A few folks have noticed that I haven’t written anything about the anti-immigrant bill or the massive protests or the continuing student walk-outs. That’s not exactly true; I’ve started about four different articles on the subject, that immediately start turning into long dissertations on race, class, history, personal history, law, nationalism and globalization. At which point, I get overwhelmed and stop. So maybe I can just hit a few highlights (and lowlights) here.
First up, for any students in southern California walking out of class in protest, here are some phone numbers for free legal support. You might want to write them on your arm in case you get arrested:
San Diego - 619-917-7971
Now, some bullet points.
- HR 4437 is ridiculous, and I don’t think it is going to pass.
- This law is personal. Why are latino students protestings by the thousand? Because for many, the law says “we’re going to take your parents away.” Why doesn’t anyone understand that?
- Sadly, in public discourse, the words “immigrant”, “illegal immigrant”, “illegal alien”, “Mexican”, “Hispanic”, and “latino” are used almost interchangably, as though they all meant the same thing. So when Congress proposes a bill to make it a felony to be an “illegal immigrant”, and to deport them all, how do you think people respond to that?
- There is no moral component to illegal immigration. I keep hearing people whine about how illegal immigrants are “breaking the law”, or “not following the rules.” Something that helped put things in perspective for me were when I saw a white liberal Democrat, speaking on a totally different issue, say “I’d kill to protect my family.” I was taken aback, but realized it was true. Wouldn’t most of us kill to protect the ones we love, if we had to? What if instead, to make sure they had a decent life, we had to cross an imaginary line on a map? If we’d kill for our families, surely we’d break immigration laws for them.
- The number I keep hearing is that there are 12 million illegal immigrants in the US (wonder how accurate that number is). How did anyone think this was a practical plan? Were they gonna hire a million new police officers? And how was that going to affect this country, uprooting 12 million people (and their children) and sending them away? The national population right now is around 290 million. Losing 12 million would be like ripping off some fingers.
- A lot of white people seem upset that people are waving Mexican flags at these protests. This is mystifying to me. I think these folks think that the protesters should be more submissive, with American flags, like “we just want to be part of you, America”. But I think the Mexican flags are saying, rightly so, “we’re tired of your racist shit, America. You try to make us ashamed, but we’re not, we’re proud of who we are.”
- I just realized that HR 4437 is just like Proposition 24, the fictional ballot initiative cooked up by crooked mayor Joe Quimby on The Simpsons, to maintain his popularity when voters were angry with him. “Ducking this issue calls for real leadership”.
Bottom Line: This is scapegoating. American citizens afraid for their jobs and poor foreigners so desperate for work that they illegally enter America are both victims. Corporate America helped engineer all this, continually taking jobs from one group to give them to another group that’s even more desperate. Globalization means that working class Americans compete with poor Mexican immigrants compete with starving Bangladeshis. And all the “down with illegal immigrants” talk plays them off against each other, actually getting each group to attack people even less fortunate than themselves.
Well, that aspect is for the non-racist Americans who are afraid of losing their jobs (and there are some. I think). Just about every other part of the debate is good ol’ racism.
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