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We need to stop calling undocumented immigrants in the United States “illegal”.  A more appropriate term is: New American Heroes.

Why are undocumented immigrants heroes?  

Millions of Americans, immigrants and citizens, work incredibly hard every single day in ridiculously low paying jobs that are the life-blood of our economy but are barely life-sustaining in return.  I think every person who gets up at the crack of dawn or in the middle of the night to work one or two or even three jobs so they can pay the rent and put food on the table are heroes.  But as hard as it is for every low-wage worker in the United States (and increasingly, middle class folks too) undocumented immigrants face additional, greater obstacles.  These undocumented immigrants are heroes, too.

I certainly don't have what it would take to survive if I was forced to flee my home country because of economic or political insecurity, travel thousands of miles in sometimes life-threatening conditions, move to somewhere where I probably don't know anyone and don't speak the language, and do the most thankless and backbreaking jobs like picking vegetables in the 100 degree sun or washing pots in a restaurant --- all to help my family survive. I think that is heroic.

But whether we’re talking about undocumented immigrants in low-wage jobs or middle class immigrants who overstayed their visas, as a nation we have always believed that the pursuit of the American dream is heroic.  Given that the rest of the world has long paid the price for sustaining the American dream (in terms of natural resources, cheap labor, wars, etc.), it's only fair that immigrants should in turn hope to share in that dream. Through our cultural dominance of the globe, we repeatedly hold up the American dream as an ideal to which everyone should aspire --- and, we tell the world, one in which everyone is included. It's only fair that others should want in.

Some argue that all makes sense but still, why can’t all immigrants just take the legal path to the American dream?  Because, increasingly, there isn’t one.  Two very important facts have changed in the last decade that significantly impact the immigration equation.

First, in 1994, NAFTA was passed. Now, true, Mexico signed it --- but it was largely under the coercion of big international business interests. The result was the devastation of Mexico's economy by larger corporations in the US that flooded their market with cheaper products. A lot of that was corn, which we subsidize with our tax dollars here --- and that artificially cheap corn imported into Mexico drastically undercut local farmers. Folks who had been surviving for generations as farmers and local business people are now seriously struggling.

Second, two years later, the United States passed a harsh immigration reform law that, ostensibly, made it much harder for immigrants already here (and with proper papers) to get citizenship AND made it harder for migrants from certain countries --- especially Mexico and Central America --- to come here in the first place.

So you pass United States policy that intentionally smothers small farmers and shopkeepers, etc., in Mexico AND THEN you change immigration policy so that these now-much-more-desperate immigrants can't come to the US.

Why is it our corn can cross the border to "compete" in Mexico's economy but Mexicans can't cross the border to compete here?

In this context, the word "illegal" in the immigration debate is not only divisive but misnomer.   If anything, the United States' political acts should be deemed "illegal", not the acts of well-meaning immigrants left with no other choice.  Moreover, throughout history, we have celebrated those who disobey unjust laws in the name of justice.  Undocumented immigrants today are carrying the torch of Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Sojourner Truth --- great leaders who understood that sometimes we must all answer to higher laws, to a higher belief in freedom and equality for all.  In the great tradition of the American Revolution, resisting unjust laws --- even if doing so is technically illegal --- is an act of heroism.

On May 1, 2010, hundreds of thousands of heroes marched in cities and towns across the United States demanding a workable path to citizenship that will move our entire nation forward together.  Just as it would be unthinkable for President Obama and Congress to ignore the demands of military war heroes, we cannot ignore the dire situation facing these heroes of economic wars our country has wrought.  Just as undocumented immigrants recognize higher good than broken immigration laws, the President and Congress must find higher guidance than what is considered politically safe.

The word hero comes from Greek meaning to protect or defend.  Undocumented immigrants are protecting and defending something much more important than borders (which big business erased long ago).  Undocumented immigrants are defending the very definition of America, one that has always promised opportunity for all newcomers and, with any hope, always will.  

Originally posted to sallykohn on Wed May 05, 2010 at 07:02 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  I love people who are positive (6+ / 0-)

      so I rec'd this but I also agree that the hero title is something we should reserve for real heroes not just people we admire.  

      I love hard work and surviving, but part of being a hero to me is that you do things the right way.  

      It is just your opinion so I am not going to try and persuade you and I hear you and I understand what you are saying.  

      Personally all I can do is say I admire someone who would risk their lives walking through several days of desert to come here in hopes of making a better life and making a positive contribution and adding something to our society.

      You probably thought Obama was going to be more progressive because he was black...idiot.

      by mim5677 on Wed May 05, 2010 at 07:33:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Heroes? Bit of a stretch. (20+ / 0-)

    I'm guess I'm just tired of the term "hero".  Perhaps I'm too cynical to be a hero worshipper.

