Ways and Wills

Bush Administration, Immigration, Republican Party

A commenter to the last post wrote “If there is a will to stop illegal immigration, then there is a way to do it. The trouble is that there is no will to do it.” For the record, I don’t buy into the “if there’s a will, there’s a way” notion. It may be that illegal immigration can be much reduced, but when you are dealing with human behaviors absolute control is never possible. As long as there’s a will to enter the U.S. illegally, someone will find a way.

Seems to me the key to reducing illegal immigration is to focus on the “will” part of the equation. As long as illegals can get jobs more easily here than they can at home, they’ll have the will. Ah, but that’s the rub. Money is being made on the backs of illegals, m’dears, and where money is involved all that homeland, mother, God and flag stuff flies out the window.

Illegal labor is not some rogue thing outside the system. Illegal labor is built into the system. “The System” has decided we need those people to pick fruit and watch the kids. “The System” turned a blind eye when federal contractors recruited illegal aliens to do the dirty work in New Orleans for slave wages.

Paul Krugman wrote in his March 27 column

…many of the worst-off native-born Americans are hurt by immigration — especially immigration from Mexico. Because Mexican immigrants have much less education than the average U.S. worker, they increase the supply of less-skilled labor, driving down the wages of the worst-paid Americans. The most authoritative recent study of this effect, by George Borjas and Lawrence Katz of Harvard, estimates that U.S. high school dropouts would earn as much as 8 percent more if it weren’t for Mexican immigration.

That’s why it’s intellectually dishonest to say, as President Bush does, that immigrants do ”jobs that Americans will not do.” The willingness of Americans to do a job depends on how much that job pays — and the reason some jobs pay too little to attract native-born Americans is competition from poorly paid immigrants.

And we’re all complicit in this, y’know. I remember a few months ago, during a crackdown on illegal aliens, there were news stories about fruit orchard owners watching their lovely crop rot, unpicked, because there were no illegal aliens to pick the fruit. I assume if they’d rounded up legal workers and paid them minimum wage, the orchard owners would have suffered a net loss. This is basic Wal Mart economics; you offer lower prices in exchange for lower wages.

Howard Fineman made an interesting observation last week. No, really. He wrote,

Though I’ve never heard him use the term, my guess is that George W. Bush sees himself as a hacendado, an estate owner in Old Mexico.

That would give him a sense of Southwestern noblesse, duty-bound not just to work “his” people, but to protect them as well.

His advisor, Carlo Rove, has explained that a system called “democracy” now gives peasants something called “the vote.” It would be shrewd, Rove said, for hacendados to grant their workers’ citizenship.

That’s the best explanation I have for why Bush is in the midst of what may be a suicide mission on immigration policy—embarrassing for him and ruinous for his party.

I suspect there’s something to that. For all his affected folksiness, Dubya is the child of privilege. He sees illegal immigrants as a resource to be exploited, not as competition for his wages. He probably doesn’t comprehend why the base is so up in arms about illegal immigration.

But for many, many years — going back at least to the 1960s and the revolt of white southern Democrats against the Civil Rights movement — the Republican Party has oh, so carefully nurtured its base by cultivating racism and xenophobia. And you can’t feed something for fifty years and then expect it to turn off like an electric lamp. Digby wrote,

All the gains that Bush made over the years to securing the Latino population with appeals to traditional values are being wiped out by the racist id of the Republican base.

But what did he expect? That they would sit still for his “compassionate” outreach to a bunch of brown people just because the corporations want cheap labor? Of course not. Live by racism, die by racism. But they had no choice, really. Karl Rove knows that without being able to carry at least a large minority of Latino votes, they cannot cobble together a majority. As Florida goes … well, let’s just say they have a problem. George Bush is not desperately pushing this bill just because of big agriculture or the restaurant lobby. He’s pushing it on behalf of all big business — his real base — because if the neanderthals in the GOP base are successful at seriously alienating the Latino vote, the ship is going down

And if the GOP loses the knee jerk loyalty of racists and xenophobes, the ship also is going down. In short, the GOP is wedging itself.

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  1. Kevin  •  Jun 17, 2007 @8:52 am

    This is a great post and you have nailed it. I linked to this and continued the conversation over at The Command T.O.C..

    The most fundamental obligation the Government has is to protect our borders and enforce our laws. Our current Government is doing neither of these.

  2. joanr16  •  Jun 17, 2007 @9:26 am

    [W]hen you are dealing with human behaviors absolute control is never possible. As long as there’s a will to enter the U.S. illegally, someone will find a way.

    Indeed, nails it. I have nothing more to add, unless it’s that realistic statements are so often lost on some people.

  3. c u n d gulag  •  Jun 17, 2007 @11:14 am

    “And if the GOP loses the knee jerk loyalty of racists and xenophobes, the ship also is going down. In short, the GOP is wedging itself. ”

    You’ve got to love the irony!

    I wrote a silly little poem about this:

    “Open the gates to the brown droves,”
    That Little King George “loves.”
    The corporatist’s had this idea,
    And it was vetted past numerous “Rove’s.”

    “Build up new gates and bar the doors,”
    Debates arose on Congressional floors.
    “Why not build a moat?”
    “We’ll lose the Hispanic vote!”

    “Who’ll harvest the veggies?”
    “We’ve got to work the edges.”
    The Democrat’s laughed,
    As esteemed colleague’s resorted to wedgies.

    Sorry, it’s the best I can do after last night’s party…

  4. Swami  •  Jun 17, 2007 @12:39 pm

    Saw this written in a porta potty..doesn’t reflect my views but, I thought it was clever.

    Q. How come Mexico never wins any gold medals in the Olympics?

    A. Because all the Mexicans who can run, swim, or jump are in the United States.

  5. Chief  •  Jun 17, 2007 @2:54 pm

    And anyone who thinks it isn’t about money, well, I got this nice little bridge between Manhattan and BrooklynI’d like to sell you.

    It is always about the money. every issue, every war, every world event is always and forever fueled by money. A lot of folks, heck, most folks, don’t believe that. They believe what they are told without applying any critical thinking to it.

    The Crusades, WWII, Israel, Bosnia, Darfur. Someone behind each of these is getting rich.

  6. erinyes  •  Jun 17, 2007 @7:12 pm

    What a hoot!
    I LOVE the mahablog and it’s commentors!
    While driving home today from Fort Meyers to Kissimmee, we passed through many small towns along US highway 27, towns like Nocatee, Arcadia, and Zolofo Springs. There were many people walking around in those towns who were obviously from either Mexico or Guatemala.All those town are in to citrus or beef production, lots of farm work. But after the hurricanes several years ago, all of Florida was over run with little brown guys doing roofing and debris removal, and all us white folks were quite happy to see them.Now the Republicans have turned against them.
    Talk about Manic-Depressive…….

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