Friday, April 21, 2006

Immigration Nation
Let's talk about the "immigration problem".
Illegal immigration has become the hot button issue over last month. Of course, it's a smokescreen by the GOP. They've had failures (the war, the economy) and scandals (Tom DeLay, domestic spying) that have public opinion turned against them. So, they picked a target (undocumented aliens) and set the attack dogs loose.
We have a large population of undocumented aliens here in Columbus, which has caused a few problems, but for the most part has done nothing but helped the area and the economy. I've had a lot of experience dealing with these folks from my time working in a license agency, and I have some perspective on the issue.
The majority of the illegals here are from Mexico. These guys aren't professional types. But they are here to work, and they do it harder than most people here are willing to do. I don't know a lot of native born Americans who want to work fast food or roofing or as cleaning staff.
These folks do those jobs, without the protection of US labor laws. Sometimes 80+ hours a week without overtime. Sometimes in unsafe conditions. They get no health insurance. They're not eligible for driver's licenses or state ID cards in spite of the fact that they don't constitute legal status. So, they can't get bank accounts, auto insurance or even self-insure themselves for health.
Because of that, they often are paid only in cash, which makes them a target for crime. They are limited in their ability to find shelter, which led a group of roofers to sleep inside a building they were working on in January -- and they suffocated when the fumes from their kerosene heater overwhelmed them. Then, there was the apartment full of Mexican workers that burned down and they couldn't escape because there was no fire alarm. Ohio has seen their share of tragedy for these people, and they haven't wised up at all.
I've known a few guys who have managed to, over the years, get themselves documented and legal. They're few and far between, and the process takes YEARS. All they want to do is work, and most of the time they're working at jobs that no one else wants.
And now the Powers-That-Be are trying to rally the public against them. That's dirty pool. Find people who can't defend themselves and pick on them. If I remember my grade school correctly, that's called bullying.
Not that I'm surprised that the Republicans are bullies. We've seen ample proof of that (squelching of dissenting views, illegal wiretaps of reporters and political opponents, intimidation, etc) from the likes of people like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Michael Powell, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly.
We are a nation of immigrants and we're now turning against the people who have followed our lead. Now, if the various tribes of Amerinds decided they were against immigrants, I think I could understand that. Not that they can drive us out at this point, but they (if anyone) would have the right. We're criticizing the people following in our own footsteps.
I'm just hoping that the masses start wising up to this demagoguery. We need to start moving these guys back into their civilian lives as overpaid, company-swindling CEOs instead of government officials who're giving money and contracts to their former partners-in-crime. We need them out of political office and back into their boardrooms where they only hurt the people who are working for them. That way, we can minimize the amount of damage they do.

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