Us vs. Them in the Immigration Debate

by ROBERTO RODRIGUEZ

Is anyone old enough to remember the expression: "Go Back to Africa?" Can anyone remember when the lynchings of Blacks, Asians and the hunting down of American Indians and Mexicans were commonplace? Does anyone remember when Jews were turned away at this nation’s borders? How about the Chinese Exclusion Act? Can anyone remember when the Irish and Italians were not welcome here?

This country has had a long and sordid history of xenophobia and scapegoat politics, which brings us to the current immigration debate. Prior to it, I had not been aware that illegal aliens were the number one threat to the security of this nation and the cause of the majority of the nation’s many problems.

It’s amazing how we are all easily corralled. All we seem to need is for someone to whip up the frenzy to permit the segregation of human beings and to permit the mass incarceration of Japanese American citizens or to conduct an Operation Wetback to send Mexican Americans back to where they came from. Not too long ago, it was George Wallace. Yesterday it was Pat Buchanan. Today it is the Three Amigos: CNN’s Lou Dobbs, and Republican presidential hopefuls, Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter.

And it is amazing the lengths that people who have been formerly targeted by demagogues will go to, to prove their Americanism. They seemingly scream the loudest when a new group has been targeted. One can hear the catharsis–an incredible sigh of relief–when they are able to point a finger at another group.

This time around, illegal aliens are the target. They can’t fight back or vote. And technically, they don’t have a face. All the vitriol can be hurled against them without feeling guilty just don’t say the word Mexican and you can’t be accused of being a bigot besides, you have nothing against brown people, as long as they’re legal, educated, employed and can speak English

Perhaps this exam will help us to determine the actual answer as to who is the cause of this nation’s problems.

Who is responsible for U.S. policies that permit: the spending of close to $500 billion to wage an illegal and immoral war? Torture and the violation of the Geneva War Conventions? The elimination of Habeas Corpus? The illegal wiretapping of its own citizens? War profiteering by Haliburton and mercenary armies (Blackwater) to flourish? The dismantling of affirmative action and the nation’s civil rights laws? A Tax system that favors the super-rich?

Here are the choices:

a) illegal aliens

b) Arabs & Moslems

c) Blacks

d) Mexicans

e) Jews

f) Gays & Lesbians

g) liberals

h) abortion-seeking women

i) American Indians

Today, it seems that most Americans would choose option "a."

This means that if the United States puts up a 2,000-mile wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and if the 12 million nannies, busboys, gardeners and maids were deported, the Iraqi war–which is expected to skyrocket in costs to another $1.5 trillion–would immediately come to a halt. If deported, the nation’s skyrocketing gasoline prices would begin to immediately reverse. In fact, the nation’s dropout crisis would also end overnight, enabling those who are remanded to the worst jobs in society to instead compete for the nation’s best jobs.

Once these 12 million law-breakers are deported, no doubt this administration would direct the EPA, the USDA, the FDA, the Federal Trade Commission and the Labor Department to begin to enforce its consumer protection and food, drug and worker safety laws. (Why enforce them now when illegal aliens are making a mockery of our nation’s laws?)

While it’s true that illegal aliens are overworked, overexploited, highly overtaxed–and generally without human rights–we all know that if deported, Congress would pass Universal Health Care overnight. While it’s also true that illegal aliens have for decades been pouring billions of dollars into Social Security and into Unemployment Insurance and Medicare, knowing full well they will never see a red cent–their precipitous departure, along with their windfall tax revenues–would also no doubt bring about their immediate solvency.

If these 12 million varmints (as John McCain refers to them) were deported, it would solve the U.S. prison crisis overnight. A recent study, by the Washington-based Immigration Policy Center, has found that immigrants are much less likely to be imprisoned than U.S. born residents of the same ethnicity. Another study, by the Public Policy Institute of California, has shown that immigrants are more likely to push up wages than depress them. Regardless, the departure of 12 million would no doubt make space for our own home-grown criminals, and it would also no doubt compel U.S. corporations to immediately institute a living wage for all workers. Right?

Truthfully, the primary party responsible for all of the above problems is the Bush-Cheney administration. All else is diversion and division. The urge to blame illegal aliens or anyone else for the nation’s problems is but the result of the administration’s politics of fear, hate and blame. They’ve unleashed that dynamic and now, Americans have come to believe that their rights, livelihood and happiness are dependant upon the dehumanization of their fellow human beings.

Perhaps the demagoguery is limited to a loud and rancorous minority because it’s hard to believe that a majority of Americans actually are satisfied with a society that continues to divide up human beings into legal and illegal categories. It doesn’t have to be this way; a simple transnational labor agreement can change all this, though the drawback is that workers and their families would not lose their human rights, dignity or citizenship in the process. Who would we then blame for the nation’s problems?

ROBERTO RODRIGUEZ triumphed in two police brutality trials in L.A. between 1979-1986. He is the author of Justice: A Question of Race, a book that chronicles the underworld of police brutality. He can be reached at: XColumn@gmail.com .


 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 04, 2015
Vincent J. Roscigno
University Bureaucracy as Organized Crime
Paul Street
Bernie Sanders’ Top Five Race Problems: the Whiteness of Nominal Socialism
Ramzy Baroud
The Palestinian Bubble and the Burning of Toddler, Ali Dawabsha
Herbert Dyer, Jr.
Is White Supremacy a Mental Disorder?
Pepe Escobar
Reshuffling Eurasia’s Energy Deck — Iran, China and Pipelineistan
L. Michael Hager
The Battle Over BDS
Eric Draitser
Puerto Rico: Troubled Commonwealth or Debt Colony?
Colin Todhunter
Hypnotic Trance in Delhi: Monsanto, GMOs and the Looting of India’s Agriculture
Benjamin Willis
The New Cubanologos: What’s in a Word?
Matt Peppe
60 Minutes Provides Platform for US Military
Binoy Kampmark
The Turkish Mission: Reining in the Kurds
Eoin Higgins
Teaching Lessons of White Supremacy in Prime-Time: Blackrifice in the Post-Apocalyptic World of the CW’s The 100
Gary Corseri
Gaza: Our Child’s Shattered Face in the Mirror
Robert Dodge
The Nuclear World at 70
Paula Bach
Exit the Euro? Polemic with Greek Economist Costas Lapavitsas
August 03, 2015
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Atomic Era Turns 70, as Nuclear Hazards Endure
Nelson Valdes
An Internet Legend: the Pope, Fidel and the Black President
Robert Hunziker
The Perfectly Nasty Ocean Storm
Jack Dresser
The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy’s Playbook
Ahmad Moussa
Incinerating Palestinian Children
Greg Felton
Greece Succumbs to Imperialist Banksterism
Binoy Kampmark
Stalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership: the Failure of the Hawai’i Talks
Ted Rall
My Letter to Nick Goldberg of the LA Times
Mark Weisbrot
New Greek Bailout Increases the Possibility of Grexit
Jose Martinez
Black/Hispanic/Women: a Leadership Crisis
Victor Grossman
German Know-Nothings Today
Patrick Walker
We’re Not Sandernistas: Reinventing the Wheels of Bernie’s Bandwagon
Norman Pollack
Moral Consequences of War: America’s Hegemonic Thirst
Ralph Nader
Republicans Support Massive Tax Evasion by Starving IRS Budget
Alexander Reid Ross
Colonial Pride and the Killing of Cecil the Lion
Suhayb Ahmed
What’s Happening in Britain: Jeremy Corbyn and the Future of the Labour Party
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington