I learned painfully in later years how hard it is to pull up stakes and move when you get older, have accumulated a number of goods, and don’t have a plan of where to stay when you reach your destination. The added challenge of finding a job in a new town also becomes more difficult. Luck served me very well in these situations, and I look back in wonder at how I managed to survive some of my risky adventures.
These memories have come back strongly in the past few weeks as all the arbledy-garbledy about "illegal" immigration has been drowning the airwaves. Build a fence, don’t build a fence, let them in, send them back, let some in, send some back, give amnesty, arrest them, etc., etc., etc. It’s pretty comical, because politicians are trying to squirm around the issue until it dies down, and then pass some do-nothing legislation.
The difficulty that people from every side or angle of "the spectrum" have with immigration is that they aren’t capable of looking beneath the periphery of the issue. By and large, people who immigrate here don’t do it because they would just like to become "Americans," or that they would like to see another part of the world. Many are fleeing brutal political repression, where their lives are in danger. Many are fleeing wars. But most are fleeing desperate poverty and joblessness, and sneak into the country at great personal risk. If there were even minimally acceptable employment at home, they would stay there.
The largest source of "illegal" immigration is from "Mexico," in some estimates growing by a half-million people a year, with a total number of undocumented immigrants of about 20 million. No one knows for sure because they aren’t counted in the Census, and there is no other reliable way of measuring how many there are.
Of one thing we can be sure, though. "Americans," known as "Norteamericanos" south of the border, are not moving to Mexico in large numbers, desperate for work there. The desperation moves people in the other direction. If we really want to reduce or eliminate "illegal" border crossings, wouldn’t it be in our interest to try to make life more livable in Mexico?
Ah, the can of worms that opens up. Our track record, with Mexico and virtually every other nation on Earth, has not been to make life more livable for the average person. I can’t remember any coups de ètat that the U.S. ruling elite has sponsored in Mexico, but given our involvement in Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and Panama, it’s a fair guess that a tad bit of meddling has gone on in relation to how "Mexico" is governed, and also how business is conducted there. Then of course, there is CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement.
How is it, I wonder, that "Mexico," contiguous with the southwest border of the "United States," has such vast poverty, while ours is confined to pockets, mostly defined by race? In particular, how is it that the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas – all formerly part of "Mexico," are economically vibrant, while "Mexico" is so poor? Is it because "we" are "superior," and "they" are "inferior?" Is "Mexico" just a vast wasteland? Were the "Spanish" conquerors and their "Mexican" ruling-class descendents a sub-civilized culture, not quite ready for Industrial Revolution prime time?
I don’t know the answers to these questions, except "inferiority" is in the mind of the beholder. But a viable answer to the immigration question seems pretty obvious. We, as a people, now that we know the nature and level of competence of our ruling elites, in the context of Global Warming and the pending dénouement of our unsustainable, infinite-growth economic system, can choose to not only make our own system a distributive, equitable, viable system, but can reverse the damage that has been done in our names worldwide. As we learn to make our own system distributive and equitable, we can also learn how to apply distributive and equitable practices worldwide. Instead of subverting democracy and freedom all over the planet, we can help them to flourish by example, and by trade, micro-lending, and sustainable development projects on a planetary scale. And whether anyone likes to admit it or not, there are way too many people on the planet, and something intelligent, civilized, and effective has to be done about it.
Some would say that we are already doing the things necessary to help other countries, but au contraire. We do showcase. We also do the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the CIA, and preemptive war. We do outsourcing of sweatshops, of suppression of labor and environmental standards. One of the by-products of our "School of the Americas" has been assassination of union leaders and organizers. Our country is run by criminals, both in the government and outside it by its corporate sponsors. If we want to solve the immigration problem we have to decriminalize our political and economic system. And we can’t do it by making all their crimes legal, which is what our "rulers" would like. In the process of decriminalizing our system, we can also save ourselves. Or, we can roll the dice, put all our bets on the Bush crime family and its corporate sponsors, the Republican Congress, and the "Minutemen." Either approach is holistic. One is holistically criminal – the BCF method, while the other is holistically intelligent, ethical, and moral, to say nothing of being the only method that will work. We have a clear choice.
Just as a humorous aside, the Bush crime family is scrambling for a "solution" that is both criminal and has the veneer of decency. They are beholden on the one hand to industrial corporations and agricultural conglomerates to keep the supply of cheap labor flowing, and on the other hand to bigots and people who have been undercut by cheap labor to seal the borders. They are in a no-win situation, but in the end will cave to moneyed interests. Somehow they will have to figure out a way to get their "Christian" fundamentalist base to see immigration as a good thing. No doubt the PR minions of the BCF are cooking up a campaign right now. As always with the Bush crime family, stay tuned.