    Takes more than combat gear to make a man. Takes more than a license for a gun.

    by toby esterhase on Wed May 05, 2010 at 07:05:50 AM PDT

  •  Film.. "Lamerica" about "crossing borders" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Timaeus, revgerry, Deep Texan

    Its an award winning 1994 film set in Albania, but it could be anywhere.

    That film haunts me.. It was incredibly realistic.. In fact the riot scenes in the movie were real riots.. the country was convuled with riots in Tirana after the collapse of the (bizarrely xenophobic and paranoid) Enver Hoxha regime..

    Its the most realistic depiction Ive seen of the disconnect between the (chaos) that many people must live in in war ravaged "developing" world.. and the factors that lead many to attempt to flee them.

    BTW, I read recently that Albania is one of the two countries on the European subcontinent that is not experiencing severe "negative growth" right now..  

    Many species that are extinct everywhere else now have found Albania's relative lack of development allows them to live in peace..

    Just like the DMZ between the Koreas.

    See Lamerica..

    Five stars..

    Read About Single Payer! (Real, WTO-legal stimulus, that works!)

    by Andiamo on Wed May 05, 2010 at 07:10:22 AM PDT

  •  Yes, let's celebrate breaking the law. (6+ / 0-)

    Because that makes Dick Cheney a Superhero.

    Drill, Barry, Drill. How Republican of you.

    by The Dead Man on Wed May 05, 2010 at 07:11:26 AM PDT

  •  boooooooooooooo (17+ / 0-)

    perfect example of when you go so far left you drive off a cliff.

  •  Sorry (11+ / 0-)

    I laughed out loud.

    "Simon Wiesenthal told me that any political party in a democracy that uses the word 'freedom' in its name is either Nazi or Communist."

    by bink on Wed May 05, 2010 at 07:18:15 AM PDT

  •  Looking Through Wrong End of Telescope (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aji, Deep Texan

    Everybody looks at the individual who comes across the border as the prime cause and only factor to consider.

    What is going on is causing hundreds of thousands of people to uproot from families and communities they have been part of for generations and more than likely, millennia.  

    The forces at work are partly our doing.  As consumers, we are part of a system that creates financial directives that create the conditions that force people to go on the run.

    The problem is at the federal level.  The President and Congress have the tools to deal with through international agreements.

    It is past time that we put some emphasis where it belongs.

    hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

    by Stuart Heady on Wed May 05, 2010 at 07:21:47 AM PDT

    •  Whatever stabilizes communities is good (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Deep Texan

      People should not be forced out of their homes by violence OR predatory healthcare costs. Anybody who can afford to live someplace should be able to buy a home there and live there.

      Reciprocity like they have in the EU is a mixed bag, but there is no denying that free markets are good. For example, many prices in the US would fall if we had free markets instead of captive ones. Americans of any kind could live in the US Canada or Latin America.

      Many homeless Americans would probably welcome the opportunity to live in favelas, where they could at least build a temporary home and live with millions of others in solidarity.

      Favelas have some interesting, very valid support mechanisms, they aren't all bad.

      Read About Single Payer! (Real, WTO-legal stimulus, that works!)

      by Andiamo on Wed May 05, 2010 at 09:30:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've been saying recently (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ManhattanMan, Pozzo, revgerry, flhiii88

    that if we want to take illegal immigration seriously, all of us, including the tea baggers will have to pay a little extra for their produce.

  •  Ehhhhh (14+ / 0-)

    Comparing undocumented workers to "Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Sojourner Truth" is a bit much

  •  Makes no sense (8+ / 0-)

    "Undocument immigrants" may be the most virtuous people on Earth, but if they are in a country in a manner that violates the law, I don't see how a call to stop using the word "illegal" constitutes anything more than career dreaming. The law is the law isn't it? Whether or not you agree with it, if you violate the law, that would justify the use of the word "illegal."

    You can call them heroes, if you so desire, but that is a separate point from removing the word "illegal."

  •  You can call them anything you want (9+ / 0-)

    but that won't make them legal.

    We need to stop calling undocumented immigrants in the United States "illegal".  

  •  Heroes? People who jumped the line and then (24+ / 0-)

    the fence and flouted our laws and often took jobs and opportunities away from the poorest, most struggling people among us?  Not so much.

    Look, I don't have a problem with illegal aliens as people.  I've represented dozens through my years in the law and think most of them are fine individuals just trying to do their best for their families and looking for opportunities here because they had few at home.  I get that.  But I also have witnessed the harm their actions cause.  They're jumping the line that others willing to obey our laws stand in, sometimes for a decade.  I have personally encountered many who are using stolen or manufactured social security numbers, false IDs, other people's identification, and gaming the system wherever they turn.  They show up in hospitals with stolen insurance cards, purchase stolen license plates and inspection stickers on the black market and slap them on the salvage vehicles they bought for cash and drive these unsafe things on our roads without benefit of auto insurance.  Some of my clients have been caught driving without a license; heck, without ever having spent a minute in driver's ed and without having ever passed a test, lacking enough understanding of English even to read road signs.  They are a horrible danger on the crowded roads of the Metro DC areas.  When they get into accidents they usually flee and sometimes cause more accidents as they panic and race away, often leaving behind a damaged vehicle and sometimes bodily injuries for which the victim has no recourse.  

    They accept cash payments under the table from employers who can then get by with paying them half of what they would have to pay their American workers.  They live on the edge and every day some of them are breaking the law in a thousand little ways.

    Many of my clients came here years before the children whom they often bring over later.  This has caused a lot of social issues, because the kids were babies when mommy or daddy left, and then when they're a few years older all of a sudden THEY'RE illegally in the U.S., gaining admission to the schools by virtue of the same kind of identification hanky panky.  These kids have lots of problems.  Being illegal they face hurdles down the road when they want to go to American colleges or get jobs.  In many cases they are totally alienated from their parents, whom they barely knew before being uprooted and brought here.  The parents work constantly and many of the children are adrift and prime targets for gang recruitment.  The parents are often good people who wouldn't dream of stealing outright, but their lives of constantly dodging the system to avoid detection flow over into a disregard for the law by their children.  To the minds of their children the law is an inconvenience to be evaded.  

    Several years ago I had a client, an African American who had a lawn service.  He would hire only illegal aliens from South and Central America.  His excuse?  They would work for far less than the unemployed young black men of his neighborhood, would never complain no matter how onerous and difficult the work, would not expect breaks, and would never file against him for workers comp if they got injured.  He was utterly shameless and unapologetic about this.  Those illegal workers he was hiring were facilitating HIS dodging of his responsibilities and HIS refusal to contribute to the poor Americans around him who needed and wanted a job.  

    I cannot call people who evade our laws and make things more difficult for the people who actually come from here "heroes".  

    •  Good point (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gerrilea, Pozzo, Fabian, jrooth, Ed G, flhiii88

      It seems that many times it is a knee-jerk response to say that people who oppose illegal immigration do not consider the fact that many of such people do good in our society and want to better our lives. But, as with everything else, we have to be aware of the negative consequences as well. I think you did a good job of showing that.

    •  Well put... (7+ / 0-)

      We have family who have been trying to get here from Ukraine legally and its been very hard for them to do it.  So I have very little patience with the glorification of those who are here illegally.  

      This country has the right to control it's borders.

      Now whoa whoa whoa right there spinach chin!

      by Borg Warner on Wed May 05, 2010 at 07:46:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  regarding your first paragraph... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shanikka, Pozzo, wiscmass

      I HATE the mantra (used both on the left and the right)

      that illegal immigrants 'take the jobs that Americans don't want'.

      monstrous poverty situation in this country and we write off our own poor because they 'wouldn't want those jobs'.

      Maybe they wouldn't.

      Maybe, SOME OF THEM WOULD.

      good points you made...although I'm surprised you got as many recs as you did given the target audience!

      •  I am personally aware of some employers who (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BlueInARedState, stokecityfan12

        do everything they can NOT to hire an American for the reasons I outlined above.  A desperate undocumented worker is a prize to an employer interested in maximizing his income.  Americans expect a certain level of pay, hope for a certain level of benefits, and will leave if other opportunities featuring those things present themselves.  Illegal aliens tend to stick with them what hired them first.  

        Moreover, take a look at any given cleaning crew or construction crew made up of a lot of people who speak little or no English and are controlled by one or two supervisors, almost always of the same ethnic background.  These folks might themselves be legal residents or even citizens, but they will throw the work to the people from their old country or family or clan and would never hire an American no matter how desperate or worthy.  

        Twenty years ago I came down hard on my now ex-brother-in-law, a construction foreman, for being unable to keep or find a job.  He kept complaining that "they" were giving all the jobs to the "Mexicans".  Not until years later did I understand what he meant.  Employers hire foreign born or bilingual supervisors and foremen, who then turn around and bring in all the skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled laborers they can from their own country or who speak their own language.  Oftentimes these people arrive without skills and the American workers already there are expected to train them.  Then they eventually let the Americans go.  Even if the supervisor or foreman leaves, the employer will not hire a foreman or supervisor who cannot communicate with these work crews.  I finally realized that my brother-in-law was telling the truth.  He was a white Vietnam veteran who never even graduated from high school, knew no foreign languages, and only knew how to do construction work.  He was driven from the field by his lack of Spanish.  And this was in Virginia, not along the border.

        There's a hell of a lot of crap going on behind the scenes with people trying to get around the immigration laws.  I've seen plenty of marriage fraud, identity fraud, and other forms of fraud.  I've seen people arrested and held in jail for days or weeks because someone used their name and information upon being stopped by the police, got a ticket, and then failed to show for court, triggering a bench warrant and sometimes trial in absence for traffic offenses.  Identity theft is a real consequence of illegal immigration and one of the most pernicious and harmful ones.  There is NO excuse for a person to take another person's identity and subject that person to the law's sanctions.  When someone's social security number has been appropriated, and the imposter works and income is declared to the IRS, what do you think happens to the poor sucker who doesn't file the tax return for the income he didn't know he had?  This is happening all over America.  People find out they have tax liabilities, judgments against them, credit defaults, and criminal charges or even convictions, ALL as a result of this type of fraud.

        I know most illegals don't intend to cause harm, but their actions do harm, and that's just a fact.

  •  The REAL heroes... (15+ / 0-)

    ...are the people who filled out their paperwork, waited in line, followed the law and came here legally.

    The ones who sneak across the border because they want more money for less work than they can get at home are not heroic.

    •  If you read carefully... (0+ / 0-)

      the point of the post is that there is NO LINE.  so then what?  we've left folks literally no choice in their home countries because of OUR policy and then you tell them to get in a line that no longer exists?!?!?

      Read me at

      by sallykohn on Wed May 05, 2010 at 08:58:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I wouldn't necessarily call them heroes either (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ManhattanMan, gerrilea, Pozzo, Deep Texan

      There's nothing inherently heroic in doing things the way the bureaucracy says they should, just as there's nothing inherently heroic in doing things in ways the bureaucracy wouldn't allow.

      I want a little more context before calling anyone a hero.

      Thwarting Republicans since 1978.

      by wiscmass on Wed May 05, 2010 at 09:28:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  my grandfather was an illegal (5+ / 0-)

    but he didn't become a hero until he volunteered to serve in WWII

    The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me' MT 25:40

    by Ed G on Wed May 05, 2010 at 07:48:46 AM PDT

  •  Not heroes, not villans (7+ / 0-)

    There's no need to demonize, nor to eulogize.  They're people living their lives, tying to do better for themselves and often their families.

    Perhaps just empathizing would be an appropriate response.

  •  Wow (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fabian, Ed G, peregrinus

    There's nothing heroic about violating US law.

  •  Yeah no. (0+ / 0-)

    No one's denying that illegal immigrants have a tough life and that they've got good reasons for coming here. That said, jumping the border is a crime and those who break the law ought to be punished somehow.

    And illegal immigration is far from a benign presence in parts of the country. My hometown (previously almost entirely white) has seen the arrival of the Latino gangs that California's been dealing with for years. Schools are burdened with having to hire ESL teachers they can't afford. Violent crime is up, wages in the low-skill fields are down (more than it would have been anyway).

    The message about how our policies are hurting people abroad is certainly true. The idea that people who break the law are heroes is utter bullshit.

    "I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear..." --Obama, 1/20/09

    by SouthernFried on Wed May 05, 2010 at 07:53:30 AM PDT

  •  Diaries like this (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Crazycab214, Fabian, milkbone, RockyMtnLib

    hurt the immigration reform cause. It's one thing to have empathy. I even know hard lined anti immigration people who have some empathy for those who work hard. But to make people who willing break US law "heroes" just helps to play into the hands of those who oppose reform.

  •  This diary is also severly factually challenged (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanikka, gerrilea, Fabian

    So you pass United States policy that intentionally smothers small farmers and shopkeepers, etc., in Mexico AND THEN you change immigration policy so that these now-much-more-desperate immigrants can't come to the US.

    No. Immigration law with respect to Mexico is the same as it was prior to NAFTA, which, BTW, the Mexican government willingly, knowingly and volunarily signed. They WANTED it. It may not have worked out the way they wanted. Lord knows it didn't work out the way we wanted, but you can't argue that they didn't agree to it.

  •  I am appalled at the comments to this (5+ / 0-)

    diary, and the lack of understanding they represent.  Who are we to live in a gated community while sucking up all the resources in surrounding community?

    This is exactly like the financial industry sucking up our wealth,  or the oil industry sucking up our oil, and then leaving us to shoulder the burden of cleanup.

    Another example of privatizing gain and socializing risk.We subsidized US agribusiness corn (the major food crop in Mexico) with taxpayer dollars and then allowed them to sell it in Mexico at an unfair advantage.   We completely destroyed the economy not once, but twice, when we built factories in Northern Mexico that employed displaced farmers (to reduce labor costs to American corporations) and then moved them to China and Vietnam and such for yet cheaper labor.

    What responsibility do we have for the victims of our policies????

    •  NAFTA etc (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      did not cause the illegal immigration problem. It's been around as long as there has been a border.

