Sunday, August 22, 2010

Racist Arizona Law Passed For Political Reasons

This week, Arizona signed the toughest illegal immigration law in the country which will allow police to demand identification papers from anyone they suspect is in the country illegally. I know there's some people in Arizona worried that Obama is acting like Hitler, but could we all agree that there's nothing more Nazi than saying "Show me your papers?" There's never been a World War II movie that didn't include the line "show me your papers". It's their catchphrase. Every time someone says "show me your papers", Hitler's family gets a residual check. So heads up, Arizona; that's fascism. I know, I know, it's a dry fascism, but it's still fascism ~ SNL's Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers (dob 12/28/1973) on the 4/24/2010 broadcast.

As anyone who follows politics already knows, portions of the unconstitutional "papers please" racial profiling anti-brown person law signed by the never elected Republican governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, were blocked Wednesday 7/28/2010.

Uninformed Conservatives responding to the news that the law, which was not needed and passed for political reasons, incorrectly accused the "Liberal" judge of accepting bribes from the Obama administration, ruling on high from her "ivory-tower", and having to (eventually) answer to God for the "lies" she fabricated in order to justify her ruling.

However, according to Attorney General Eric Holder the Arizona law "effectively skirt's the federal government's constitutional purview over foreign affairs", because it violates the Constitution's Supremacy Clause. The Supremacy Clause states that federal law trumps state law (or state constitutions). US District Judge Susan Bolton, realizing that to quite clearly be the case, ruled accordingly. It was just that simple.

Being a Liberal, I am, of course, in favor of totally open borders and amnesty for all illegal aliens currently residing in our country. Racist Conservatives, blinded by their intense hatred of brown-skinned people (legal citizens or not), choose to ignore the Constitution when defending this law.

Actually, that is not entirely true - I am not in favor of open borders. I am in favor of not permitting US employers to drive down the wages of American workers through the hiring of undocumented immigrants. Simple economics will tell you that when the number of people looking for a job is greater than the number of jobs available, wages fall.

This situation is bad enough as it is, due to the bush recession and Republican efforts to depress union membership - we do not need to make a bad situation worse by allowing non-US citizens to compete for US jobs. Those jobs should be reserved for legal citizens.

Which means we need to strengthen employer sanctions against the hiring of undocumented workers. The problem is not that people are crossing our border illegally (or overstaying visas). The problem is not babies born to people illegal immigrants receiving birthright citizenship under the 14th amendment (often referred to derisively as "anchor babies".

The Migration Policy Institute, in a May 2004 article titled Evaluating Enhanced US Border Enforcement points out that the problem is "token workplace enforcement". Even though funding for border security has tripled over the last 10 years, it amounts to nothing more than a "weak deterrent" because, once over the border, an undocumented worker's chances of being arrested and deported are quite low.

The fact that there are an estimated 10.8 million illegal immigrants currently residing in our country undeniably proves that the REAL problem is workplace enforcement and NOT border security. People would stop trying to cross our southern border illegally if there were no jobs for them when they got here. It does not matter how much money we spend, people WILL NOT stop attempting to cross (successfully or unsuccessfully) the border until we get serious about workplace enforcement.

And, by the way, in addition to it being virtually impossible to "seal" the border (as some Republicans suggest), it would also not be wise. Because the border fence currently in place is a threat to endangered species.

Obviously the Arizona law, and other similar approaches, attack the problem from the entirely wrong direction. We should be prosecuting the employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers. We also need to provide a reliable method by which an individual's right to work in the United States can be verified. Employers who wish to follow the law should be able to do so easily - without worring about being fooled by forged documentation.

The fact is that so-called "illegal aliens" are actually victims. Victims of poverty in their own countries, US trade policies, and of US employers who entice them to cross the border by illegally employing them when they get here. The current "illegal immigration" problem is actually an illegal employer problem.

And it was Ronald Reagan's failed 1986 amnesty that guaranteed the problem would not only continue but get worse. It signaled to anyone who enters our country illegally in the future that we approved, and all they needed to do was wait for the next amnesty to gain citizenship. (The Immigration Reform and Control Act is considered a failure not because it granted amnesty, but "because the strict sanctions on employers were stripped out of the bill [before] passage").

Republican politicians today refuse to address the real problem because the upper class desires a continual stream of cheap labor flowing into the country. They do not want to pay American workers a fair wage because it cuts into their profits. Republicans are happy to go along with this scheme because it keeps the campaign donations flowing, and energizes their base to get out and vote for the Party who wants to go after the "brown people" stealing American jobs (instead of the rich white guys who want virtual slave labor).

