30 March 2006

Fear And Loathing At The Border

There's been an abundance of dishonesty and hysteria from both sides on the issue of illegal immigration, but I think the worst offenders by far come from the lefty, identity politics crowd, who've somehow managed to turn a legitimate debate over the nature and extent of immigration - something every country on earth engages in - into the latest incarnation of Nazi Germany and its death camps.

Among the worst offenders is one Juan Santos who contributed this diatribe as well as this one. Both are shameful examples of the worst sort of inflammatory rhetoric, so obsessed with the author's skewed view of racial politics that they end up being examples of the racism he claims to be combatting. Here's a sample of his rhetorical technique:
As I write, the US Senate is debating legislation that would make migrant peoples a felonized, legally scapegoated racial and cultural under-caste, a move with deeply dangerous implications for us all. Maybe it wasn't such a lie, what the German people said after Hitler -- "we didn't know."
Once Hitler has been introduced, it's not long before:
The color of our skin will mark us as suspects, as felons, as threats to "the homeland." Any cop will be free to stop us at any time, under any pretext, to check -- not for dope -- but for our "papers."

At first it won't seem like much. Quietly, at first, a few of us will begin to disappear, just like some 60 thousand immigrants of Muslim and Arabic descent have disappeared since the onset of the Patriot Act; without a word. Like them, we will become targets of the so-called "war on terror."

First it will be dozens, then hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands. Mothers will disappear walking to the corner store. Fathers will never come home from work. Children will be left behind, sobbing in apartments empty of food, warmth, money and life. The neighbors will be afraid. The tens of thousands could readily become millions.
Hang on here; this is the United States of America we're talking about here, right? The same USA where nearly 36 million Latinos live? The same USA where tens of millions of Latinos have been allowed to immigrate, both legally and illegally, where Latinos have come to dominate whole cities and portions of states, both numerically and politically? And suddenly, according to the egregious Mr Santos, we're going to do this dramatic turnabout and start hauling them all - 12% of the nation's population - off to concentration camps?

If Mr Santos could allow himself to be troubled for just an instant by either honesty or reality, he might acknowledge that the measure being debated in Congress has absolutely nothing to do with the great majority of Latinos in the USA, those who are either US citizens or legal immigrants. The proposal - which will never pass anyway - merely re-states the obvious: that if you entered the United States illegally, you are, um, guilty of a crime. Nearly every country in the world has some variation of this law; the few that don't are countries that hardly anybody would want to live in.

In case I need to say it still more clearly: this proposed law has nothing to do with race and everything to do with behaviour. People from every race and culture on the planet are routinely welcomed into the United States as legal immigrants. The USA has, with only occasional exceptions, consistently had one of the most generous immigration policies of any country on earth.

But for the likes of Santos, that's not enough. The United States must abandon any efforts whatsoever to have a controlled immigration policy and simply open up the borders to any and all who want to come across. No middle ground: it's either that or Nazi death camp time.

Todd Chretien is another unbalanced agitator (sounds like a washing machine problem, doesn't it) who's mining a similar vein of racial paranoia. His contribution is entitled "The Racist War On Immigrants" and subtitled "Jim Crow Goes Fishing." As the titles suggest, he leaves Mr Hitler out of it in favour of making analogies to segregation in the Deep South; ironically, nearly every state in the supposedly racist South has a large and growing population of Latino immigrants who, the last I heard, are drinking from the same fountains, using the same bathrooms, and working at the same jobs as anyone else.

Just like Santos, Chretien stealthily and sleazily glosses over the fact that we are not talking about immigrants nor about members of a racial minority; the issue at hand is simply illegal immigrants. Of course in Chretien's PC world there is no such thing as "illegal immigrants," only "undocumented workers." As if there were no such thing as an "undocumented" person who doesn't have a job, or an "undocumented" person who is a professional criminal or an "undocumented" person who is living on welfare. No, every last one of them is perfectly virtuous, honest, hard-working, and is actually doing the American people a favour by being here. You almost have to wonder why, if every single immigrant they send north is such a boon to civilisation, the governments and economies of Mexico and other Central and South American countries are consistently in such a mess.

To introduce some balance here, something Santos or Chretien could never be accused of, it's my opinion that most Latino immigrants have been an asset to the USA, that most of them do work hard and enrich the communities where they settle, both culturally and economically. And I'm not just saying that because I like burritos and mariachi music. Nearly every Latino person I've known has been wonderful. My business and musical partner for many years was half Latino; so was one of the great loves of my life. But lest this veer into "Some of my best friends..." territory, my point is that while my experience with Latinos has largely been excellent, that's not the sort of anecdotal evidence on which a sane country makes social or immigration policy.