    •  Separate questions (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The question of morality doesn't necessarily dictate whether one can freely remove the "illegal" label when a law is clearly violated. The diarist is saying that we shouldn't call them illegal immigrants because what they did in her mind was heroic. But that argument plainly ignores the universally-accepted definition of what laws constitute. To violate a law is illegal, whether it is morally justified or not.

      •  Bull shit. The "illegal" label is ugly. Sure it (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        revgerry, Deep Texan

        is codified in the law, but save that for the courtrooms, not civilized discussion.  So long as anyone here refers to an entire class of people as "illegal", then we are just playing into the right wing talking points.

        Having a policy does not mean receiving care. -- Tzimisce

        by Miggles on Wed May 05, 2010 at 09:07:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What? (0+ / 0-)

          Are you arguing that I cannot use that label for law breakers? If an entire class of people have violated a law, in this case immigration law, why is it dishonest to use the label "illegal" to describe them? Are gamblers who violate gambling laws not "illegal gamblers?" Is the "felon" label inappropriate as well? Does the negative connotation render the speaker of the label as evil per se, and does it negate the truth of the label?

          And apparently, you consider courtroom discussion as some sort of exclusive of civilized discussion. Whether that is what you truly meant, I don't know.

          I don't see how your vulgar comment title refutes my point. You concede that the label is correct, do you not?

          •  You can say what you want, but that doesn't make (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Deep Texan

            it any less ugly.  This is a progressive site, and it is amazing that some people continue to obstinately defend the use of ugly labels for entire classes of people.  There have been several great diaries written about why terms such as illegals and illegal aliens are offensive and why such terms harm the latino community as a whole and not just the subset of people in violation of the law.   And as I summed up before, we lose when we use racist, Republican talking points.

            Having a policy does not mean receiving care. -- Tzimisce

            by Miggles on Wed May 05, 2010 at 09:36:45 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Illegal alien (0+ / 0-)

              is not a racist term nor is it a right wing talking point. Heck, many of them refer to themselves as "illegals."

            •  Hmm (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              It may be ugly in many situations, I'll grant that. But I fail to see how a legal term such as "illegal alien" is per se racist and offensive.

              More to the point, what are we supposed to say? Aren't terms like "undocumented" and similar words just going to be termed as code words for "illegal aliens?" What is the line? Is there any way to describe a class of people who violate the law as such?

              What if it is used to describe a Caucasian who is here from Canada? Is it ok then? I just don't see how this is that equivalent to clear epithets.

              •  Then why don't you talk to a Mexican American (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Deep Texan

                and ask him/her about it from their perspective?  Keep in mind that while these terms might appear neutral to you, they are loaded, right wing, dog whistle terms.  I remember in 1993 when one of my latino friends explained to me that those terms made his skin crawl!  The fact that people still employ these terms  suggests that we have made very little progress... :(

                Having a policy does not mean receiving care. -- Tzimisce

                by Miggles on Wed May 05, 2010 at 09:48:06 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  You haven't answered my question (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  gerrilea, Pozzo

                  First of all, I granted that the term can be used in a derogatory fashion. But you haven't said how to define people who break the law.

                  Like I said, can the term "felon" be used? That has been used derisively for people who commit felonies of all types.

                  Is saying "illegal immigration" just as bad? Aren't the terms true? Is "alien" inappropriate? "Foreigner" "immigrant"? Where does it stop?

                •  And more to the point... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  gerrilea, Pozzo

                  If I were to try to move to another country, in violation of that country's immigration law (Let's pick Canada). Would it be offensive to call me, a caucasian, an illegal alien? Is it limited to just certain subsets of the population?

                •  It's not up to (0+ / 0-)

                  Illegal immigrants to determine. An alcoholic might be offended by that term, but if he or she is one, than it is correct.

    •  I'm saddened but not quite appalled. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      buddabelly, revgerry

      To be fair my opinion on immigration is not one that makes people comfortable.  However this diary, that is the message and the intentions are okay with me even if it goes too far.  

      I am far more rude and confrontational than the writer.  People here just go overboard with their reactions.  The negativity, the proclamations and declarations, stupid pot shots, it is all a bit sickening.

      You probably thought Obama was going to be more progressive because he was black...idiot.

      by mim5677 on Wed May 05, 2010 at 08:13:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This will be the ugliest and most divisive fight (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      revgerry, Deep Texan

      to be had in the next 5-10 years.

      Lots of Kossaks are as uninformed and reactionary as the worst of the tbaggers when it comes to the immigration situation.

      The worst part is that reduced enforcement would actually work in favor of those who don't want these people to have a chance at life here.

      Most I know and have met would rather be migrants than immigrants but our system precludes that choice.....

