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Immigration Beyond Left or Right
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August 04, 2007, 06:48 PM
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Until last year, I worked some distance from my home and every weekend would travel on Amtrak. One weekend on my way home, I met a young woman on the train who was doing one of those jobs â€?no American wants to doâ€?—she was a farmworker. Now, she didn’t exactly fit the stereotype of a farm worker. She’d been raised as a Unitarian. After a couples years at one of the better eastern colleges, she chose farm work after questioning the wisdom of investing in college given the jobs crunch hitting white collar professionals. She wanted to live someplace with more open space-and chose Eugene, Oregon. She only works for â€?organicâ€? produce farms—in part because she doesn’t want to be exposed to the toxic chemicals used by US agribusiness.

Now, according to conventional wisdom, we have here someone immersed in â€?leftieâ€? politics. She â€?oughtâ€? to toe the PC, multiculturalist, open-borders line. However, economically she finds herself in the competing against illegal immigrants—and the business interests that employ them. So I asked her: what were her thoughts on illegal immigration. She saw illegal immigration as a tricky issue. Despite reading major progressive publications, she was surprised to learn that almost all of US population growth is coming from immigration. I told her a bit about my article â€?The Jobs Crunchâ€?—and ran past her my idea of employer financed incentives for illegal aliens to repatriate-–and enforcing the existing fines against employers. Her reaction: â€?That sounds about rightâ€?. This young lady likes her Congressman, Peter DeFazio (a member of the Progressive Caucus )-and feels he’s pretty much all she could expect from a congressman.

The young lady on the train isn’t an isolated example. When I showed The Jobs Crunch to a local Democratic party stalwart, his reaction was �you’re right�. A local former Democratic city councilman I live near had a similar reaction. The reactions from the folks I worked with on the Kucinich campaign were also positive. A local Democratic mechanic made a couple hundred copies of this article and passed it to his friends. Quite simply: there is a real interest in good material addressing issues like immigration in terms that Progressives can relate to.

This interaction shows some of the human issues those concerned about the â€?National Questionâ€? need to address. To conservatives, the national question has largely been about issues like preservation of the use of English in the US. From the perspective of this young woman—it is about being able to avoid corporate agricultural practices she finds morally abhorrent. Without the illegal immigration driven by economic coercion and ability to lure workers by a chance at a green card, companies that expose directly their workers, and indirectly the public, to toxic chemicals would have to pay a premium—and organic producers would be more competitive and able to scale operations.

There is a an underlying hypocrisy in many who called themselves progressives—and let corporations push open borders policies unopposed—and use those open borders policies to promote environmental degradation—and this wasn’t lost on this young farm worker. Publications like The Progressive, The Christian Science Monitor, Mother Jones have failed their readers by failing to report how immigration relates to issues like workers rights and the environment.

Ultimately, although they adhere to differing principles, Paleocons and Progressives, both tend to have principles—something the DLC Democrats and neocon class warriors simply lack.

If America is to have a future, it is very likely to mean we’ll see a lot more folks like this young farmworker. Entry into the middle class via education has been largely a chain letter. Expanding the population via immigration meant more jobs for attorneys, accountants case workers and teachers. If we are to seriously reverse immigration, and move towards humane repatriation, much of the work now done by illegal immigrants will still need to be done. Many of these jobs can be made much more pleasant, safe and less labor intensive though automation—as Japan has been doing. Proper technical incentives to improve health care via biotechnology would reduce much of the need for long term care. Still, we would need to learn to grow and prepare food, clean up after ourselves and clean up our own messes. What that means in concrete terms: many Americans may find themselves with a much higher material standard of living and a greater sense of community—but not the same symbolic benefits or prestige from their work that they have been promised by the neocon artists manipulating public opinion.

The National Question must be addressed in a practical sense without disruption to the economy or society. The neocons suited to running neoplantations using neoslaves in an atmosphere of continuous borrowing to pay expenses, aren’t going to cut it when it comes to managing a sustainable America. They just don`t have the principles for that. Principles are things to which you adhere when things are hard. . It is during hard times that our principles are put to the test. Humane repatriation of over 10 million illegal aliens-on a basis that won’t produce a military threat on the Southern border of the US—is going to be hard. Transferring assets from corporate welfare queens to the real Americans who can use these assets efficiently is going to be hard. Putting Americans back to productive work—and giving them confidence that productive work can pay is going to be hard But these are the things we need to think in terms of to really address the National Question and only true conservatives and true progressives have the requisite principles to do so.