Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Fortress walls work both ways

One of the things that really bothers me about the immigration debate is the ugliness of the dialogue. The anti-immigrant crowd, led by the sneering Ms. Malkin, have struggled to find a broad brush appellation to express their contempt. After flirting with illegal aliens for a while, they apparently decided on invaders. Invaders. As if they were arriving with guns and cannons instead of mops and trowels. As if "they" were just one more enemy of the state rather than producing members of our society.

And if we're to talk of invaders, the WaPo reports there were 24 million legal pedestrian border crossings last year. Many of those were for white middle class Americans going into the border towns for medical treatments and shopping. That doesn't count those who drive. The last time I crossed the border from Tijuana in a car, it took about an hour and half to get past the checkpoint and they were pretty much waving everyone through about a dozen stations.

Americans "invade" Mexico daily in order to save money. Mexicans come here to make money. Border towns, on both sides of the border, depend on on this fluid duality. Those who advocate for building walls to keep "them" out would do well to remember that walls will also keep us in. And a mighty fortress wall is rather an odd symbol of freedom.
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8 Comments:

Anonymous Bronwyn said...

Ok, so people who come here to work are "invaders" and people who go to Iraq to blow shit up are "liberators"?

Broad brush, not entirely accurate and not troop friendly . . . but still. How do these people not see the hypocrisy?

1:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

but buying stuff from them and them working here both HELP their economy and have negligable / bad effects on ours. You can get cheap stuff in alot of foreign countries. they are not only getting our tourism $$ but mailing back billions from here when they are working.

2:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Bronwyn said...

Oh, I know. Like I said, it was a broad brush. . . one of those instant impressions on which so many bloggers build their empires.

I have not yet been convinced that foreign labor is harmful to our economy. Then again, I'm thinking more of the illegals who use SS#s that check out with the SS Admin. and thus feed brazillions of dollars into our medicare and tax systems without ever getting benefits on the other end. I'm obviously not taking into account the cash-paid day labor population. Then again, I don't see a lot of born n bred Americans hankering for those jobs.

Again, the comment was one of those stand way back, and what do you see kind of observations. The sort of thing that people put on obnoxious bumper stickers.

:)

2:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Libby said...

But the point isn't about the economics anon. It's about the syntax of the argument. All the focus is on the illegals, this malevolent force that is trying to destroy our economy. The fact is white middle class Americans go to Mexico to save money because our big business men charge so much more for the same products. No one speaks to our invasion of their country. If you want to assign economic blame, should we make that illegal also in order to "save our economy?"

Except that it wouldn't work because the people who depend on those savings would have less to spend here. Economics is complicated and I don't pretend to understand it, but the bottom line is the overwhelming temper in the country is to blame the workers. They wouldn't come here and work for ridiculous day rates unless the crooked contractors hired them and it's not like these contractors are passing the savings along to the consumer. All this immigration reform going around on Capitol Hill is not going to penalize the employers.

I've spent a lot of time in Mexico and I see these people around here. They're decent hard working people. It's not their fault they were born in a place that is so bad, slave wages in the US looks better. They're not the ones buying yachts and summer places on the beach. That would be the owners. That's who people should be angry with, not the poor peons that are being exploited on both sides of the border.

Browyn I don't think that broad brush was so far off the mark.

9:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Bronwyn said...

Heh. Thanks.

I think the savings are passed on to us, to some extent. If I were really on top of things, I'd have an example to cite, but I'm not and I don't.

But I imagine that if our strawberries and apples and whatnot were picked by unionized American labor, those items would cost an awful lot more than they already do.

We already know that small-farm produce and organics cost far more at the cash register than the big-farm produce.

The restaurant industry also relies heavily on illegal immigrant labor, although usually those companies don't pay in cash. So there is actually an exchange of ss#s. The employers call the SS admin and a little recording tells them the number is valid or not. That's all an illegal immigrant needs - a valid ss#. Then they're paid minimum wage (often far better because kitchen staff earn more than waitstaff), and they pay income taxes and FICA and all that good stuff.

If they send a portion of their earnings back across the border, I'm not too bothered, since they're also feeding and maintaining the solvency of the medicare system. Of course, I hate the socialist medicare system, but that's an issue for another day :)

9:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

okay, it's NOT their fault their country is in such a sad state but it kind of is. and the conservatives will say, what incentive do they have to develop their country if they can just come up here and send money back, which they do.

I wouldn't stop people from buying cheap mexican stuff because at least money is going to mexico and people are getting something for it. same with illegal workers, at least we aren't just writing a check.

The problem is two, one it's a contrived thing from republicans who are pissed at Bush and this is the only way they can express it. Sort of like muslims blame all theiur problems on MOSSAD.

the second is more rational: there are too many mexican illegal immigrants. Chinatown has chinese illegal immigrants, but they are part ofc the chinese community and there aren't billions of them. here in Boston there are irish illegal immigrants but they are totally integrated into society.

let's just let the republicans have immigration us liberals can have bush / abramoff/ delay bashing. that's kind of what's happeneing anyway.

2:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Libby said...

Anon, the reason the Mexican economy is so bad has a lot more to do with NAFTA and other so called free trade schemes that have undermined workers rights. US corporations have exploited the people on their side of the border and they do so here as well.

I have no idea how many Chinese or other Asian immigrants there are but there are plenty and that community can hardly be called assimilated. You ever been to Chinatown in NYC? There are many businesses that not only don't speak English but you're taking your life in your hands if you try to enter certain places and don't speak their dialect.

Too many Spanish immigrants? As Bronwyn points out, they are contributing to our society and if you kicked them all out you would be paying a lot more for produce and meat and a host of other goods that depend on their dirt cheap labor to produce.

Bronwyn is also right that many of these illegals contribute to SS with fake numbers that they will never collect on. They're contributing to the health of the system and so what if they send money home, they still spend it here as well on groceries and utilities and gas and clothes, etc. Hell, you contribute to third world countries too, every time you shop at WalMart? Ever leave the country on vacation? These people don't exactly live lavish lifestyles. They live simply so they can take care of their families who are left behind living in abject poverty.

I can't fault that and I don't think they're criminals for trying to better their lives.

3:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, I didn't mean that chinese immigrants are always integrated. I meant that the non english speaking illegal immigrants are mainly in Chinatown. In california, half the state is mexico town. and there are tons of people who are DYING to get into this country. I've had good neighbors who simply have to return to whatever country they are from when their visa runs out. that's where playing by the rules gets you.

This problem has been going on alot longer than NAFTA. NAFTA was supposed to HELP this problem. Obviously it didn't work out that way.

Besides, who does this affect? Mainly the super rich who now have to actually follow the law. so instead of making 10 million a year they will make 9.5 million. Yeah, that'll RUIN the economy.

It's like the pro choice people say, if you are against abortion adopt. if you are for illegal immigration go pay for it when they go to the hospital or run into someones car. or take someones job

3:19:00 PM  

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