Immigrant voices raised in USA

The ‘Day Without Immigrants’ in the USA has led to large rallies and day-long business closures as many of the estimated 11.5 million illegal immigrants protested at the controversial efforts by some in the US Congress to introduce legislation effectively criminalising the illegal immigrant community. The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform group opposed the work boycott, which was supported by the larger Mexican/ Latino lobby groups, but it did support the rallies.

The protest action was particularly felt by industries employing minimum wage workers across the States. The entire episode has once again highlighted how dependent American society (and increasingly other western societies like Ireland, north and south) is on the labour of the massive immigrant community for basic goods and for doing the jobs that ‘legal’ Americans simply don’t want to do. As one Farm Workers Union representative quipped: without the illegal immigrants, “Americans would not be eating fresh fruit and produce-” a point illustrated by the fact that the world’s largest meat producer, Tyson Foods, was forced to shut 9 of its 15 plants for the day.

  • How do you reelect a Republican failure? You are down in the polls and things are really looking so dark that even the angry white male is pissed at you. Yes, even the NASCAR shitkickers and the porkrind munching ESPN couch potatoes want your head.

    The answer? Find a wedge issue of vast emotional import to the angry white male that will split the colored vote. Both the Asians and the Blacks are against the Hispanics because they view things as a zero sum game. The whites hate everybody. Christ, it’s a marriage made in heaven.

    The perfect Karl Rove setup, right?

    But noooooooo Sluggiepoos, it’s not May 2006, it’s 1994. Pete Wilson’s numbers are in the loo and good ole’ Pete is lookin’ fer a wedge issue. Flag burning was just used by Bush and Gay Marriage, well, uh, there goes the San Francisco vote, bubba.

    But illegal Mexicans? Hell yes get those freeloading bums off the welfare rolls and back to Mexicali where they belong. (It is never considered that if they are illegal, Migra should have had them on the bus the minute they signed up, but that’s another story…….)

    It worked, hell it worked fabulously feckintastically. Wilson was reelected and 187 was passed only to be declared unconstitutional. But that’s all right, Sluggiepoos, it served it’s purpose.

    The really cool part, though, was the Hispanic reaction plotted against time. Initially, the idea was popular within the mainstream Latino communities, since after all, no Solid Citizen wants those bums on the public payroll. You could hear the whiplash KRACK of the collective about face about June of 1994 when the Latino community found out that Wilson was talking about THEM TOO!!. Christ, I love California.

    Crap, it’s only May and we’re in reruns already.

  • Pete Baker

    And the most telling aspect of the story as presented – beyond California, sorry Jim –

    The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform group opposed the work boycott, which was supported by the larger Mexican/ Latino lobby groups, but it did support the rallies.

    Ah.. bless..

  • Crataegus

    Interesting to reflect on the segregation and racism in USA (and NI) in the sixties and consider just how much has changed.

    We live in a changing world and until there is a fairer distribution of wealth I can’t see how the population flows will stop. I have spent a bit of time in countries that have dire poverty, now I know there are all sorts of reasons for the poverty, but many of the people suffering are in a situation that they have no control over.

    As a child I can clearly remember hundreds of tanks and armoured vehicles on the border with Pakistan and at the same time the dire poverty of many in the cities of India. Burnt in my mind are the people at the very bottom, the ones so hungry so tired they simply lie down to die. So so many of them and but for an accident of birth could be any of us or could in the future be our grand children.

    Today I look at the cost of a stealth bomber, one billion each, and ask what could be done with that money for that is the real cost.

    I wish that humanity could rise above what divides us both here in NI and globally. I would gladly pay an extra 10p in income tax if that money would go directly to fund basic services and micro loans in poorer areas. We don’t have to go to Sudan, Zaire or Bolivia to find dire poverty; places like Moldova are hell holes. It is everywhere. People generally don’t want to leave their friends and families, they do so because they see no hope; no future where they live.

    Politically I believe that a lot more spent on promoting good will and a lot less on arms would benefit everyone and build alliances that may endure. I readily admit to being deliberately naïve but I would rather that than spend my time bombing people, undermining governments, destabilising currencies, propping up dictatorships so as to gain control of resources by proxy.

    What we do to each other is criminal, but the really sick thing is we can intellectually justify it, we can rationalise slaughter, make a case for exploitation, excuse looking the other way, accept barbarity.

  • Harry Flashman

    Chris read that line again and see if you don’t find something funny about it (hint check the word in inverted commas);

    – legislation effectively criminalising the “illegal” immigrant community –

    Do ya get it? They are already criminalised by the very fact of breaking the United States immigration law.

