Here We Go Again

It’s not a perfect analogy, but let’s say you live in a little village on one side of the interstate, next door to the most awesome bar imaginable.

Say that your buddy John lives on the other side of the interstate, directly across from you and the bar.  But it’s rural nowhere, so, if he’s going to actually drive to the bar, he’s got to go ten miles down to the nearest exit, cross the interstate there, and then come ten miles up.

Then, he sits at the bar and gets drunk and has to drive twenty miles home, when his house is just across the road there.

So, he shouldn’t do it.  It’s dangerous and it’s illegal, but he crosses the interstate on foot.

Y’all wish he wouldn’t, but you can see why he does.

If he’s sitting at the bar, no car in the parking lot, do the police have a right to arrest him?  He’s not crossing the interstate at the moment, but clearly, he got to the bar by crossing the interstate.

Would it be weird if folks at the bar started thinking of John as not having a right to be at the bar?  Would it be weird if they started thinking that John was taking up a space at the bar that belonged to someone who didn’t cross the interstate on foot?

Now, here’s where it gets important.  If the police aren’t interested in stopping John from crossing the interstate, do the people at the bar have the right to prohibit him from doing it?  Would it be okay if they shot him?

I assume we’re all in agreement that, if the penalty for crossing the interstate on foot is a fine and possibly a little jail time, having people talking about opening fire on ole John is, perhaps, a little extreme.

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when coming into this country illegally was considered about on par with John’s crossing of the interstate.  Sneaking across the border was a crime, but once you had sneaked across the border, you were, for the most part, done committing the crime.

That’s why, even until recently, illegal immigrants could get drivers licenses in Tennessee.  That’s why they can get in-state tuition in some states.  The crime had been committed, but if the border crosser could figure out how to reside here without committing any more crimes, he or she was mostly left alone to be a productive part of the community.

Over the past few years, the rhetoric has changed.  Now we talk about illegal immigration as an ongoing crime.  From the moment you enter the country illegally until the moment you leave, you are in a state of “illegal immigration.”  Everything you do is wrong and might be criminalized because you are committing an ongoing crime.  Your existence in this country is a crime.

I should point out that it’s still a crime with a punishment of either being sent back to your home country or, at the most, given a couple of years in prison.  That’s it.

This “terrible” crime is punishable by a year or two in prison or being deported.

Is there any other crime a person could commit punishable by just a couple of years in jail that you’d be comfortable when people started talking about shooting the offender?

Do you think it should be okay for folks to talk seriously about non-police U.S. citizens shooting shoplifters?  Tax cheats?  Illegal music downloaders?

And yet, damn it, Kleinheider, there’s just such a discussion going on over at Volunteer Voters right now.

Donna Locke says:

As an immigration controller, I am fairly pessimistic on this issue at this point, as far as peaceable, political solutions go. I believe we had windows of opportunity to effect change on this issue through political means, but those windows have closed and passed. There are still laws and changes in laws we must pursue, but many years of inaction have now diverted the United States onto the path of another probable future. A path of eventual revolution. [Emphasis mine.]

Seriously.  She foresees violent revolution in the U.S. because the government’s not doing enough to chase down folks who’ve done nothing worse than shoplifting?

The Blue Collar Republican is just as ridiculous:

We have plenty of laws, but no will to enforce them. I am afraid you are right about it being “too late”, but some are being patient and giving the process a chance. But make no mistake, many are arming themselves to do the job themselves if the government will not.

Really?  The job is deporting people or putting them in prison for a couple of years.  Is that what the Blue Collar Republican is advocating, because, I have to say, it seems to me that he’s not advocating that armed militias round up folks and fly them back to Mexico.  It seems to me pretty damn clear that he’s explaining that soon enough folks will just start shooting people.

This is evil talk.

Let me repeat.  This is evil talk.

Sitting around discussing throwing a tantrum so big that it includes violence against real live people because the government isn’t doing enough to keep the brown people away from you is evil.

And Kleinheider, damn it!  Do you call either one of them on that eliminationist nonsense?  No, you fucking “Good point. Very good point, in fact.”

What the fuck are you talking about?  It’s a “good point” when the Blue Collar Republican insinuates that, if the Government won’t enforce immigration laws to the linking of jingoists, the jingoists will start shooting people?

That’s not a good point.  That’s ridiculousness bordering on psychopathy.  You don’t go around shooting people or even threatening to shoot people because the federal government isn’t dealing with them fast enough for your liking.

As of May 7th, there were just over six million people living in Tennessee.  Just under six hundred thousand of us live in Davidson County.  Three percent of people in the whole state are Hispanic.  In Davidson County, it’s right around seven percent–42,000 people, give or take a few.

How many of them are here illegally?  I’ve spent the evening perusing pro- and anti-immigration sites and I don’t think anyone can say for sure.

