Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
by Sean Kosofsky
All Politics is Loco
Immigration reform is dead on arrival. President Bush could not even keep his own party together over one of the most pressing issues in our country. This has sealed his status as a lame duck president whose end is near. Big business and nativists (an emerging term for xenophobes) are a huge chunk of the Republican voting bloc, but they just can’t seem to find common ground. Huge corporations like illegal workers because they will work for illegal wages. These same workers live under the constant threat that if they speak up for their rights, deportation could be imminent.
In the immigration debate the arguments from the right are purely hypocritical. Then again, when aren’t they? The right says it wants small government… just small enough to fit into your bedroom or your womb. Need I say that the federal government (and federal debt) is bigger now than under any Democrat. The same goes for marriage equality. Gays are allegedly promiscuous miscreants whose relationships are unstable, but when we try to get married we are told another bag of lies.
The right has similar mood swings on affirmative action. Conservatives claim that affirmative action (rendered by the U.S. Supreme Court as a legal path to right past wrongs) is offensive and completely inappropriate. They believe that discrimination and slavery are a thing of the past and African-Americans need to “get over it” and stop dwelling on the past. But dwelling on the past is exactly what conservatives have done with the immigration debate. Most undocumented workers may have done something illegal many years ago by entering the United States without going through the proper channels, but they are here now, working and raising a family and conservatives just won’t “get over it.” The right obsesses about past illegal behavior on the part of working immigrants, but they are so quick to brush aside half a century of illegal discrimination against racial minorities.
Nativists don’t want amnesty of any sort. Bush’s bill doesn’t allow blanket amnesty but it would allow a path to legal citizenship for nearly 12 million undocumented workers living here in the land of the free – until you’re caught.
I consider myself pretty liberal, but I don’t support blanket amnesty. That might be considered heresy among progressives, but I have found that my reasoning proves my liberal credentials. First, the United States is the most polluting country in the world. Per capita, we waste more than residents of any other country. Why would anyone who cares about conservation and pollution want people migrating to a land where everything is considered disposable. More people equals more waste. My second reason for opposing amnesty is that there are virtually no legal safeguards for those workers, once they become citizens. Their wages would increase and they would be met with even stronger hostility from American workers who consider themselves “here first.” Our nation of immigrants suffers from major cultural amnesia and a dramatic schizophrenic attitude toward working immigrants, unfairly directing middle class angst toward immigrants, when the real enemy is poverty… and the fear of becoming poor.
Which brings me to my third reason; the United States should be working to lift Mexico and other Central and South American countries out of poverty. That way there would be less interest in leaving one’s homeland for a nearly deadly adventure trying to enter the United States. The immigration debate would be a much different one, if indeed people didn’t leave their homeland out of desperation. Imagine if middle class Latinos came to the U.S. mostly as tourists — not wage laborers. The U.S. has a shameful history of keeping South American countries in poverty and political instability. We have helped create the problem and Congress can’t seem to solve it.
How is this a gay issue? Well, Michigan is a border state and immigration matters deeply to queer bi-national families. The same fears that fuel the nativists also keep homophobic immigration policy from recognizing our families or allowing HIV positive individuals into the U.S. And on a more selfish note, the longer our country dwells on the war on terror, the war on drugs and the war on immigrants, the less time it has to deal with important domestic policy issues affecting our community. Every issue is a GLBT issue.
Sean Kosofsky is the director of policy for Triangle Foundation. He gets to live in the United States by the unearned privilege of birth right.