« on: May 02, 2006, 11:27:25 AM »
Before I broach this topic, let me go ahead and throw some background and disclaimers out there. I'm a left-leaning libertarian, to use some grossly-oversimplified labels. I've studied Spanish for the past 5 years, including taking two undergraduate semesters of night class at a local university, even though it will probably never be of professional benefit to me... I'm just interested in the language and culture(s). My brother and aunt have both married foreigners within the past 5 years, and I've learned from watching first-hand how screwed up and in need of reform our immigration system is.
Now, having said all that, I'm still left scratching my head at this week's immigration protest "boycott". First and foremost, I'm not clear on what the goals are... and I don't believe anyone else is, either. The rhetoric I keep hearing on TV calls for completely open borders and unlimited immigration. However, with half the world's 6+ billion population living on less than $2 a day, even I'll admit that's a stupid notion.
I don't even think the Latino community is united on that front. Everybody is just looking after their own interests, ultimately. I'm sure that illegal immigrants favor any rhetoric about legalizing themselves and their families. I bet that many VERY-recently legalized immigrants are still sympathetic as well. However, in talking with middle-class and more deeply established Latinos in my neighborhood and office, there's very little support for "unlimited immigration" and "total amnesty" rhetoric. Educated and established Latinos seem to take the same attitude held by many educated and established African-americans during the 90's debate on welfare reform. In both cases, there's a level of irritation that "The Man" is speaking ill of people in their ethnic group. However, they don't necessarily disagree with "The Man" behind closed doors, and may even share some of "His" frustration.
Second to the goals, I don't get the method. A boycott only has real impact if the people you're trying to reach feel its effect. Shutting down Los Angeles, if I may be blunt, is pointless. The politicians in LA are already beholden to the Latino demographic. The rest of the country, however, doesn't care. Atlanta was completely unaffected... I read that a road crew had to stop working on an exit ramp somewhere for the afternoon, but since those crews drag-ass and milk the budget as long as possible anyway, who cares?
I can get behind a nationwide "protest", but a nationwide "boycott" was premature and ill-advised. When you tell the Heartland, "This is what it would be like without illegal immigrants", and then everyone has a pretty unremarkable day... that's not doing your cause any favors.
Last but not least, I'm rubbed a bit the wrong way by the political manipulations of Powers That Be here. I can't shake the feeling that most of the noise is magnified by cheap-labor conservatives and cheap-vote liberals persuing their own agendas. There was an article in the Atlanta newspaper about a farm in southeast Georgia that "lost thousands of dollars" yesterday when migrant workers boycotted the onion harvest. Now I have family in Videlia, and have to call major bullsh*t here... onions are planted in March, and harvested July/August. There's very little for migrant workers to do for an onion crop in May, which is why they're called MIGRANT workers... they migrate to work elsewhere until the times of year when they're needed.
That's just a small example of businessmen spinning lies to make the boycott sound worse than it was, I noticed several others. Maybe I'm a cynic, but I just don't trust the motives behind businessmen who hunger for "temporary" guest-worker programs... creating a "permanent" underclass of laborers who can't vote or organize, and are beholden to their employer to avoid deportation.
I don't expect anything to happen during an election year no matter what. However, if and when immigration reform does become a reality, I hope that it's REAL reform... making it easier to become a citizen of the U.S. (while limiting immigration to a responsible and sustainable rate), and avoiding "compromises" that help no one but businessmen and activist leaders looking after their own clout.
Oh well, that's my rambling... throw in your 2 cents if you're bored.