But we’re devoting a whole lot of energy and resources to locating these illegal immigrants and purging them from our community.  Shoot, folks over at Volunteer Voters are barely satisfied with a purge.  They have their guns ready just in case someone needs killing.

America, let me tell you something.  We have a habit of doing shit like this.  In this very state, on this very land.  This is not new.  When we wanted the land and resources of the Cherokee people, we reinterpreted our arrangement with them, rounded them up, and sent them off to some “homeland” out west.

Shoot, on the rare occasion when we freed slaves here in Tennessee, we required them to leave the state when we were done with them, even if Tennessee was the only home they’d ever known, even if their families were here.

And here we go again.  We’ve decided that the Mexicans (and let’s not be coy about who we’re singling out.  There’s a reason TnRIP is all “Nashville or Tijuana?”) have resources that we can justify to ourselves belong rightfully to us, so we’ve decided to change the terms of our agreement (immigrating here illegally used to be like shoplifting once, now we treat it like an ongoing series of armed robberies) in order to relocate them someplace where we can’t hear them when they complain about us stealing their shit and destroying their families.

And shoot, if we can terrorize the Mexicans who are here legally, too, all the better.

“No, Aunt B., it’s not about terrorizing all Mexicans, we swear.”

Oh yeah, how do you suppose we’re going to locate those illegals?  We’re going to tolerate the continual harassment of all Mexicans, that’s how.

I mean, come now.  We all know that 287(g) means that every Hispanic-seeming person who comes to the attention of the police in Davidson County is going to get run through the system.

I could forget my drivers license at home and just be given a ticket.  You can’t tell me Tia B. isn’t going to be taken downtown in case she needs to be deported.  What’s a ten or fifteen minute uncomfortable encounter with the police for me is going to end up being an all day thing for some people.

Keep ’em all afraid and all inconvenienced and maybe they’ll all leave–legal or not–our brown neighbors.  At least, that seems to be the attitude.

And shame on you all for embracing it.

But you know what?  Fuck it.  Kleinheider’s all

However, just because the celebration seems hypocritical, we cannot avoid the fundamental questions that Fortuyn brings up. If he had every right to protect his culture and heritage from demographic annihilation, do we, as Americans, not have that very same right?

Seriously, what’s he complaining about?  Our culture and heritage have a strong strain of forcibly removing non-white people from our midst.  He shouldn’t feel any anxiety.  He should be pleased to see we’re continuing that age-old American tradition of fucking as hard as we can with the weakest and most vulnerable among us.

I mean, shoot, if folks can talk openly about shooting people just because they’ve picked the wrong place to live–in a city in a state in a region that ought to know what happens when folks are talking that way–and not one person calls them on how evil they sound, well, shucks, America, I about don’t know what to say.

I’ll be practicing “Lo siento,” though.

40 thoughts on “Here We Go Again

  1. I know it’s going to make me unpopular, but I don’t understand why this is a surprise.

    The government has a monopoly on violence. The deal is, we all agree to vote on the rules, and the government enforces them. Nobody is allowed to take a gun and go enforce their own rules. They have to convince their citizens to change the rules, and if they can’t do that they agree to just deal with it.

    What is someone supposed to do when they want to change something, but there is no democratic process to follow? They can’t go and lobby for a law to be passed. The law was already passed.

    People need to imagine this from the perspective of a law they agree with. Imagine women getting harassed outside clinics. Imagine lobbying for a law banning this. Now imagine that the government ignored it, and women were getting roughed up outside clinics, and were afraid to go in. That wouldn’t make it okay to shoot at protesters, but I guarantee there would be some people who would start to talk violent about it.

    A guy in England went to jail for killing a teenager with a shotgun rigged up in his barn. The police hadn’t done anything after repeated robberies. People thought it was right to imprison him, but there was a degree on sympathy.

    The people who shout about this are, first of all, frustrated that the law is in their favor but they cannot get the government to enforce it. They disagree with something, but they feel they have no democratic outlet for their feelings. That’s what the border wall talk is about as well… a desperate attempt to find some way to get the government to stop immigration.

    I like immigration. I want to have a debate about immigration and convince the public that we should have more immigration. But if we just have more immigration regardless of what the public agrees to, there will be violence. I in no way approve of it, but if we ignore the fact that the government is being unfair to everyone who voted for less immigration, then we are asking for people to act out of a sense of helplessness.

    I think we walk a dangerous line if we criticize the government when it ignore laws we like (protecting rights, regulating business) but turn a blind eye when they don’t enforce laws we dislike. If we expect people who disagree with us to support laws they dislike, we must do the same.

    Should these people be ashamed? Sure. But if nobody acknowledges their right to be angry that their laws are being effectively ignored, they will never let the conversation get past that to the substance of the immigration issue behind it.

    Ugh. We need more Sylvia’s around so I can be good cop. Bad cop sucks.

