28 April 2010

Matters of Concern II

I've been reading about SB 1070 - the Arizona anti-illegal immigrant law.

It's very alarming, and it makes me no little bit sick to my stomach. This law is akin to the law that put Japanese immigrants and Japanese-Americans in labor camps during WWII. This law turns Arizona into a place where you have to carry your "PAPERS" with you at all times so that you can prove you are a citizen of the U.S. or that you are in the country legally - if your skin is brown that is... Very Gestapo... 

Some proponents are positioning the law as a way to address the influx of illegal immigrants, claiming that individual states should have the jurisdiction to police the national borders. However border control is a task that the constitution grants to the federal government alone. These advocates of SB 1070 seem to feel that harassing Americans of Latino or Hispanic decent and those immigrants who are legally here in this country, is acceptable collateral damage, and they should just put up with it in the name of catching those who are here illegally.

They fail to realize that that is absolutely unacceptable. No citizen of the U.S. is supposed to have to fear the papers-police. All their ranting about Anti-American-this and Un-American-that seems to miss this very crucial point... In my mind there's nothing more anti-american than the loss of our civil liberties, of our essential freedoms. And one person's loss of freedom is a loss for all of us.

The supporters of SB 1070 fail to realize that much of the illegal immigrant problem is due to our government's mistaken policies. That NAFTA and other like-minded free market-based policies actually have worsened the illegal immigrant problem instead of being a part of the solution. In the 1980s and 90s, NAFTA proponents boasted that trade, not aid, would boost the lot of Mexico and Mexicans. By raising Mexican living standards and wage levels - NAFTA's intended goals - Attorney General Janet Reno predicted NAFTA would reduce illegal immigration by up to two-thirds in six years. "NAFTA is our best hope for reducing illegal migration in the long haul... If it fails, effective immigration control will become impossible..."(Reno, 1994).

Well, guess what, Janet - it failed.

Instead of increasing the living conditions for the Mexicans and benefiting the Americans, the flood of illegal immigrants to the United States is up, and the standard of living of the average Mexican is down. People don't leave their communities, their friends, their families and their cultures because they want to. They leave because they have to. NAFTA set the stage for the kind of poverty that drives people to break laws simply to feed their families.

NAFTA permits heavily-subsidized US corn and other agri-business products to compete with small Mexican farmers. This has driven the Mexican farmer off the land because they cannot compete with the low-priced imports of US corn and other agricultural products. Millions of Mexicans have been forced off their farms and out of agriculture, and many of those that remain are living in desperate poverty. These people are among those that cross the border to feed their families. Meanwhile, corn-based tortilla prices have more than doubled in recent years and will continue to climb due to, in part, the U.S. policies encouraging production of corn-based ethanol.

NAFTA's service-sector rules allowed companies like Wal-Mart to enter the Mexican market. By selling low-priced goods made by ultra-cheap labor in other countries, these discount stores eliminated tens of thousands of small and medium-sized Mexican businesses.

It's definitely a quagmire now.

I'd like to think that a move to fair market policies rather than free market would eventually fix at least some of the problems, but I think that the vociferous voices on the right would find a way to stigmatize the fair market movement with their cries of "Socialist agenda" and "Anti-American."

I also doubt that we've enough time to make it work before the meltdown occurs. It seems we're reaching a fevered pitch - at least as far as the rhetoric is concerned.  I'm worried that we're going to see an increase in violence soon.

The bigots hiding behind the "States' Rights" rallying call are very good at working their constituencies up into a rabid spittle-spewing froth, feeding the immigrant-bashing mantra that is sweeping the country via their  Tea Party pro-America, America-for-the-Americans platform, and playing on the fear of losing jobs to immigrants - the fact that those jobs are ones that no red-blooded Tea Party regular would ever consider doing is irrelevant.

egad... what's next?

No comments: