My illegal friend

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I offer this not as a solution to anything, but simply to humanize the issue. It is about my friend, whom I will call Alex.

Alex is the son of a middle-class Mexican family that couldn't keep it together in their home state south of our border. With too many children to feed, the father entered the US illegally 20 years ago. Ten years ago, when Alex was 18, he followed his father to America legally, on a work visa. When his visa expired, he chose to stay here illegally. When he tells the story, it's clear it was a hard decision. Had Alex returned to Mexico, he would have lost his job working at a cement factory. His father, who was injured and disabled at the same factory five years earlier, returned to Mexico and is no longer able to work. Alex is the sole source of income for his parents.

Two years ago, Alex met and married a US citizen. She is now pregnant. The couple had been planning to return to Mexico where the wife would teach English, but Alex's family tells him there is no prospect for any work whatsoever in the state where they live. If Alex leaves the US, he would be prohibited from re-entering for ten years.

At 28, Alex is the shop foreman in the cement company, responsible for maintaining all the company's machinery. The company knowingly hired him illegally and has kept him on the payroll for ten years now. They have withheld taxes, etc., from his salary, though Alex has no access to health care unless he pays directly for it in cash. Alex says that if others like him were to be deported tomorrow, every cement plant, asphalt plant, and paving company in the Southeast would be shut down overnight.

To my way of thinking, the fuel for the illegal immigration fire is our culture of capitalism and greed. The rich often get richer only when there is a permanent underclass that can be exploited for profit. This mindset is constantly promoted by free-market extremists who conflate "life" with "making money," and for whom there is no higher calling than buying low and selling high. In a predictable twist of hypocrisy, though, many of the extremists truncate their definition of "free" at the US / Mexican border. A truly free market would allow the unfettered exchange of goods and services throughout the world and would eliminate the economic significant of borders altogether.

I don't have a magic answer to anything, but I do know this: when cultural values conflict with economic interests, economic interests always win. We are a nation of hypocrites.


Comments

I know several Alexes, and Juanitas.

The simple solution - "round them up and send em back to where they came from " is not simple, because of the work force depletion and the impact on families. There has to be a middle road, where Alex can earn "legality". He is an important part of our community, and should be treated as such.


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

This story is all too common,

which is why we need a different approach. As long as companies can allow this to happen:

His father, who was injured and disabled at the same factory five years earlier, returned to Mexico and is no longer able to work.

without worrying about paying medical, disability, worker's compensation, etc., they are successfully avoiding labor laws that took decades of struggle to have instituted.

And I would be very curious to see how Alex's paycheck:

Alex is the shop foreman in the cement company, responsible for maintaining all the company's machinery.

would stand up against his peers who are documented.

He says

he makes about 60% of what US Citizens make.

Something more....

It is clearly true that economic elites benefit from the virtual enslavement of "illegal" immigrants.

But I would add two quibbles to your claims here.

1. Markets are the enemy of discrimination; greed actually helps, UNLESS government chooses bad policies to make greed more powerful. Branch Rickey may have wanted to do the right thing, but he REALLY wanted good, cheap baseball players. Who to get? BLACK PLAYERS. Greed ultimately was what broke the color barrier in baseball. Even the most racist teams couldn't compete unless they signed the best players, and "best" is color blind.

Now, you are right that large corporations are likely to be able to get government to act on their behalf. So, what we have is a situation where immigrants who would love to be here legally have to sneak in to work. They are abused, underpaid, and can't go to the police for help, because they'll be shipped out. We have created a new slave state. And it is greed that is doing it.

We aren't going to get rid of greed, though. We can only solve this problem by giving RIGHTS to workers. At least formal guest-worker privileges, and legal protections including counsel who speak Spanish.

2. I would open the borders. We may have to have enough control to prevent terrorists from entering, but we don't do that now. If some poor guy from Jalisco can cross the border, carrying two milk jugs of water and wearing torn sandals, surely a terrorist could cross already. A temporary visa or guest worker program, where the Mexican government takes some responsibility in ensuring identities on THEIR side, would help a lot.

The amazing thing to me is that so many Americans, and not by any means just members of the economic elite, have so visceral and hateful a reaction to immigrants. "What part of illegal don't you understand?", I hear all the time. Well, what part of "desperately poor and couldn't get a legal visa after trying for three years" don't YOU understand, my friends? I have had people sign a petition to get Libs on the ballot, and then tear it up when they hear my position on immigration. There is something more going on that just economics. There is a resurgence of the occasional fit of ugly nativism, and "pull up the ladder now that I've got mine."

So, when Anglico says, "A truly free market would allow the unfettered exchange of goods and services throughout the world and would eliminate the economic significant of borders altogether"...well, that's right. And if you aren't for that, then you aren't for free markets. That's fair enough; there are arguments against market economies. But people who say they are for markets have to be for open borders. Minimal logical consistency demands it.

FInally, it may be that "culture of greed" is a problem. But a "culture of ambition, hard work, and deserved reward" is what America should be about. What I find so appalling is that so many immigrants actually embody those ideals, and yet are treated as if they were subhuman criminals.

"It is to secure our rights that we resort to government at all." --Thomas Jefferson to Francois D'Ivernois, 1795.

Michael C. Munger

color me impressed

and a little bit more educated about your "libertarian" stances. Thanks for this answer.


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Me too.

MIke's the smartest guy in Libertarian party, as far as I'm concerned. Plus he's not crazy. Two big pluses.

