The immigration debate continues to rage out of control, while the Republicans once again get caught bumbling around the capitol. The old stereotype of conservatives as the pragmatists in Washington is certainly dead as fried chicken by now. Once again, they fail to get any of the people's business done.
From JS Online:
Landmark legislation offering eventual citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants suffered a potentially fatal blow Friday in the Senate, the latest in a series of election-year setbacks for President Bush and the Republicans who control Congress.
Hailed as a bipartisan breakthrough less than 24 hours earlier, the bill fell victim to internal disputes in both parties as well as to bewildering political maneuvering. On the key vote, only 38 senators, all Democrats, lined up in support. That was 22 short of the 60 needed, and left the legislation in limbo as lawmakers left the Capitol for a two-week break.
The reality is that a good chunk of Republicans, including noted blight on Wisconsin, James Sensenbrenner, cannot abide the thought that a poor minority people get to partake of the riches of America. It's the firm belief in the moral superiority of fortunate birth. Born within the U.S.'s borders? Congratulations! You get a free membership to the world's wealthiest nation, no questions asked. Born in Mexico, with little hope of a job or a better life? Too bad. God's got a plan for everyone and your's happens to involve a life of hardship and suffering. Better luck next time...
I find this entire immigration debate to be a particularly visceral reminder of what an ugly country this remains on many levels. I'm not an expert on economics, but I do know enough to realize that the tiny percentage of undocumented immigrants in the country are not derailing our entire economy. Shame on those of both parties that chastise Mexican immigrants (and don't fool yourself into thinking this debate is about any other nationality) for suppressing wages for the working man. That's like blaming battered women for pushing up insurance premiums with their medical costs from getting beaten by their husbands. Corporations suppress wages, not immigrants. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, stopping each and every company in the United States from paying a fair wage to Mexican immigrants, documented or not. Certainly that would be the moral thing to do, and I argue that it would be good all around for the economy. American companies grossly exploit immigrant workers and then have the gall to blame those same workers for "stealing" American jobs. It's a disgusting stew of racism and classism, and the Republicans support it whole-heartedly.
Furthermore, I find the assertion that Mexican immigrants are "taking the jobs Americans don't want" to be an equally racist and vile notion. Trust me: these are jobs that Mexican immigrants don't want either. They take menial labor jobs because that's all the wealthiest nation the world has ever known chooses to offer them. Many of the same Americans decrying the poor wages and benefits they get from their jobs seem to have no problem consigning an entire community of people, millions strong, to a living even lower than that inadequate minimum. It's cruel and un-American treatment towards a people that happened to be born on the wrong side of some invisible line. A line, by the way, which was drawn after the United States forcibly took a chunk of their country from them originally. Our war against Native Americans never ends, does it?
Finally, not one conservative Republican that supports the House immigration bill has any right to talk about "family values" again. They spit the word "amnesty" through their teeth, as though it were a vile taste in their mouths. The reality of deportation is that families will be destroyed, returned to a nation that is no more their home than it is mine. Many, many families, whose only crime was being desperate to work for a better life. That used to be a moral belief that Americans held in high regard. No more, sadly. Now the "American Dream" is to be born rich or achieve empty fame or win the lottery. Those, like the Mexican immigrants who come here, that want to dig in and build that better life with their blood and sweat, are derided as "criminals" or relegated to a permanent under-class status. Not only should we thank these folks who do the menial labor that Americans choose not to do, but we should give them a little something in return. We should give them back that promise of a better life; that promise that brought our ancestors here. It's the least we can do and still call ourselves a compassionate nation.
The value of being an "American" is granted by character, not birth. These immigrants that the Republicans wish to banish from our land are consumate Americans, carrying the torch of the American Dream forward. They've bet their lives on a better day here for their children and broken their backs every day for the privalege of being dirt poor and demonized in America. They will be a strong part of our nation long after racist demagogues like Tancredo and Rohrabacher are long forgotten.