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David Sirota on Democracy and Immigration
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March 11, 2007, 04:38 PM
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I was recently checking out an article by David Sirota on Common Dreams:

One of my idiosyncratic little hobbies of late is to keep a tally on statements by Washington politicians and pundits that are express an open hatred for democracy.

Now Sirota wants to focus on PC issues:

The message from Washington, D.C. to all of us out here in the heartland is very clear: Our government is the exclusive gated community of Big Money interests, their appointed pawns in Congress, and a select group of self-declared "experts" in the media and at think tanks (which are, of course, funded by many of those same Big Money interests). Inside this gated community, actually listening to or shaping policy on behalf of the vast majority of Americans is considered either laughably outdated or disgustingly unsavory.

This is why we have a House lawmaker running to reporters attacking efforts to end the war as "overreacting to public opinion." This is why we have a Vice President who goes on national television declaring that what the public wants "doesn`t matter." This is why the largest newspaper in America continues to publish a columnist who says voters shouldn`t decide elections. This is why, months after being elected to the majority on an antiwar mandate, we have a congressional Democratic Party that still refuses to do anything to end - or even slow down - the war. Because underneath all the platitudes and rhetoric, Washington, D.C. is a place that hates democracy.

Thing is, real principles are something folks stick to even when going gets tough. Poll after poll suggests that the American public want lower immigration levels. Now, Sirota`s article on democracy prompted me to see what he had to say elsewhere about immigration:

Think about it this way: Had NAFTA lifted 19 million Mexicans out of poverty as promised instead of helping to drive 19 million Mexicans into poverty, you can bet the flood of illegal immigrants across our southern border would be a trickle instead of the flood it is today. To be sure, politicians are talking about amnesty or guest-worker programs to give workers some kind of legal status. But if those proposals do not come hand-in-hand with a reform of America`s trade policies, they are destined to be what they have been in the past — merely short-term, stopgap measures, not real solutions.

Until America`s political leaders start making trade policy address the imbalance between the demand for good jobs and the supply of good jobs in Mexico, illegal immigration will continue to be a major problem right here at home.

Now, I appreciate Sirota`s sentiment. I agree that US immigration issues shouldn`t be solves at the expense of poor folks in Mexico. However, it is rather naive-and wishful thinking- to think that a solution will involve no additional penalties of US employers—or reduction of employment opportunities in the US for foreigners.

I think we can arrive at a solution that most Mexicans think is a substantial improvement over the existing situation. Eliminating all extreme poverty in North America(Mexico, Central America and the Carribean) would cost only about $60 Billion/year. This is something the US can and should afford as part of a comprehensive immigration solution.

The thing is : the economic gap between the US and Mexico is big. If the US were back on track economically, it isn`t obvious how that gap might change the next few years. We need a mix of policies that are palatable on both sides of the borders-but both sides will have some flexibility and creativity if this is to happen. Now, I`m personally willing to make this happen even if it takes every penny Carlos Slim and Bill Gates have.