  2. One more thing.

    The average prison time for a burglar is 3 years. An amazing percentage of people feel they are entitled to shoot to kill a burglar who breaks into their home, whether they are actually endangered of not.

    Perceived threat and violation lead to violent responses. B, I think you are absolutely right that a very large number of people feel that illegal immigration is equivalent to ongoing criminal trespass.

  3. But Jebbo? A nation isn’t a house. Your house is your house. If one claims the right to police their own locality extralegally, that’s called being a vigilante. If a whole bunch of people do that together, we call it a mob.

    “Feelings” of violation led to a whole lot of black men getting hung or roasted while white folks took photos and had picnics. Let’s not be fuckwitted about this.

  4. Exador, you may not shoot someone simply for coming onto your property. Just so you know. I don’t want you doing time.

  5. Aunt B’s analogy, accurate or not, raises some other questions for me. Most of the nativists base their entire argument on this notion of rule of law. That is their best shot, it seems, and the one that gets even some Liberal people nodding their heads in agreement. What they conveinantly leave out are the elements of law that does not suit their purpose. Two come immediately to mind. We do not typically sentence first offenders to jail time, for good reason. There is this whole “letting the punishment fit the crime” approach that seems enlightened to me. Also, we have something called the Statute of Limitations. Except for the most heinous crimes, we have this built in safeguard against reckless prosecution years after the fact. You cannot embrace a wholesale “enforce the law” stance without also including these two ideas into the equation.

    As to some disappearing Heritage, what a crock of shit that is. I am first generation Mexican-American. My parents came here without documents in the 1920’s. Most people that meet me would not describe me as Mexican, even though I have black hair and eyes, and dark skin. I speak with no trace of an accent. Me and my siblings have clearly assimilated.

    If you force a part of the population to live in the shadows, they will tend to cling to whatever identity they can. This would explain the popularity of gang life in poverty-stricken areas.

    Lastly, ask these people (Nativists) about increasing the amount of VISAS granted to match our economic needs, and they will not be for it. Their own underlying unhappiness needs a scapegoat, and right now they feel emboldened to lash out against those with brown skin.

  6. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, Exador. As if there were any doubt at all about that. Next you’ll be telling me that the sky is blue and that scientists don’t quite understand why time moves only forward and not in reverse.

    Jebbo, first, what Bridgett said. Second, I don’t think anyone is advocating that things are fine just how they are. Everybody in America knows we can’t just have fifteen to twenty million people living in our borders trying, for various reasons, to avoid coming to the attention of the authorities. That’s a problem for all of us.

    But there are some hard questions we have to ask.

    Why, for instance, in a city like Nashville, with a large immigrant population from all over the world, does the focus, the hatred, seem to be directed at Mexicans?

    What is “enough” when it comes to immigration enforcement? It’s not as if the feds are doing nothing. They’re building a giant wall. They’re regularly round up folks. Is this really the most pressing thing the government needs to address?

    What, exactly, do folks–like Kleinheider–mean when they talk about “preserving our culture”? I mean, we talk a lot about how “They” are a threat to “our” way of life, but what the hell is “our” way of life? It seems to me that there’s only a consensus about what “we” are in opposition to what “they” are, because, I have to tell you, Kleinheider and I have a lot in common culturally and I don’t feel like we share some common undisputed culture.

    Why the hell are we talking about shooting people? Seriously. We shoot people when we perceive our lives to be in danger. That’s it. We don’t otherwise take the law into our own hands and just randomly shoot people we feel vaguely threatened by.

    And here’s what I keep thinking. I don’t think Donna Locke is actually going to shoot anybody. I don’t think BCR is going to shoot anybody. But when that kind of talk goes unchallenged, I’m afraid it emboldens folks who would–giving them the impression that there’s widespread support for such action.

  7. We agree more than disagree on this, especially the cultural part. But, you seem to be arguing for a completely unfettered border, with no immigration enforcement. Please let me know if I’m misunderstanding you.

    I only use this analogy for brevity, so everybody keep your claws put away:

    What if the name of the border-crosser is not Jorje, but Achmed?

    Are we perfectly willing to assume that every person crossing into the US is only coming to work? If not, what do we do about it?

  8. Slarti, surely you see the folly in securing our Southern border against illegal crossing, when our Northern border is remains wide open? Yes, I am for an unfettered border, but I don’t expect everyone to be on board with that idea. So, I say, we can do many things that will help our country meet it’s needs, while remaining true to our ideals. We can admit that we are not training ourselves, or our children, to clean toilets, serve fast food, pick fruit, etc. Those jobs still have to be done. Our workforce is aging, and we have an opportunity to import a young, healthy workforce that we have invested zero dollars in with respect to their upbringing and schooling. Allow for more immigrants workers. Right now, we grant 5000 Visas each year, worldwide, and that number will not meet our economic needs. The “waiting period” for a non skilled worker is roughly 20 years. 20 years. If you were desperate, would you wait that long?

    We can embrace those already here, coax them out of the shadows, and weed out those who have no intention of contributing to our way of life. Right now, we are driving them further underground.

    Some people say “let the Mexicans solve their own problems”. I have even heard people say that if total upheaval is required, let it be so. Think about that in terms of National Security. Do you really want the country on or Southern border to be embroiled in civil war? Espescially a country that has oil? We are quickly running out of allies throughout the world, perhaps it makes sense to insure that Mexico and Canada’s economies are strong, and their governments relatively democratic. just sayin.

  9. “Imagine women getting harassed outside clinics. Imagine lobbying for a law banning this. Now imagine that the government ignored it, and women were getting roughed up outside clinics, and were afraid to go in. That wouldn’t make it okay to shoot at protesters, but I guarantee there would be some people who would start to talk violent about it.”

    I don’t have to imagine this. The intimidation you describe is Operation Rescue’s M.O. and the ignoring it is exactly what happens in many jurisdictions. When yahoos go on TV to call the murder of abortion providers (as well as those who supply contraceptives and women who take them) “justifiable homicide” (see Randall Terry, Father David Trosch, etc), federal/state/local authorities didn’t do a goddamn thing. Though numerous abortion providers and their staff members have been killed (some even tracked to their houses and killed by sniper fire), curiously enough the reaction in the pro-choice community has not been to arm to the teeth.

    There’s an old theme in American vernacular legal culture that goes like this. People who feel unrepresented within the current political and legal system band together. They commence to argue that there exists a “higher law beyond the written law” (the law as it ought to be, accessible to all because it depends on collective common sense) that allows a feller to beat up or plug whomever he can get a few other disenfranchised people to agree needs beaten or shot. They select a group of people to scapegoat (usually one rung down on the social ladder, more often than not an ethnically/racially identifiable group) and whup the hell out of them. The gubbermint hates disorder of all kinds and so makes some feints at breaking up vigilantism — but only if the violence turns murderous. As long as the violence is “just” terror, rape, and brutality short of death, the gubbermint turns a blind eye and informal/formal means of coercion work simultaneously. There are some cynical reasons (keeping lower classes fighting with each other is a good way to keep them from unifying against a common oppressor, saves the gubbermint the trouble of whupping on the brown folks themselves…), but the net effects are pretty much the same each time. The state gains in power at the end of these episodes — the policing is absorbed by the government institution as a law-and-order function — and neither the people who raise a ruckus nor the people with busted heads gain anything but animosity towards each other. So the crazy part is that the very guys who claim that gubbermint isn’t working and don’t want gubbermint in their bidness are winding up triggering a powerful gubbermint response that will increase centralized state power…which will be used against them.

    Ever wonder where the ultra-righty-whitey Militia Movement of the 1990s went? (For those coming to this late, there were thousands of famileis who went bankrupt during the 1980s farm crisis and some of the people victimized by the banks debacle/S&L crisis that triggered mass farm repossessions went apeshit hateful all around the middle of the US.) You can go down the rosters of these outfits and cross-check them with the people who are now Minutemen. Same group of people, same t-shirts, same organizational strategies, same phone trees, same hate lit…

  10. No, no. I think there should be immigration enforcement, but that there should be compassionate immigration reform. Claudia Nunez, for instance. She fucked up. She’s here illegally. If she goes home, it’s pretty much guaranteed that she will be targeted by factions in her country who believe that they can terrorize folks who’ve been returned from the U.S. in order to extort money from folks still in the U.S. She fucked up. There should be some way she can make that right without having to risk her life to do it.

    I know of a woman who’s here illegally who’s been paying a man to help her get her immigration status fixed, who didn’t know that the man had no authority or even ability to help her with that. Is it fair to send her back when she’s been trying to do what she thought was the right thing?

    (In both of these cases, these women have children who are U.S. citizens.)

    Which is the other thing that bugs me. We’re talking about the parents of U.S. citizens. These are folks who have been here long enough that their U.S. citizen children have lives here. If we can’t have compassion for the parents, can’t there be some for the children?

    Fine. Seal up the borders. Stick a big wall around us that keeps the rest of the world out. I think its ridiculous and I’d rather my tax money be spent on other things, but fine.

    Keeping new people from coming in does not excuse us from treating the folks who are here iwth dignity and compassion.

    See, as I see it, we have a bunch of problems. How do we keep Mexicans from using our boarder like a revolving door? What do we do about folks who’ve made lives here for years and years? How do we reform immigration so that we have enough workers and yet are not just throwing open the border to everyone who can get here? And how to we weed out the folks who wish us harm?

    Let us never forget that the 9/11 hijackers were here legally. They didn’t sneak in across the Mexican border. They walked right in our front door. Building a wall between us and Mexico wouldn’t have prevented that.

