I am not going to mention names. You know who you are. But if you are gullible enough to swoon over the Minutemen, the Neo-Nazis, and their "professionalism," then you are being an enabler. You are being an enabler for the worst kind of hate groups there are in this country. And if you don't believe me when I say that the Minutemen and Neo-nazis are allied, you are arguing with the facts, not me.
If you are going to be so prejudiced against immigrants that you will turn a blind eye to these people and their evil actions, then we don't need your votes. There is a home for you. It is called the Republican Party.
You may look at the TV and swoon over the "professionalism" of these people. But you've been had. If you're gullible enough to believe their image of being like the friendly neighborhood watch people, then you have learned nothing from the days of Ronald Reagan, when he caused over 25% of Democrats to swoon over his sunny optimism.
You do not recognize that evil men and women like these people are can be the nicest people in the world. But I don't judge people based on appearences. I judge on actions. The Minutemen and their Neo-Nazi allies are wolves in sheep's clothing. They present themselves as concerned citizens, when in fact, they are ravening wolves ready to kill when it suits their political agendas.
Incidentally, the problem is not so much with our elected officials. Yes, I wish they would show more spine. But the problem is us. Too often, we fail to recognize that we are guilty of the same kind of appeasement tactics that we rant against the Democratic establishment for. Rush Limbaugh screams about how immigrants take away our jobs, and people in this community cower in fear and bend over backwards to appease Rush by supporting the Minutemen. Lou Dobbs can give one of his smug, self-righteous stories about the War on the Middle Class, and people turn around and say, "Me, too!"
By acting like Republicans and turning immigrants into the enemy by supporting the Minutemen, you are part of the problem, not the solution. You have turned your back on 45 years of progress on civil rights, peace, and social justice in the name of appeasement.
There is a wide room for disagreement over immigration. I understand the need to balance the respect for law on one hand with our legacy of 400 years of providing freedom and opportunity for people who had not had it before. Some people will be more restrictive of it, while others would be more lenient. That is fine. But when you support the Minutemen, you cross the line in my book. You need to take a good hard look at whether or not you are really a Democrat or not. Supporting the Minutemen is a cop-out that does not provide any real, meaningful solutions to the problem.
Not only that, you are running the risk of plunging the country into civil war and chaos. Suppose HR 4437 passes and Bush signs it into law. You are playing into Bush's hands when he is trying to turn this country into a police state. If you have skin that is too dark, a neighbor might smear you by suggesting you are an illegal alien. You can have a Green Card, lose it, and have George Bush whisk you away and deport you right back to your old country.
This is just like the Blacks in the ghettos back in the 1960's and before. Everybody thought they were too poor to get guns and fight what they considered police brutality. But they were wrong - Blacks protesting police brutality and poor living conditions brought the country to its knees in the 1960's through riots. If Bush starts a policy of trying to deport 21 million undocumented workers back at once, this country would be plunged into civil war. People would get guns either legally or illegally and shoot any immigration agents on sight. Clashes between Minutemen and immigrants would take place. This whole country could be turned into a McCarthyite witch hunt that would involve people turning each other in if they know they are from another country. People would be wrongfully deported because Bush would consider you guilty until proven innocent - read up on Guantanamo and extraordinary rendition if you don't believe me.
We have to make a hard choice - do we risk plunging the country into civil war, or do we sit down and do the hard work of developing a meaningful program on immigration that affirms the equality of all people and treats immigrants with fairness and respect, while recognizing that undocumented immigrants broke the law and should face fair and reasonable consequences?
1. Fully funding the INS and cracking down on businesses.
Our first priority should be to fully fund the INS and crack down on businesses who hire undocumented workers. What Eliot Spitzer did for corporate crime and what John Conyers will do for the illegal wiretapping program and the Iraq War, we need to do with companies that exploit workers in poverty. I have no respect for companies that flout labor laws by paying subminumum wages to workers and refuse to pay out workman's comp and other mandatory programs. There should be massive lawsuits and jail sentences for employers who exploit people for profit.
HR 4437 is totally unenforceable. That is because the INS is unable to enforce labor laws because they are inadequately funded. We need to give them the resources they need to investigate complaints of labor law violations.
2. Increase immigration quotas to meet job demand.
We need to come up with a credible estimate of job demand, and allow enough immigrants in to meet job demand. Our first priority should be to let in skilled immigrants and immigrants who plan to start their own businesses. We cannot let in everybody who wants to come to this country. We should, however, have a priority list so that the immigrants we do let in create as many jobs as possible.
a. Skilled laborers and business owners.
Skilled laborers, who can document a degree from a reputable institution or who can demonstrate through employment history skilled labor; people with a comprehensive plan to start their own business. In the latter case, the INS would require verification that the person is actually operating such a business. Understanding of US labor law must be demonstrated.
b. Refugees and persons fleeing persecution.
The next priority would be for refugees who can document famine or a well-founded fear of religious or political persecution.
c. Persons with immediate family members or children born in the US.
d. The general pool.
3. Double the minimum wage.
Part of the problem is that many Americans will rarely work at menial jobs for minimum wage - immigrants would. Doubling the minimum wage would address this problem.
In assessing penalties for undocumented workers, we must take into account the fact that they might have children born in the US, and are thus citizens under the 14th Amendment. Furthermore, all people, even undocumented workers, are granted Constitutional rights. Therefore, any immigration violations must be given due process.
Undocumented persons convicted of felonies or misdemeanors other than traffic violations or immigration-related cases should be deported. All immigrants must go through hoops in order to enter for a period of time. Therefore, immigrants who do not have their papers in order must jump through additional hoops and complete them in a certain amount of time. Failure to do so will result in deportation. Undocumented persons should have to pay a fine as well, and if they get their Green Card, they should have to wait longer for their citizenship and be placed on probation in which they must seek education and/or employment and obey all laws.
There must also be adequate safeguards for children born in this country. Judges should be more reluctant to deport aliens with children who are US citizens and should decide such cases in the best interests of the children. There should be a fingerprint database of children born in this country to undocumented aliens so that when they return to this country, they can easily prove their citizenship.
Furthermore, many countries will not accept our deportees. In that case, we should not deport them at all, but have some other penalty available.