating the phrase "illegal immigrants," they're creating a misleading stereotype. It's inaccurate. And, it's distracting us from the real issue "” economic exploitation of all low-wage workers in the U.S.

    The Republicans did it in their YouTube debate on CNN. In the first 30 minutes, the Republicans repeatedly used the term "illegal immigrant" and spent the time sparring over which of them could treat them more harshly. Were the painters who worked on Romney's house and the low-wage workers in Giuliani's New York City really such a grave threat to America?

    CNN's John King used the term, too. And so did CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Campbell Brown in the most recent Democratic debate in Las Vegas. And, some of the Democratic candidates used it also, though Kucinich specifically refused ("There are no illegal human beings"). But he's in the minority. The term is everywhere in the press. You can find it in the Washington Post here and in the New York Times here, as well as the doubly derogatory term "illegal alien" in the Washington Times here. They've all got "illegal" on the brain.

    The repeated use of the term "illegal immigrants" is leading to all sorts of policies created to stop them. Many of them were repeated in the debates. More border fences. Prohibiting driver's licenses. Some want to stop their kids from attending neighborhood elementary schools.

    But the phrase "illegal immigrant" is misleading. There's a grain of truth, but the emphasis is only select applied "” it's misapplied "” we don't call speeders "illegal drivers" or people who jaywalk "illegals." And that selective application to immigrants is harmful. As Lawrence Downes wrote in a New York Times op-ed:

    There is no way out of that trap. It's the crime you can't make amends for. Nothing short of deportation will free you from it, such is the mood of the country today. And that is a problem.

    There sure is a problem. So much so that the National Association of Hispanic Journalists won't use it. They recommend using "undocumented" instead. That's a start.

    Branding people with the Scarlet "I" creates a fearful stigma. The vast majority of immigrants, whatever their legal status, are law-abiding members of society. Yet, the "illegal" description is so pervasive that it has us thinking about punishment and revenge, instead of solutions to the real problem "” the economic exploitation of people, both immigrants and native born.

    How did that happen?

    In part, it's all in our heads; it's how our minds work. To understand the world, we unconsciously create categories of things. We understand these categories by, again unconsciously, creating central examples that represent how we envision the basic properties of the group.

    Think of a bird, for example. What first pops into your mind? Most likely something akin to a sparrow, maybe a robin. It's unlikely that your unconscious, initial image will be an ostrich or a penguin. Or even a duck or an eagle. These are all birds, but they are not what we instinctively envision as the typical bird. In fact, our unconscious category example need not be the most common bird or even an actual bird at all. Nevertheless, the typical example you have in your mind allows you to organize, understand, and apply what you experience about birds.

    Our categorizations serve a useful purpose. They allow us to process lots of information very quickly. Much faster than if we were to try and consciously think through a list of characteristics about everything we encounter all day long in the world. We'd be paralyzed, like the computer icon spinning on your screen while the web page loads. So, in many situations, we're very fortunate that our brains work in this manner. Otherwise, we'd never get through the characteristics of the mental category "animals with big teeth." We'd have been eaten.

    But it's not so straightforward when our brains create central examples for groups of people. We call them stereotypes. Like the bird category, our minds do this unconsciously, and the people stereotypes don't have to be real or accurate. Nevertheless, they exist in our minds, and they shape how we react and interact with people from these groups, both individually and as a whole. This includes the policies we make.

    Since we have been repeatedly bombarded with the term "illegal immigrants," most of us have at least some negative characteristics associated with our unconscious stereotype of low-wage foreign workers. As a result, the policies that many people support are punitive "” more deportations, more border security, and fines for employers who knowingly hire them.

    This makes a certain logical sense. What policy would go best with these stereotypes of immigrant workers? If they are "illegal immigrants," we think of crime and danger and that leads first to police actions, border walls, and round ups. That was certainly the thrust of the Republican YouTube debate on CNN. But it was also the same argument that came from many Democratic candidates when they would not support drivers licenses for the people they also called "illegal immigrants." And if most immigrants were murderers or armed robbers "” if the stereotype currently repeated by candidates and the mainstream media were accurate "” this way of thinking might make some sense and these policies might be warranted. But they aren't.

    In fact, it's just the opposite. According to the American Immigration Law Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing public understanding of immigration law and advancing fundamental fairness and due process for immigrants, the vast majority of immigrants, both documented and undocumented, are law-abiding people: "a century of research finds that crime rates for immigrants are lower than for the native-born." These conclusions are bolstered by their latest report, published in Spring 2007.

    And the American Immigration Law Foundation tells us the likely reason why:

    "The problem of crime in the United States is not 'caused' or even aggravated by immigrants, regardless of their legal status. This is hardly surprising since immigrants come to the United States to pursue economic and educational opportunities not available in their home countries and to build better lives for themselves and their families. As a result, they have little to gain and much to lose by breaking the law. Undocumented immigrants in particular have even more reason to not run afoul of the law given the risk of deportation that their lack of legal status entails."

    Sounds more like a good neighbor than a criminal.

    Some of these foreign workers are even heroes. The AP just reported on one. On Thanksgiving, Jesus Manuel Cordova Soberanes, a 26-year-old bricklayer from northern Mexico, rescued a nine-year-old boy who had been in a car wreck. Mr. Soberanes had snuck across the border to find work to feed his family. While he was walking through the Arizona desert, he came across the boy. The boy's mother had swerved off a cliff and crashed. The mother was severely injured and the boy had gone in search of help. Mr. Soberanes returned with the boy to the car, but he could not save the mother. As night came and temperatures dropped, he gave the boy his sweater and built a fire. Mr. Soberanes stayed with the boy through the night, until he was rescued the next morning. The boy was flown to a hospital in Tucson and Mr. Soberanes was turned over to Border Patrol agents, who deported him back to Mexico. According to the local sheriff, Mr. Soberanes is "'very, very special and compassionate' and may have saved the boy's life."

