Wednesday, May 23, 2007

What Can Brown Do For You?

Is it just me, or does it seem odd that a country made up almost entirely of descendants of immigrants, feels that one of the most pressing problems our country faces is, well, uh, immigration? None of us currently living in the United States (with the exception of the few Native Americans who were lucky enough to avoid the genocide perpetrated by our immigrant ancestors), would be here if it weren't for the willingness of this country to open it's doors to "give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses longing to be free."

But we don't wanna do that any more. We seem to feel that we need to keep people from crossing our borders because they're stealing our jobs, sending their kids to our schools, getting our driver's licenses - and they don't even pay taxes!!!

But I ain't buying those arguments. Why? Well, first of all we don't seem to worry too much about all those honkin' muthah corporations that don't pay any taxes. Secondly, they aren't stealing all our jobs - or ones that we care to actually pay a living wage for anyway.

So what's the real reason? (Thanks for asking!) It's that we're a nation of bigots. We're afraid of people who are different from ourselves - especially if they are black or brown. And don't try to convince me otherwise until you finish building the wall to keep those pesky (white) Canadians from sneaking across our porous northern borders. Cuz you know what will happen if any more Canadians sneak into the United States . . . That's right - UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE! (Run for your lives!)

Even stupider however, is the the notion that they're here doing jobs that "hard-working Americans" don't want to do. I ain't buying that one either. Don't just take my word for it, though. I think the most logical, well-reasoned position I've heard comes, from all people, Congressman Charles Rangel, a Democrat from New York who chairs the Ways and Means Committee. His perspective makes more sense than any other I've heard. Here's what he said when he appeared on Lou Dobbs Tonight earlier this year.

I don't see -- you know all of this business about jobs that no American wants to do. I was telling one of the cabinet officials just a couple of hours ago I was in New York during the summer, saw these sanitation workers with all of this garbage. It was really the type of job I would think no American would want. A sewer pipe broke all over the New York subways and they said it would take a whole day for guys to do what I would think no American would want to do. You pay American workers, give them health care and a pension, believe me, we don't need people coming in to do jobs that Americans will do if the pay was right.

Unfortunately rich. white folks don't want to have to pay the going rate for work they need done. Secretly they like having people of color in our country to do the stuff they don't want to do themselves. They just don't want the folks who do it to be citizens. As Rangel says:

This guest worker program's the closest thing I've ever seen to slavery. I mean, how do you bring people over here and the employer decides how long you're going to stay and God knows what you've got to do if they have a baby. Do we change the Constitution and say that the child's now a citizen? I would hate to believe that this great country of ours in order to free, or rather, to bring cheap labor for entrepreneurs are willing to have a contract with Mexico to do this.

Minimum wage laws mean little to those who hire illegal aliens. These unscrupulous employers pay illegal aliens wages that no American or resident alien would accept. That is one of the reasons that illegal aliens are valued by those employers.

What this all means is that if we're serious about getting a handle on immigration we need to do two things:

1. Pay what it takes for Americans to do the jobs that most of us don't want to do. That way there isn't a surplus of jobs that folks from other countries (mainly Canadians, I'm guessing) will want to risk their lives to sneak across the border to do, rather than working in their own countries.

2. More importantly, for those that don't want to pay what it takes and feel that breaking the law is just fine, cuz, after all, they're rich and white - let's send those guys to jail.

But that won't happen because it puts the burden (and the blame) on the (rich, white, American) slave traders, er, employers, rather than on the disgusting, brown, illegal aliens who are ruining our country.

And that's what Jesus would do . . .

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