Monday, April 10, 2006

Today we march, tomorrow we vote: A suggestion for Democrats

Over the past few weeks over two million people have taken to the streets in cities large and small across this country. On Monday perhaps another two million will join that number. Yet, despite this obviously growing movement, the Democratic Party, both the mainstream component in Washington , and that more "progressive" segment represented in the liberal blogosphere, have been blind to the seismic shift taking place right before their very eyes. It's time to wake up and see the great opportunity that’s been presented to not only do the right thing morally and ethically – but also politically.

When millions of people take to the streets, organized only through a grassroots movement, to protest a Republican sponsored bill, passed by an overwhelming Republican majority in the House of Representatives, that was opposed by the majority of Democrats in both the House and Senate – and Democrats don't see that as an opportunity – either they are totally out of touch, or just plain stupid.

What are these protests really about? The answer is simple; H.R. 4437 and its draconian provisions to make all undocumented immigrants and those who would help them into criminals. That's it – nothing more, nothing less.

(more below the fold)

tags: , , , ,

Over the past year or so I've had more than my fair share of debates about immigration reform, and quite frankly I'm done arguing. To those Democrats who support the enforcement only, wall building, "what part of illegal don't you understand?" school of thought – I say fine, that's your opinion and you're welcome to it. Nothing I can ever say will ever change your mind, and I seriously doubt you could ever change mine, so we'll have to agree to disagree and call it a day.

But ... to all the rest who support some form of a comprehensive, humane and practical immigration policy I say … What the hell are you waiting for?

Why are you standing by idly while a potential political revolution is passing you by?

If 2 million people took to the streets tomorrow to protest against the war, the PATRIOT act, political corruption or any number of other Republican sponsored travesties, we as a party would be cheering. Yet when millions march through the streets with signs that say "Stop HR4436" we hem and haw.

Despite what Lou Dobbs might say, the marches are not about "illegal aliens" trying to demand "rights they're not entitled to." These marches are made up all kinds of people. Some are undocumented, some are the citizen children, wives, husbands and friends of the undocumented. Many others are second, third or forth generation Americans who feel the tone of this debate has turned nasty, and in many ways the attacks upon the undocumented immigrants reveals an underlying racism that has always laid just beneath the surface. Still others are humanitarians and people of faith who feel that the criminalization of the most vulnerable in society and those who serve them is morally wrong.

The one thing all these people have in common is their vehement opposition to a piece of REPUBLICAN LEGISLATION and their support for the comprehensive immigration reform that is overwhelmingly supported by Democrats in Washington. To me that sounds like democracy at work.

On Sunday 500,000 people marched in Dallas. That's 500,000 out of a population of approximately 1.3 million. That's more than 40%. Certainly even Mr. Dobbs can't believe that over 40% of the population of Dallas is made up entirely of "illegal aliens". Obviously this issue has touched a nerve with a large number of American voters…. Let's say that together now: V…O…T…E…R…S.

There's a reason why one of the slogans for this movement has been "today we march…tomorrow we vote" – because that's exactly what's going to happen.

Why are we as a party not embracing this movement? Why aren't we actively out there trying to register new voters? Why can't we see that these are the people who are fighting OUR battle ... and we should be fighting it with them?

In a day when national elections are fought in "key battleground states" where both parties vie for favor from smaller and smaller groups, why are we ignoring millions upon millions of people?

For arguments sake, lets say that only one in four of those who've already marched is an eligible voter who is unregistered or apathetic (I would believe it's much higher, but I'll lowball just to be safe), that's more than half a million potential new voters. What would 500,000 votes have meant in 2000 or 2004? What will half a million or more mean this November?

This to me is a no-brainer.

The demonstrators want comprehensive immigration reform – most of the Democratic legislators and all its leadership want comprehensive immigration reform. The demonstrators oppose HR 4437, Republicans support HR4437. What more do we need to know.

The Republicans set up the immigration issue as a distraction and wedge to try to divide the American people and provide them with an imaginary enemy to demonize and blame for failing Republican policies. I say it's jujitsu time, it's time to turn this issue back in on them.


Anonymous said...

The average, legally documented, hard-working Americans are entitled to zero social benefits under the Federal Welfare system.

Illegally documented, undocumented visitors to this country can come here, have a baby (for free) and call their children Americans all the while legal taxpaying citizens foot the bill. That is the true travesty.

As for draconian law, you liberals should get your collective heads straight. Immigration reform has nothing in common with ancient Greece's Draco where people were sentenced to death for petty theft or bad creditors where forced into slavery. You illiterate slogs should understand your buzz words before throwing them around.

Duke1676 said...

You illiterate slogs should understand your buzz words before throwing them around.

wow, that wetsern civ 101 class you took at community college really paid off big time. Draco..very good.. you get an A.

Now perhaps you could study up on US immigration policy, how the social services and tax system works, economics and The US Constitution and then maybe you wouldn't make such ignorant statements.

By the way there is no "Welfare System" anymore ... Clinton got rid of it ... remember? Go look that one up too OK. Here's a hint:
Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 (PRWORA),

bless you're heart and thanks for visiting, y'all come back now.

Alfonso del Granado Rivero said...

HR4437 is not just an anti-immigrant bill, it's also a blatantly racist bill. Here's how.

One crucial bit of HR4437 that gets overlooked is the "Employment Eligibility Verification System" (EEVS). This REQUIRES ALL employers to verify a job candidate's eligibility to work.

Fine, except imagine you get three applicants: Jose Garcia, Ahmed Muhammed, and John Smith. All have similar resumes. You look up their names and find 2 million illegal Jose Garcias, 500,000 Ahmed Muhammeds on the terrorist watchlist, but no John Smiths. Do you wait two weeks to let the others clear their names, or do you just hire Mr. Smith?

HR4437 thus fully empowers racists to discriminate in their hiring practices.

blogmouth said...

I have to agree with Alfonso in that these laws seem blantantly racist. They remind me of the Chinese Exclusion Act even though they don't sound as blunt their intentions seem the same.

Statements such as they "come here, have a baby (for free) and call their children Americans all the while legal taxpaying citizens foot the bill" are xenophobic misconceptions. I know educated tax paying hard working teachers that just happen to not have a document stating their entry into the United States.

You can read more here:

Anonymous said...

How come no one addresses the true reason for illegal immigration? Mexico has a 40%poverty rate; this is balanced by the fact that members of the Mexican Congress are paid more than the President of the United States. Mexican law provides that if you are in Mexico illegally you are a felon and can be sentenced up to two years for your crime. Recently a group of Mexico City police, Migration Officers and Federales executed a man on the street who was deemed an "illegal" because he was wearing dirty work clothes and his skin was dark. He in fact was a Mexican national, a 20 year old construction worker. This is truly draconian. We are attempting nationbuilding half-way around the world -- shouldn't we really be starting this process in our own backyard?

Anonymous said...

When I read through all of these comments I giggled a little bit.

Anonymous replied to Duke1676 with:
"As for draconian law, you liberals should get your collective heads straight." They also said "You illiterate slogs should understand your buzz words before throwing them around."

Duke1676 slammed Anonymous with "Now perhaps you could study up on US immigration policy...then maybe you wouldn't make such ignorant statements."

This is one example out of millions. It is, indeed, an American right to Freedom of Speech, but where have manners gone? Respect for others' opinions is slowly slipping away in this country. We are all humans. We have inalienable HUMAN rights, granted by the Consitution:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men."

When the Consitution was drawn up, America welcomed immigrants with open arms because they needed people to help build the nation, especially since Native Americans were seen as only 3/5 of a person *racism*...

As we sought our Manifest Destiny across the West, taking the most Western from Mexico unfairly, we dealt with Slavery, Racism, Feminism etc. It was becoming clearer that a "white" male was the type of person the country valued most. Mexicans and Mexican-Americans have lived in this country for many years. Every time white people fear they will not have enough jobs (like during the Dust Bowl) America makes it harder on Mexicans or Mexican-Americans. Look at the Repatriation Act, it shipped Mexicans and Mexican-AMERICANS out of the country in truckloads, often splitting families. This is not new. Racism has been around since the foundation of this country.

The immigration bill has a new twist. Since September 11, 2001, Americans have feared terrorism. When the bill came out, it had the word "security" all over it. It ensured Americans that they would be safer if the Mexico/America border was closed. People have been protesting that Mexicans drain America's Social Security System, or replacing the title Social Security with Welfare. People say that Mexicans force Americans to pay for their children to attend school. It is by Mexican labor, however, that we are able to buy our houses at the lower prices we do. It is by Mexican labor that we are able to buy fruit and vegetables, anything grown, at the lower prices we do.

Field work, construction, we call it backbreaking labor. Americans don't want to do it. Mexicans don't even really WANT to do it. They have to. Think of why people over time have migrated: for escape and for opportunity. Mexicans migrate to America because they cannot make enough money to SURVIVE in their own country and they're doing us a FAVOR. As people, not as republicans or democrats or leave conservative and liberal out of it for a second. If a family showed up at your door starving, would you open it?

People reading this will probably pass it off as liberal jargon. Capitalism in America has bred greed. Everything costs at the expense of someone. The fact that our country requires an unemployment to thrive should say something about us. It's dog eat dog and everyone feels threatened. Not to mention the constant worry of economic stature of the country. People empty their pockets at the gas station. With the coming election, that's not what we want anyone to think about is it?

alberto said...

