Thursday, June 19, 2008

"Reach For The Skies You Taco Folders! "

An article's headline from yesterday’s LA Times read “Federal prosecution of illegal immigrants soars”
(Don’t kid yourself, -“illegal immigrants” means “Mexicans”... well maybe even “Salvadorians” too, who knows?). Essentially, they are talking about the classic “border-crossing wetback”, a distinct species of immigrant that inspires intense fear and loathing in Americans, particularly those Americans who believe that just being born here makes you more American than someone who fought and struggled to get here. If you believe in the “Alamo” story as it is told in history books and comic books from the 1950s, it just may look like those Mexicans are about to salt and pepper then eat up the country with a side of fries and a Coke. Never mind that thousands of American cities still bear Spanish names. Never mind that the first European settlements in North America were Spanish speaking. These are aliens we are told. People from the fucking planet Mars would be greeted more warmly by the side of the road.

The Bush administration, now in its comical death throes, has frantically sought to pin some shining star on itself, desperate for some accomplishment they can hold up to counter history’s inevitable judgment of their incompetence, arrogance, opportunism and greed. Yes my dearest John Ashcroft, -history will not judge you or your colleagues kindly for what you helped wrought, not matter how many Mexicans you throw in the hoosegow.

While the US Justice Department has increased prosecutions of illegal immigrants along the border since 2007 to the point where they now approach half of the United States federal criminal cases, a central wrinkle is being ignored:

Mexicans are not coming here to commit felonies; they are coming here because there are jobs here, such as they are. It is their actual coming here illegally that is the felony in question. So to say that illegal immigrants are being prosecuted for felonies is like saying embezzlers are being prosecuted for felonies: they are felons because they are embezzlers.
I feel it important to make this distinction, before the right wing radio outlets, Fox News and every counterfeit political analyst from Pat Buchanan to Anne Coulter starts insisting that illegal immigrants (remember, read: “Mexicans”) are committing felonies at double the rate of American citizens or some such nonsense. I feel it’s important to make this distinction, even if it echoes unheard here on this blog.

We can call them felons for crossing the border, or illegal immigrants, but we can’t double-up the same felony on the same felony, not if we want to tell the truth…

And the truth is, Americans come from all over the earth. They always have. Long before the 20th and 19th centuries, the first immigrants, the people some call the native nations crossed the Bering and Asiatic straits, then came the Spaniards, who first brought with them Africans against their will, then the successions of other European people, Scandinavians, the Dutch, the French, and the English all in numbers and orders largely lost to history’s churnings, disruption, wars and flawed telling. But everyone has the one thing in common; the one thing that everyone who calls himself an American feels is their innate and inalienable birthright: the right to say who is and who isn’t an American.

Mexicans are crossing the rivers of the Southwest to work; some so desperate they’ll sell oranges by the road on the 405 in LA. But it’s never been enough to just scrape by in America. The immigrant has to be ashamed in America, afraid of incarceration, afraid for his life and profoundly miserable in the land of opportunity. It’s not enough to do the things and the work no American wants to do for so few dollars an hour, from washing plates, making deliveries, trimming hedges, picking fruit, working vast fields, demolition, and all that sweeping… all these demeaning things that the Scottish, the Germans, the Irish, the Italians all did before they forgot that they came from somewhere else. These selfsame things Africans did for no money at all under pain of death.

Bush appointed Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff had this to say about the explosion in prosecutions: "The reason this works is because these illegal migrants come to realize that violating the law will not simply send them back to try over again but will require them to actually serve some short period of time in a jail or prison setting, and will brand them as having been violators of the law, that has a very significant deterrent impact."

You would think that no one wanted them here, to hear the Homeland Security Secretary tell it. If that’s the case, why do the very same people who complain about illegal immigrants the loudest in our country, utilize the services and labor immigrants provide the most? We want the cheap labor in America, just not the ugly little people who come with it. Too bad. That P’Zone isn’t going to make itself.

So to all who think it worth the trouble and danger to come to America, I say "reach for the skies". Not because of the border patrolman’s revolver pointed at your belly, but for your very own American dream. You’ll continue to do all the jobs that Americans no longer want to do long after Lou Dobbs is gone. And after that? Who knows? In another half century, you too can complain about all the Salvadorians and Ecuadorians flooding the country and “taking all the jobs” from decent hardworking Americans, ironically just like the 3rd generation Americans of Mexican descent in Los Angeles and the 3rd generation Americans of Cuban descent in Miami already do.


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