    Mr. Soberanes explained his sacrifice this way:

    "I am a father of four children. For that, I stayed," Manuel Jesus Cordova Soberanes said in Spanish from his home in the Mexican state of Sonora. "I never could have left him. Never."

    Mr. Soberanes made America a better place during his brief stay.

    So, the statistics and Mr. Soberanes beg the question, what kind of policies might we envision if our stereotype were more accurate? What if we understood Mr. Soberanes and others like him as "economic refugees"? Maybe, we might begin to understand their actions as moral, and them as good people, maybe even noble ones.

    Like Jean Valjean of Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. He stole bread when he was desperate to feed himself and his sister's family. He didn't even work for it. Yet he has become an international symbol of conscience, one that's celebrated today in the long-running Broadway play. The bad guy was the relentlessly unjust, even cruel, economic and legal systems of 18th century France "” embodied in police inspector Javert.


    What policies might we construct if the issue were economic exploitation? Would we not think first about protecting the human dignity of all who work in the U.S.? We might then begin to create policies that address the underlying problems that face all workers in America "” the need for jobs that are safe, secure, and pay a living wage, combined with health care for everyone. We might begin to understand that Americans, too, can be "economic refugees" inside the U.S. "” our fellow citizens forced to abandon their hometowns due to factory closings, for example, in search of a job wherever they can find it.

    At the Rockridge Institute, we have been examining these ideas in The Framing of Immigration and a recent response to a reader's inquiry. Many others are thinking and writing about this too, including bloggers at ImmigrationProf and Immigration, Education, and Globalization. But it's time to push this thinking mainstream, so that we hear the truth over and over. If we are going to have effective policies that deal with reality, we can start with changing our language and updating what's in our heads. Let's start being mindful of how we think and talk.

  4. #4
    The Immigration Con Artists

    I once got ****ered by con artists. As I was walking by, they baited me into betting that I could guess which shell a little ball was under. Moving the shells at lightning speed, they diverted my attention and tricked me into taking my eye off the ball. When I lost the bet, I felt bamboozled, just like we all should feel today watching the illegal immigration debate. After all, we're witnessing the same kind of con.

    As our paychecks stagnate, our personal debt climbs and our health care premiums skyrocket, We the People are ticked off. Unfortunately for those in Congress, polls show that America is specifically angry at the big business interests that write big campaign checks.

    So now comes the con "” the dishonest argument over illegal immigration trying to divert our ire away from the corporate profiteers, outsourcers, wage cutters and foreclosers that buy influence "” and protection "” in Washington.

    Republicans like Rep. Tom Tancredo (Colo.) are demanding the government cut off public services for undocumented workers, build a barrier at the Mexican border and force employers to verify employees' immigration status. Democrats like Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) are urging their allies to either embrace a punitive message aimed at illegal immigrants, or avoid the immigration issue altogether. And nobody asks the taboo question: What is illegal immigration actually about?

    The answer is exploitation. Employers looking to maximize profits want an economically desperate, politically disenfranchised population that will accept ever worse pay and working conditions. Illegal immigrants perfectly fit the bill.

    Politicians know exploitation fuels illegal immigration. But they refuse to confront it because doing so would mean challenging their financiers.

    Instead we get lawmakers chest-thumping about immigration enforcement while avoiding a discussion about strengthening wage and workplace safety enforcement "” proposals that address the real problem.

    Equally deplorable, these same lawmakers keep supporting trade policies that make things worse. Just last week, both Emanuel and Tancredo voted to expand NAFTA into the Southern Hemisphere. This is the same trade model that not only decimated American jobs and wages, but also increased illegal immigration by driving millions of Mexican farmers off their land, into poverty and ultimately over our southern border in search of subsistence work.

    The con artists' behavior is stunning for its depravity.
    First they gut domestic wage and workplace safety enforcement. Then they pass lobbyist-crafted trade pacts that push millions of foreigners into poverty. And presto! When these policies result in a flood of desperate undocumented workers employed at companies skirting domestic labor laws, the con artists follow a deceptive three-step program: 1) Propose building walls that would do nothing but create a market for Mexican ladders 2) Make factually questionable claims about immigrants unduly burdening taxpayers and 3) Scapegoat undocumented workers while sustaining an immoral situation that keeps these workers hiding in the shadows.

    The formula allows opportunists in Congress to both deflect heat away from the corporations underwriting their campaigns and preserve an exploitable pool of cheap labor for those same corporations. Additionally, these opportunists get to divide working-class constituencies along racial lines and vilify destitute illegal immigrant populations that don't make campaign donations and therefore have no political voice whatsoever.

    Of course, diversionary scapegoating is nothing new. As Ronald Reagan pushed his reverse Robin Hood agenda, he attributed America's economic stagnation to "welfare queens." Similarly, Bill Clinton championed NAFTA while telling displaced workers their enemy was "the era of Big Government." This bogeyman, Clinton said, would be vanquished by ending "welfare as we know it."

    Undoubtedly, the media will keep claiming illegal immigration is complicated for both parties. But Republicans or Democrats could begin solving the issue, if they simply stopped letting corporate lawyers write trade pacts and started punishing employers who violate wage and workplace laws.

    Sadly, even those modest steps probably won't be taken. In a political system that makes it difficult to tell the difference between a lobbyist and a lawmaker, both parties employ the art of distraction to perpetuate the crises that enrich their campaign contributors. Indeed, whether their target is undocumented workers or indigent recipients of public assistance, the political con artists attack the exploited to avoid cracking down on the exploiters "” and with immigration, they are hoping America once again gets duped.

  5. #5
    The Fence to Nowhere

    More than ever, we need to craft an accord on migrant workers.

    Alejandro Portes | September 24, 2007

    Earlier this year as the Iraq crisis deepened with no end in sight, an administration in disgrace sought to score some kind of legislative victory elsewhere. Immigration reform was a good candidate since a coalition of both the economic right, interested in abundant migrant labor, and the moderate left, interested in human rights and ending migrant exploitation in the workplace, could overcome the cultural right's intransigent opposition to immigration reform. Accordingly, the Bush administration teamed with liberal Senate Democrats to craft a bill that would provide a path to legalization for the estimated 10 to 12 million unauthorized immigrants already in the country, as well as stem the flow of immigration through additional border enforcement and the creation of a temporary labor entry program. The Bush proposal ultimately failed -- but the challenge of reform is still with us.
    Congress' attempts to grapple with the problem of immigration -- "our broken borders," as CNN's Lou Dobbs puts it daily -- were dominated by the agenda of the radical cultural right. As articulated by Harvard professor Samuel Huntington and given popular expression by Dobbs and other media pundits, the radical right's point of view has four parts. First, illegal immigrants "invade" the United States against this country's will. Second, they take jobs away from Americans and lower their wages. Third, they bring undesirable cultural and linguistic traits that imperil American culture as well as the hegemony of English. And finally, the best way of dealing with illegal immigration is to suppress it by militarizing the border and, if necessary, erecting a fence.

    Each of these points is demonstrably wrong.

    Unauthorized labor migrants come not only because they want to but because they are wanted, if not by everyone, at least by a large number of employers and firms in labor intensive industries. That demand -- in agriculture, construction, low-tech manufacturing, and services -- is not only strong but growing. Declining domestic fertility leads to slower labor-force growth; an increasingly educated American workforce is reluctant to accept menial jobs; and industry desires cheaper workers. A recent report by the Congressional Budget Office called this labor bottleneck one of the main challenges confronting the future of the American economy.

    The menial jobs that employ unauthorized immigrants typically pay above minimum wage. Even so, few Americans can be found to harvest fruit, dig ditches, wash dishes, clean hotels, and perform myriad other humble tasks. In North Carolina, the annual harvest requires about 150,000 agricultural workers. In a recent year, 6,000 openings were reserved for U.S. workers at $9.02 per hour. A total of 120 applied, 25 showed up to work on the first day, and none finished the harvest. The story of unreliable native-born fieldworkers routinely repeats itself throughout the country at harvest time. The statement that migrant manual workers "take jobs away from Americans" is, to a large extent, a myth.

    It is true that in sectors like unskilled construction and hotel services, many employers prefer immigrants to native-born workers because of their willingness to perform the same jobs for lower, or, at least, not increasing, pay. However, if many labor intensive firms were to sufficiently raise wages -- say to $25 an hour for harvest work -- to attract a declining native-born labor force, they would have to raise prices beyond consumer tolerance or they would themselves go out of business. The continued existence of such firms -- farms, ranches, restaurants, landscaping and gardening businesses, garment factories, and many others -- generates, in turn, spin-off effects in the form of better-paid clerical, administrative, and government service jobs that are attractive to native-born workers. Migrant labor thus ends up creating employment opportunities for native-born workers in a number of clerical, supervisory, and governmental jobs.

    Studies by economists and sociologists alike have consistently failed to show a significant direct effect of migrant labor on the employment rates and income levels of domestic groups, including African Americans. Instead, studies by immigration scholars Frank D. Bean, Gillian Stevens, Michael J. Rosenfeld, and Marta Tienda, among others, point to a pattern of labor market segmentation in which undocumented immigrant workers crowd at the bottom of the market in menial service and low-paid industrial jobs, while domestic workers predominate in higher-paid clerical and administrative occupations. The spin-off effect of immigration in stimulating the growth of higher-paid occupations for domestic workers is entirely neglected by the nativists. compared to france, germany, britain, and other nations that attract immigrant workers, the United States has nothing like the cultural clashes roiling Western Europe. As our largest source of manual foreign workers, not only is Mexico geographically contiguous to the United States, it is a Western nation with numerous cultural ties to its northern neighbor. Mexico is a Catholic country, Spanish is a world language with multiple affinities to English, and most Mexicans have no resistance to learning English. Poorly educated immigrants may have difficulty learning English, but the evidence shows that they certainly try. Among their offspring, however, English fluency is nearly universal. Indeed, what becomes "endangered" in the second generation is the capacity to speak Spanish with fluency. Studies of the Hispanic second generation show that while over 98 percent of its members are fluent in English, only about a third (35 percent) retain fluency in Spanish.

    Knowledge of Spanish is a valuable resource in the modern world that many educated Americans painstakingly strive to acquire. Mexican-American children have this skill as a birthright, yet the majority lose it to the pressures of conforming to a monolingual culture. Contrary to Huntington's assertions, there is no "Hispanic challenge." In California and Texas, large numbers of Mexican immigrants enroll in English classes, with many schools having long waiting lists. These Hispanic immigrants have seldom mobilized politically, and then, chiefly in reaction to the immediate threat of criminalization and deportation, as they did in California in 1994 when the right sponsored a ballot initiative to bar undocumented immigrants from receiving public services, and in 2006 in the wake of the passage of HR 4437, the harshly restrictionist Sensenbrenner Bill, which would have criminalized both unauthorized immigrants and those who assist them. It was passed by the House, gave rise to massive protests by immigrants and their supporters in a number of U.S. cities, and ultimately died in the Senate.

    After more than three decades of dealing with unauthorized immigration as a police problem and spending billions of dollars on the militarization of its southern border, the United States has precious little to show for its efforts. Under pressure from the cultural right, the U.S. Border Patrol has grown to become the largest arms-bearing branch of the federal government, apart from the armed forces themselves. Still, the unauthorized flow continues and even grows year after year. Back in 1994, sociologist Thomas Espenshade estimated a 30 percent probability of apprehension during any border-crossing attempt. Since apprehended immigrants sent back to Mexico repeatedly endeavor to re-enter the United States, a successful attempt by the third try is almost certain. According to sociologist Douglas Massey, the probability of apprehension has actually declined to approximately 21 percent in any given trial, the reason being that, in the wake of border militarization, smuggling has become more professionalized. While it is expensive to hire a coyote (the going rate is about $3,000), a professional smuggler greatly reduces the chances for being caught.

