Monday, May 15, 2006

Immigration politics

James Galbraith is writing about The Marches Texas Monthly 05/05/06.  He looks at the frivolous and/or brutal proposals for dealing with illegal immigration kicking around Congress, and finds them wanting:

The bill the U.S. House passed is a cruel farce, which would turn (it is said, but no one really knows) 11 million working people into felons, and criminalize all who assist them, including church and social workers. The compromise under consideration in the Senate is less cruel, but it is a fantasy that somehow one can separate those who have been in the country two or five years or longer from those who haven’t.

And suppose you could? Send back all those who have been here less than two years, and you’d have to let just that many in again to take their jobs. And then you’d have a rotating underclass with no stake in the country, undermining labor standards and breeding petty crime.

He also addresses in advance the scam that Bush is set to announce today:

Border enforcement is another cynical joke. It doesn’t stop people from coming in: It stops them from going back. And so the settled population of immigrants grows more rapidly than it otherwise would, not less so. Meanwhile, working people are cut off from their parents and children south of the border, to no good effect.

Although he's optimistic that the reaction against Republican immigration hysteria will be something like the reaction to the Republicans' Proposition 187 in the previous decade, he says of the Republicans' political posture:

Adding 11 million, or (say) 20 million, working people who are here anyway to the citizenship rolls, in a country of 300 million, isn’t that big a deal to most people. Especially when the other choice is to have a police state. A headline in The Wall Street Journal on April 10 read, “Employers Have a Lot to Lose.” But the story wasn’t about how business felt threatened by the rallies. It was about a California landscaper speaking out to get his workers made legal.

Who wants the police state? The leaders of the Republican Party. Why? Not because American business demands it. Business would adapt if fair labor standards were enforced on all employers evenly. It’s the politicians, alone, who would lose out. Citizens vote. There was a time when Republicans might have attracted the culturally conservative Latino vote on values. But in the economy they’ve built, that’s a lost cause. And so, what is immigrant criminalization really about? It’s just another bit of campaign business, along with felony disenfranchisement, voter-roll purges, and contrived shortages of voting machines. (my emphasis)

Josh Marshall in this 05/15/06 post characterizes Bush's militarize-the-border posturing as follows:

But am I wrong to think that the president simply couldn't square the circle between the corporate cheap-labor forces who fund his campaigns and the cultural conservatives who supply his voters? Growing out of that failure, this 'militarize the border' hokum is the policy announcement equalivent of crawling under his desk and screaming "Help!" ...

Mocking this stunt gives it too much credit. I think Atrios is right when he says that this idea is so stupid that it's unlikely there's really even a plan to do it. Just an gimmick to help the president get through whatever new bad news is about to pop.

And what bad news might that be?  Lots to choose from.  But this is surely a top contender: Karl Rove Indicted on Charges of Perjury, Lying to Investigators by Jason Leopold, 05/13/06.  [05/16/06 Note:  See my following post for more on Jason Leopold and why this particular story is suspect.]

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