Alberto Alfonso Ley

To Whom It May Concern
My name is Alberto Alfonso Ley. I am sixteen years old and I live in El Centro, California. The reason I am writing this letter is because I learned that the Republicans and Democrats are debating a law about undocumented immigrants.
In the first place I don’t think that people who hire or help immigrants should be considered criminals and be put in jail. A criminal is someone who steals or kills. So is the U.S is going to put children in prison? Children that emigrate here are not aware of what is happening. They just come because their parents bring them to the U.S. What will happen to the family of military soldiers if their families are undocumented immigrants to this country? Those soldiers are fighting really hard in Iraq and Afghanistan. So when they come back home looking for their family what will the U.S tell them? “Your family is in jail or got deported because they are felons for immigrating to the U.S without papers.” Has the U.S thought about this? There must be military men that have undocumented family in the U.S. My brother is a U.S Marine and we have undocumented family in the U.S. It’s just not fair for a lot of people.
Some citizens in the U.S think that undocumented immigrants just come to steal our jobs or get benefits in the U.S. This is not true; they are not stealing our jobs. Undocumented immigrants work the jobs no one wants to work. For example, they work the fields so we can have something to eat. They raise farm animals. They do the cleaning for offices and homes. They do all the hard work no one wants to do. So if we need someone to work those jobs, let’s let them work those jobs. I am aware that the U.S will be giving green cards to immigrants so they could work a couple of years in the U.S. This is a good idea, but if they have the right to work here for a while, what makes you think they will want to work on farms and other hard jobs? They will try to apply to work in fast food restaurants or stores where they will be making more or work in a better environment. They are not going to work those most undesirable jobs. If I were one of them, that’s what I would do. So you see what I’m trying to tell you. We need undocumented immigrants in this country. Undocumented immigrants do not get programs that will benefit them. For example, they cannot get welfare because when you go to apply, on the application you fill out, you have to prove you are a U.S citizen. Undocumented immigrants also have to have a social security number. They don’t, so they can’t apply and they can’t use someone else’s because it will be hard to find someone who will let them borrow their social security. Welfare will investigate. Maybe their children get those benefits because they were born in the U.S, but the children have the benefits not the parents. People might think they steal sometimes but welfare will investigate first. So it would be very hard. Besides, there might be a few immigrants who get the benefits, but it’s the fault of the system which is not investigating more or is not doing their job correctly. Who ever is reading this letter might think they need a social security to work, well in some places that hire undocumented immigrants they pay their undocumented workers with cash and less than minimum wage. Undocumented immigrants can not complain because they have no papers. Some people in the U.S, say undocumented immigrants don’t pay taxes, but they do. They pay some “unavoidable” taxes, such as sales taxes and tax on gasoline. They also pay taxes like every citizen who has a job. When undocumented immigrants get paid, if they get paid with checks they go and cash their check in “check cashing”. I know this because I’ve seen it and I have family and friends that are undocumented immigrants who do it this way. As you can see, undocumented immigrants do pay taxes. They don’t get benefits, they don’t get refunds, and they don’t get that many special privileges. So all the money on taxes is all lost for them because they can’t claim them.
Also this bill against undocumented immigrants says it will also secure the border by building a seven hundred mile fence along the southwest border. I don’t have anything against securing the border because it’s not harming anyone. Building that big fence just sends a negative message. The first time I heard about this big fence the Berlin Wall, The Cold War, and Stalin came to mind. It’s just not right to build this big fence because it has negative messages. It will cost the U.S about two billion dollars or more to build that fence, I think is very expensive. American citizens do not pay taxes so the U.S can spend it on a big costly fence. The U.S should instead hire more border patrols agents to guard the border. If we build that big fence people are still going to find their way here. They might build tunnels under that big costly fence. Maybe they are already starting to do that. So the big costly fence would just be a waste of money.
I don’t like the part against undocumented immigrants. Undocumented immigrants are already settled here in the U.S; they have their family, and they have their job. Why would we separate family? So what will happen to their kids if they were born in the U.S.? There are about eleven million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. What will happen to all of them? Don’t tell me the U.S is going to put them all in prison. We don’t have enough prisons for all of them and besides it would cost even more money to keep them in prison.
So if they could contribute to the country, let’s just let them stay here. I say the U.S should just secure the border to keep future immigrants out of this country. The U.S could also help Mexico in opening jobs in Mexico and encouraging their government to raise their minimum wage so citizens from Mexico will not want to come to the U.S. If people are happy where they are they will stay where they are. So if we want to keep immigrants out of the U.S we should start by helping Mexico since most of the emigrants come from there. I would really like to know what you think. You can send an e-mail at ALBERTOELCENTRO@HOTMAIL.COM

Alberto A. Ley