FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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 .

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 03, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix the ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
Julian Vigo
The Hijos of Buenos Aires:  When Identity is Political
Matthew Vernon Whalan
Obama’s Legacy
Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano
By Way of Prologue: On How We Arrived at the Watchtower and What We Saw from There
Aidan O'Brien
Fidel and Spain: A Tale of Right and Wrong
Carol Dansereau
Stop Groveling! How to Thwart Trump and Save the World
Kim Nicolini
Moonlight, The Movie
Evan Jones
Behind GE’s Takeover of Alstom Energy
James A Haught
White Evangelicals are Fading, Powerful, Baffling
Barbara Moroncini
Protests and Their Others
Christopher Brauchli
Parallel Lives: Trump and Temer
Joseph Natoli
The Winds at Their Backs
Cesar Chelala
Poverty is Not Only an Ignored Word
David Swanson
75 Years of Pearl Harbor Lies
Alex Jensen
The Great Deceleration
Nyla Ali Khan
When Faith is the Legacy of One’s Upbringing
Gilbert Mercier
Trump Win: Paradigm Shift or Status Quo?
Stephen Martin
From ‘Too Big to Fail’ to ‘Too Big to Lie’: the End Game of Corporatist Globalization.
Charles R. Larson
Review: Emma Jane Kirby’s “The Optician of Lampedusa”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail