[Marxism] Immigrant's rights and economic determinism
lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Mar 26 09:18:37 MST 2006
(In light of my comments about the need to avoid a kind of economic
determinism formula in terms of understanding the Israel lobby, it might
make sense to see the fight over immigration rights in a similar vein. It
would appear that the xenophobic campaign is being driven by factors that
transcend simple economic calculation. The article below discusses the role
of a shitbag Congressman from Colorado in pushing for Draconian measures,
despite any compelling economic factors peculiar to a state like Colorado
which ostensibly does have a large number of undocumented workers. John
McCain, whose Arizona shares Colorado's demographics, has lined up with Ted
Kennedy to sponsor legislation that many trade unions and immigrants rights
group supports, which is not to say that the radical movement should
automatically endorse it. Colorado has the distinction of being a kind of
hotbed for ultraright movements and trends. It is where high school and
college teachers get witch-hunted, where Protestant fundamentalism has big
foothold and is also the home of the Air Force academy, which is becoming a
kind of haven for cryptofascist tendencies. If capitalism were a rational
system, then the politicians would simply act on the bottom line
imperatives of the Fortune 100 corporations. But as this system continues
to decline, there will be more and more of a need for scapegoats as there
was in Nazi Germany. It occurred to me, btw, that the "Vietnam syndrome"
has played an important role in shaping politics today, despite the
tendency for leftists to flagellate themselves for not having done a good
enough job. The Bush administration simply cannot put together the fighting
force it needs to stabilize Iraq because it would take a draft. However, a
draft would blow the country sky-high. Could you imagine a powerful antiwar
movement that involved students acting on their own material
interests--staying alive--hooking up with a burgeoning immigrant's rights
A Border War
Tom Tancredo is pulling the immigration debate to the rightand away from Bush.
By Holly Bailey
April 3, 2006 issue - The lights were on, the cameras were rolling, but the
special guest star was nowhere to be found. Last Friday afternoon, 55 men
and women from 30 countries sat in a Denver conference room, clutching
small American flags as they waited to be sworn in as U.S. citizens. The
12:15 starting time had come and gone, and some people were getting
impatient. "For heaven's sake," one woman said, sighing. "What is the
holdup?" A few minutes later, they had the answer. Tom Tancredo, the
Republican congressman, was coming to welcome the new citizens. He was hard
to miss when he breezed in, 25 minutes late, dressed in a dark suit and an
American-flag necktie. Even so, few in the room recognized him until one
man whispered, "He's the guy who sits on the border chasing illegals."
Tancredo may not be a household name yet, but he's doing everything he can
to change that. As the House and Senate debate the nation's immigration and
border-security laws, the four-term Coloradan has positioned himself as the
loudest, angriest voice against the estimated 11 million illegal aliens now
living in the United States. They are "a scourge that threatens the very
future of our nation," he says. He laments "the cult of multiculturalism,"
and worries about America's becoming a "Tower of Babel." If Republican
presidential candidates don't put the problem atop the agenda in 2008, he
says he'll run himself, just to force the front runners to talk about it.
Not that he thinks he'd win the White House. He declares himself "too fat,
too short and too bald" to be president. If the Republicans lose the
election because he's too tough on the issue, he says, "So be it."
Not so long ago, Tancredo was regarded as little more than a noisy pest on
Capitol Hill. His colleagues shook their heads at his tireless demands for
crackdowns on American employers who hire illegals and his idea for a
700-mile-long fence along the Mexican border. But in recent months, some of
those same Republicans have come to realize that, while Tancredo may be a
crank, he is a crank with a large and passionate following.
Anti-immigration sentiment has always simmered, and it flares up about once
a decadethe last time it hit this level was 1996, when California Gov.
Pete Wilson made it the centerpiece of his failed presidential campaign.
Tancredo was one of the first politicians to tap into the latest surge of
anger. In states with large numbers of undocumented workers, voters
complain that poor illegals are overwhelming public schools, clogging
hospital emergency rooms and bankrupting welfare budgets. And they worry
that inadequate border security makes it easy for would-be terrorists to
sneak into the country. Tancredo's colleagues are listening. When he
arrived in Washington, he started the Immigration Reform Caucus. The group
attracted just 16 members. Today, there are 91.
