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Immigration for Dummies

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I can't vacation in Mexico. The last time I vacationed there was about ten years ago and that was it for me.

It turns out I can't enjoy being served gin and tonics while laying on a beach at a comfortable resort while, 300 yards down the beach a peasant woman washes her family laundry at the mouth of a foul-smelling creek as her children work the tourists for spare change.

Mexico is a country where a privileged minority have it good... very, very good. A country built on serfdom means never having to cut one's own lawn, raise one's own kids, or for that matter doing anything one deems beneath them.

That's life for a tiny minority of privileged Mexicans. The rest of the population scrapes and scrambles just to get by.

If you like that kind of social arrangement you're in for a real treat, because it's coming here. Actually, it's here already in some places, and is making steady inroads in communities across
America. "There's the rich, and then there's everything else, in terms of the economy but also in terms of social class," says Edward Wolff, a New York University professor and expert on the wealth gap. He likens it to the social divisions of the 1890s, adding: "If you don't counteract the extreme inequality trends, I see some social upheaval coming. That's my worst fear." FullI only mention this because this week the US Senate is debating how to handle flood of illegal immigration from Mexico. If you are confused by the bedfellows that support the current "comprehensive" reform measure, you can be excused.  They are an odd lot, to be sure. Democrats and Republicans both support "comprehensive" immigration reform. But to understand the reasons, you have to separate them. Because very different agendas at play.

Democrats support the measure because Hispanic groups, a rapidly growing voting block, want a bill that will legalize the 12 million or so illegal Mexican immigrants now living in the
US. They also want to retain the pretend border and workplace enforcement measures that have facilitated that influx.

Republicans want something else. They want to recreate the
Mexico model right here on our side of the border. Outsourcing of once good-paying manufacturing jobs has already devastated America's once vibrant blue collar demographic. Workers whose jobs were lost to outsourcing have been relegated to lower paying service sector jobs. (The companies that once employed them are the same ones that are doing so well on Wall Street these days, and that's a major reason why.)

With that milestone now behind them Republicans have now turned their sights on highly-paid, skilled, white-collar American workers. These domestic professionals are costing corporations money so, under the guise of  "global competitiveness," Republicans now want to increase the number of foreign skilled workers companies can hire through the H1-B visa program.

They also slipped into the "comprehensive" immigration reform bill measures that will skew future immigration to favor skilled immigrant workers, programmers, engineers, architects, and such. Like the flood of unskilled immigrants that preceded them, these skilled foreign professionals work for less than their American counterparts.  By hiring foreign professionals willing to work for less than half what similarly skilled Americans, companies can record another  boost to their bottom line.

But what of displaced skilled American workers? They are not about to settle for unskilled, low-wage work in the service sector? The US Chamber types have a glib response –- displaced skilled Americans should stop whining and "retrain" themselves for a different job or profession. If you ask them just what that new profession might be, they are short on answers, since they know that every skilled profession is the corporate hit list.

I get myself in all kinds of trouble with my friends on the left when I talk about immigration because I don't toe the party line. You know... the "there's no such thing as an illegal person," clap trap non-sequitur, and those Mexicans that claim "we didn't cross the border, the border crossed us." To whom I replay, "Yeah, that's what the Guatemalan illegals in
Mexico shout too while Mexican police shove them back across their border with Guatemala – generally after administering them a thorough whomping."

Of course there are real humanitarian issues mixed in with the other ramifications that flow from the inescapable reality of the world's richest nation sharing a porous border with one of the world's poorest. But those ramifications go both ways. Immigration is not a zero-sum game. One group's gain comes at the expense of another group. While uncontrolled flows from
Mexico put pressure on US workers and wages, it takes relieves social pressures in Mexico which otherwise would almost certainly result in pressure on the privileged to spread the wealth more fairly. Rather than the US addressing the welfare of indigenous Mexican workers we are securing the welfare of their oppressors back home.

Meanwhile back home here it was once an article of faith that "what's good for American businesses is good for
America." That may have been true once, but today it's demonstrably just the opposite. What's considered good for business today are things like, loose environmental and work safety regulations, shedding pensions and health care for workers, paying less in taxes to support a national infrastructure that benefits them more than anyone and, of course, a surplus of cheap workers.

And that's what on the burner in Congress this week. When you hear supporters of the current immigration bill peddling their vision of "comprehensive immigration reform," first look at the speaker's name tag. If it reads "Democrat" they are whoring for Hispanic votes. Make have no doubt about it. There is not a shred of honor or integrity or humanity involved. It's all about rounding up the Hispanic demographic for Democrats and depriving Republicans of the same. If you believe otherwise, I have a garage full of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction to sell you.

If the name tag IDs them as "Republican," then they are pimping for US Chamber of Commerce and their corporate supporters. Absolutely and probably bought and paid for.

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Stephen Pizzo has been published everywhere from The New York Times to Mother Jones magazine. His book, Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans, was nominated for a Pulitzer.

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