    Despite Border Patrol and other policing efforts, the flow of unauthorized immigration continues because the Mexican poor's need to find better-paid employment neatly fits with the need of labor-intensive U.S. industries to find motivated workers. The fit is so strong as to defy any attempt to repress it. Build a wall and tunnels will be built under it and new crossings will be found, with immigrants repeatedly braving the desert and death if necessary.

    Border militarization has not been without its consequences, however, and those consequences have generally been the opposite of what was intended. Because coming to the United States has become so expensive and arduous, immigrants who cross the border seldom return home. Instead, they bring their families along as soon as possible. Hence, border enforcement, which has not succeeded in stopping the unauthorized flow, has succeeded in keeping these immigrants bottled up on the American side of the border. The policy has been instrumental in creating a large and growing unauthorized foreign population in the United States, exactly the opposite of what advocates of that policy intended. Not incidentally, the unauthorized status of this population leads directly to its vulnerability in the labor market, and, hence, to exploitative practices. These practices would not happen if immigrant workers had the legal means to fight them.

    The end of the old cyclical pattern of Mexican workers crossing the border for seasonal work periods, then returning to their villages and towns afterward, also means that the children of these workers now grow up in the United States. Children reared in poverty and as unauthorized aliens experience great difficulties in school and drop out in significant numbers, thereby limiting their opportunities for upward mobility. Widespread discrimination, bad schools, and lack of external assistance set the stage for the reproduction of poverty across generations. These factors also result in at least some of these children abandoning manual work in order to join gangs and the drug culture. The cycle has been baptized in the academic literature as "downward assimilation," and many offspring of unauthorized immigrants are at risk of following this path. Hence, the policy of intransigent restrictionism has not only created what it intended to prevent, but it is setting the conditions for the perpetuation of crime, violence, and gangs in America's cities.

    This catastrophic situation could be prevented if public policy recognized that America needs and will continue to need massive inputs of migrant labor, a natural source of which is Mexico. Policy must also address maintaining the cyclical nature of the immigration flow, which is vital for the proper use of this labor in the interest of both countries. Any governmental program that aspires to succeed must seek to manage this momentous flow rather than attempt to eliminate it.

    The Mexican state has assiduously courted the U.S. government in an attempt to improve the legal situation of its expatriates and facilitate their return. An agreement should be worked out between the two governments where, in exchange for granting temporary legal status to Mexican laborers, the Mexican government undertakes the creation of incentives for their return. A cyclical labor flow is in the interest of not only the United States but also of Mexico. It avoids the depopulation of towns and entire regions, which is an inevitable consequence of permanent family migration. A back-and-forth flow guarantees the continuation of remittances, which decline when immigrants bring their families to the U.S. side of the border. Such a flow also channels the savings of returned immigrants into productive investments in agriculture and small urban enterprises in Mexican communities.

    A common fallacy is the assumption that, once on this side of the border, immigrants never leave. This assumption is negated by the pattern of cyclical migration that existed before the militarization of the border and that continues to exist among legal migrants today. The reason is simple: Adult men and women raised with a different language and in a different culture generally prefer that language and culture and will return to them, if and when economic conditions permit. While a sizable minority of immigrants would still settle permanently in the United States, the majority would continue to make their home in Mexico if allowed to do so.

    Reconstructing this pattern of cyclical migration will require giving migrants legal passage across the border when returning from visits to their families and home communities. It will also require creating minimum health and educational facilities for families and children left behind in Mexico, as well as generating opportunities in Mexico for the productive investment of migrant savings.

    The immigration reform proposal that died in the Senate this past summer was a step in the right direction, but suffered four fatal flaws. First, to please the radical cultural right, it was loaded with so many additional repressive features that it would make legalization very expensive, burdensome, and probably unworkable. Assigning more Border Patrol agents, building more fences, and increasing electronic surveillance will all be costly and will produce the same result as similar policies in the past: not stemming the flow of immigration, but bottling it up on this side of the border. Making legalization cumbersome and punitive would play into the hands of smugglers and unscrupulous employers since it would discourage unauthorized immigrants from coming forward.

    Second, the Bush administration proposal sought to revamp the entire immigration program, including a controversial point system. The current legal immigration system functions relatively well, and its few glitches could have been handled separately at a later time. The pressing issue is how to deal with unauthorized labor immigration.

    Third, the administration addressed unauthorized immigration universally, ignoring that this is, overwhelmingly, a bilateral issue between Mexico and the United States. Most unauthorized immigration today originates in or passes through Mexico. Any reform measure with any hope of success needs to address this bilateral characteristic and requires close cooperation between the two governments.

    Finally, the proposal mistakenly assumed that once migrants cross into the United States, they will permanently remain. Hence, it entirely neglected the need to restore the circular pattern of labor migration by creating conditions and incentives for return to Mexico.

    Given the failure of the Bush proposal and of the present ineffective and costly policy of border repression, a bilateral labor management program can be built along these lines:

    Every adult Mexican with a clean police record and a certifiable job offer in the United States will be entitled to a temporary labor permit upon payment of U.S. $3,000 at the Mexico-U.S. border (roughly the going price to hire a professional smuggler).

    The permit will be valid for three years and renewable for another three. It will be contingent on staying with the first employer for a minimum of 90 days. Afterward, the migrant will be free to seek alternative employment.

    Temporary migrant workers will have the same rights as native-born workers, including the right to vote for and join unions. Income and Social Security taxes will be deducted from their paychecks.

    Upon permanent return to Mexico, the migrant receives half the entry fee ($1,500) plus all accumulated Social Security payments.

    Migrants who wish to settle permanently in the United States after six years as temporary workers will be eligible to do so through a special provision of the immigration law, provided that they have a clean police record, a stable job, and a U.S. bank account of at least $5,000.