    It appears to me that an awful lot of people outside the US are demanding that the people of the US should ignore their own laws in order to facilitate the wishes of foreigners, odd that. I wonder how Irish people would feel if a bunch of French people demanded that the Irish people change their laws to suit the wishes of French people.

    So here’s a different take on the mass protests (which incidentally were supposed to shut the US down and prove how vital the illegals are to the American economy, never happened, seems like they shot themselves in the foot with that one).

    Headline:-

    “Foreign Criminals in the US demand the right to continue to break the law”

    Not so clear cut now is it?

  • Crataegus

    Flashman

    “Foreign Criminals in the US demand the right to continue to break the law”

    Criminals in the sense they want the opportunity to do a days work and get paid? Attitudes like that are a real threat to society.

  • El Passo/Dundalk

    “It appears to me that an awful lot of people outside the US are demanding that the people of the US should ignore their own laws in order to facilitate the wishes of foreigners, odd that. I wonder how Irish people would feel if a bunch of French people demanded that the Irish people change their laws to suit the wishes of French people.”

    Bullshit. As much as I hate to engage in whataboutery, I really can’t help making the following observations:

    “an awful lot of people outside the US are demanding that the people of the US should ignore their own laws in order to facilitate the wishes of foreigners”

    You mean like how you guys came in yourselves and took it from the natives? Really, do you guys over there have no sense of your own history? California was originally their land to begin with! First the Spaniards take it from them and then you guys did the same. Of course, that was all history right? But it becomes drastically obvious when seen in that llight how absurd it is for youguys to give the mexicans rhetoric about this being “your” land that you are protecting against a foreign people. Your ridiculous analogy to france and ireland is exactly that. ridiculous.

  • Harry Flashman

    El Passo you appear to be under the misaprehension that I am American (“You Guys”) I am not. However I do support the right of nation states to impose their own laws and I think it rather presumptious of foreigners who are not legally entitled to be in that country to demand that the citizens of that country should change their laws to accommodate the foreign law breakers. It’s quite simple really. (No I am simply not going to engage in your fatuous argument about whether California belongs to Mexico or not, the government of Mexico recognises the current border with the US if it’s good enough for them it should be good enough for you).

    Cratageous

    If they want to work in the United States, fine, let them apply to do so legally same as everyone else, I really don’t see how seeking to uphold the laws of the land present a threat to society, rather the opposite one would have thought.

    By the way do you support free, uncontrolled and unrestricted mass immigration to the UK and Ireland too or is this only to apply to America?

  • Conor Gillespie

    “However I do support the right of nation states to impose their own laws”

    The US isnt exactly a nation state is it? the OED defines a nation state as: ‘a sovereign state of which most of the citizens or subjects are united also by factors which define a nation, such as language or common descent.’ Surely the core purpose of the US is to create a cultural mix. If anything its the opposite of a ‘nation state!’ other than that some very good points though.

  • Harry Flashman

    Pretty sure the last time I checked Conor the United States of America was a nation state despite the Oxford English Dictioary’s definition, by using that yardstick I’d be interested to know which if any state in the world could define itself as a nation? Iceland maybe.

  • Penelope

    I’m truely impressed by the creative twisting that goes on here… it boggles the mind.

    First off the US didn’t “take” Mexico. The former territories of Mexico that make up present day California, Arizona, Neveda, Utah and parts of Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming were ceded over after Mexicican-American War of 1846-1848 in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in exchange for $15 million dollars and to assume 3.25 million dollars in debt owed to American citzens… and in 1880’s a million dollars bought a hell of a lot more than it does today i would wager that same amount would be in the billions today.

    The areas most impacted by yesterday’s actions were mostly in the hispanic nieghbourhoods… most people I know suffered little impact.. other than the fact that freeway traffic was noticeably much lighter.

    The point most seem to be missing is that illegal immigrants DO have an impact on social services and costs… higher car insurance rates to cover the uninsured drivers… hospitals absorbing the costs of the uninsured by passing along the costs to those who can pay… etc. and so on… they will work for much less so undercut wages making it so that no one else will want those jobs… so it becomes a vicious cycle… because wages are so low one one will fill them except undocumented workers. *Proper* society doesn’t protest too much otherwise lettuce would be $10 a head.

    Yes there are those who cross illegally who only want to work hard and support thier families but it is overly simplistic to romantise the illegal immigration issue as just that… there are just as many shady characters too and the impact to society, especially in a border town is immense… for both good and bad.

