Thursday, July 29, 2010

Not Black & White, It's Brown & Many Shades of Gray

"Where Is JustJoeP On AZ 1070?"
I'm getting asked repeatedly by co-workers, friends, relatives, "what do you think of that 1070 immigration law?" And honestly, I have mixed feelings on it. I'm not a xenophobe, bigot, or racist, nor am I a 'bleeding heart" ACLU card carrying liberal who thinks every city should be declared a "sanctuary city". As the son of legal Eastern European immigrants myself, I do believe strongly that the legal path should be taken. But I also know it is not an "either/or" dichotomy as so many on the Far Right want so desperately to believe. It's very messy, with many shades of gray.

What do I like about the 1070 law? The parts that US District Judge Susan Bolton did not block:
(link here)
1) provisions creating a new state crime of human smuggling

2) stopping a motor vehicle to pick up day laborers, and

3) knowingly employing illegal foreign residents.

Those are all good things. Even though MSNBC mocks the concept of not knowing who is illegal and who is legal when they get in a van, it is mainly the illegals who hang out at the periphery of nearly every Phoenix Home Depot (NOT at Lowes... Lowes has a company policy of "no loitering" on their property). Living here, one can see fairly clearly, how the illegal immigrants without documentation or a steady job repeatedly hang out at Home Depot. Home Depots with a bus station near them draw Larger crowds or day laborers as they can have the appearance of waiting for the bus, not trying to be picked up for cheap labor.

What is still in effect in the law that is stupid? "A provision allowing Arizona residents to sue any state office or agency for failing to fully enforce immigration laws." That's dumb. It will encourage superfluous law suits and was written into the law by Colorado founded anti-immigrant lobbyists who have made a pattern out of suing local and state governments in order to fund their xenophobic lobbying. And it encourages vigilante-ism.

The parts that Judge Bolton struck down, I understand why she struck them down, and I do not disagree with her.
- Where would you house all the thousands of suspects picked up, under suspicion of being illegal (while they committed other crimes and misdemeanors like traffic violations) while they had to go get their papers? You say that every green card holder MUST carry it on them at all times? Really? While tubing in the Salt River? While sleeping in their apartment that catches on fire from a neighbor's negligence? When they're in an accident and their clothes have to be cut off in a medical emergency? A green card is not tattooed or chipped into a person's skull. There's going to be lots of LEGAL residents who might LOOK illegal, who do not have their green card, driver's license, pass port, or birth certificate on their person. It is Not so simple.

- How long is it "reasonable" to detain such suspects? 90 days, like it is in France, if you're suspected of a Federal crime? Over night? And if you're a legal resident, how pissed off are you going to get while detained because of how you look? How well is that going to work?

- Of the 15 million or so illegal immigrants in the US, 500,000 are estimated to be in Arizona, 1/2 of them are children. So there will be a 1/4 million children separated from their parents in Arizona, put into an already under funded and over burdened foster care system... yeah, that's gonna work really well. Those kids - all who were born here, like me, are legal citizens - will be very well adjusted, well taken care of, and smoothly integrated into their communities. No drug dealers, bullies, prostitutes, hustlers, addicts, severe co-dependents will come result. Maybe we can get some fundamentalist Christians to convert them to their specific cult... er... I mean sect... and abolish the speaking of Spanish in their homes and religiously funded schools while their at it. The fundamentalist congregations could maybe get state education vouchers to make tax payer funded indoctrination with this new youthful army of conscripts a glorious reality! It worked so well with the Native Americans in Arizona last century - let's try it again, this time with children of Mexicans, Central Americans, and South American illegal immigrants!

So the practicalities of enforcement are very messy, very gray, and very unrealistic. Where would you put those arrested? How long would you hold them? Why would you destroy their nuclear families by stripping the matriarch and patriarch leadership who were the primary wage earners, rent payers, mortgage holders, care givers... adding to the public burden of the foster care system, ballooning foreclosures, exacerbating the commercial property glut (with empty apartments, abandoned shops, lower sales volume). It doesn't make sense financially, morally, ethically.

And to those angry white people who say "get them illegals out, Americans need jobs!" I want to invite them to Yuma Arizona, in August (ambient temperature 115F), to pick lettuce for minimum wage, or even for the $50/hr McCain quoted (link here). I want to invite them to a Perdue slaughterhouse to work for less than minimum wage in dangerous conditions (link here). Those Sharon Angle devoted tea baggers in Nevada need to understand that the Las Vegas Hotel association opposes immigration reform, since it will greatly decrease their cheap labor pool (link here).

Yes, the border needs to be secured - I don't want Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda wanna-bes trying to walk over the Southern Border, or Northern Border... and we need a reliable national worker ID card that can't be forged or faked, and businesses that knowingly hire illegals need to be prosecuted. But mass deportation is not a viable solution.


  1. I am waiting to see what the right will say about those children. I'm surprised that they aren't claiming that these kids aren't American because their parents were illegal.

    I read this blog / commentary on the Huffington Post the other day and thought he had some salient points.

    During tough times, it is much easier to blame the other - than to look at what you need to do to change the situation. Interesting analogy to a bad marriage as well. However, I do think he is giving Obama and the gov't in general too much leeway.

  2. The Far Right xenophobe / purists / angry-white-men are already calling them "anchor babies" (link here) ...and want to change the Constitution to say that one parent of a child has to be a legal US citizen for that child to be considered legally born here. Truly hateful, angry Caucasians afraid of inexorably becoming a minority.

  3. My solution to all this: Cede Arizona to Mexico! Close the borders, and wish all the xenophobes luck learning Spanish :)

  4. Actually, until the Gadsen purchase, Arizona's southern border was the Gila river, about 5 miles south of Phoenix (instead of 200 miles south) but the best railway lines were south of the mountains. The Heard Museum here in Phoenix has a great exhibit on the native north American's who've inhabited the Sonoran desert for millennium.

  5. some more fodder for the right...

  6. i just read the anchor baby crap. OMG.

    I'm all for breaking up the country between the wackos and the normals. :)

    However, you would then have to move are you are out numbered by wackos in your land.

  7. Indiana, South Carolina, Arizona... I can't get away from the crazies. =)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.