  •  A holistic approach (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buddabelly, Deep Texan

    or (wholistic) is what is necessary. Where conservatives show their myopia (the most generous assessment I can think of) when they state - deport the illegals - or, as someone I know once wrote "chain, cuff and transport, and push them over the border, all in the same day" - and build an allegedly impenetrable fence - "Voila! Problem solved!" Ramping up enforcement of the laws in place is one of the approaches needed, but far from the only one.

    I will grant them that there needs to be tighter enforcement of the laws, but only if we enforce them in a humane manner. None of this Arizona SB1070 shit! The ones who need to have the book thrown at them are employers who take them in, pay them under the table, deny any benefits, make them work as virtual slaves, and threaten them with deportation if they step out of line.

    And even if the Mexican government agreed to sign NAFTA, it's a bad deal in so many ways. It needs to be repealed post haste. Of course the chances of that happening - with monied interests having a kind of vice grip on our political process - seem slim. But it is absolutely necessary for conditions for American and Mexican workers to improve. It's not that immigrants do the jobs Americans won't do. I believe Americans are just like anyone else. Most of us are willing to do any work, but we want to do it for decent compensation.

    Some other factors I may not have thought of, but my larger point is that a multi-pronged approach is necessary here, unlike the crap I was subjected to @ my mom's house on Mike Huckabee's show. There he asserted that comprehensive reform is the wrong way to go, that we should instead follow the advice of Curly in City Slickers "The secret to life is just one thing . . ." Epic analogy fail, IMO.

    liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

    by RockyMtnLib on Wed May 05, 2010 at 08:20:05 AM PDT

  •  Predictably, you're taking a lot of (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    revgerry, Deep Texan

    flak, much from the usual anti-immigrant suspects.

    But I applaud this essay.  It really does take great courage to immigrate.

    People have natural rights to travel and to work to feed their families. Laws and borders that defeat those rights are illegitimate.

  •  Congratulations (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to all the Kossacks  posting reason here, who understand the difference between real racism and standing up for fairness and the rule of law.    And they are not heroes, they are illegal aliens.

    •  I think we also understand the difference (0+ / 0-)

      between a racist bill and a bill that is so stupid and ineffective that it makes no sense.  

      If all we pay legislators to do is offer deterants then they did a good job, but if we pay people to solve problems and come up with real solutions, the level of failure in this case is so embarrassing that the entire legislative body in AZ should be tossed.

      I don't feel bad for people defending this bill against racism eventhough I don't think it is.  When the other side calls our president every name in the book including racist, you are not going to get a whole lot of objectivity in return.  

      You probably thought Obama was going to be more progressive because he was black...idiot.

      by mim5677 on Wed May 05, 2010 at 09:04:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  rule of law (0+ / 0-)

      the law can be changed.

      do you ppl have anything to say about the actual issue?

      •  The law isn't an actual issue (0+ / 0-)

        Who knew?

        •  how many times have you (0+ / 0-)

          rolled through a stop sign this year?

          how many times did you turn yourself in?

          so it's no big deal when you break the law but for these people, no soup for them, huh.

          •  Zero (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I very rarely drive, since I live in a major city and use mass transit. On the few occasions I have driven this year (Twice so far) I have not rolled through a stop sign. Please, your analogy is idiotic.

          •  I think the analogy is flawed (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            The point wasn't necessarily that they should turn themselves in, although maybe it was, but more that the violation of the law was just that: illegal.

            Asking someone whether they turned themselves in for traffic violations (can you turn yourself in for that?) is besides the point, irrelevant, and is merely an ad hominem argument. It addresses none of the merits.

            Besides, I would ask whether you believe in the moral equivalency of running a stop sign and breaking federal immigration laws. Yes, the law is the law, but there is a clear difference.

            •  fine, tell them that (0+ / 0-)

              go out there and tell them how you really feel.

              i dare you.

              •  Did you read my point below? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                I addressed this argument already, below, in response to your same comment:

                I'm not saying that people aren't offended by the term. What I am trying to understand is why the claim is being made that the term illegal, used to describe the breaking of the law, is technically wrong. Can it be wrong in terms of social acceptability and politeness? Yes. I am not going to walk up to a group of people who did not follow legal immigration routes and call them labels. But I am trying to see why the term is technically incorrect. What is the alternative?

                Your point, along with others like, don't answer my questions, or provide alternative "acceptable" terms (which I suspect because they would be soon viewed as code words), but rather, appeal to emotion. Like above, where I am merely called to talk to people. That won't answer a technical question, just an emotional one. Granted the latter may be interesting, but the former remains.

                More to the point, you don't address the merits here either. Ad hominem or references to talk to others.

                •  it's not Ad hominem (0+ / 0-)

                  look it up.

                  still i dare you.  if you think using that language is a-ok.

                  go down there and tell them.

