Saturday, June 16, 2007

El Norte y El Sur (Immigration & NoPo I)

So this week it seems that St. John's isn't famous just for it's world-class StarbucksTM and the view from the big green bridge. We made the papers because our local "Fresh del Monte Produce" got raided by whatever-the-hell the INS is called now that it's part of the Department of Homeland Security (I'm sure those arrested still knew it as "La Migra").

This brought out all the usual suspects for comment: those of the Left, [including, interestingly, Portland's mayor and former top copper] complaining of targeting poor hispanics simply trying to make a living, while the letter column of the Oregonian filled with the normal carping of the Right, complaining about the Brown Peril and the immanenet demise of Western Civilization because of the hordes of dusky little invaders.

Now the Chief is probably more Left the Right, but most plainly he is White, which means that he and his were the beneficiaries of the most bare-faced illegal immigration scam ever perpetrated, so he feels it only proper that he should STFU about other people getting over on immigration laws. The warlord Tokugawa Ieyasu is supposed to have said that the only excuse for breaking the law (in his case, rebellion) was success. Us white folks are the biggest immigration-law-breakers in history; for us to be lecturing people trying to sneak into the Land of the Big PX now smacks more than a little of the rich robber-baron beating up on the small time sneak thief.
What's more, all the grumpy Anglos piffing about the dirty Meskins taking our jobs don't seem to be hustling up to Marine Drive to cut broccoli. As far as I can tell the people crossing the border illegally are just trying to do what every person since the first homo habilis hunter crossed into better hunting grounds has been trying to do: make life better for them and theirs. Mexico and the Latin American countries are desperately hard for the poor, and in Latin America as in El Norte, when you're poor you tend to stay poor. As evidence, here's a study that claims that something like 40 people - you heard right; not 40 families, 40 people - hold 30% of ALL the wealth in Mexico.
Well, fuck THAT. I'd be swimming that river, too.
(Thing is, though, we've seen here, and here, and again here, that a nation that becomes a hotch-potch of disparate ethnicities often isn't a nation at all anymore unless it shares strong bonds of language, history and custom. I think we need to keep that in mind. But - that's not the thing that's getting people busted in St. John's.)
All of this takes me back to the nonsense coming out of Washington about the "problem" of immigration. It reminds me forcefully of the horseshit being talked about Iraq; how somehow if we do this or fight that everything will be shiny happy and we'll all get a pony. Here's the Chief's data solution for this target: look, folks, things in Latin America suck if you're poor. Nobody I know WANTS to up and leave their home and family and go to a foreign land. But if you have any gumption at all you are going to try and go where you can have a chance to make a better living. No walls, no fences, no laws in the world would stop me from going where I needed to go and doing what I had to do to make things as good as I could make them for Mojo and the Peeper.
So: any "solution" to the "problem" of hispanic people trying to get into this country that doesn't begin with the words "In order to improve conditions in the home nations of the citizens of the nations of Latin America..." is snake oil, smoke and mirrors and should be treated as such.
Tar and feathers are the recommended specific for the vendors of said "solution" Congresscritters and presidents, take note.

Update: Sunday 6/16: Tbogg links to this James McMurtry song which says everything I've said and want to say about this but says it better.


Should I hate a people for the shade of their skin

Or the shape of their eyes or the shape I'm in

Should I hate 'em for having our jobs today

No I hate the men sent the jobs away

I can see them all now, they haunt my dreams

All lily white and squeaky clean

They've never known want, they'll never know need

Their shit don't stink and their kids won't bleed

Their kids won't bleed in the damn little war

And we can't make it here anymore


SBird said...

Well said and hear, hear. I'm so tired of the typical Arizonan dude who talks about border-crossers as if they're wily and deliberate and incorrigible law-breakers, instead of family men trying to survive poverty, picking the fruit and veggies that sit in our refridgerator's crisper.

And the first time I saw that highway sign near San Diego, it really flipped me out.

atomic mama said...

Love the cartoon. Hate xenophobic nationalistic Amerikin policies that break up families.

walternatives said...

What breaks my heart is not only are the majority of these hard-working people doing the jobs no one else will consider, they're getting slave wages to do it. Compound that with no health insurance and the squalor of migrant worker living conditions... It's shameful. Fucking shameful.

atomic mama said...

The White Sripes' recent "Icky Thump" touches on this, too:

"Well, Americans:
What, nothin' better to do?
Why don't you kick yourself out?
You're an immigrant too."