    Unauthorized migrants already in the United States will be first in the queue for temporary labor permits, provided that they have a clean police record and certifiable employment. All unauthorized Mexicans who come forward will be given temporary protected status while their permits are processed. They will pay the same entry fee as newcomers and be subject to the same rules thereafter. Those who can show that they have lived at least three years in the country will be eligible for permanent residence after another three years as legal temporary workers.

    The program will be initially capped at one million new entrants per year (a conservative estimate of the present unauthorized flow). The number will be adjusted periodically in consultation with employers' associations, trade unions, and the Mexican government, and enforcement of the cap will be the responsibility of the Mexican as well as the U.S. authorities.

    The Mexican state would support this binational labor program through these measures:

    Actively policing its side of the border to prevent further attempts at border-crossing outside the legal labor program.

    Accelerating social investments in communities of migrant origin to guarantee adequate health and education facilities for families and children who remain behind.

    Continuing the current three-for-one (tres por uno) program through which every dollar remitted by migrant organizations in the United States for philanthropic or public works in their Mexican hometowns is matched by federal, state, and local government contributions in Mexico.

    Respecting the tax-free status of returned migrants' lump sum payments and creating credit programs that match the investment of these funds in productive enterprises.

    Setting up a comparable temporary labor migration program for Central American workers. As Mexican migrants move north and the Mexican economy develops, job opportunities will be created that are attractive to peasants and workers from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. In this manner, an ordered, echeloned circular migration system can be established.
    Mexico is not a poor, but a middle-income, country, and its government is not as feeble as it is commonly portrayed by the U.S. media. The Mexican federal government has intervened forcefully and effectively in many instances of internal unrest and natural disasters; it conducts a vigorous foreign policy; and it operates a complex network of 48 consulates on this side of the border with a variety of useful programs for its expatriates. The enormous challenge of battling the drug trade has made this government appear less effective than it really is. If immigration is redefined as a bilateral labor management program, the Mexican government should be quite able to fulfill its side of the bargain.

    The proposed measures would provide U.S. agriculture and other labor-intensive industries with a reliable labor force, while eliminating the present exploitation of migrant workers. They would facilitate the organization of the migrant labor force by trade unions, as fear of employer reprisals and deportation is effectively eliminated. Mexican workers would then be less competitive, since their vulnerability to employer abuses would be reduced through unionization and recourse to the courts. This should put upward pressure on wages, making manual jobs more attractive to at least some native-born workers. The proposed measures would also keep more immigrant families in Mexico, eliminating the social burden of a permanent impoverished population in the U.S. and the likelihood of downward assimilation in the second generation. As a result, this would prevent the depopulation of migrant-sending towns and regions in Mexico, while encouraging productive investment of migrant savings upon return. The proposal also includes creating an orderly program for those who opt for permanent migration and settlement, as well as organizing an integrated labor management system in North America in which vacancies created in Mexico by departing migrants are filled, in turn, by Central Americans -- thereby strengthening local economies and thus reducing migratory pressures leading to U.S.-bound unauthorized migration.

    Despite its flaws, the old Mexican Bracero program was arguably superior to what followed it. The clandestine immigrant flow that followed the program's termination recreated these conditions and made them far worse. Jobs for unauthorized workers became more exploitative, and employers became more accustomed to docile and cheap foreign labor than to using native-born labor. The calamitous situation that we live with today is a direct outgrowth of the end of the Bracero program without any rational alternative in its place.

    Liberals can learn from this experience and not allow their idealistic concerns to detract from what is viable and what is right. In an ideal world, Mexican and other foreign workers would have decent employment opportunities at home and would not have to migrate; U.S. firms would hire native-born workers and pay them high wages with ample benefits. This is not the way things work out in the real world, though, and striving toward these ideals gets in the way of practical and viable solutions. A well-regulated temporary labor program is not ideal; it is simply the best option under present realities and, if properly handled, will do away with complaints about "broken borders" and function in the interest of workers and employers on both sides of the border.


    Alejandro Portes is the Howard Harrison and Gabrielle Snyder Beck Professor of Sociology and the director of the Center for Migration and Development at Princeton University.

  6. #6
    Harsh words on immigrants could backfire on GOP

    Listening to the Republican presidential candidates, you might sometimes think that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the softening economy, a government in serious debt or a planet in climatological peril are second-tier issues.

    They're talked about, but the talk is often drowned out by a clattering, non-stop debate about illegal immigration. To some degree, this is inevitable. An estimated 12 million people, about 4% of the population, are in this country illegally. In areas where the immigrant population "” legal and illegal alike "” has swelled, local services have been strained. Collisions of culture and language have tensions running high. Meanwhile, Washington has utterly failed to agree on a response.

    Even so, there's a fine line between advocating that laws have meaning, which they must, and stoking anti-immigrant sentiments. The tone and volume of the comments of several GOP candidates, as well as some of their specific proposals, position them on the wrong side of that line.

    As they race to abandon previous positions based on compromise and pragmatism, and as they attack each other relentlessly in ads and debates, the candidates make the race for the nomination look like an unseemly competition for who can be meanest.

    While such tactics might give them an edge in some early primary states, they only aggravate an enormously complex problem with no elegant solutions.

    Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who once said of illegal immigrant families that "we are a better country than to punish children for what their parents did," now proposes that illegal immigrants register within 120 days and then leave the country. As if that is going to happen. Huckabee also touts his endorsement from Jim Gilchrist, co-founder of the Minutemen, a hard-line border enforcement group.

    Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, meanwhile, has gotten tough on illegal immigration by firing his landscaping company, which employed undocumented workers, making Romney a piata for the anti-immigrant swipes of other candidates. Romney would cut federal funding to "sanctuary cities," those with police departments instructed not to ask people about their immigration status. Never mind that immigration enforcement is a federal duty and that the police have other work to do.

    Not to be outdone, former senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee advocates enforcement-only tactics that he says would prompt illegal immigrants to leave or be deported. He calls it "attrition through enforcement."

    Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani has used some of the harshest rhetoric in debates, but he has a more nuanced and practical approach toward immigration, as does Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

    Giuliani is the only one of the leading Republican candidates who still promotes a path to legal status for some of those here illegally. Opponents deride this as amnesty, but, like the plan President Bush attempted to push though earlier this year, it would carry a long and difficult list of requirements. This type of approach is the only practical way of reducing the numbers of illegal immigrants, who are unlikely to return home voluntarily or be rounded up and deported.

    McCain has put on hold his support for Bush's plan, which would have combined border enforcement with a path to citizenship and guest-worker program. But the senator still approaches the topic with a more deferential tone and worries that his party could be doing itself great harm, as indeed it is.

    Karl Rove, the architect of Bush's victories in 2000 and 2004, saw immigration reform and Hispanics as key elements of his effort to craft a lasting GOP majority. On the other side of the political divide, many Democrats see the potential for Hispanic voters to contribute to an era of their party's ascendency.

    Hispanic voters, of course, are no monolith. They originate from more than a dozen countries and have diverse views about immigration and other issues.

    But if the Republicans' harsh pre-primary rhetoric backfires on them next November in Florida and other battleground states, they will have only themselves to blame.

    Posted at 12:22 AM/ET, December 19, 2007 in Election 2008

  7. #7
    Despite Danger, GOP Tees Up Immigration as 2008 Wedge Issue

    November 08, 2007
    By Mort Kondracke

    For the umpteenth time, American voters this year have rejected a nativist approach to illegal immigration. It ought to be a warning to Republicans: Don't make this your 2008 wedge issue.

    Election results on Tuesday, especially in Virginia and New York state, also should encourage nervous Democrats that they can support comprehensive immigration reform "” stronger enforcement plus earned legalization "” and prevail.

    To temper legitimate concern in the country about the local burdens resulting from failure of the U.S. government to control its borders, both parties in Congress should extend federal "impact aid" to communities whose schools and health facilities are especially affected.

    Polling on immigration consistently shows that large majorities of Americans "” two-thirds, in a September ABC survey "” believe the U.S. is not doing enough to curb illegal immigration, but that almost as many, 58 percent in that poll, support allowing illegal immigrants to earn their way to legal status.

    However, a fervent minority "” figured at a third of Republicans in one private poll "” opposes "amnesty" and has had its views amplified by right-wing radio talk-show hosts. Republicans in Congress have bowed to the pressure, and GOP presidential candidates increasingly are pandering, as well.

    Even though past election results overwhelmingly indicate that enforcement-only campaigns don't succeed "” indeed, by offending Hispanics, pose a long-term threat to the GOP "” Republicans seem bent on making illegal immigration a centerpiece of their 2008 campaigns.

    GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson are accusing former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani of having run a "sanctuary city" for illegal immigrants, and Giuliani is trying to turn the fire onto Democrats. At this rate, things could get ugly next year, with Republicans waving the "A" word "” "Amnesty" "” like a bloody shirt.

    The latest election results demonstrate anew that it doesn't work. In Virginia, where Democrat Tim Kaine was elected governor two years ago despite late anti-immigrant attacks by his GOP opponent, nativist campaigns failed in key state Senate and county board races.

    In Fairfax County, the GOP candidate for board chairman, Gary Baise, campaigned to make Fairfax as immigrant-unfriendly as nearby Prince William County. He garnered 36 percent of the vote against incumbent Democrat Gerald Connolly.

    It's true that in Prince William, county board members bent on ousting illegal immigrants by denying them public benefits and having them arrested were handily re-elected. But Democratic state Sen. Charles Colgan also won, despite efforts by his GOP opponent to capitalize on Prince William's national anti-immigrant notoriety.

    In New York, various Democratic county officials survived GOP efforts to link them to Gov. Eliot Spitzer's unpopular proposal to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. Most of the Democrats opposed Spitzer's plan "” as even many immigrant advocates say Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) should have in last week's Democratic presidential debate in Philadelphia.

    "That's a loser," said Frank Sharry, director of the National Immigration Forum. "[Clinton] should have said, ˜This is a mess. The borders are out of control. I understand that people are upset. In understand what Gov. Spitzer is trying to do, but it's not a good solution.' She should have gone to the heart of the issue, but, boy did she step in it."

    Advocacy of driver's licenses for illegal immigrants arguably was responsible for the close-call 51 percent showing last month of Rep. Niki Tsongas (D) in a Massachusetts special election "” although Gov. Deval Patrick got the same percentage in her district in 2006.

    The Tsongas near-thing caused shudders among some top Democrats, including House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), who told The Washington Post that immigration "has emerged as the third rail of American politics. And anyone who doesn't realize that isn't with the American people."

    But Sharry insists that "if you have an either-or debate on border enforcement, enforcement is going to win. If you have an enforcement-plus-legalization debate, Democrats can win, but they actually have to get out in front of it and take the initiative."

    That's proved true in Arizona "” the border-state "ground zero" in the immigration wars "” where Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) got re-elected in 2006 by a 2-to-1 margin against an anti-immigrant GOP opponent. She is a strong advocate of federal impact aid to help communities cope with immigration burdens.

    Also in Arizona in 2006, Democrats beat anti-immigrant firebrands J.D. Hayworth and Randy Graf. After those elections, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) joined Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in advocating comprehensive immigration reform, though on the presidential campaign trail McCain has shifted to an "enforcement-first" stance.

    In 2006, other appeals to nativism failed in Indiana, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Florida and Delaware, and "” after House Republicans voted to make merely being an illegal immigrant a felony "” the GOP percentage of Hispanic votes dropped from 40 percent in 2004 to 30 percent in 2006.

    Numerous Republicans, including former White House aides Karl Rove, Tony Snow and Michael Gerson and former GOP national chairmen Ken Mehlman and Sen. Mel Martinez (Fla.) have warned that their party faces long-term disaster by pushing Hispanic voters into the Democratic Party.

    In The Wall Street Journal last month, conservative think tank president Richard Nadler wrote that his study of 145 majority-Hispanic precincts showed that "immigration policies that induce mass fear among illegal residents will induce mass anger among the legal residents who share their heritage."