                  •  This is stupid (0+ / 0-)

                    It can be both AOK to use language and not a good idea in  some circumstances.

                    •  oh really (0+ / 0-)

                      so it's okay to say the n word?

                      do you realize that to them calling them illegals is very derogatory whether you do it to their faces or in polite company.

                      it just reinforces negative, often wrong, stereotypes.

                      but go ahead. be my guest and defend it.. i just ask you also do so in front of them.

                      •  No (0+ / 0-)

                        so it's okay to say the n word?

                        No. Nice strawman. I never said that.

                        do you realize that to them calling them illegals is very derogatory whether you do it to their faces or in polite company.

                        No it doesn't. If you are here illegally, that that is what your status is. You are an illegal alien. No abount of euphemism will change this.

                      •  Hmm (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        The n word was never a legal term. Both of these terms might be offensive and inappropriate in some (if not all) situations, but they were never in the same category. The former was an epithet; the argument here is that the legal term "illegal alien" is always and per se an epithet. I don't think that is accurate in all situations.

                        •  true but don't you think (0+ / 0-)

                          focusing on the legality part is futile?

                          we can easily make them legal.  we can easily change the laws to change how the line works to become a citizen.

                          it's not about breaking a law and what we get to call them, right?

                          so why not use language that isn't offensive.

                          •  Fine (0+ / 0-)

                            Tell me what language isn't offensive but still demonstrates the status. "members of the community" doesn't cut it.

                            Otherwise, we shouldn't get to use words like criminal, felon, or any other label on account of it being offensive.

                            If you see my comments before, I have clearly said that the morality and legality of the term are separate issues. Technically correct. I wouldn't say it people's faces per se, but the status isn't removed.

                          •  so why focus on that part then (0+ / 0-)

                            how does any of this help?

                            how does calling them illegals help?  Sure it's descriptive and generally acceptable.  

                            I personally think we have to do something to get these people on a path to citizenship.  We need to get them to vote for Dems and support our agenda.  I would like our side to move past the labels and get the solution rolling.

                            but hey, feel free to continue to argue with me over using that term.  

                            you seriously can't think of anything better to call them?  how about when you go knocking on doors to get out the vote?  think about it.

                  •  Man alive (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    First it is ad hominem tu quoque (the "you too" hypocrite argument).

                    Second, I never said it wasn't going to be an impolite thing to say at some points. Have you read my comments?

                    What would you use as an appropriate label? Or would we not use any label at all? When are labels ok?

            •  Actually (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Under some reform proposals, they would indeed have to turn themselves in. They would have to sign papers acknowledging their illegal entry and presence and pay a fine and then get in the legal line.

              •  i don't have a problem with that (0+ / 0-)

                i actually would rather talk about proposals and what may work etc.

                i don't want to talk about calling them illegals but so many here seem to think it's a-ok because technically blah blah...

                i mean come on already.  i am so tired of the law and order types that speak up on this issue but smoke pot or whatever.

                come off it already and talk about the issue.

  •  Umm... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pozzo, Fabian, buddabelly

    Happy Cinco de Mayo - BUT - I think you're overdoing the heroism bit !

    Our "undocumented visitors" are NOt really as Hollywood portrays them : Flamenco guitar chords do not sound in the background when they speak,and they are quite capable of being as stupid as the rest of us at times.

    Their presence here is not - I repeat, NOT- an unalloyed blessing.

  •  Most illegals (and that's what they are) (4+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Pozzo, peregrinus, toby esterhase, stokecityfan12
    Hidden by:

    are here on expired visas -- and a ton of them are white folks from Europe.  It isn't racist to want an orderly influx of new Americans.  Getting these people to some kind of legal status will actually help them avoid the kind of exploitation many currently suffer.  

    •  I don't think many Europeans are still here.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      that may have been true into the 90s.. though.. up till around ten or fifteen years ago..

      Why would somebody from the EU come here now? Its as bad here employment wise, and they are illegal. In the EU they can work anywhere in the EU.

      The health care issue is crucial. A significant number of Europeans who come here legally on work visas decide to go back when they realize the difference between US "health insurance" and healthcare in the EU is so big.

      The US is by far the worst place in the developed world to have a chronic medical issue.


      Read About Single Payer! (Real, WTO-legal stimulus, that works!)

      by Andiamo on Wed May 05, 2010 at 09:06:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  largely correct (0+ / 0-)

        For example, there used to be tons of Irish illegals in the NYC area. Bartenders and nannies and the like.  Then the Irish Tiger, as they were calling it boomed and most of them self deported back to ireland, becaue there was more opportunity there. A while back, The New York Times reported that it was getting impossibled for putative "Irish pubs" in the city to find an authentic  Irish bartender, because they lost their economic incentive to come here. There used to be a ton of Irish nannies but try finding one now. It's economic reality that drives illegal immmigration, not US policy, although this does influence it.

