Tuesday, March 28, 2006

[Immigration, Bush]

A Trip Down Immigration's Memory Lane

I vaguely recalled having addressed immigration at Notes and managed to find the post (from Jan 8, 2004). It appears pretty relevant, so I'll repost it here:

I spent yesterday pondering Bush's proposal to grant illegal workers legal status. While I saw the obvious benefit to the workers themselves (however marginal), I wondered what Bush's angle was. So I did what I always do; I asked myself, "How does corporate America benefit?" That's the calculation Bush always uses, and it's the key that unlocks the mysteries of his legislation.

It's an ingenious proposal, because most of the benefit appears to go to workers. A closer look, though, and it appears mainly designed to protect employers--illegals get almost nothing new. They get to stay in America--but only so long as they stay employed. Working and living here for 6 years doesn't put them any closer to citizenship, nor give them any of the rights of citizens. They become, in effect, workers who the law regards as having no legal rights. It cleans up a messy problem with illegal immigration without actually changing anything.

[Big] business, on the other hand, gets huge benefits. Now they have a vast, replenishable pool of workers not subject to the usual rules of American law. No more fear of INS raids, no more transient workforce--just a clean system of cheap labor. It accomplishes everything business loves with regard to labor: drives costs down, bypasses ugly human rights, environmental, and health concerns, breaks up organization. Another trifecta!

Of course, it may also give Bush an election-year issue, adding to his "compassion" platform. This is what the newspapers have picked up on thus far. I don't think that's particularly significant--Americans haven't cared about illegals heretofore, and I doubt they will now. Recent legal immigrants--particularly Latino ones--are also unlikely to see this as great news: their own employment position can't be strengthened by millions of new, unregulated workers flooding into the workforce.

No, the big benefit isn't a political one. The beneficiary is the same as in all of Bush's proposals--big business. When will we learn?


Joe said...

This is a problem of artifice and racism. Because that artificial border line between California and Mexico somehow holds a different meaning than the one between Portland and Vancouver, we want to punish the Mexican workers but not the Washingtonians who come to work in Oregon. It's outrageous to think that we would treat Washingtonians as less worthy human beings because we afford them status based on where they happen to be born. Yet the only true difference is that Mexicans often look different. If we need high tech workers or workers in other scientific fields from Europe or Canada, do we force them to slave away without any legal labor protections or benefits? No. If Europe can unite legally and economically for the greater good, so can North America. All of our constitutional protections are based on "God-given" rights to people, not on where they happen to be born. And when the Constitution was drawn up to recognize those rights, it was in the context of protecting those rights for those who come to this country as well as those born here. If people want to come and perform work that needs done and not as thieves, in America they are to be respected and protected, not exploited and punished.

iggi said...

actually, i'd like to punish the Washingtonians...they are lesser beings. especially those from the 'Couv