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Yesterday in Pittsburgh, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry was interviewed on Telemundo, where he opposed allowing immigrants to get drivers licenses. Kerry went on and on about how some people in the U.S. are “illegal,” trumpeting the hideous concept that some people who commit no crimes are, in their very being, against the law.
In doing so, Kerry turned his back on the mass movement in California to gain the right to drive legally. And Kerry must be well aware that, although there are millions of Irish, Poles, and Russians, among others, in the U.S. without legal status, “illegal” is a code word for “Mexican,” just as the Reagan/Clinton code word “welfare queen” was a code word for “black.”
In opposing human rights for immigrants, Kerry is very much in the tradition of the last two Democratic presidential candidates, Al Gore and Bill Clinton. In 1994, the Clinton/Gore adminstration pushed through Operation Gatekeeper, a program which has militarized the U.S.-Mexico border while draining billions of tax dollars that could go for schools and health care. Meanwhile, another Clinton/Gore/Kerry program, NAFTA, makes sure that jobs and capital can move across the border without incident.
As for his own driver’s license, Kerry doesn’t have to worry. As a billionaire, he can always pay people to drive him around.
LEE BALLINGER is coeditor of one of CounterPunch’s favorite newsletters, Rock and Rap Confidential, where this article originally appeared. For a free copy of the issue, email your postal address to: RRC, Box 341305, LA CA 90034 or send an email to: Rockrap@aol.com