  • Brian Boru

    I understand many of those taking part were actually legal immigrants supporting their illegal friends. As such I wonder does it really reflect “life without illegal immigrants”. I too resent the romanticisation of illegal immigration, especially because here in the Republic the pro-immigration dogooders are using this American issue and our govt’s attitude to it as a weapon to call for an amnesty here. No No No! When will Dail Eireann listen to public opinion?

  • Crataegus

    Lady Penelope

    The way to deal with many of the problems is to legalise many of them and ensure they are properly paid and have the same rights as everyone else. I tell you that no matter how many police you put on the border you won’t stop the flow.

    “many shady characters too and the impact to society, especially in a border town is immense… for both good and bad”.

    When one thinks of shady characters who disrupt, not just towns and cities but whole countries who springs to mind?

    Have a meeting, but perhaps later something on the split standards of the free market.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Flashman: “Foreign Criminals in the US demand the right to continue to break the law”

    There is a catch — its a civil violation — like a speeding ticket.

    Cragaetus: “Criminals in the sense they want the opportunity to do a days work and get paid? Attitudes like that are a real threat to society. ”

    Criminals in the sense the crossed the border illegally. Criminals in the sense that an unhealthy fraction of them are felons in their own country and continue their criminal ways on this side of the border. Illegal in the sense that they seek to bypass immigration controls and bypass all those seeking to legally immigrate into the United States.

    Cragaetus: “The way to deal with many of the problems is to legalise many of them and ensure they are properly paid and have the same rights as everyone else. I tell you that no matter how many police you put on the border you won’t stop the flow.”

    And thus, your solution is to reward the law-breakers at the expense of those seeking to emigrate legally… folly is too small a word.

    As for ending the flow, there are any number of ways to stop it. Dry up demand by increased enforcement of employment laws, combined with a physical barrier and an increased presence of border control on the Mexican border should stem most of it. The trick is to cut of demand — no demand and the supply will go elsewhere.

    It may be moot — there are demographic changes occurring in Mexico that may correct a great deal of this problem — much smaller families in Mexico will “drain” the poverty swamp, meaning fewer folks will need to run the border in the first place.

  • Conor Gillespie

    Harry Flashman,
    “Pretty sure the last time I checked Conor the United States of America was a nation state despite the Oxford English Dictioary’s definition, by using that yardstick I’d be interested to know which if any state in the world could define itself as a nation? Iceland maybe.”

    Why yes, the two examples given in the OED were Japan and Iceland! LOL (:

  • Penelope

    When one thinks of shady characters who disrupt, not just towns and cities but whole countries who springs to mind?

    The IRA in all its various forms? I’m sure that’s not the point you were attempting to make, somehow I thinkit’s the opposite but i must give you kudos for one hell of a non-sequiter…

    Dred you are spot on… frankly nothing will change unless stricter enforcement against employers hiring undocumented workers happens. For Cragaetus to say the solution rests upon legitimising the illegals and paying them decent wages misses the fact that if employers WANTED to pay a livable wage (becasue US minimum wage isnt) then they wouldn’t hire illegals in the first place… it all comes down to the bottom line.

  • “sorry Jim”

    It is only about power.

    The article, the issue, the whole feckin’ thing is pure navel gazing, Pedro.

    It was never about the Irish, it was never about the Mexicans.

    It IS about maintaining a Republican majority, period.

    You are only rats in the maze.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Penelope: “For Cragaetus to say the solution rests upon legitimising the illegals and paying them decent wages misses the fact that if employers WANTED to pay a livable wage (becasue US minimum wage isnt) then they wouldn’t hire illegals in the first place… it all comes down to the bottom line.”

    For the first part, regarding legalization, I agree whole-heartedly.

    As for employers, its a mixed bag… There is a nexus of cheap labor, falsified documentation and the threat of bias lawsuits if an employer checks the documentation too closely. There some small businesses which use day-labor as needed, there are small businesses that lack the resources to do extensive background checks, there are corporations that access the illegal workers through contractors, building plausible deniability and there are others, mainly in foodstuff businesses, who operate seemingly under a “don’t ask, don’t tell” basis.

    The danger is to liberty — make deep background checks too easy and we have other dangers rearing their ugly heads.

    Jim: “It IS about maintaining a Republican majority, period. ”

    Or trying to legalize the illegals to build a Democrat majority.

    The protests are leading to the inevitable political and social backlashes. Should be interesting times in politics.

  • lib2016

    Jim,

    Read ‘War and Peace’ – the Republicans aren’t that smart.

  • “Read ‘War and Peace’ – the Republicans aren’t that smart.