    •  HR'd for using derogatory label. (0+ / 0-)

      Having a policy does not mean receiving care. -- Tzimisce

      by Miggles on Wed May 05, 2010 at 09:11:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Please. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pozzo, toby esterhase

        Are you going to say we can't use the term "felons" as well?

        •  The law is littered with ugly ways of referring (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Deep Texan

          to people.  And sure, I invite you to attend a Cinco de Mayo festival today and address the attendees there or refer to their loved ones as "felons".  After all, it's legal and written in the law!

          Having a policy does not mean receiving care. -- Tzimisce

          by Miggles on Wed May 05, 2010 at 09:29:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The point was generic (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            toby esterhase

            I didn't say illegal immigrants were "felons" per se (I don't know off-hand what the class of crime a violation is). I was pretty clear about that. My point was to ask how many legal labels are off-limits under your view.

            What do you want to call people who break the law? I would assume law-breaker, felon, etc., are all out of bounds.

            •  still i dare you (0+ / 0-)

              go out there and tell them what you think

              •  childish (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                toby esterhase

                Why would anyone do this? It's like going to the Ancient Order of Hibernians on St. Paddy's day and saying the IRA was a terrorist group. True, but not done by sensible people.

              •  What is your point? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                I'm not saying that people aren't offended by the term. What I am trying to understand is why the claim is being made that the term illegal, used to describe the breaking of the law, is technically wrong. Can it be wrong in terms of social acceptability and politeness? Yes. I am not going to walk up to a group of people who did not follow legal immigration routes and call them labels. But I am trying to see why the term is technically incorrect. What is the alternative?

                Your point, along with others like, don't answer my questions, or provide alternative "acceptable" terms (which I suspect because they would be soon viewed as code words), but rather, appeal to emotion. Like above, where I am merely called to talk to people. That won't answer a technical question, just an emotional one. Granted the latter may be interesting, but the former remains.

    •  Uprated (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pozzo, toby esterhase

      for moronic HR

  •  with progressives like you... (0+ / 0-)

    who needs the right wing?

    look, if you think that our overly restrictive and putative immigration laws are A-OK, then say that.  

    but if you don't --- if you think the laws we have in place do not allow for enough of the victims of our economic policies abroad to migrate here to higher ground, and that the laws we have in place are specifically prejudiced against recent-brown immigrants as opposed to white Eastern European immigrants of ole --- then it's completely hypocritical for you to out of one side of your mouth say "the laws need changing" while also saying "but they're illegals for 'breaking' the law".  

    historically, our side is the side of thumbing our nose at unjust laws and broken systems.  why doesn't that apply here?  

    or are y'all just not comfortable admitting that you really think anti-immigrant policies are fine as is.  in which case, there's a tea party with a cup waiting for you...

    Read me at

    by sallykohn on Wed May 05, 2010 at 09:06:16 AM PDT

    •  Hmm (0+ / 0-)

      It isn't hypocritical at all to say that violating a law is illegal, and then say that the law needs to change. The first is a statement of fact, the second is a statement of an entirely different sort.

      As I've said before, you can call breaking a law heroic, if you so desire, but that doesn't mean that breaking the law isn't illegal.

  •  That's a bit too much. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Earning a living isn't heroism!

  •  Instead of heroes, why not (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deep Texan

    call them members of our community.  That will make the wingnuts and racists squirm, but it's the truth.  After all, they are working hard, paying taxes, raising kids, and making do with an incredibly short end of the stick.

    Having a policy does not mean receiving care. -- Tzimisce

    by Miggles on Wed May 05, 2010 at 09:14:14 AM PDT

  •  A few inconvenient facts (0+ / 0-)

    Us policy did not cause this, Mexican policy did:

    Many Mexican officials in the government of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari assured the Clinton administration that the investment would take place, and believed it themselves, said Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington who campaigned for Nafta in the early 1990s.

    "It just did not happen," he said.

    Absent that investment, foreign factories congregated in the north, within 300 miles of the American border, where some infrastructure already existed. "Monterrey is quite good," Mr. Hufbauer said, "but in a lot of other cities the infrastructure is terrible, not even enough running water or electricity in poor neighborhoods. People get temporary jobs, but that is all."

    We underestimated Mexico’s deficits in physical and human infrastructure," said J. Bradford DeLong, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, and a Treasury official in the Clinton administration.

    Brad Delong, an almost beatific figure on economics matters on this site thinks things would have been worse if not for NAFTA.

    Don't forget that Clinton prevented the Mexican economy from totally collapsing in the 90's, too and of course, NAFTA being a tri-lateral treaty, isn't just "US policy" it is the policy of all the signatories, including Mexico, which was not coereced into signing it, it lobbying for us to have it signed.

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