    Despite all that evidence, House GOP leaders have staged vote after vote on amendments designed to restrict benefits to illegal immigrants "” even where the law already restricts them "” and Senate Republicans led the way, joined by nine Democrats, in filibustering the DREAM Act, which would have allowed young people brought to the U.S. by illegal immigrants to earn citizenship.

    If Republicans want to destroy their future prospects in increasingly Hispanic, once-Republican states like Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona, it's their option. But the process could be very nasty.

  8. #8


    What if the enemy of your enemy is a white supremacist?

    If you had any doubts about the role of supramicist ideology in the nativist movement, the recent upswing in white supramicist actions against immigrants should get your attention. Its scary to say it, but the red, white and blue colored supremacism spouted by the Minutemen really isn't much different from, say, the KKK. CNN writes last week:


    Historically, the Klan's focus had been to terrorize African-Americans "” through race riots, lynchings and other killings "” but it reached peak membership at more than 4 million in the 1920s by focusing on immigration.

    Newcomers from Ireland and Germany were portrayed as Catholic usurpers invading the United States, taking jobs from native-born Americans and undermining national fabric, Levin said.

    Said Potok [of the SPLC]: "It's remarkable to look back at the nativist sentiments toward Catholics "” it's very similar to what we're seeing with Mexicans now."

    Today, many white supremacists blame immigrants, particularly Hispanics, for crime, struggling schools or unemployment, for instance. With many Americans already divided on how to revamp laws and practices to address the nation's swelling immigrant communities, immigration "is an issue that works for hate groups," Potok said.

    Those horror stories about crime and bankruptcy sound familiar? Well, it should. Here's Minuteman co-founder James Gilchrist speaking last month on how an ongoing silent war [with undocumented immigrants] is "taking its toll in lives and domestic tranquility,"

    Welfare benefit programs used strictly by the illegal immigration population were costing "$400 billion a year - that's four times the annual cost of the war in Iraq," he argued.

    Those funds were being spent on "a plethora of related welfare and benefit-type programs, including medication, education, housing, HUD subsidies, Social Security, all that stuff," Gilchrist said.

    "Our coffers are being plundered by those who don't deserve them," he noted. "Those programs were earmarked for American citizens."
    ...snip...
    The Minuteman Project describes itself as a "citizens' vigilance operation." Its main activity is to monitor the flow of illegal immigrants across the U.S. border from Mexico, though the group also promotes proactive enforcement of the nation's immigration laws.

    Which is, it turns out, just what the KKK did. -CS

  9. #9
    The Voice of the White House

    TBR News December 17, 2007

    Washington , D.C. , December 17, 2007 : "Two topics of interest this week. When the press speaks of the destruction by the CIA of torture tapes, in spite of court orders, they were wrong. All of these Godawful tapes were copied and last weekend, I saw some of them. Disgusting and perverted but what can you expect from those bunch of losers down at Langley ? We see the faces of the torturers very clearly. I told the person who has a set to make copies and send them around. No point of sending them to the New York Times or the Washington Post because they will get shut down. Someone in both papers will get on the horn to Langley and try to save the wrapping paper to give them. I said to send them out to various anti-war and anti-Bush sites like Rense and then watch the fun! The second part of this is the firm decision of the Republicans to conduct a typical fear campaign against illegal immigrants, mostly Mexican. I told the Rove toady this was very stupid and would backfire but you can tell these pea-brained fanatics nothing. They want to stir everyone up, demand mass arrests and forced deportations at the very least. Detention centers (read ˜concentration camps' here) are to be set up and filled with deportees. These brutes say that if they have children born in the U.S. , the children can stay here. I asked with whom they could say and my informant just shrugged. I will post some of their savage memos that sound as if they were written by Stalin or Hitler and hope the National Sheep Herd doesn't fall for the usual lies and scare tactics."

    Planning the War on Immigrants

    December 13, 2007

    by Tom Barry

    Americas Program, Center for International Policy (CIP)

    Politics can be an ugly affair, and it doesn't get any uglier than when politicians try to best one another in the politics of hate and scapegoating.

    That's what is happening in America , as politicians and political candidates at all levels of government join the anti-immigration bandwagon. Meanwhile, immigrants who do the dirtiest work in America are living in fear as they face a generalized immigration crackdown and stepped-up immigration raids.

    The war against immigrants and immigration is being fought on three main fronts: in Congress, in local and state government, and on the campaign trail. While the anti-immigration movement that is coursing through American politics is beyond the control of any individual or organization, the leading restrictionist policy institutes in Washington are setting the policy agenda of the anti-immigration forces at all levels of U.S. politics.

    Following their success in stopping a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the U.S. Senate that included legalization provisions, immigration restrictionists have rallied around a common strategy: "Attrition through Enforcement."

    Turning Up the "Heat" on Immigrants

    "Attrition through enforcement" as a restrictionist framework for immigration reform has been percolating within the anti-immigration institutes in Washington , DC for the last couple of years. But it wasn't until the restrictionist movement beat back proposals for legalization that the strategy has taken hold as a unifying framework for restrictionism in America .

    The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) took the lead in developing this strategic framework. In April 2006 this restrictionist think tank published, "Attrition through Enforcement: A Cost-Effective Strategy to Shrink the Illegal Population," which lays out the main components of a war of attrition against immigrants along with the estimated cost of a multi-front campaign to wear down immigrant residents and dissuade would-be immigrants.

    CIS analyst Jessica Vaughn opens the report with this observation: "Proponents of mass legalization of the illegal alien population, whether through amnesty or expanded guestworker programs, often justify this radical step by suggesting that the only alternative- a broad campaign to remove illegal aliens by force- is unworkable."

    "The purpose of attrition through enforcement," according to Vaughn, "is to increase the probability that illegal aliens will return home without the intervention of immigration enforcement agencies. In other words, it encourages voluntary compliance with immigration laws through more robust interior law enforcement."