I read Mike's 'blog

Mike will never get the Indy's endorsement, that is if the read his 'blog

http://mungowitzend.blogspot.com/

The borders are always going to be porous to terrorists, so the question starts to be more about what freedoms we're going to reserve for US citizens and other folks than one of security. It's hard to be horrified anymore by the slide into an Orwellian dystopia but when we're told that "privacy" is being redefined "for our good", well, it's just hard to maintain a belief we're going to survive as a democracy.

One thing the Libs believe in is limited government and natural rights. With the erosion in our rights - natural or not - over the last 6 years as backdrop you would think Mike would get some traction.

CitizenWill
there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right. MLK,Jr. to SCLC Leadership Class

CitizenWill
there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right. MLK,Jr. to SCLC Leadership Class

I understand your sentiment,

but your solution is flawed and contradictory.

We aren't going to get rid of greed, though. We can only solve this problem by giving RIGHTS to workers.

There are arguably more rights for workers in this country than any other on the globe, but you can't be a ghost and still access these rights.

What you can do, though, is hold employers accountable for their behavior. When they actively circumvent the laws of this country in pursuit of a profit, they are committing a crime. Period. That they can do so with impunity because of economic concerns is merely an indication of how flawed our judgment has become. We throw a kid in jail for five years for having a handful of crack, but look the other way while employers break the law day after day?

I would open the borders.

That's some crazy shit right there, Michael. :) A million plus people a year entering illegally is not open enough?

But if you give the ghost workers certain rights

then the employers are forced to comply with laws - and the ghosts (i assume you are talking about undocumented workers) will have a way to become a legal part of our society.

It's not that it isn't complicated.

And I daresay that pressure needs to be put on our neighbors to create better economies so that it's not so attractive to come here and live as a ghost. You don't hear much about Canadian illegals, do you? Which either means Canadians can afford to live in their own country - or it means that as long as the people coming across the border look like us, we're ok with it. Hmm.


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

I call them ghosts because they don't exist,

at least as far as our "system" is concerned.

They don't want to be recognized/acknowledged by our system, because that greatly increases the possibility of their deportation. Aside from cases where Social Services intervenes in a family to protect children, our system is based upon people asking for help if they think they need it, not us pursuing them to find out if they need it. So there's a massive communications gap.

Now, if we were to radically change the way we award citizenship (or all the benefits of), and undocumented workers had free access to the Labor Board, Medicaid, housing assistance, Welfare, etc., with little or no danger of being rejected/deported, I'm sure many of these ghosts would step forward into the light to be counted.

But guess what? If all these other economic benefits became easily available, how soon do you think that 12 million would double, triple, or even quadruple or more? And it would no longer be only "jobs" they were coming here for, either.

It is an incredibly complicated issue, and the sheer volume of economically deprived individuals outside of the U.S. means we must be extremely careful in our approach.

And God said Greed was the root of all evil to the moneychangers

1. Markets are the enemy of discrimination; greed actually helps, UNLESS government chooses bad policies to make greed more powerful. Branch Rickey may have wanted to do the right thing, but he REALLY wanted good, cheap baseball players. Who to get? BLACK PLAYERS. Greed ultimately was what broke the color barrier in baseball. Even the most racist teams couldn't compete unless they signed the best players, and "best" is color blind.* Corporate Greed Myth Mike

Bull shit Mike! It appears that you have no knowledge that America was a pure racist society at that time. Branch Rickey was a principle hero in the Sport World and Greed was the last thing on his mind when he hired Jackie Robertson.. If your bull shit racist conspiracy theory about Greed is True, than how come the NFL and George Hallas the founder of the leaque didn't go out and hired the best black jocks of that time to boast a struggling unfunded leaque to produce that Greed????????

I think you have been watching that movie " Wall Street" with Michael Douglas in it about Greed being his God in the Corporate Wall Street world too many times...

When you hit the campaign trail, You should start in the projects and try selling your corporate Exxon platform of Greed to the brothers and see how long you will last before you become the first drive by hood symbol by the greedy drug dealers religious spiritual neigbors.....

I suggest you fire your Campaign manager if you think Greed will sell to the voters and the masses....

Your faithful student....

Well, Max, I was hopin' YOU would be my campaign manager.

I have so much to learn from you! Tact, reason, finesse....you've got it all.

"It is to secure our rights that we resort to government at all." --Thomas Jefferson to Francois D'Ivernois, 1795.

Michael C. Munger

And apparently

the best herbal brownies in the state!


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Comment of the day

I needed that smile. :)

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic, the ass you save may be your own.

me too.

:) It's a tough topic. We need to remember we're all still friends at the end of the day.


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

From the real Prof Mike

Your faithful student.....

Well, Max, I was hopin' YOU would be my campaign manager.*Michael Munger

I would Mike! I am a confimed battle tested Vet from hundreds of Julius Caesar campaigns as you know. I am interested in saving the Republic before you end up teaching in some police state dentention camp about how black markets are really the only free markets in prisons.I would for Free Mike as you know..I hate seeing Libertarian brothers riding the wrong train to Black Springs Texas.

..I'II see if Madame Justice will let me work for you on the side as we finished off the last corrupted Judical seat with total victory in the name of "real" liberty

I have so much to learn from you! Tact, reason, finesse....you've got it all.*Michael Munger

Thanks, but that does not work anymore when a country is approaching revolutionary levels and total failure in the world empire business.