Contrary to accepted wisdom on the American right, no president
has ever been harder on
illegal immigrants that Barack Obama. But
has he been fair? And given
the benefits the U.S. has derived from
the undocumented, have its
policies ever been fair?
Pirates, Puritans and
U.S. Immigration (La Jornada, Mexico)
“Day after day, the press, radio, and above all, television, in this quintessential nation of immigrants, have managed to turn the majority into furious anti-immigrants. ... U.S. culture is torn between the spirit of the pirate and the Puritan soul. That is how the nation was forged, with a dual morality that allows one to take advantage of cheap labor, while simultaneously condemning it as illegal.”
By Dr. Jorge Durand*
Translated By Douglas
June 3, 2012
– La Jornada – Original Article (Spanish)
The question of immigration in the United States is of vital
importance. It demands a political solution. But that road is closed, because
the media have exploited the issue and polarized the public. This is put the
issue into the domain of morality and legality, where there are no concessions,
and many politicians have exploited it to get themselves elected.
For the mass media giants, immigration is a hot-button issue
that must be reported on and that everyone must express an opinion about. One
supposedly liberal network, CNN, had as its star pundit Lou Dobbs, the most insidious
and pernicious of
commentators, who freely dispensed his views on “illegal” immigrants and ridiculed
politicians who dared speak in their favor. In the end he was fired after a
campaign launched by a university professor, massively supported on social
networks and by the Latino public. CNN’s Spanish-language channel took
the liberty of not broadcasting Dobbs’ and instead turned to Carmen Aristegui.
The double-speak finally ended.
Posted by Worldmeets.US
Day after day, the press, radio, and above all, television,
in this quintessential nation of immigrants, have managed to turn the majority
into furious anti-immigrants. The rest have learned to shut up. The Republicans
claim they are “true conservatives,” but no liberal dares say that he’s a
liberal and proud of it.
The result has been the polarization on the issue of
immigration among the U.S. public, as many believe that what is said on TV must
be true. The Manichean position goes so far as to deny an obvious reality: no
one complains about having cheap lettuce in the supermarket, but the majority
considers those who pick it to be illegal invaders.
On this topic, Nobel laureate John Steinbeck, originally
from Salinas, California and author of The Winter of Our Discontent, wrote
that U.S. culture is torn between the spirit of the pirate and the Puritan soul.
That is how the nation was forged, with a dual morality that allows one to take
advantage of cheap labor, while simultaneously condemning it as illegal.
This double standard became law in 1952, when the so-called
Texas Proviso was enacted. This condemned undocumented workers but explicitly
exonerated the employers that hired them. Hypocrisy has been part and parcel of
U.S. immigration policy. The current Immigration
Reform and Control Act, which replaced the Texas Proviso, calls for
sanctions against those who hire undocumented workers, but in practice none are
enforced. Instead, penalties are levied against immigrants who are rejected by
the new labor verification system known as E-Verify [Employment
Eligibility Verification]. Nobody talks about fines against
employers, wheras the hammer falls swiftly when a
worker has to demonstrate his or her legal status.
[Editor’s Note: In 1951, the President's Commission on
Migratory Labor recommended that employers be prohibited from hiring illegal
aliens, a prohibition we now refer to as employer sanctions. But instead of
prohibiting the hiring of illegal aliens, Congress inserted the Texas Proviso
into the 1952
Immigration and Nationalization Act, which specifically permitted the
employment of illegal immigrants.]
The double standard also appears in the taxes immigrants
must pay, but from which they will receive no benefit. The government and
Social Security have a special bag of contributions from undocumented workers
that has reached $1 trillion. The pirates keep the money and the Puritans
accuse of them of not being allowed to work, but they still have to pay taxes.
SEE ALSO ON THIS:
La Jornada, Mexico: Clueless Border Patrol Uses Intelligence to Study Recidivism
La Jornada, Mexico: Undocumented on Edge Before U.S. Supreme Court Ruling
La Jornada, Mexico: Undocumented are Again Caught in U.S. Power Struggle
Excelsior, Mexico: 'Comprehensive' Mexico-U.S. Integration is the Only Answer
La Jornada, Mexico: NAFTA Should Be Reopened to Protect Mexican Workers
La Jornada, Mexico: Mexicans in the U.S.: A Nation Within a Nation
El Universal, Mexico: Lawmakers Condemn Arizona's 'Racist' Anti-Immigrant Law
Diario Co Latino, El Salvador:
Europe and U.S. Equally Cruel to Migrant Workers
El Periodico, Guatemala:
Obama is Right: U.S. People Need Spanish Lessons!
El País, Spain:
Tea Party 'Endangers Health' of American Democracy
The Massacre in Arizona: Will America Ever Learn?
The Day Hope Was Shot, in America and Europe
Der Spiegel, Germany:
Blaming Sarah Palin for
Tucson Attack is 'Wrong'
Rheinische Post, Germany:
America's 'Intellectual Instigators' of Hatred
Mutual Respect: What U.S.
Owes Itself, World
America in Anger's Clutches
Salzburger Nachrichten, Austria:
Massacre in Tucson: 'A Sad Day for U.S.
Arizona Shootings: Left, Right at Odds Over Effects of Toxic Politics
America's Hate-Filled Rhetoric 'Unworthy of a Democratic Nation'
Finally, migration has entered the electoral campaign, as it
is a federal and not a state issue. However, in 1996, a law enacted by liberal Democrat
Bill Clinton allowed legislation at the state level on social policy and
whether or not local jurisdictions support immigrants. This gave rise to
Arizona law SB-1070 and several thousand other anti-immigrant propositions.
Beginning with the Clinton-enacted law, the Illegal
Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, local
conservative politicians have found the immigration debate of use in their
electoral campaigns. But oftentimes behind those accusing migrants of being
“illegal” hide the nativists, racists, fascists and
xenophobes who advocate “English Only” policies and White supremacy. All boast
about being defenders of legality, thereby justifying their intransigence.
The politicization of the immigration issue, debated with Puritanical
moral arguments and proclaimed far and wide by the media, has shut the road to
any kind of immigration reform. Politics is the science of “making what is
necessary possible.” It is urgent, not just necessary, to take these 11 million
people out of the shadows, who only claim their right to work, integrate and
participate - with full rights – in the society they live and work in.
There are immigrants who have, for more than 20 years, been
honestly living and working in the United States. But one car accident, one
broken taillight or one intransigent police officer empowered by legal
agreements with ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] can throw away an
entire life. No matter that they have three children who are
U.S. citizens, nor that the family is fundamental to society. The
immigrant has sinned, he is illegal. One can exploit him, but not forgive him.
*Dr. Jorge Durand is an anthropologist and researcher at the University
of Guadalajara’s Department for the Study of Social Movements.
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