    Key components of the war of attrition include:

    · Eliminating access to jobs through employer verification of Social Security numbers and immigration status.

    · Ending misuse of Social Security and IRS numbers by immigrants in seeking employment, bank accounts, and driver's licenses, and improved information sharing among key federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, in the effort to identify unauthorized residents.

    · Increasing federal, state, and local cooperation, particularly among law enforcement agencies.

    · Reducing visa overstays through better tracking systems.

    · Stepping up immigration raids.

    · Passing state and local laws to discourage illegal immigrants from making a home in that area and to make it more difficult for immigrants to conceal their status.

    CIS predicts that a $2 billion program would over five years substantially reduce immigration flows into the United States while dramatically increasing the one-way flow of immigrants back to their sending communities. According to CIS, the attrition war would require a $400 million annual commitment-"less than 1% of the president's 2007 budget request for the Separtment of Homeland Security."

    Without driver's licenses and without work because of employment-centered enforcemtnt,immigrants will leave the country- as many as 1;5 million annually predicts the CIS study. "A subtl increase in the 'heat' on illegal aliens can be enough to dramatically reduce the scale of the problem within just a few years," says Vaughn.

    War of Attrition

    "Attrition through enforcement" represents an aggressive step forward for restrictionism. The "attrition through enforcement" strategy signals the advance of the anti-immigration advocates from defensive and hold-the-line positions to a long-term offensive aimed at definitively taking the battlefield.

    Tasting the blood of their victory over liberal immigration reform, the restrictionist movement, led by Washington , DC institutes including the Center for Immigration Studies, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), and Numbers USA, has opted for a war of attrition as the best strategy for rolling back immigration.

    The "attrition through enforcement" is a strategic framework that builds on tactical approaches. To counter proposale for legislation, restrictionists successfully argrued that any proposals for increased legal immigration- either through legislation or guestworker programs- should not be considered until the borders were secured and current immigration law fully enforced.

    The "secure borders" and "enforcement first" frameworks for discussing immigration have been largely accepted by politicians of both parties, eliminating approval of any immigration reform initiatives that would address the plight of the 12 million-plus undocumented residents of the United States .

    Over the past six months, the restrictionists have moved beyond "enforcement first" to the more aggressive "attrition through enforcement" strategy. And the federal government, state government, and Congress seem to be marching in lockstep with the restrictionists as they all harden their anti-immigration posture.

    Anti-immigration groups are propagating "attrition through enforcement" as the sensible, practical "middle ground" or "third way" in immigration reform. Rather than calling for a costly and morally repugnant mass deportation of millions of immigrants, the restrictionists have united behind a strategy aimed at wearing down the will of immigrants to live and work in the United States .

    Immigration raids in the interior of the country and imprisonment by immigration officials of those crossing the border illegally combined with pervasive enforcement of the "rule of law" by police and government bureaucrats will slowly but surely drive all undocumented immigrants out of the country. Restrictionists increasingly argue that mass deportation will be unnecessary since an ever-increasing number of immigrants will "self-deport."

    "Attrition through enforcement" also addresses another weak point in previous restrictionist strategy. Having long demanded that the federal government gain control of the southern border, the restrictionists found that as border control increased more immigrants were staying in the United States , fearing that if they left they would never be able to return. Border control has actually increased the number of undocumented immigrants who have opted for permanent residency.

    Although still demanding tighter border control with more agents and more fences (virtual and real), restrictionists also have in "attrition through enforcement" what they consider to be a pragmatic and palatable solution to ridding the country of "illegal aliens." Permanent residency in the United States , if this strategy is fully implemented, will become a permanent nightmare.

    Attrition on the Campaign Trail

    All the Republican Party candidates have to some degree adopted a restrictionist agenda. Even John McCain, an original sponsor with Sen. Kennedy of comprehensive immigration reform, has said that he now supports an "enforcement first" approach.

    Fred Thompson won the plaudits of restrictionists when he released his immigration platform, which explicitly adopts the "attrition through enforcement" strategy. According to Thompson, "Attrition through enforcement is a more reasonable and achievable solution [than] the 'false choices' of 'either arrest and deport them all, or give them all amnesty.'"

    This more "reasonable" solution supported by candidate Thompson includes measures such as denying federal money to states and local governments that provide social services to undocumented residents, and ending federal educational aid to public universities that provide in-state tuition to undocumented residents.

    FAIR is spearheading the attrition war on the state level, working closely with a new group called State Legislators for Legal Immigration. Formed by right-wing restrictionists in the Pennsylvania state legislature, the group says nothing about legal immigration in its mission statement. Rather, the founders say the group "represents a 21st century Declaration of Independence."

    "Similar to the American Revolution, the personal and economic safety of Pennsylvanians and all American citizens depends upon definitive action being taken by our federal, state, and local governments to end the ongoing invasion of illegal aliens through our borders," declares the legislators' organization. By turning back this invasion, they say they will protect U.S. citizens from " property theft, drug running, human trafficking, increased violent crime, increased gang activity, terrorism, and the many other clear and present dangers directly associated with illegal immigration."

    State Legislators for Legal Immigration and FAIR intend to take the war of attrition to every state. According to this restrictionist group, "Once the economic attractions of illegal jobs and taxpayer-funded public benefits are severed at the source, these illegal invaders will have no choice but to go home on their own." FAIR says that the legislators' group "will be teaming up with FAIR to develop state-based initiatives to deal with the national problem of mass illegal immigration."

    The war of attrition is already leaving a trail of divided communities and split families in its wake. Detentions and deportations are shattering immigrant communities and families as restrictionists applaud and call for ever-harsher measures. It is also ramping up the fear and loathing on the campaign trail.

    As this war against the country's most vulnerable population deepens, the American people will need to ask themselves if they feel any safer or more secure, if they have more hope to find better-paying jobs, if their neighborhoods and town economies are more or less vibrant as immigrants leave, and if they are proud of themselves and their country.

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