Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

Name:
Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!

4.4.05

It's Lexington and Concord all over again!

So, the Minuteman Project is up and running. For those who don't know (or are too lazy to click on the link), the Minuteman Project is a volunteer effort to police the southern border of the United States - specifically, the Arizona border with Mexico. They've been making a lot of noise about enforcing the immigration laws and making sure illegal immigrants don't get into the U.S., and I'm not going into the pro v. con arguments about how these people are "true Americans" or "racist scum." Others can do it. I'm here because this disturbs me on other levels.

It seems like most of the people who have volunteered for this Project are middle-aged and in the lower class of the economic strata. The Project has attracted a number of white supremacists, to the point where at the top of their web site says they will not accept help from any racist organization. People in white supremacist organizations are also usually on the lower end of the economic pyramid and of all ages (the economic part is important in the white supremacist organizations, it seems). The reason this depresses me is not because these people are volunteering to help patrol the border, but that they feel the need to do it at all.

Since moving to Arizona, the problem of illegal immigration has come into much sharper focus for me. Here, illegal immigrants form the backbone of so many industries it's completely insidious. People who whine about illegals are usually automatically labeled racist, which is just a cop-out. These are people who are concerned about jobs more than race, I think. They are angry that unions have fallen apart and that no one cares any more about workers and that companies can cut costs by hiring day workers to whom they don't have to pay benefits or possibly even minimum wage. The president and government of Mexico, with their comic books explaining how to "blend in" to society in the U.S. once they illegally enter and Vicente Fox's whining about how the U.S. should be treating illegals nicer isn't helping matters. What is sad about this whole thing is that so many people in this country, most on the bottom half of the economic ladder, feel that their government no longer cares about them.

My father, who is visiting this week, and I have had several arguments over this, mostly dealing with the fact that I just finished Fast Food Nation, a scary book if there ever was one. My dad likes playing devil's advocate, so we've been arguing about government and business, even though he's largely libertarian and thinks businesses have too much power. What has happened in this country is that the government has been bought, and many people don't know what to do about it. They feel completely helpless about a government that breaks unions (yes, I know unions become corrupt when they get power, but these days, the very idea of unions are anathema to a lot of Americans, partly because the government wants it that way), refuses to raise the minimum wage even though it's fallen with regards to inflation for thirty years, ignores the health care woes of millions of Americans to worry about one Florida woman who has been a vegetable for 15 years, wants to destroy Medicare AND Social Security, fights unjust wars and rebuilds a country halfway around the world while its own decays, and provides tax breaks and incentives to companies that employ illegal immigrants. The people who have volunteered for the Minuteman Project see a government that does not listen when they say, "We're losing jobs to people who are willing to work for 4 dollars an hour because they come from a country where they used to earn 4 dollars a day," and "I can't shop at the local store any more because no one there understands English" (yes, that's racist, but it can be frustrating, especially for older people who are more set in their ways). When we complain to the government, we're told that we are traitors, ignorant, anti-American, helping the terrorists, anti-capitalism ... the list goes on. Therefore, they feel their only option is to volunteer to patrol a border because the government has cut funding for any program that doesn't have to do with National Security (oh, wait a minute, the border does have to do with National Security - wait, where's our tax money going - oh, that's right, we don't pay taxes any more, because our government doesn't need money!). The government refuses to try anything to alleviate the problem of illegal immigration - and it is a problem. I love the fact that less than ten miles from here, the town of Guadalupe looks like the middle of Mexico - it's neat. I think ALL children in Arizona should learn both Spanish and English from their first years in school - it's necessary these days, and it's helpful to know two languages. But illegal immigration is a huge problem, because it leads to higher health insurance premiums, higher car insurance rates, and higher crime rates (not because Mexicans are naturally unlawful, but because illegals live outside the law anyway, and probably take more risks - again, I can't prove it, but it sounds right). Our government (both the federal and the state) refuse to crack down on companies that hire illegals. These companies, not surprisingly, contribute to campaign funds, lobby Congress, and employ relatives of politicians. No one speaks for the people put out of work by illegal immigrants, and very few people speak for the illegal immigrants themselves. It's sad, because the low-income, poorly-educated, somewhat conservative people who are volunteering for the Minuteman Project probably have a whole hell of a lot more in common with the people trying to cross the border illegally than they do with their "elected" officials. The stupidity and ineffectiveness of our government to come up with a real strategy for integrating the people who are here and for trying to discourage more people from coming here makes people who are very similar take opposite sides.

The Mexican government bears a lot of the blame, as well, but I'm not getting into that here. There will always be Mexicans coming into the country, because they can make more money here, despite atrocious working conditions. It's the same as drugs - it's difficult to cut off the supply, so we need to work on the demand. If companies faced huge fines for hiring illegals, they might think twice about it. Even then, we need to face these problems seriously and not frivolously. Our government has let us down. Just drive down to the Arizona-Mexico border and you'll see the evidence.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Mike Loughlin said...

My sister and her husband moved to Texas for a year, and they were miserable. Neither have a college degree, and non-skilled or semi-skilled work in Texas paid minimum wage. It took my brother in-law a few months to find regular work because every job he went for was taken by Mexicans.

Neither my sister nor my brother in-law expressed any racist statements prior to moving to Texas, but they came back saying horrible things about Mexicans.

While I find any form of racism abhorrent, I can see where the border patrollers are coming from. It doesn't make them right, but frustration can lead to unjustified retribution.

I agree that our government has let down the have-nots. My publically-funded school that happens to be in inner-city Boston and is attended by black and hispanic students, for example, can not afford enough text books, improvements to its "playground" (a strip asphalt that was painted long ago; no basketball nets), proper heating, gym or music programs, a cafeteria, or a well-stocked library. It's the same old story: the rich get richer and the poor get forgotten.

5/4/05 4:59 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Thanks for the anecdote; it illustrates my point perfectly. This is what I'm talking about - misplaced anger. Mexicans simply want a job, just like Americans, and it's unfortunate that racist thoughts spring from a situation that has become untenable. We should all be angry at the government, not people who want to earn money to feed their families.

5/4/05 10:08 AM  
Blogger Roxy said...

I think it is interesting what Mike said. The teacher angle sheds more light on the situation for me.

70 percent of my students are Hispanic (mainly Mexican but that isn't always the case), 14% are black and another 14% are white (leaving that 1% to other).

Many of my students are undocumented aliens and many of my Mexican and Hispanic seniors (who are amazing, wonderful, driven students) are finding out that they can't go to college in the United States. I have one girl who has been here since she was 2 months old. She is perfectly capable of handling a college career but will have a hard time pursuing one because her parents came here illegally, looking for a better life. I have another student who is undocumented who thinks that the world owes him something and hates the US but he wants to stay here and make money.

The point is that it doesn't matter that both of these students are technically from Mexico. It doesn't matter that their skin color is darker than mine. It really doesn't even matter that they are here because their parents came here illegally. What does matter is that this problem won't go away by ignoring it (like our government) or turning it into an agenda of hatred. We consistently let down American and Mexican citizens by choosing one of these two options.

In actuality, we need to deal with our issues instead of glossing over them and letting them morph into new situations for chaos. But that would mean everyone would have to take responsibility for the problem and work for a solution. How many times in politics (or in real life) does that really happen?

5/4/05 1:24 PM  
Blogger Roxy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/4/05 1:25 PM  

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