Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Debates

Last night J and I watched the back-to-back debates on ABC.

What is the Republican thing with immigration, anyway? Yes, people come to this country for jobs. They do jobs for wages too low to attract native-born and legal immigrant workers. They speak languages other than English. Horror of all horrors!

Do these people listen to what they're saying? Do they think about it? C'mon, just because someone came here without proper papers doesn't make her a criminal. That's silliness. I have been known to jaywalk, which is illegal in most jurisdictions. That doesn't put me up there with ax murderers. Get a grip! And the idea that we would deport 12 million people to their home countries, so that they could apply for legal immigration is silly. They'd have to wait ten years to re-immigrate.

What would this mean? Well, many undocumented workers have children who were born in this country and are, therefore, citizens. What would parents who were deported do? Would they take their citizen children with them? Would they decide that the children would be better off in this country and have them placed in foster care? If the children became ill in their parents' home country, would they send them to the US for medical care? If they are Mexican nationals, would they live near the border and send their children across the border to school each day? The children are citizens of this country and would have every right to come here for medical care or education. And if their parents took them back to their home countries, the children would have the right to re-enter the United States at any time. Deporting their parents is not only not a good idea; it's a really bad one.

And while it's possible that immigration has some impact on wages in this country, the political decision to depress wages for the poorest two-thirds of the population has been much more effective. (It's interesting to note, though, that depressing wages, which was supposed to end stagflation forever, appears not to have had the desired effect.) To counter the effect of immigration on wages would be easy--just enforce our labor laws. That means that we don't care whether you're documented or not. Your employer must still pay the legal minimum wage, payroll taxes, social security tax, worker's compensation etc. Workers, whether documented or not, would be protected from exploitation and calling ICE would not protect employers.

How can this be a big issue in New Hampshire, one of the whitest states in the land? You'd think they'd be more interested in other issues.

Now for the Democrats. I always want Hillary to do well, just because she's a woman. I'm not supporting her, but I don't want her to be perceived as hysterical, brittle, bitchy etc.--all attributes of women who are insufficiently deferential to men in public settings. But she did come off as defensive when Edwards and Obama set her up as the candidate of experience and the Old Guard. That set her off, and she came off as defensive AND hysterical. She's not as quick as Bill, and didn't have the sense to let go with some comment like, "I'm a woman running for President. That's not enough change for you?"

There's really not much difference between the Big Three Democrats--all of whom promise to give us some sort of universal medical insurance that protects the big insurance companies and the drug manufacturers, get us out of Iraq some day, and bring joy and good feeling to the land. (None of them seemed to realize, for instance, that the oil-revenue sharing agreement proposed for Iraq is known in the rest of the world as the American proposal to steal Iraq's oil. It's not surprising that even the most sycophantic Iraqis oppose it.) But at least they didn't spend the majority of their time rattling on about the joys of deporting 12 million people.

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