Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Ugly Truth About The "Illegal Immigration" Debate

There is an ugly truth about the current illegal immigration debate. The issue is especially attractive to many lower income Whites who compete for many of the lower paying jobs with many recent immigrants and also to racist elements within the American right. It is however wealthy economic interests who want a cheap labor pool here to make huge profits, and ultimately it is their voice that is the most important one.

Since the early days of America, wealthy interests have used indentured servants or slaves to work on farms, and to harvest indigo plants, rice, tobacco and cotton. Slaves were bought from African leaders who conquered rival nations or tribes in warfare, and they were sold to American slaveowners who transported these slaves in the hulls of ships under terrible conditions to an abusive life of forced labor on American agriculture and to make some early Americans the beginning roots of the growing economic power of the elite American ruling class.

Even the Southern Baptist Church was founded in 1845 by interests who formed the Southern Baptist Convention as a form of a faith to justify the slavery issue. This was a clear break from the historic Baptist roots of the Baptist faith. But there was a clear intent by the wealthy slaveowners to even use faith to justify this awful economic practice because exploitation of a virtually free labor force was so central to amassing a huge fortune for these persons .

With many immigrants from China who would work on the American railroads in the 1800's for very low wages as well as Irish immigrant refugees from the Potato Famine, these recent immigrants were exploited by the growing power of the wealthy in America as low waged labor nearly as cheap to exploit as slavery. Indeed many entire armies were made up entirely of Irish immigrants were used by both the North and South to fight the American Civil War.

The early days of capitalism under the emerging Industrial Revolution removed many former lower level agrarian workers from the land towards working in factories, totally dependent on industry for employment where nowadays a person is considered to be either "employed" or Unemployed" much like the old days when the terms "freeman" or "slave" were used.

Now modern capitalism looks to low wage workers in places like China or India for much of their profit enhancing labor. But for smaller more purely domestically run businesses, the legal and illegal immigrant now replaces the low cost labor force that slaves or indentured servants once filled.

With the economic clout of these wealthy interests to use the cheap labor of immigrants to exploit for huge profits especially in agriculture, food service work and food and meat processing, these interests have great influence on any ultimate policy regarding immigration. These interests want this cheap labor despite the huge costs to states such as California in which the low wages paid and resulting lower tax revenues do not add a great deal to the state treasury where huge social service costs are incurred that make this state virtually ungovernable.

What will result from the current illegal immigration debate is the continued economic exploitation of immigrant workers as a lowly paid class of workers to enhance the profits of wealthy interests, as well sort of "show piece" document for legislators in Congress to show the voter before the November election. Already there is the charade of a sort of fence being built along part of the border between the U.S. and Mexico. It is however built of such flimsy material with enough of a gap under the fence that you can virtually slide under this fence without having bring a shovel or use your hands to move a little soil. This showpiece fence will cost billions of dollars and could extend 700 miles. A huge expense for a mere showpiece that will become a immigration issue bragging point that has no real serious intent to keep immigrants out based on it's absurdly poor construction. In Arizona, some steel rails merely intended to prevent cars or trucks with drugs are being erected. But these have holes that persons can easily slip through. It is further proof that no real serious intent to prevent this low wage class of immigrant workers from entering the U.S. to work as labor really exists.

It is always a constant argument of defenders of American capitalism to brag that the U.S. has the greatest economy in the world. Certainly that can be true when powerful interests have accumulated a huge wealth by a history of exploitation of the poorest of Americans, or exploitation of immigrants or cheap foreign labor. The immigrant, both legal and illegal, will continue to be a new "slave" for this wealthy class to accumulate more and more wealth. It is also disappointing the way some right wing Republicans have exploited this issue to some of their voters in a racist manner, and also some Democrats who are making ovatures to immigrant voters while attempting to block a move in Congress to make illegal immigration a misdemeanor rather than a felony, and to create a fine of $2,000 which is a huge sum for these poorly paid immigrant workers to pay.

There is the serious issue of the dehumanizing exploitation of a poorly paid class of workers to enhance the profits of the wealthy. There are also those racist elements who further victimize these poorly paid immigrants for political reasons on the right. And some Democrats also straddle this issue for their own gain, while not really standing with immigrants in Congressional votes. The entire history and political environment surrounding this issue is very disingenuous. The economic and political exploitation of the immigrant will undoubtaby continue without abate. The immigrant has merely replaced the slave of older times. Wholesale economic and political exploitation and abuse will only continue. This is the ugly truth about this issue.


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