Militarizing the border, border fences, deportation statistics, ending birthright citizenship and denying social services are all Republican distractions designed to shift the blame from their wealthy corporate donors to people whose only goal is to escape poverty and provide for their families. People are dying attempting to cross our border. People could (potentially) die if denied medical services. As a Liberal I believe we have a moral obligation to ensure all inhabitants of our country have access to all the social services we provide (with a few possible exceptions), legal or illegal.

I don't understand how Republicans can vilify people who have accepted our INVITATION to come here and work. Make no mistake about it, we did invite them in - via weak enforcement of our immigration laws that have allowed tens of millions of people to stay years (or decades) in a country they are not citizens of. In my opinion our illegal immigration problem is due entirely (or almost entirely) to our virtual non-enforcement of own employment laws.

The answer to this problem unquestionably must be comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for people who have been here a certain length of time and committed no crimes while here (aside from entering the country illegally). Then we need to enforce the laws prohibiting the hiring of non-US citizens. All employers should be required to verify that anyone they hire is eligible to work in the US. Instead of wasting money on militarizing the border, that money should be going toward improving and expanding programs like E-verify.

(E-Verify is an Internet-based, free program run by the United States government that compares information from an employee's Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 to data from US government records. If the information matches, that employee is eligible to work in the United States).

But according to Arizona's largest newspaper, The Arizona Republic, "Most Arizona employers aren't using E-Verify" - likely due to the fact that "if a business doesn't sign up for E-Verify, chances are slim it will be caught" and because "federal officials don't enforce Arizona's employer-sanctions law and state officials don't track who's signed up for E-Verify".

So why the hell was the passage of SB1070 necessary? The answer is that is wasn't. The "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act" was passed for reasons purely political. A Libertarian blogger, writing on "The Daily Paul" correctly points out that this law is an attempt to circumvent people's 4th (protection against unreasonable searches and seizures) and 5th (due process guarantee) Amendment rights.

Under the fourth amendment "a police officer does not have the authority to arrest someone for refusing to identify himself when he is not suspected of committing a crime". It is a crime to be in the United States illegally, but having brown skin does not qualify as probable cause. Jan Brewer herself said "I do not know what an illegal alien looks like", yet she signed into law a bill that will lead to the harassment of legal US citizens of Hispanic ancestry.

Jan Brewer was not elected to Arizona's governorship. She was elevated to the position when former Governor Janet Napolitano accepted Barack Obama's Secretary of Homeland Security job offer. Now the former Arizona Secretary of State (a position to which she was narrowly elected) recognizes that she needs to energize the Republican brown-skin-people-hating base or the governorship could revert to Democratic hands.

I'd never hear of Jan Brewer before the controversy regarding this law. Now that she has gained national prominence and the support of frustrated voters and bigots across the country, her campaign coffers are most likely overflowing money being spent by "outside groups" advocating on her behalf will likely be quite significant.

Arizona's Yuma Sun reports that "The Republican Governors Association has put more than $1.1 million into its Arizona account", which when you take into account the money she has already received though public financing, is double how much will be spent by, and on behalf of, her Democratic challenger, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard.

The Yuma Sun also reports that Brewer currently maintains a "double-digit lead over Goddard", which probably explains why The Democratic Governors Association has, so far, set aside virtually no dollars in support of AG Goddard. The reason for this lead, however, is not because "the American people have spoken" or any such nonsense. It is because many Americans believe the Right-wing spin regarding the immigration problem. And the reason they believe it is because the Democrats, for the most part, refuse to explain what the actual problem is.

There are small groups on both sides (Conservative and Liberal) that correctly identify that the problem is illegal hiring by business, although they are unfortunately in the minority. Most Republicans are thrilled with things the way they are, because continuing to vilify brown people keeps the donations flowing from corporate America, and earns them the support of misinformed voters. Democrats, realizing that money wins elections, feel that they have no choice but to kowtow to the corporations, and to support spending billions militarizing the border - when our border defenses are not the root cause of the problem.

Because the Democrats know that "illegal immigrants" are actually the victims in this equation, they refuse to vilify them. For this I applaud my Party. Both Republicans and Democrats are, however, dead wrong regarding what we need to do first when tackling "comprehensive immigration reform". The first step is not to "secure our borders" (against an illegal immigrant "invasion") as the Republicans would have us believe, nor is it establishing a "path to citizenship" as the Democrats insist.

While both should be components of any immigration reform bill, the first step must be to stop enticing non-US to enter our country illegally by allowing US employers to offer them jobs. If there are no jobs for them when they get here they will stop coming, it is that simple. And those who do not qualify for the "path to citizenship" will leave.

