It’s Just Not Sexy

By Guest Columnist Jun 04, 2007

*Here’s RaceWire’s forth immigration analysis by a staff member of the Applied Research Center, the racial justice organization that produces ColorLines Magazine. Logic dictates that if you don’t ask the right question, you won’t get the right answer. So it is with the current immigration debate on Capitol Hill. Everyone’s asking “what kind of bill can we get passed and signed in the next month?” But if the wise guys in Washington really wanted to stop or at least hinder illegal immigration, there is only one question they need answer. There are almost no Border Patrol employees along the Northern American border. So the question is: Why aren’t Canadians flocking by the tens of thousands to cross illegally into Montana or Washington or Michigan or Idaho? The answer is clear: Canadians have it pretty damned good. This isn’t the case for many immigrants risking their lives to enter America. They come because of disastrous social and political policies that wreak havoc on the human condition. If legislators want to stop illegal immigration, they’d have to do things they really don’t want to do, like change the F in N.A.F.T.A. and C.A.F.T.A. from “Free” to “Fair.” It means we would have to cancel a lot of debts and use the power of the purse to demand humanitarian protections for laborers in nations we couldn’t locate on a map. It means giving aid to struggling nations for infrastructure projects and tariffs on nations whose workers aren’t paid livable wages. It also means ensuring free and fair elections take place in allied countries and that we honor the results of the elections even if the new government is bad for American business (see Hugo Chavez). In doing so, we could find a cure for abject poverty and we just might raise our own standard of living in the process. But no one wants to talk about this, it’s just not sexy. The truth is, a great many powerful people and corporations are just fine with the humanitarian crises that is American immigration policy. They’ll hire prisoners before they pay decent wages. And nothing will change, even if this most recent immigration legislation passes, unless people start asking the right questions and acting on the answers.