Sunday, November 27, 2011

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid

As I've said before, I'm always amazed at how closely the issues facing the US are watched by other countries as reflected by their press. That's one of the reasons why I go over to Watching America at least once a week. This week was no different in that I found a very perceptive analysis of the problems America faces in enacting badly-needed immigration reform.

From Bulgaria's Capital:

In theory, it looked simple: Illegal immigrants would leave, and the unemployed in Georgia would take their jobs. An agricultural season and $79.4 million in losses later — from a harvest left on trees and in fields — the equation has been proven wrong. ...

The United States of America may have been built on immigration, but today it doesn’t have the strength to reform an immigration system that has long ago hit a dead end. Although politicians keep repeating that the current situation is unacceptable — and several states have decided to launch their own state reforms — on a national level Republicans and Democrats cannot even agree on giving a start to the negotiation process on the subject. The slow economic recovery and the approaching presidential elections fuel swings between drastic measures and complete apathy.

Because the White House has chosen to deport undocumented workers rather than push for actual reform, and because Congress won't touch the issue during an election year, any real reform is at least two years down the road, if then. States have therefore decided to take the matter into their own hands, with disastrous and often unintended consequences.

The restrictive measures insinuated fear and panic. “Women don’t dare to call the police when they are victims of domestic violence, because they fear extradition. Others don’t even dare to go to the hospital to give birth. In Alabama, where schools check on the status of children and parents, the situation is the worst. According to the statistical data, [during] the first week the law went into force, 2,300 kids did not show up at school,” Cervantes explains. The American media has shown striking images of Latin American immigrants leaving their residences in a hurry, leaving behind furniture and belongings. Other critics of the new legislation point out that it will create a burden to local prisons, which are overpopulated even without that extra pressure. The legislation in Alabama is the most severe not only because of the school checks, but also because it declares illegal any act of providing help, signing a contract or making a residence available to an illegal immigrant.

Immigration reform has become another "third rail" in politics. Xenophobes insist that any reform which provides a pathway to citizenship for those already here is "amnesty" and a "reward" for those who broke the law. All they want is higher fences along the Mexican border because, after all, all undocumented workers come from Mexico and Latin America and take jobs from hard-working but unemployed Americans. Business interests, including garment sweatshops and agricorps like things just the way they are because they can buy cheap labor who will be too afraid to report the egregiously bad conditions under which they are forced to work. And the racists, well, they just don't like anybody whose ancestors didn't come over on the Mayflower, which must have been a GINORMOUS ocean liner.

And, as the article points out, all of the objections overlook one very important factor:

...The immigrants are here because America needs them. Georgia’s agricultural losses would be the perfect example of what happens when the authorities are taking temporary measures where long-term decisions are needed.


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