    And a “shoot Mexicans” policy does not make Muslim terrorists afraid.

    We have to untangle that stuff, but we don’t. We lump it all together so that folks wiht racist agendas can piggyback on the agendas of folks who are just afraid.

  11. Sigh. I tried. Is our argument here that, since we don’t like the immigration laws, nobody has a right to be for them?

    Given that we don’t like people threatening violence, what would we propose people do who are opposed to immigration, given that laws are in place? Does the fact that we deeply dislike their viewpoint mean that we feel they are not legally entitled to it, that they should not have a democratic voice.

    This is why abortion is going to be made illegal again. People get so upset at the moral content of someone’s viewpoint, that they try to take decisions and rights away from them.

    People are entitled to be against immigration. They are entitled to vote to limit immigration. They are entitled to their government enforcing the law if they win the vote. It doesn’t matter if I find them as repugnant as a pro-lifer find a woman who wants an abortion. I have to respect their right to make that choice, and the government to back it up. That’s the only way Democracy works.

    Aside about vigilantism:

    I have this feeling people think I’m saying mob/vigilante justice is okay. It’s not okay, it is predictable. Like collateral damage in war. If you start a war, and civilians die, you don’t get a moral pass just because you didn’t intend them to get hurt, or even if you weren’t the one shooting them. You had to expect it, but you chose to proceed.

    War has consequences, which is why we try to channel politics into a democratic process. Supporting the government ignoring the result of the democratic process has the predictable consequence of people going outside the democratic process.

    If we don’t want mob/vigilante justice, we have to enforce laws. If we want both the government and the mob to leave immigrants alone, we have to win a public debate about it so that the xenophobes see their viewpoint has no legitimacy. That is the only peaceful way.

    Is there really nobody who agrees with that in principle? I just go back to abortion – people who feel “I disagree with your moral position so deeply, I would deprive you of your rights.” It sure sounds like our position here is, we disagree with anti-immigrant folks so much we would deprive them of their democratic right to choose less immigration. I thought the position was the opposite… “I may deeply disagree with you, but I respect and will protect your right to hold that position.” I need someone to explain to me how we’re not being inconsistent.

    Do we think people have no right to vote against immigration, or just no right to have that vote enforced by law? We are condemning people, but I don’t hear what we are telling them to do instead. Help me here, I can’t see where we’re standing.

  12. I apparently need another phrase, what with Rule of Law having been co-opted by the Shoot The Mexicans! brigade and all…

    My problem with illegal immigration can be summed up by saying that I don’t think it’s fair for some people to not follow some laws they don’t like. There are an assload of laws I don’t like that I do follow. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to purchase illegal painkillers, but I don’t because it’s well, illegal. I think that’s bullshit–that a sick woman can’t relieve her pain by any means necessary. I also don’t like having to renew my driver’s license every five years or having to pay sales tax on grocery food. They’re all bullshit laws but I obey.

    I think most of our immigration laws are for crap. They were instituted in the wake of World War II, when nationalism was at its high and everyone was worried about displaced Europeans coming over to take jobs that ‘should’ belong to returning GIs. The world is a different place 60 years on, and we can and should re-examine the law.

    BUT–there are people here who have spent a lot of money to abide by the law. At least five of them are good friends of mine. I’ve lived alongside them as they’ve gone through the lengthy process of ensuring their legal residence in the US. And I know how much it’s cost them. Now that they’re here, they pay taxes. Lots of taxes.

    Illegal immigrants have broken laws to get here. Period. You may roll your eyes at my belief in The Rule of Law, but please realise that I in no way believe that the laws they’ve broken entitle us to shoot people. Or otherwise harm them, for God’s sake. I’m all for treating illegal immigrants the same way we treat people who break laws like speeding, etc. Fine them. Have them buy their way into the country just like everyone else.

    Mack asks if I would wait 20 years? Yes, Mack, I probably would. That’s the way I’m wired. I know this sounds snide, but I gather more and more that this is exactly where there is a functional disconnect. I don’t know that it’s cultural, per se. A few years ago we were in an accident–hit by an unlicensed, uninsured illegal immigrant. The police did nothing outside of telling us to suck it up. Dude received no ticket, nothing. That makes me mad because I DO have to pay insurance on my car. If I don’t have insurance and I get in an accident I get a ticket and I get sued.

    I don’t want anybody shot, and I’d like to welcome all comers. I just want people to recognise that there ARE rules and it works better if we all play by them. So change the rules that suck. I don’t care. I only had to cross my mother’s vagina to get here.

    But until the rules change, don’t excuse disobeying them by just claiming that they’re stupid. Nothing makes me angrier, because if I disobeyed every stupid rule I didn’t like my own life would be FAR easier than it is.

