26 March 2006

This is the price we pay for our addiction to cheap labor, our unwillingness to take measures in Mexico to help people prosper there

Thousands line Phoenix street in protest march.

And immigration protests erupted around the country this weekend, pushing the immigration issue on to the center stage of political debate once again.

As I endured the lengthy traffic delays Friday, the result of the massive protest turnout here in the Valley of the Sun, I had time to reflect on all the various vantage points thrown at me from the one local Valley radio station that was providing coverage of the unfolding event (which is fodder for another rant in itself…). I didn't agree with any of the impromptu guests presented with air time on the KTAR 620 AM Ted Simons show, and figured that, in a crux, may be the mightiest wedge in the immigration policy debate. Meanwhile, the problem continues to escalate, and each passing day brings a deeper doom.

  • I really am exceedingly weary of the repeated mantra that illegal aliens take jobs Americans won't do. Always left off in that phrase is the "at those wages". Wages that support a middle class existence.

  • A guest worker program is an awful solution for the problem. It just legitimizes employee abuses and fosters a permanent underclass. And there is nothing more permanent than a temporary guest worker.

  • A flood of immigrant workers lower the wages paid to American workers. This is not sophistry or any supreme wisdom. It's basic economics.

  • But it's just not an issue for working class Americans. American workers at all levels are affected, given that huge increases in non immigrant visa levels that displace American engineers and programmers are often tied in to Washington congress critter chatter on immigration reform. Such legislative measures have galvanized disparate sets of Americans against "real immigration reform".

  • Bush's Yes Man, Senator Kyl has been in office long enough and his excuses for not spearheading a solution are entirely lame.

  • Those that protest the protesters sound as silly as those who decried civil rights demonstrators in the 1960s. You might not agree with their position, but mass demonstration is still an effective means of getting the message out.

  • But the "chutzpah of the day" award goes to Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, who was literally steaming over the surprise turnout and wants to arrest the protest organizers for their inaccurate turnout predictions. Even while acknowledging it was a "peaceful protest", and crediting the Phoenix Police, disregarding the truth that it could have been an ugly ordeal if the spirit of those marching was tilted differently.

  • Making full fledged criminals of folks that for the most part, come to work as maids, in construction, or agriculture interests seems absurd, especially when Arizona (and U.S.) companies have profited immensely from such services. If illegal aliens/migrant workers are to be cast as felons, then unless the company owners that employ them arn't also dealt with as like criminals, then it's a travesty.

  • Why does nobody ever question, including those annointed voices in the mainstream media, the process of legal immigration. That is, it seems to me, that we should be asking (a) Do we have a need to import workers? and (b) Is the quota set high enough or does it need to be raised to reflect labor needs in 2006?. Instead the debate flurries around "guest worker" programs, which saddens me, to see our nation embrace a mode of economic being more akin to an theocratic Islamic nation like UAE or Saudi Arabia.

This debate will continue and will likely even get more polarized. Even the moribund Arizona Republic blogs have come to life, as their columnists and featured bloggers chime in and generate feedback. If I were to cast a prediction, I'd say the corporate interests will be most placated with any remedy, but that will, in turn, infuriate the other 80% plus.