    They don’t need to be.

    They are working the crowd that reelected Bush.

  • Crataegus

    Dread Cthulhu

    I hope you are not trying to brand all equally. There is a big difference between some young lad looking for a job and the low life who find borders places of convenience. Elsewhere I have made my views clear on drug dealers, racketeers, people traffickers etc. Fall on them, but someone who is an economic refugee or made homeless through civil strife is something entirely different.

    I agree with the points about demand, and low wages, but as you point out the problem on the employment end is complex. So it may be difficult to cut the demand end. As I see it is there are now so many illegal workers in the USA that in order to be able to draw a line under it you first have to recognise and come to terms with the reality of the current position. Do they serve a useful role? Are they needed? What resources to track down and deport?

    If you overcome the problems on the employment end that you outline and arrive at a position where there are no jobs for the illegal I am not so sure that the problem will be solved. We are looking at this from our background but let us view it from that of the immigrant.

    In Europe we have people willing to cross the Sahara on the off chance of getting into Spain or Italy. I have travelled down through Morocco and into what was once Western Sahara in a convoy of cars and I am telling you that to contemplate the journey poorly prepared would require the devil himself breathing down your neck. It isn’t just the desert that is the problem but mine fields and border wars. Many thousands must be dying on route. Dire poverty and war are the driving engines, not the future job. The promise of hope and opportunity in Europe (or America) is just that a promise real or illusory and they will keep coming until the problems that propel them are addressed.

    The free market is a construct that intrigues me. I can if I wish take money and resources out of UK PLC and build say a hotel in the Far East and I can then accrue the profit and take that out after I have paid tax. I can even play with tax differentials in various countries and with some internal auditing minimise my tax liability. All very honourable and upstanding.

    However someone who lives in some far off place cannot bring his resources (ie himself) here to do a days work and get paid and after he pays tax send money home to his or her family.

    Better than that I can close my factory here and move it lock stock and barrel to rural China where the cheap labour lives. If the mountain won’t come to Mohammed! But I can’t bring the village here?

    We eulogise about the free market and the free movement of money but we will not carry that philosophy to its logical conclusion and allow the free movement of labour. So the question is; is the free market dogma just that dogma, a flag of convenience that allows exploitation? Or is it a force that will eventually provide equal opportunity to all?

    Lady Penelope

    I aim to please.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Crataegus: “I hope you are not trying to brand all equally. There is a big difference between some young lad looking for a job and the low life who find borders places of convenience. Elsewhere I have made my views clear on drug dealers, racketeers, people traffickers etc. Fall on them, but someone who is an economic refugee or made homeless through civil strife is something entirely different. ”

    Ah, but when they travel in the same pack — as several recent arrests in AZ would suggest — where people smugglers and drug smuggles work in conjunction to move their products across the border, should the US not have the right to turn the lot of them back, or should they be forced to countenance shipments of methamphetamine and heroin to avoid your wrath, sir? No small numbers of folks crossing the border are seeking jurisdictions where they have no record of their crimes. I do not fault an honest person for wanting to go and work and live in a better country, but should not that person be expected to obey the laws of the land they wish to migrate to? I see nothing wrong with a guest worker program, but any nation has the right to know who is within their borders.

    Crataegus: “So it may be difficult to cut the demand end.”

    Not at all. You merely have to be willing to put folks to the wall, metaphorically speaking, for their crimes. Make the illegals too expensive to hire and no one will hire them. A law holding an employer harmless in making background checks would be a good start.

    Crataegus: “As I see it is there are now so many illegal workers in the USA that in order to be able to draw a line under it you first have to recognise and come to terms with the reality of the current position. Do they serve a useful role? Are they needed? What resources to track down and deport? ”

    That is an interesting question. They cost billions in unpaid medical bills and social services. When the counties that border Mexico are considered as if they were a state, they prove to be a horrible place to live, crime rates, et al.

    That said, were it made a felony to be here illegally, some 15 to 20% would leave, allegedly. Frankly, a streamlined process to remove them back to their own countries wouldn’t hurt, either.

    Cratageus: “However someone who lives in some far off place cannot bring his resources (ie himself) here to do a days work and get paid and after he pays tax send money home to his or her family. ”

    THAT was the option I missed. Tax the remits — make it less economically palatable to be here, illegally. Monies received could be used to offset the costs of maintaining the border and to reimburse the states for those services they provide to illegal aliens.

    Crataegus: ” So the question is; is the free market dogma just that dogma, a flag of convenience that allows exploitation? Or is it a force that will eventually provide equal opportunity to all? ”

    As I said before, the market only works in “normal” conditions. When Mexico’s most profitable exports are poverty / labor and illegal drugs, I am willing to submit that there is sufficient problem to call this a time that is not normal.

  • Crataegus

    Dread Cthulhu

    I think where you and I would fundamentally disagree is I am of the opinion that to have a truly free market you need mobility of labour. For if you don’t business is continually on the move to the next bargain basement and that is inefficient and wasteful and secondly I am not so sure that the free market mantra works in the real world. Interesting tool that offers a particular vantage point, but a tool that is often inappropriate and possibly counter productive. A truely free market is the law of the jungle.

    Let’s visit the humanitarian for one moment and immigration generally. If we consider it from a free market point of view we may say the market just isn’t normal, but I would take the view that the market is working hence the movement in population. Put brutally it is the law of supply and demand, however the supply end is not static it is like a column of water it will find its own level and flow out.

    We tax products and by so doing we create an opportunity for the criminal. Our high western currency values are the engine that drives the drugs trade. So we quite rightly seek to control activity that is undesirable. That is tampering with free trade it is enforcing controls in the market. These are desirable controls, but there are many undesirable like product dumping.

    Political instability makes some markets impossible, as does famine, corruption, lack of law and order, dire poverty, plague, education or lack thereof and even cultural attitude. Something as simple as a dependable energy source or unstable currency tilt the playing field, and prevent the creation of wealth or inward investment and thus encourage the outward movement of Labour.

    For the market to be totally free (or perhaps fair or balanced would be a better term) would require a global government to set common standards. I don’t see that happening in my life.

    The factors at play that cause people to embark on hopeless missions cannot be solved by economics alone, it may be a factor albeit a secondary factor. It is utter desperation; that makes the hopeless more attractive than the status quo. Hence the long march across the Sahara, the hopeless boat journeys and flying with the planes landing gear, who would even consider such a mode of transport?

    I have a fairly diverse family background, part is French Algerian. Now Algeria is not the worst part of the world. My observation is that in Algeria old age is much less likely to be your cause of death than say Dorset so people leave Algeria in droves. But let’s move our attention a little further south, to sub Saharan Africa the entire region is a mess so just how do you stop people trying to leave? It is utterly impossible unless you start to address the problems in the countries of origin. Potentially we are facing human migration on Biblical proportions. Our economies cannot absorb such an influx just as in the long run our economies cannot constantly withstand the outpouring of investment that is currently underway.

  • skinbop

    < <>>

    …more like mickey d’s, kfc and a pizza hut.
    you still cannae beat chipotle over taco bell for quality though…

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Crataegus: “I think where you and I would fundamentally disagree is I am of the opinion that to have a truly free market you need mobility of labour.”

    I have no problems with mobility of labor. What I do object to is forcing a nation-state to take any and all outsiders without so much as a by-your-leave to deal with drug smugglers, convicted felons and others of that ilk. Likewise, I would recommend the ending of “birth-citizenship” for the children of non-citizens, as this encourages illegal immigration as well, as folks try to have “anchor babies.”

    Crataegus: “For if you don’t business is continually on the move to the next bargain basement and that is inefficient and wasteful and secondly I am not so sure that the free market mantra works in the real world.”

    That’s not accurate. The proper measurement should include productivity. Why are the heavily unionized manufacturing sectors emigrating from the United States? In part, it is because the inability improve processes in factories that would allow productivity to remain sufficiently high to keep the factory open. In the United States, there are auto-workers who do nothing except go to the “rubber room,” and read books and hang about, making the full pay, because that’s what their contracts stipulate. The reasons business emigrate is not cost, but profit. How badly must things be cocked up if it is more profitable to mothball the whole place, ship the works across the ocean and set up shop someplace where labor’s cheap? Part of GM’s problem is that their infrastructure — plant lay-out, etc, is trapped in the fifties, if not before, in some cases.

    Crataegus: “Let’s visit the humanitarian for one moment and immigration generally.

    Fine. I say a nation should have an absolute right to regulate its borders, period, full stop. It should not be forced to take all comers, based upon how badly mismanaged their homeland may be. Now, should a nation *choose* to allow some entry based on this basis, that’s fine. But every drug-dealer, crack-addict, et al and ad nauseum should not be granted entry without reservation.

    If you want an interesting compare and contrast, do a little research on Mexico’s immigration and free speech laws. You might be suprised at who the real villain in this scenario is… as I said, when two of the top ten exports are illegal aliens and drugs, it says a little something about the country in question, neh?