  13. Be for law. Work to change law to make it more strict. Advocate extradition if you think that’s a good idea. Stop kicking about the increase in taxation that is going to come as a result of full enforcement — and be immediately and irrevocably against a war that is draining all our national resources and will continue to do so for the next forty years so that money can be spent elsewhere on something that you think is a bigger concern. Don’t bitch about why your kid is getting a sub-par education, since you’re ok with the money going to shut down the border. Be fine with the crumbling infrastructure. Live with the changes that are going to come to other parts of your life because — sad fact is — shit costs money and dollars only spend once. Be realistic about what the world you’re asking for is going to look like; clean your own toilets, mow your own lawn, know that restaurant food is going to cost $10 more an entree and don’t fucking complain about that.

    And, as you say, win a public debate about it — and if you look at the numbers right now, there’s considerable opportunities for either side to convert the confused and solidify their base of support.

    But advocating shooting folks? No. Claiming that it is natural and understandable when folks get frustrated and begin shooting people? No. It is clearly neither, as only a tiny minority of people do take to arms or even desire to do so. This is an outlying group and they should understand that their behavior is not normative.

    I am frustrated much of the time, as are the vast majority of folks I know. And you know what? We don’t shoot people we don’t like and we don’t beat them up. Our nation is not a free-fire zone. You don’t have the right to intimidate me verbally or physically to change my course of behavior because you don’t like what I’m doing. If you think you do have that right, you need to review what a right really is and recalculate.

  14. Well I missed the last few comments while writing mine, and there were good points made. I like a lot of what you say bridgett and agree with it. And B, I think yours is the closest to how I feel about this.

    I’d toss this to bridgett: I agree there are always people who feel a “higher law above the written law.” The only effective way I know to deal with those people is to say “I’ll make a deal with you. If you can convince 51% of your neighbors that your higher law is right, then we’ll enforce it. Otherwise we’re not going to, even if we agree with you.”

    This has the effect of channelling Mr. Higher Law’s energy into having discussions with his neighbors, which may change his views, and may change his neighbors. It gets him (most of the time) to put his gun down.

    But if after all of that, he wins the vote, and then I renege on the deal to enforce it… well, I can’t be surprised when he reaches for his gun again.

    B., I’m so so so in agreement about the what to do about existing folks here. On principle as above I think we have to start enforcing our laws to avoid dangerous results. I also think we have to actively engage in a debate about the benefits of immigration to try to change the law (Mack’s points about the aging population and need for more young workers is huge and needs to be heard). But how to handle the human cost of everyone who has built a life living with only good intentions… that tears me up. My only hope is that, if we had an honest debate and promised to really enforce the laws we vote on, that we could convince those against immigration to give immigrants here a pass. That’s the best outcome I see, and it depends in part on acknowledging that anti-immigration folks have a legitimate beef. That gets their ear.

  15. We don’t have to give them a pass, Jebbo. Fine them. Have them take some responsibility for breaking the rules. That is not amnesty.

  16. My 89-cents worth:

    All of the evidence I’m seeing is that this is most defintely a singling out of Mexicans. I don’t hear any talk of shooting any other nationality of illegal immigrants on sight. How can anybody justify this? It’s wrong.

    I e-mailed Mack last week, because my mother sent me this from the Miami Herald. I asked, “Mack, how is this possible???

    Under the U.S. government’s wet foot/dry foot policy, Cubans who make it to American soil are allowed to stay free & clear for the most part. I asked, “That’s not fair to the Mexican immigrants, right? I mean just because it’s over a land border and not water it’s different?

    His answer? “Thats how it works.”

  17. Under the U.S. government’s wet foot/dry foot policy, Cubans who make it to American soil are allowed to stay free & clear for the most part…I mean just because it’s over a land border and not water it’s different?

    We have different rules for people who come here to flee from tyranny, as opposed to those who emigrate to simply “make a better life for themselves.”

    It’s a relic of anti-communism. All Cuban refugees are of a different “class” of newcomers, since they are refugees as opposed to immigrants.

    Claiming political or religious asylum from any government used to be an automatic pass into the country.

    Wet foot/Dry foot has been our compromise with Cuba for decades. We promised the Cuban government we wouldn’t go into the water to pull out any of their people, but we promised all Cubans if they could make it to land, they’d be granted asylum.

  18. I would venture to say that there are portions of Mexico that have just as oppressive living conditions as Cuba.

    Besides…does that justify even considering resorting to violence????

  19. I would venture to say that there are portions of Mexico that have just as oppressive living conditions as Cuba.

    Well, once Mexico has a communist dictator, I’m sure we’ll work something out with them, too.

    Besides…does that justify even considering resorting to violence????

    I wasn’t aware that I did.

  20. Talk to the indigenous people of Mexico (particularly the Chiapans) about how well their government represents them…hmm, maybe that’s why they are trying to leave? Because their democracy isn’t really very democratic? (The choice for decades in Mexico has been between the “Yes” and the “Yes, Sir” party.)

