Monday, August 14, 2006

No Human Being is Illegal

Listeners who enjoyed the podcast on the ethics of immigration will enjoy Justin Akers Chacon and Mike Davis's new book, "No One is Illegal". Mike Davis provides a history of vigilante justice in California since the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. He shows how lower middle class communities formed associations to keep immigrants and labor organizers in check, usually through vicious attacks and coaltions with business leaders and farmers to rig political processes. Davis ends his short section by suggesting the the Minutemen are simply the most recent manifestations of this vigilante history. Chacon does a masterful job of giving social and economic context to the recent waves of Mexican immigration, trying to show why it is largely a result of changes in Mexican fiscal policy over the last thirty years, as well as neoliberal corporate globalization that is changing how Mexico and the United States rely on one another. His analysis clearly supports the contention made by Lisa Gonzales in our podcast that middle class life in the United States is largely propped up by the presence of these low wage workers.

The most recent issue of The Nation magazine focuses attention on the New Nativism that has arisen in the United States. The Nation series contains an insightful article by Bob Moser that talks about the wave of Latino immigration in the South. Another piece dissects the political messages of CNN's commentator Lou Dobbs who seems to be engaging in a one person crusade against Mexican immigration and spreading coded white supremacist ideas over cable news.

The immigration proposals that came out of the Senate have stalled this summer as the House has called for hearings all around the country to study the issue more. This seems like it might be a stalling technique so the issue will die out before the November Congressional elections. There is also word on the street that immigration advocates are hoping for the same thing because they disapprove of the proposals as they have been watered down by the Senate. The farm workers union here in Oregon, PCUN, has issued a statement that suggests this idea.

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