Saturday, August 11, 2007

Cracks at the Top Bear Bitter Fruit for Immigrants, Corporate America

Lacking a bill from Congress, President Bush tossed a red piece of meat to his rabid nativist base by declaring some new executive initiatives to deal with our apparently ‘hemorrhaging’ borders. The primary measures, brokered between the department of Homeland Security, the Department of Labor and the White House, focus on the enforcement aspect of the immigration compromise divide ( as opposed to the modern slavery of ‘guest worker’ –wing ). This means more Homeland Security and Border Patrol agents increased prosecutions of employers who hire undocumented workers specifically through the use an online Social Security database that checks for false numbers. Homeland Security czar Michael Chertoff argued that even with the increase in agents, the government will not be able to punish all employers. But, fret not Tom Tancredo, because Chertoff is confident that he argued that “high-impact, high-visibility enforcement would act as a deterrent.” Hmm, Mike, what could these ‘tactics’ look like? Does the multi-state, Gestapo-style raid of the Swift meatpacking plants of last December strike a chord? In this ‘success’ of immigration enforcement 1,297 people were arrested by ICE while only 274 face charges. It is clear that ‘enforcement’ means the state-led terrorizing of Latinos, be they citizens or not. The story of one resident of Marshalltown, Iowa two months after the raid warrants quoting to show how devastating to families involved:
“When José Mora tucks his 7-year-old niece into bed at night, she often asks, "Where's my mommy?" He doesn't want to say that her mother is in a Des Moines jail awaiting a hearing that could result in her being deported to Mexico. "I say only, 'Your mother might be coming home next month,' " says Mora, who won't discuss the child's legal status. Mora, 41, who has three children, took in his two nieces before Christmas. Their father, Mora's brother-in-law, was deported to Mexico after a Dec. 12 raid at a local meatpacking plant.

The trump card of this plan, the online Social Security database, is believed to have an error rate for citizens estimated as high as 11%. Let’s see, so, if you’re keeping tabs, that means that 11% failure of one initiative on people with documents and slightly more than 20% of the people in raids are actually charged. To me, those seem to be pretty abysmally low odds for ruining people lives.

However, the implications of this action by Bush and Co. cut to the heart of not only the fissures in the Republicans, but between both ruling parties. As far as the Republicans are concerned, Bush has become a pariah. His low approval rating and arrogant actions in Iraq and his inability to pass ‘comprehensive immigration reform’, whatever the fuck that is have gotten him in hot water with his party. But, as the initial responses by the ag-industry, leading Republicans, and Democrats to the announcement of these initiatives show that he hasn’t for some reason Bush is making a last ditch effort of sorts to reconnect with his xenophobic base, from whom he must have been much more estranged than I would have thought.

To me, the most revealing aspect is the outcry from Corporate America. Chertoff himself admits that "there will be some unhappy consequences for the economy out of doing this." How unhappy, you might be asking yourself. As unhappy as if someone stole your birthday? As unhappy as if you got dumped and your dog died? Well, to humor you all we should ask Laura Foote Reiff, co-chairwoman of the Business Immigration Group: "It's going to be awful; the harvest is going to be awful... People will feel it when they go grocery shopping, when they read in the newspaper that we're importing our meat from China." Ooh, a little anti-China sentiment to boot.

As much as I enjoy to such a bourgie bastard squirm, an admission by Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez cuts to the core of the issue: "We do not have the workers our economy needs to keep growing each year. The demographics simply are not on our side. Ultimately, Congress will have to pass comprehensive immigration reform." Clearly the persecution, flight, and general absence of the nearly 2.5 million estimated agricultural workers without documents will have a devastating impact on the ability of agribusiness to pick this years’ harvest. When all seemed lost to the poor growers, in steps the reliable B-Team of US capitalism to save the day. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein decried this move as a “catastrophe… The crisis is that crops will not be harvested.” Not, we need to protect families from being divided and people from being wrongfully detained and deported. That would be too much.

While it is too early to see what the Democrats will propose, their initial reactions not only reveal their loyalties (Big Business) but some of the important inter-workings of US capitalism. One reason that the US has one of the longest undisturbed constitutional governments in history is largely due to the fact that there are two parties, which clearly have their differences, but ultimately when there is a crisis with one party, the other is ready and willing to step up to the plate. For instance, the abrupt end of the ‘Republican Revolution’ at the mid term elections last November where the Republican’s disgusting handling of Iraq led millions of voters to see the election as a referendum on the war and the party that most visibly conducted it. Though the Democrats have done NOTHING to bring the war to an end, this blow to their corporate backers has to have severe repercussions. The question is how far are the Dems willing to alienate their liberal and progressive base in order to please the bosses?