Watchful Eye: Mexican citizens peer through holes in the wall that
separates their country from the United StatesTancredo's anti-immigration
campaign is also brazenly, almost gleefully, taking aim at George W. Bush
and Karl Rove. The president had once hoped the immigration debate would
center on his proposed guest-worker program, which would allow illegalswho
fill millions of unskilled, low-wage jobsto stay in the country for a set
period of time. This was Bush the pragmatist, the former border-state
governor who wanted to acknowledge the importance of immigrant labor to
construction, fruit farming and other chunks of the U.S. economy. "He
doesn't think it's morally right that a group that has been critical to the
strength of the economy is operating in the shadows," says a senior Bush
aide who, following policy, spoke anonymously. Meanwhile, Rove pushed the
pure political benefits of the plan: immigrant-friendly policies would help
the party reach out to the fast-growing Latino vote.
Instead, the immigration debate has split the GOP, with many Republicans in
the House and Senate, worried about alienating voters, openly opposing the
president. In December, the House tossed aside the worker program and
passed a bill that features tougher security at the Mexican
borderincluding Tancredo's cherished fenceand crackdowns on illegals who
are already here. "You can't ignore him," says a GOP leadership aide who
wouldn't be named because he wanted to keep his job. "The administration
doesn't want to hear this, but a lot of Americans think he's right."
In the Senate, Republicans, led by John McCain and Arlen Specter, have been
working to come up with a compromise that would include border security, a
guest-worker program and a way for illegal immigrants to "earn"
citizenship. But Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a presidential
contender with one eye on the anti-immigration voteand the other one on
outflanking McCainhas threatened to put forward his own get-tough plan
this week if the senators fail to come through.
It's not just Republicans elbowing for attention. Last week Sen. Hillary
Clinton whacked the GOP with the Bible, implying anti-immigration proposals
were not only hardhearted, but un-Christian. The bill, she said, "would
literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself."
Bush, forced to step up his own security rhetoric in response to the feud,
is still hoping for a compromise. At an immigration meeting at the White
House last week, the president said that "the debate must be done in a way
that doesn't pit one group of people against another." But Florida Sen. Mel
Martinez, a former Bush cabinet member who sides with the president on the
issue, fears that's exactly what is happening. "Republicans have made
significant gains [among Latinos]," he says, "and we're risking all of that
by allowing ourselves to be positioned as anti-immigrant ... We are at
Oct. 8, 2005: A Minuteman Project volunteer looks for illegal border
crossers in Southern CaliforniaTancredo believes there's greater danger in
doing nothing. All he wants, he says, is to see the law enforced. "I don't
like it when people call me a racist or xenophobe," he says. "In my heart,
I know that I'm not." A 60-year-old grandson of an Italian immigrant, he
grew up in a working-class family. He ran for Congress on a whim in 1998,
and won by pushing immigration reform. He says he became passionate about
the issue back in the 1970s, when he was a Denver junior-high-school
teacher. At the time, Colorado had just passed a bilingual-education bill.
He says students with Latino-sounding names were put into Spanish-language
classes, even if they spoke English only. "It was ridiculous, and a total
waste of time and money."
He's remained unapologetic about his views. In 2002, The Denver Post ran a
human-interest story about a high-school honors student who couldn't get
college financial aid because he was in the United States illegally.
Tancredo tried to have the boy and his family deported. (He was unsuccessful.)
Back at the immigration ceremony, Tancredo thanked the new citizens for
coming to the United States "the right way," and urged them to "cast aside
loyalties to your old countries and walk with us." One lucky person walked
away with more than a citizenship certificate. When he heard that a young
woman from Mexico had waited more than a year for her paperwork to clear,
Tancredo approached her. He apologized that he was out of the lapel pins he
usually hands out. Instead, he gave her a more personal gift: his
American-flag necktie. "Gracias," she said.
With Daren Briscoe and Richard Wolffe
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