    And are we only concerned with left-wing dictators? Right-wing dictators have historically been very very good for American business investors and so we tend to support and sustain those kinds of regimes in Central and Latin America. Guatamalans lived under some of the most brutal right-wing dictators for about forty years (people the US governent helped to install and financed so they would stay in power), but I didn’t notice that Guatemalans were welcomed. Or Nicaraguans. To test this theory, let’s see if Bolivians suddenly get a free pass…the Evo Morales (left-winger indigenous president) has recently done some extra-constitutional things that he claims are necessary for a temporary period of governmental restructuring — in short, he wants to actually rewrite laws so that the indigenous majority have majority representation and the oil wealth of the country somewhat remains to benefit the country rather than international oil conglomerates. I suspect what’s going to happen instead of a free pass is that there’s going to be a US-backed coup attempt here in the next few years. (They’ve already had 192 coups in a little under 200 years. What’s one more?) I predict that Bolivians running from that mess will get no visa help.

  21. And are we only concerned with left-wing dictators?

    At present, that is the US policy. As I said, our immigration laws are all post-WWII vestiges. They are a reliquary of that style of thinking. Up to and including who gets amnesty and who doesn’t.

  22. Great post!

    Some thoughts:

    1) “we’ve decided to change the terms of our agreement (immigrating here illegally used to be like shoplifting once, now we treat it like an ongoing series of armed robberies)”
    >> It’s even more drastic than that – there used to be no such thing as immigrating here illegally – from about Washington to Lincoln, or so I’m told. And after three years after getting here, you could apply for citizenship. After the Civil War, when we had just corrected a major error of domestic alienation, we decided to turn to the foreigner and start over. The classes of people who could immigrate illegally? Only the Chinese (universally banned), and the foreigners who were sick, prostitutes, criminals, or insane – which sound remarkably like the classes of people Jesus referred to as the “least of these” who we’d better treat with love or risk our very souls. When we made immigrants illegal, it’s a safe bet it created more spiritual liability for the lawgivers than the lawbreakers. Makes you think twice about who really needs amnesty.

    2) “What is “enough” when it comes to immigration enforcement? It’s not as if the feds are doing nothing. They’re building a giant wall. They’re regularly round up folks. Is this really the most pressing thing the government needs to address”
    >> Good question. Where is this headed. What kind of horror will we see in the mirror when we look up and see the end of this line and how we willingly walked there? As you have pointed out, we’re already imprisoning U.S. citizen children to no great national shame. See my post here about where the Fabricator envisions us heading, and how reality is catching up with nightmare scenarios:

    3) “Shoot, on the rare occasion when we freed slaves here in Tennessee, we required them to leave the state when we were done with them, even if Tennessee was the only home they’d ever known, even if their families were here.”
    >> Excellent parallel. Have you been reading my archives? :) I reported here on two Tennessee laws that kicked freed slaves out of the state:

    4) “Three percent of people in the whole state are Hispanic. In Davidson County, it’s right around seven percent–42,000 people, give or take a few. How many of them are here illegally? I’ve spent the evening perusing pro- and anti-immigration sites and I don’t think anyone can say for sure.”
    >> Just less than half of all Hispanics in Tennessee are U.S.-born citizens.

    5) “Keeping new people from coming in does not excuse us from treating the folks who are here with dignity and compassion.”
    >> Amen. “Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.” -Martin Luther King, Jr. Most border talk is a red herring when the topic is how to treat people who are here.

    6) I made an ad on the statute of limitations is one sliver of the general theme of your post:

    7) Anyone who is discussing the validity/inviolability of the law should read MLK’s Letter from Birmingham Jail

    8) May I cross-publish your post on I keep pro-immigrant opinion pieces there.

  23. I have Aunt B’s power of Attorney, John, go ahead.

    Just kidding, but I bet she’s fine with it. Excellent summation above, John.

  24. Mack – I’m all for securing our Northern border. I am fully aware of what motivates many on the “anti” side, and it embarrasses me.

    We’ve both dealt with the INS before – we know the system is broken. I held out hope, after 9/11, when the president seperated the enforcement side from the administrative side, but things are still a mess. Right now, neither side works.

    But, I’m an optimist. We CAN fix our immigration system, but first we must (for the most part) agree that allowing more immigrants to come to the US is a good thing. Once we’ve gotten that consensus (we haven’t yet), we can move forward. There’s still plenty of room, and our economy is the most massive and powerful machine that the world has ever seen. It can absorb plenty of new workers. I’m amazed how many people don’t give our economy enough credit.

    Or, we could just invade, and make Mexico the 51st state. ;)

  25. Hear, hear, John. I would like to add one other thing regarding the concept of “rule of law.” I think it is a powerful glob of Silly Putty at best.

    “Rule of law” means that whoever’s ruling gets to decide what the law is/means. Por ejemplo, the same bloviators who plodded on about ‘rule of law’ during the Bush v. Gore constitutional crisis were either strangely silent or comically jubilant when the (right-wing majority) Supreme Court pissed on both letter and intent of the Equal Protection clause with a decision that was a pea in the pod with Scott v. Sandford and Plessy v. Ferguson. In other words, it’s all bullshit. You have to pay attention to the law and its intent, and you have to ask if that intent is just and constructive. If not, organize against the law. If so, then find out what is keeping the law from being adequately enforced.

    Just as marijuana prohibition has nothing to do with upholding civic morality or protecting public health, the real problem with immigration isn’t the body of immigration laws– which is weak and confusing for obvious reasons. The problem is the border itself, and what the border has come to represent.

    What the economic globalization kooks never like to discuss is how they love for the cash flow to be global (as long as it finds the right bank accounts), but that people shouldn’t be allowed to follow the money.

    We shouldn’t be wasting time hiding behind unjust and anachronistic laws; we shouldn’t be wasting energy with childish, irrational, and reactionary responses to the ‘crises’ those laws fail to address. We should be examining and (if necessary) replacing the economic and political systems that put us and the immigrants under such social and financial pressures.

  26. and our economy is the most massive and powerful machine that the world has ever seen.

    For now. Our economy, almost entirely depends not just on oil, but CHEAP oil, and those days are gone. I am moving my money away from the dollar. I am advising anyone that asks to do the same. Many are already doing this, for them, the writing is on the wall. (I know this isn’t immigration related, but Slarti opened the door)

  27. Pingback: Nashville is Talking » Kick the Can

  28. Our economy, almost entirely depends not just on oil, but CHEAP oil, and those days are gone. I am moving my money away from the dollar. I am advising anyone that asks to do the same. Many are already doing this, for them, the writing is on the wall.

    All due respect, Mack, but I’ve already lived this same nightmare with the Conservo talk show hosts and Y2K. I can’t count the number of ads I’ve heard on Conservo Talk Radio for putting one’s money into gold in order to avert one looming financial crisis or another.

    I’ve done a lot of reading about Peak Oil over the years and have yet to be convinced that it’s any more real than Y2K was.

  29. if it comes to that, we’ll just invade Iran and take their oil. ;)

    How will we get there if we don’t have our own oil?

    Seriously, I’m all for developing alternative fuels. Big time. I just can’t get scared about another thing.

  30. Well, Kat, I ain’t buying gold. At least exclusively. I don’t want to sell you a thing. I watch what the big money boys do, and ask myself why. A global economy, like it or not, means that we had better get used to trading in something other than the dollar. I am not trying to convince you. I’m saying, I’m here, and this is why….

  31. Church Secretary, I have a different perspective on the globalization thing. It looks more like a potential political realignment. In my experience, the people most likely to be anti-immigration are also anti-globalization. From their worldview, the corporations and the rich have bought off the politicians, and are interested in shipping jobs overseas where possible, or bringing in cheap foreign labor where (as with construction) the work has to be done locally. The goal is to increase corporate profits and material well-being for the well-off while leaving the poor behind to compete with an increase low-skilled labor pool.

    From that point of view, the open-borders Democrats and the Wall Street Republicans are two sides of the same coin, and are both the enemy.

    For whatever that is worth.

  32. Jebbo, here’s the only thing I’m unsure of after this long discussion. Did we adiquately address your question about whether or not we’re all on the same page?

  33. How boring would that be?

    If there is a difference in perspective, it is probably that old saw: whether it is best to work for change from the inside or the outside. And maybe this, which I was pondering on the drive home today: if it seems like the other side is being unreasonable and unfair, should we feel constrained to be meticulously reasonable and fair.

    Martin and Malcolm couldn’t agree that, I’d be shocked if we did.

    Good talk, though.

  34. My points on this are (duh) long and rambling… and I don’t quite have the time/energy to go into them.

    My biggest issue with the “shoot ’em” crowd is, as was (sorta) pointed out earlier, that it’s awful damn hypocritical to commit what is arguably the biggest/worst crime we have (murder/serial murder… often with a side of rape thrown in for good measure), to punish people for committing what is, on the books, still a relatively minor crime.

    Self defense/defense of others requires both credibility and immediacy of reaction. I don’t care how much you think “they” are going to “ruin” “our” country – at the level of application, when you’re aiming your gun at someone just trying to walk across our arbitrary line in the sand… at that point, you lack the immediacy to justify any such action.

    To get all het up for the rule of law, one might want to take a good look at one’s other actions. As Kat points out, breaking laws in one’s life might make it easier… but also undermine’s one’s credibility when it comes to judging others.

    So… yeah.

    Hop hop hop. My thoughts are all over. I think this is as far as I’m getting tonight.

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