Friday, February 9, 2007

Bush's Brain lets the cat out of the bag

One of the biggest debates among advocates of progressive immigration reform has been whether or not to embrace the idea of a temporary guest worker program. Some such as Cecilia Munoz, vice president for policy of the National Council of La Raza, argue that such a program is needed to provide future immigrants a legal path to entry. Others, myself included, see the program as an unnecessary component of any meaningful reform policy. We believe that it would eventually lead to the creation of permanent underclass of rotating workers who would never be able to fully reap the benefits of their labor or become full-fledged members of society.

The arguments are heated and varied. My opinion can be viewed here, here, and here for those interested, but that is not the point.

Yesterday at a Republican women's luncheon, Karl Rove finally said what those of us who oppose a guest worker program have suspected all along…. Bush and his elitist buddies advocate for a temporary worker program only because want a never ending supply of workers to do the kinds of jobs they view as menial and meaningless.

According to a congressman's wife who attended a Republican women's luncheon yesterday, Karl Rove explained the rationale behind the president's amnesty/open-borders proposal this way: "I don't want my 17-year-old son to have to pick tomatoes or make beds in Las Vegas."

National Review

While the rest of the National Review article is a mix of the usual right-wing malarkey about immigrants taking jobs from US workers and "there's no job Americans won't do", I have no reason to question the veracity of Rove's quote.

This administration and its friends have a long history of viewing those who do an honest days work as being somehow below them.

It's no small coincidence that Ann Richards said of Bush Sr., "He was born with a silver foot in his mouth."

Yet Americans turn a blind eye to the Bushites obvious elitist attitudes.

We know what the jokes about "my base" mean, and we recognize the true intent behind Barbara Bush's remarks that "so many of the (Katrina victims) … were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them".

We have stood by idly as the administration shifts the burden of taxation from the wealthiest 1% of the nation and passes it on to working people. We watch as needed social programs go unfunded while the largest corporations in the nation make record profits while benefiting from the lowest tax rates ever paid.

Somehow when the administration assures us that they have only the best of intentions in regards to "matching willing workers in other countries, with willing employers here" we take them at their word. We rationalize away the enormous potential for abuse inherent in any guest worker program by saying that at least it will be better than it is now. But will it?

When crafted by those who view immigrants as nothing more than nameless, faceless servants who pick tomatoes, or make their beds, how can we expect any sort of fair and equitable plan? Will such people make sure that labor laws and workers rights are respected? Will they allow unions to organize and protect immigrant workers from abuse? Will they enforce workplace safety regulations and guarantee fair and equitable wages?

I think we know in our hearts the answer to these questions is no.

Rove only said in public what has been said in the private offices and drawing rooms of the Bush's and their ilk for ions. And it's time for those of us concerned with real immigration reform to face these facts. They are not our friends. They are not our allies. Their plans are not our plans. Their hopes and dreams are not our hopes and dreams.

We look at immigrants and see the future. A future full of hope and aspirations for a brighter tommorow ….. They look at immigrants and see menial laborers whose sole purpose is to serve them as maids or gardeners, dishwashers or tomato pickers. These two conflicting world views can never be reconciled.

tags: , , ,


gail said...

"we take them at their word."

No, there can't be anyone left who takes them at their word, can there?

Duke1676 said...

But in effect that's what's going on when movement leadership says thing like this, from Janet Murgia, president and chief executive of the National Council of La Raza, in today's Washibgton Post

The immigration reform bill the Senate passed last year contains a much different model of a worker visa program than the unjust model we have lived with for decades. Workers would not be at the mercy of abusive employers in that they could change jobs and alert the authorities to mistreatment. Rather than becoming a permanent second-class workforce, they would have the opportunity to earn a path to permanent status -- and ultimately citizenship -- as one of the only classes of migrants able to petition for themselves rather than relying on an employer or relative to petition for them. There are important labor protections for immigrant workers as well as for their American co-workers, including a requirement that immigrant workers be paid the prevailing wage in an industry to avoid undercutting the wages of American workers employed there.

They are relying on the Executive Branch, through it's enforcement, regulatory agencies, to guarantee that there are no abuses of the system. History has shown us that there ha been much to be desired in their past actions. In fact many of today's problems can be directly traced to either inaction or in some cases willful misuse of power on the part of these agencies.

Human Right Watch did an excellent study of the abuses in the meat packing industry that showed just how government neglect and deregulation have made that industry one of the most abusive and dangerous industries in the nation. Particularly for immigrant laborers.

While we would like to think that no one would take anything this administration says at face value, the fact is, when we put our trust in them to enforce regulations to protect working people we will inevitably be disappointed.

gail said...

Is that what they are doing? I thought they were just hypocrites who chose their paychecks over the country.

I know that sounds like a joke but I'm serious. There are sporadic cases of individuals standing up for their ideals but the majority of those in positions of influence and power are going along.

I've never assumed after the first year or two after 9/11 that they actually believed anything coming from the GOP, the White House, the media. Like our erudite WH residents proclaimed: "Fool me, blame on me ..."