Friday, March 31, 2006

Latest Republican Wedgie

Millions of Latinos and their supporters flooded the streets recently showing opposition to republican legislation making illegal immigrants felons. Sporadic protests continue, coupled with the heated camel creation (a horse built in committee) debate in congress, treating Americans to another brilliant civics lesson. The issue has driven a wedge between the law and order branch and the cheap and abundant labor business interests of the republican party. The law and order branch wants them deported because illegal means illegal. The cheap and abundant labor business interests wants the illegal immigrants to stay because they are narcotically hooked to high profits. The wedge on the democratic side is between, primarily, unions and civil rights activists. Unions fear the decline of wages in the workforce and civil rights activists protest against the exploitation and creation of a permanent underclass.

The focus has been on a guest worker program and whether undocumented immigrants should be able to earn citizenship. And border security. The "earn citizenship" hampers the argument that undocumented workers only do jobs Americans won't do. Once they earn citizenship they become the Americans that won't do that kind of work anymore. Hence the need for more undocumented workers. If the guest worker program does not include a path toward citizenship it stretches the imagination to see people lining up to participate in it. Border security is mandatory and has no opposition. But it will be ineffective.

The Civics Lesson

American history is marked by dramatic events that forced changes. Many events created causes and these causes had leaders. Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter Christabel leading the suffragette movement. Samuel Gompers, founder of the American Federation of Labor, Dr. Martin Luther King, etc. But today we are saddled with an illegal war, a President who violates the law by spying on Americans without a warrant, has expanded the federal government by thirty percent and cut taxes delivering a crushing deficit to our children. But the huge protests are from people wanting to become Americans. Are Americans truly what other nations accuse Bush of being? Are we a bunch of arrogant bullies happy to live off of the heroic press clippings of our forebearers? Must we import our public dismay for our elected officials?

Where do we go from here?

Yeah, protect the borders. But those who exploit undocumented workers must be punished.

A report by the Government Accountability Office last year found the number of penalties issued to companies suspected of hiring illegal immigrants across the nation plummeted from 417 in 1999 to only three in 2004.

Wow. 12 million undocumented workers and three fines. It doesn't seem like this Administration is interested in enforcement. The only solution to stemming the tide of illegal immigrants is to eliminate the jobs. Fines must be so devastating that the risk would be akin to hiring a serial sexual abuser/crack headed workers comp pro. Employers who whine about not running a police station or extra paper work should not ask for a urine sample or authorization for a credit check. So what would a good enforcement program look like? It's a cinch it wouldn't resemble anything we have now. The laws should be absolutely clear, with no wiggle room. Open a brand new government agency, completely independent of congress by being self financed by the fines they levee and staffed entirely by displaced union workers. Start this out very small in one metro area with an undocumented labor problem. The pressures would be immense to bribe or coerce the agency to turn a blind eye to certain exploiters. The system would have to be tweaked and watched but we really need to try something different. I mean, c'mon, three fines?

Just as consumers demand competition between merchants to foster low prices, it is only fair employers have the same opportunity. We should have a healthy flow of LEGAL immigration to America to aide in this. No business should be forced to overpay some lazy bastard due to no other options. If we can't get off our asses enmasse to protest the abuses foisted on the world by Dubya, then maybe we need some new pioneers with the grit to cross deserts, rivers, fight banditos on both sides of the river just to make a life. They have a hell of a path to citizenship and they're showing us the way. Feel free to take notes.

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