Nor is it the approach embraced by demagogic, vote-seeking politicians or a Catholic Church hungry for new blood. That old blowhard Ted Kennedy has been making impassioned speeches comparing the current wave of illegal immigration to the vast numbers of European immigrants who flooded in at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. Once again, though, those were largely legal immigrants, and America at the time had a great deal more room. Also, we weren't caught in the throes of a pernicious multiculturalism; immigrants were expected to - and did - quickly learn English and become Americans. Many of the champions of today's waves of Latino immigration speak openly of La Reconquista - the re-conquest of North America by Hispanic culture - and sneer at the idea that newcomers should be required to learn English or integrate themselves into the American mainstream.

The gist of it is that while immigration is generally a good thing, and has played a crucial role in America's cultural and economic development, the USA has both a right and a responsibility to establish reasonable levels and channels of immigration. To fail to do so hurts everyone, especially those immigrants who obeyed the law and came here legally. To continue to serve as an escape valve for Mexico's failed social policies does no one any favours, and to turn large parts of the USA into Mexico del Norte merely relocates the problems that immigrants, both legal and illegal, are trying so desperately to escape. Robert Frost was right: good fences make good neighbours, and it's time we mended the one along our southern border. Leave plenty of gates, yes, but don't tear the whole thing down just to placate the race-baiters and self-serving politicians.


Tim said...

This will be the most important topic in America...right up until the polls close on November 7th. I doubt we'll hear much about it after that.

If the American government is serious about doing something about Mexicans crossing the border illegally, I'd like to see them go after the companies that are hiring them for less than minimum wage and without paying any sort of social security or benefits.

I still can't believe how many people were duped into voting a certain way because allowing homosexuals to marry was going to destroy this country.

Who's talking about that two years later?

JAB Seattle said...


I agree with many of your ponts. However, your statment that "many" undocumented Mexican immigrants are reconquestas is factual incorrect. The Aztlan movement is extremely small in this country.

Larry Livermore said...

Tim: You may be right, but I hope not. Immigration is an issue far more fundamental to the country's character than who can or cannot get married.

JAB: I didn't mean to imply that many of the immigrants themselves are active supporters of the reconquista philosophy. I was referring more to the politicised advocates of unlimited and unregulated immigration.

JAB Seattle said...

Understood larry...so, Arsenal...pretty good no?

Larry Livermore said...

As you know, I am an Arsenal-hater of long standing, but it would be churlish as well as dishonest not to acknowledge that they were absolutely brilliant the other night.

And even more remarkable: they didn't cheat!

Anonymous said...

and le bob actually tackled (i know how you love le bob) viera! i think he said it was his first tackle in 13 years.

i distributed your Fulham 1 Chelsea 0 entry to Jason. he said to send his best

Dave said...


I don't think you've got the Left completely pinned down on immigration here. It may be due to the company I keep, but most lefties I know understand that organized immigration rules must be preserved. But they can stand to be a hell of a lot more flexible (and accessible) than they are now. Many of the protests featured immigrants waving American flags; the pictures I saw bore hundreds of them. These are people who want to live and work here, and the general liberal response is a hell of a lot better than the "they took our jerbs" bullshit spouted out by the Right.

Honestly, how much of a legitimate presence does your irrational leftist monster even have in America these days? The far-Right is a lot more powerful and a lot more dangerous, and engaging in a more potent denial of reality, than the Left at this point. Not that you can't bitch about whoever you want, but you're too smart for this glaring lack of perspective.

Larry Livermore said...


Perhaps I didn't make myself clear enough. I wasn't going after far leftists exclusively; neither Ted Kennedy, whose interest is not so much in social justice as in enlisting more prospective Democratic voters, nor the Catholic Church, which hopes to see Latino immigrants filling its pews and replenishing its coffers, is exactly an extremist. Just short-sighted, as are Bush and his corporate buddies, who benefit from cheap labour and greater leverage in battling unionisation. There's plenty of blame to go around at both ends of the ideological spectrum.

Dave said...


Fair enough, and I agree with you. But there's a current tendency among older/former punks to zealously and vehemently target the Left, as though it still had any real power, and completely miss the larger injustices perpetrated by the Right. Hence my first response. I'm not saying you can't point out Leftist stupidity-it's your blog, after all-but don't miss the forest for the trees.

Thank you for clarifying.