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Undocumented Workers: Continued and Edited

11 April 2006

I’m really pleased that people are taking the time to give their opinions on my illegal immigrant post. I want to reply to everyone, and thought it might make more sense to continue in another post rather than stuff a very long response in the comments.

First, the whole “Are they criminals?” thing. Consider if you will an interracial couple. In the 1950s, in many places, the two people involved would have been considered criminals under the law. Were they criminals? I would argue not. Similarly, if we agree that the law has to change for undocumented workers in the US, then calling these workers “criminals” during the debate is naming them based on a system that we want to change, and that makes no sense, and wouldn’t be very fair. It is also lumping all these people in with another large group that crosses the borders illegally; namely, drug smugglers. Using the term “criminal” for both groups merges them in the societal unconscious (ooo, she uses fancy terminology!). And exacerbates the racism that is within easy reach when it comes to someone with a different color skin, a different culture, or a different language.

I agree, Cowgirl, that seeing “Viva Mexico, Down with the USA” signs doesn’t help their side. I think part of that is just the fact that whenever there is a rally, there will be some jackasses who come without any respect for the topic at hand (at an anti-war rally we participated in two years ago, there were some people who marched with pro-Kucinich signs[for all you non-USians, he was one of the Democratic contenders for president in 2004]; this really bothered me because it implied that all of us were Kucinich supporters, but I wasn’t, I was an anti-war supporter—and that is a BIG difference). But I think that some of it is in response to the racism that these people are sensing (both in words and in actions [such as the building of a wall near populous Mexican border cities]), and using a sign like that may be their way of saying, “Hey, I’m proud of my heritage!” Also, this is a debate in which there isn’t an easy catch-phrase, such as “pro-choice”, “women’s rights”, or “anti-war”. Do you see what I mean? Just don’t lump everyone at the rallies with the people holding those signs, just like I hope no one at the anti-war rally lumped us all in with the Kucinich folks.

I also agree that we shouldn’t let someone who came in illegally “cut in line”, so to speak, as Sis No. 2 noted.

As for Ally’s question about the children of undocumented workers, I don’t think we shouldn’t let the kids go to school or even stop them from receiving subsidized healthcare. That would be a terrible idea: We don’t want to create a worse kind of underclass than we already have. And that is why I think we should somehow make the workers legal so that they pay *federal* taxes (because even with taxes withheld, they’d be making more than they could make in their home countries). That way the parents are paying into the system for social assistance and special needs programs.

And to clarify, the illegal immigrants all the hoopla is about here in the US right now really should be rightfully called undocumented workers. The terms aren’t interchangeable, although we have used them that way here in the US. These are the 11 million workers (I think I’m remembering the number correctly) who come to the US for work, not asylum. Our main asylum seekers are Cubans, and that’s a whole nother political kettle of fish!

And now for something completely different: Our Battle of the Books team came in 5th, out of an original 43 teams (I had thought there were 41). The kids were so happy to be able to make it to the final eight (and are looking forward to moving up next year!). The top two teams who battled it out in the final oral round were two homeschooling teams, and the winner was the team of kids we know very well, so Impera was happy to be able to cheer them on.

We’ve got another high intensity storm coming though “capable of producing tornadoes”, right now, so I’ll be signing off here (and probably heading off to bed soon). Keep the discussion going!

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