Posted by | May 26, 2010 16:39 | Filed under: Top Stories

By James Frye

Where would the Republicans be without their scary wedge issues?  We’ve been talking about Arizona’s “show me zee papers” anti-illegal immigrant law as the reason why illegal immigration is an issue now, but it would have been one anyway.  It’s the Republicans’ thing – crank up the scares every two years so they don’t have to talk about what they are really up to, like their push to protect oil companies so we can have even more Alaskan and Gulf oil spill disasters and they can be off the hook for them.  It’s like their “pro-life” stance that shows up only around election time – never mind that when the GOP controlled all three branches of government for at least 6 years they never outlawed all abortions, or even tried to.

However, illegal immigration has always been the go-to issue to toss their red meat base on the barbeque to heat them up.  I do give them credit for actually doing something on this, but their approach is generally to attack just one side of the problem and virtually ignore the other.   They’re very gung-ho about going after the people who cross our southern border for work, but when it comes to going after the Americans who hire them, they’ll look the other way.   Talk show host and author Thom Hartmann once said, “We don’t have an illegal worker problem, we have an illegal employer problem.”  He’s nailed that one:  the simple truth and most effective way to end illegal immigration is to see to it that there are no jobs here waiting for them.

If that were to happen, there’d be no need for fences or troops along the border with Mexico.  All that would be required would be to get out of the way of the flow of people leaving the United States and going back home.

Since that’s not going to happen anytime soon unfortunately, we have to deal with the biannual show of cheap labor conservatives who want those workers here to increase their profits–illegals get paid very much less than Americans and if they complain, hello ICE–but want to keep the gullible voting for them because the Great Brown Horde is going to “destroy America and our culture.”

Arizona uses this strategy writ large.  The GOPers there didn’t just talk, they actually passed laws based on these fears.   The police state aspects of their first law aside, they acted based on assumptions that fall apart when facts are introduced into the mix.

First up, illegal immigrants are flowing over our border and we have to stop them:

The numbers of apprehensions at the border are going down because there are fewer people trying to get across the border since the U.S. economy soured in 2008, said senior demographer Jeffrey Passel of the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research organization that collects statistics on Hispanics and immigration.

“Immigration to the U.S. from Mexico is down, and it’s down a lot,” he said.

Over the past several years, enforcement action on the border has tightened, he said. It is more difficult to get across the border, and people in Mexico have to pay more to smugglers to get them across.

“It’s harder to get in, and it’s more dangerous,” he said.

Whoops!  That’s not what our friends on the right are saying!  OK, they’ll respond, how about all that crime that illegal aliens are committing in Arizona and across the country?

While the nation’s illegal-immigrant population doubled from 1994 to 2004, according to federal records, the violent-crime rate declined 35 percent.

More recently, Arizona’s violent-crime rate dropped from 512 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2005 to 447 incidents in 2008, the most recent year for which data is available.

In testimony to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security last month, Dennis Burke, U.S. attorney for Arizona, noted that Arizona now has more than 6,000 federal law-enforcement agents, with the majority of them employed by the Border Patrol. That represents nearly 10 agents for every mile of international line between Arizona and Sonora.

Border Patrol presence has been backed by increases in counter-smuggling technology and intelligence, the establishment of permanent highway checkpoints and a dramatic increase in customs inspectors at U.S. ports.

“The border is as secure now as it has ever been,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a Senate panel last week.

Given that level of security, Bermudez and others say, it is no wonder that cartel operatives pass through border communities as quickly as possible, avoiding conflicts and attention.

In fact, violent-crime data suggest that violence from Mexico leapfrogs the border to smuggling hubs and destinations, where cartel members do take part in murders, home invasions and kidnappings.

Oops, that myth bites the dust too.  So what’s really driving the illegal immigrant issue?   Arizona didn’t just stop with illegal immigration.  Look how they followed up.

First, they passed a law banning ethnic studies in Arizona’s schools:

State schools chief Tom Horne, who has pushed the measure for years, said a Tucson school district program promotes “ethnic chauvinism” and racial resentment toward whites while segregating students by race.

“It’s just like the old South, and it’s long past time that we prohibited it,” Horne said.

The measure prohibits classes that advocate ethnic solidarity, that are designed primarily for students of a particular race or that promote resentment toward a certain ethnic group. It also prohibits classes that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government.

Er, OK..umm…HUH?  Teaching about the heritage of nonwhite students does what again?  Sorry, Arizona Hispanic kids, you don’t get a heritage to be proud of….you’re not white!

And if you Hispanics haven’t gotten the message yet about keeping in your place:

If you’re Latino, and you just happen to be a teacher, Arizona might not be the best place to launch your career. The Arizona Department of Education has now banned teachers who they perceive to have heavy accents, or who they believe are grammatically challenged, from teaching classes. This draconian mandate is surprising, considering that in the 1990’s the state of Arizona participated in a bilingual program that resulted in the hiring of hundreds of teachers. Many of those teachers were said to be of Latin descent. In 2000, voters passed a measure that mandated instruction could only be given in English. Bilingual teachers who had been conducting their classes in Spanish were then required to switch to English.

What’s next, separate bathrooms and sections in restaurants if you speak Spanish in public and you or your ancestors came from Central and South America?  Let’s stop being polite and couching our terms about what’s going on here:  this is anti-Hispanic discrimination and bigotry.

That’s the real crisis.

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Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: James Frye

Long time progressive activist in the Pacific Northwest and self-studying student of politics