U.S. Immigration Reform: January 2008 Archives

Treating the Symptoms

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What seemed at first to be a beautiful victory for animal welfare has turned into a gruesome nightmare.

The awful result of the U.S. ban on horse slaughter for human consumption now seems so obviously inevitable, it's hard to believe none of those who rallied for it saw this coming.  The closing of equine slaughter facilities in the United States has done nothing to eliminate the need to put down thousands of our horses every year.  Instead of holding accountable those responsible for our nation's glut of unwanted horses - primarily, irresponsible breeders and wasteful racehorse owners and trainers - equine advocates went after the slaughter industry, which was providing a necessary, if ugly, service.  As a result, the flood of horses into auction houses has not abated one bit, the ride to the slaughter house has just gotten longer, and now takes horses across the border into Mexico. 

This tragic story just goes to show what happens when the focus is on treating the symptoms while the cause of the illness goes ignored.

You might have read about Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE)'s Gestapo-like tactics in raids at workplaces and homes in New Bedford, Long Island, and elsewhere around the country: sometimes kicking down doors in the middle of the night, other times gaining warrantless entry into homes by misleading the residents inside, using ethnic profiling, trampling constitutional due process rights that apply to both citizens and noncitizens, labeling people with minor convictions from decades ago "criminal aliens" for PR purposes, moving detainees from state to state without notice for the explicit purpose of disrupting legal representation, and using children as bait to catch and lock up entire families.  I guess this is what restrictionists mean when they talk about "rule of law." 

But there's more--I thought I'd share a few recent developments in immigration enforcement in the New York metro area:

News came a few days ago that Eliot Spitzer has failed in his effort to allow long-incarcerated felons some measure of freedom, freedom denied them so far by the Parole Board's categorical refusal to grant parole to inmates convicted of certain crimes.  Reading this story got me thinking.  Spitzer started his term popular and ambitious but then something happened.  That something is known collectively in some circles as the flying monkeys of immigration restrictionism. 

Here is the key passage in Sam Roberts' NY Times article for my purposes today:

With Mr. Spitzer's political capital depleted and the governor hardly eager to embark on another unpopular crusade

By "unpopular crusade," I'm speculating that Roberts primarily means Spitzer's attempt to fulfill a campaign promise to reinstate New York's previous policy of permitting undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. 

Hillary Clinton's recent dip in the polls ahead of the primaries has also been attributed by many to her "gaffe" on the same subject in a debate a couple months ago.

Political capital is ineffable and notoriously volatile.  Much of a politician's room to maneuver depends on which narrative our media gatekeepers decide is suitable for consumption by the masses.  Those gatekeepers are often easily misled as to the prevailing temper of the public--witness the "Village's" continuing support for the War in Iraq when all available evidence indicates a large majority of Americans oppose the war. 

This ongoing disjunction between reality and media narrative has not arisen organically--it has several causes, among them: fear of being labeled soft on national security, fear of being caught by surprise again after 9/11, ignorance of the substantive details of the issues at hand, weariness of being tagged with the now-pejorative "liberal" label, coziness with power brokers in government and business who profit from the machinery of war, and simple groupthink. 

I propose that savvy conservative activists have perpetuated a similar con on the gatekeepers: the Great Immigration Swindle.  Through a decades-long coordinated effort,  groups calling for more restrictive immigration policies, or "restrictionists" for short, have positioned a media narrative once considered racist and extreme as fully mainstream.

Here are the component parts of the Swindle: 

happy New Year!

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Let's make 2008 a better year than 2007 turned out to be for migrants and their families in the U.S. and elsewhere.  Fash has some good New Year's resolutions for migrants and their allies over at the Open Borders Lobby.  Check them out