I'm not going to get into who should qualify, or what the process of the "path to citizenship" should be with this post, except to say that it won't be fair - because there is no way it can be. Critics will say that people who have broken the law by entering our country illegally shouldn't be rewarded with citizenship. I believe that this criticism might have some validity, if not for the fact that our government has granted it's de facto approval of "illegal immigration" by virtue of it's refusal to prosecute employers for illegal hiring practices.

In conclusion - I'm in favor of enforcing the laws against employing non-US citizens which are already on the books, and strengthening and expanding the E-Verify program - and opposed to unconstitutional laws that encourage racial profiling and the violation of the rights of legal US citizens who happen to have brown skin. I'm also opposed to punishing the victims of our immigration and employment laws (and the non-enforcement of said laws), and in favor of a "fair" (relatively speaking) "path to citizenship".

That is where our efforts should be concentrated, instead of on diversions involving the vilification of brown skinned people. Unfortunately this is exactly where the Republicans will continue to focus their energies - because it benefits them politically. Unfortunately practicing racism for political reasons appears to be working.

Further Reading
[1] REAL ID Act, Wikipedia entry
[2] Arizona's one-man prison industry by The Rachel Maddow Show writers 8/14/2010.
[3] U.S./Mexico Border Wall Risks Endangered Species Extinctions from Gene Isolation. Just say NO to Border Wall!! 8/28/2008.

SWTD #49


  1. I'm all for liberalizing immigration laws. This, in that, yes, immigration (over time) almost always helps the country/economy (an increase in demand, initiative, etc.). I'm also, however, in favor of border security. In an era of rampant drug violence and terrorism, we really need to know who's entering the country and for what. Good compromise?

  2. So, in order to combat the "rampant drug violence", I presume that you would like it if Congress approved the recent request from the House Border Caucus for half a billion dollars to fight Mexican narcos?

    Even though, under President Obama, "the country now employs a record number of Customs and Border Protection officers, and before this recent spate of funding increases, immigration enforcement spending already stood at $11 billion for 2010. It was $8 billion in 2008. This summer, President Obama deployed 1,200 National Guard to patrol the border, and requested another $500 million for ramped up militarization".

    Is it my position that we're spending way too much militarizing the border. That money would be better spent enforcing current laws prohibiting employers from hiring illegals.

    And maybe we should look into legalizing drugs, which would do a lot to put a damper on Mexican drug smuggling -- because it would be nowhere near as profitable as it is currently.

    I take it that your position is that we aren't spending enough? How many more billions do you think we should be spending?

    BTW, I didn't mention "liberalizing immigration laws" in my post... maybe it would be a good idea... I haven't read anything about it.

    As for your compromise... You're offering something I didn't ask for, and seem to be requesting something I specifically said we don't need (to spend even more defending the border). If I was a congressional Democrat and you were a congressional Republican and this was a genuine offer -- I'd reject it. And ask that you please stop wasting my time.

    In my opinion this recent bill approving another 600 million for "1,500 additional US Border Patrol officers, 2 additional unmanned aerial reconnaissance aircraft & state-of-the-art communications equipment to help federal & state authorities combat the flow of undocumented immigrants & illegal drugs from Mexico into the US -- & the flow of illegal weapons from the US into Mexico" is just political posturing... by both sides.

    It is unfortunate that "both parties are eager to show support for improved border security heading into the fall midterm congressional elections". Unfortunate that the American people are fooled by this political posturing, and unfortunate that the real problem of a lack of workplace enforcement continues to go undressed... due to Republican obstructionism.

    The article I linked to last also says the legislation will also "honor the memory of former Senator Ted Stevens by unanimous consent". It was unfortunate that he was killed in an airplane crash, but that doesn't change the fact that he was crooked. And he wouldn't be dead now if he had been sent to prison instead of having the charges against him dropped due to the prosecution's mishandling of the case.

  3. As you recall, wd, my main emphasis on border control was to institute a national I.D. card and heavy penalties for employers who hire illegals......Legalizing certain drugs (perhaps all - I need to think a little bit more about that)? I've been in favor of that since you were in knee-highs.

  4. Sounds like we found something we can agree on. However, isn't all that (the ID card and employer penalties) INTERNAL enforcement of our immigration and employment laws (as opposed to BORDER enforcement)? Do you, or do you not, believe we should be spending MORE money specifically defending the border?

    I say we need to spend more on internal enforcement, and the amount needed to defend the border will naturally decrease (significantly, I believe).

  5. In Europe it is normal to hear the phrase and nobody is less facist than us. Please do something useful and stop whining about a newly passed law that could make your streets safer.


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