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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

President Obama changes immigration game plan

Posted By on Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 9:52 AM

In what-in-the-hell-took-Washington-so-long news: The Obama administration is starting to go after the businesses that hire undocumented workers.

Why we didn't start the immigration reform brouhaha with those who hire undocumented workers is beyond me. Though, the American government does have a long history of staying out of businesses' business as they do all they can to reduce costs and turn a buck.

But in this situation, we're not talking about using a cheaper ingredient — we're talking about humans who leave their lives in their homeland for an opportunity to improve their lot ... exactly what immigrants in America have been doing since the land was "discovered." And, as many have in the past, they get here and frequently find themselves working in sub-par conditions, being villainized, discriminated against, living in impoverished conditions all for little pay. Then, historically, the government goes after the immigrants and makes them pay for seeking a better life for their family in the land of the American Dream ... unless, of course, the immigrants' vote is desired, then the game changes a bit.

What we should have been doing all along was removing the incentives for immigrants to cross our borders illegally, and that includes doing what our government is doing now: Holding companies accountable for attracting undocumented workers.

And, let's get this straight once and for all: Humans can't be "illegal," though actions can be illegal. While crossing the border without proper documentation is a crime, so too should be enticing people to do so; so too should be mistreating those undocumented humans once they arrive.

Our society seems to be always looking for some "other" person — often with brown skin — to pick on in this country, someone to blame for our collective failings and problems. When will we look in the mirror and realize that we -- with our demands that everything to be cheap and profitable -- create the problems ourselves then perpetuate them with our spending habit, i.e. our economic votes, i.e. economic demand?

I'm glad to see that our brown-skinned, "other"-looking president has shifted his focus in immigration reform, even if it is just before a major national election. If anyone knows what it's like to be demonized for being different, it should be him. My concern, however, is this move is a political ploy aimed at increasing voter turnout by those documented immigrants who are now well papered and tired of being demonized themselves.

Further, while I'm on this topic let me point this out: My lily-white immigrant friends (the ones from Europe, Northern Asia and South Africa) don't encounter anything close to the troubles my non-white immigrant friends (from Central and South America, Southern Asia and Africa) do. No. People are more likely to compliment the lily-white immigrants on their accents than to ask for their papers, even though at least two of them lived and worked in this country illegally for more than a decade. What's that all about? Never mind. I think we know. Dark-skinned others are scarier than light-skinned others.

Here's an example, from the movie Food, Inc., of businesses attracting undocumented workers only to over-work them in sub-par conditions while making deals with immigration officials:

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