IF THE MONEY CAN MOVE, WHY CAN’T THE PEOPLE MOVE?
Immigration is yet another issue that is being used to play U.S. voters and taxpayers for fools. Whenever you hear someone suggest that the ‘borders’ should be ‘closed,’ point in their face and laugh loudly. This is an infantile notion, and it only panders to bigotry and irrational fears. You can’t examine immigration from a moralistic or ‘patriotic’ perspective. You have to take a critical look at the economic elements involved.
In other words, you must follow the money. Look at NAFTA, and every other ‘free trade’ action taken by our corporate-owned government: they’re all about the flow of money and commodities. To the fat cats, labor is just another commodity. The corporate honcho and the big-time stockholder don’t give a shit about the average worker, which is why the U.S. has CEO-to-worker pay disparities that make Third World nations blush. That’s slso why Bush has come up with the Guest Worker idea. He and his handlers know that cheap, disposable labor is wanted here as well as in the places to where so many formerly U.S.-based jobs have been shipped, and they also know that a dependable flow of desperate, disposable workers into the U.S. will help keep domestic labor costs low (and profits high).
If it were possible to cut off the flow of desperate migrant workers into the U.S., then the domestic cheap labor pool would shrink. That might eventually force the fat cats to pay honest wages and perhaps even– gasp— benefits (somewhere a Wal-Mart bean counter just got angina pectoris). The resulting financial pressures might even force the bulk of smaller businesses and a healthy cut of the larger ones to lobby for– dare I say it— a comprehensive nationalized health care system.
However, it is not possible to cut the flow of migrant workers. If you follow the economic development history of the U.S., you will see that our growth has depended heavily on regularly encouraging (and often forcing) the destabilization and subordination of our neighbors (including Mexico). The result has been our controlling the lion’s share of the wealth in this hemisphere, and all our southern neighbors know it. Many of their citizens believe that getting across our border will give them a shot at earning a decent sliver of that wealth so they can hope to mitigate the impoverished conditions at home.
We can post however many guards or build however many fences, but people will still try and improve their lot. As long as we encourage corruption and poverty– or fail to encourage the opposite values– in our neighbors, we will be the flame to which the economic moths shall flit.
The political bluster over curtailing immigration serves, wittingly or not, as a smokescreen between the real issues and the tendency of most U.S. citizens to react to facilely framed symptoms. Any legislation enacted in that direction will be doomed to fail, at least as far as actually dealing with the real issues.
In other words, if you pass draconian immigration laws, the result won’t be to stop or even seriously curtail ‘illegal’ immigration. The migrant workers will be driven further underground, will be more vulnerable, and may work for even less money. They will still be here, though, and that will not help domestic workers at all.
On the other hand, if you go with the Bush administration’s plan, you are approving legal codification of the current situation, albeit with nominal protections for the workers.
Neither of the above ideas would significantly challenge the status quo; they might even make things worse. Face it: in this case, the border serves as a geopolitical talisman used to divide, conquer, and exploit a continental labor force for the enrichment of a relative few.
This is nothing new: the history of pre- and post-colonial U.S. economics followed the same rules, using slavery and Jim Crow to keep poor and working people of all colors in their place. However, the multinational corporations, the wealthy elite, and all who serve their interests now have a bigger, more diverse pool of serfs to manage. The immigration issue holds the potential to keep these serfs at each other’s throats while providing political cover to the ultimate goal, which is the continued feudalization of the global economy.
In short, focusing on immigration as the problem rather than as a symptom is a fool’s errand at this point. Such focus serves only to divert attention from the real problem, which is the increasing polarization and ossification of global economic inequity. What is more, you shouldn’t expect to see any comprehensive immigration controls enacted, anyway. Our politicians have long since learned that enough blustery, hate-filled speeches, accompanied by a few well-placed witch burnings, will satisfy enough of the electorate to facilitate the maintenance of the status quo.