I was chatting with some friends the other day, in the wake of the Arizona immigration law which was Governor Brewer recently, and it lead to a discussion of attitudes towards immigrants. Particularly, one friend's girlfriend posited that immigrants (presumably illegal, but it's left unclear) were hurting our school system by overfilling it and not speaking English. Now, I have serious problems with this argument in a number of ways, and will hopefully address some of them in an upcoming post, but at the time I wanted to make it clear that my position was that if these problems exist, they're symptoms of a larger structural issue. Illegal immigration occurs not because people just love breaking the law, but because we're born into a structure of asymmetrical power. When discussing immigration, it borders on the dishonest not to pull back our discussion to that larger discussion. What follow is something of a rant I made. My plan is for a shortly upcoming post to offer a more deliberative take on the issue (while maintaining the moral positions made here, although probably dropping some of the spicy language):
Basically, if you're trying to immigrate here and you're not college educated with an employer willing to step up for you, you're fucked. And even then, you're probably fucked.In the interim between now and when we meet again, here are a few bits of reading which are informing how I'll be writing about this issue in the near future.
In that context, I find it grotesque when people complain about what villanious lawbreakers illegal immigrants are and, damned straight, I support the shit out of illegal immigration because it's about the only way most folks have of getting into this country and trying to do a little better for themselves and their families. Frankly, I'm rather sickened by people who are so murderously unfeeling that they'd rather some PLAY BY THE RULES (as if following the rules, in and of itself, in the alpha and the omega of virtuous behavior or ethical action) than try to make sure their child doesn't starve to death because the global elite decided to impose perverse economic laws on poor countries to increase their profits at the expense of the workers who actually, you know, do the work. It's sickening that we actively support this global inequity (and all of us living in this country do, as long as we buy pretty much anything from a multi-national corporation) and then have the GALL to demonize the people who bear the brunt of our lazy greed and are just trying to make their lives a little better.
- Reason Foundation (Of Reason Magazine fame) has a pretty good write-up of how immoral and backwards the system is (w/ a handy cartoon flowchard in .pdf form at the bottom of the page).
- Antiwar.com has a couple articles on the issue of immigration and violence on the U.S.-Mexican border. Raimondo offers a somewhat surprisingly militaristic take while Gregory and Garris (co-signed with others of the AW staff) offer a rebuttal. My views are more consonant with the latter position, but both are worth reading.
- Norman Grigg offers a truly excellent analysis of the Border Patrol and the long-term consequences of developing a "Constitution-Free Zone", both on the personal level and more overarching consequences.
- Roderick Long offers a concise critique of some conservative thinkers' positions.
- Jon Stewart and The Daily Show give their take, which is bleakly humorous and worth a watch.
- Feministe provides a pretty good roundup of more articles and discussions on the topic, so rather than replicate that work I'll just link to them (a must-read site, in any case).
- Rapper Swindoe has a fairly poignant music video out about crossing the border (illegally), and it's worth a watch.