Saturday, April 01, 2006


There's a lot of fuss about immigration in the news lately...and that, plus a couple of posts I've read, at Homesick Home and Angry Black Bitch, have gotten me to thinking. Mostly what I'm thinking is that ABB said it so well, I don't know if I could do better. She writes so well, so passionately, that I would just be repeating what she said, and not as well. So I'll quote her here:

"So, here we are debating immigration again. This bitch rejects the notion that anyone working in America should do so without protection and rights. A living wage and legal recourse for abuse are basic rights and we all suffer when they are tossed out the window.

America was built on the backs of exploited labor. The strong economy of the pre-Civil War South was born from slavery and the fact that wages didn’t factor in to that capitalist model. Our railroads, our farms, our docks and ports have long been served by the undocumented and the unprotected. And America learned those lessons well and has greedily exploited the undocumented for cheap labor and monetary gain.

So, when lawmakers take the stage and pretend to defend the rights of the over 12 million undocumented workers in America...when those same lawmakers then indulge in a pontification session about the role those workers play in our economy...well, a bitch hears something all too familiar. My ass hears that same tired ass song…that our economy needs an easily exploited workforce, that American thrives with an unprotected and underpaid labor class and that Americans are willing to turn a blind eye to human exploitation as long as it is dressed up in the trendy gear of the great American immigrant legacy with some ethnocentric charity tossed in for flavor.

And don’t get me wrong…a bitch isn’t indicting the multitudes who seek a better life, who risk their lives for work and wages…who aspire to that great American Dream that has been so brilliantly branded throughout the years. No, this bitch condemns the master, his adoration of the whip and it's profits and the collective willingness to view this modern day shit as something different, better or evolved.

César Chávez marched on behalf of the migrant worker and every worker in America…fighting for the rights of those who toil in our fields and put food on our overflowing tables. Lately, it seems that message has been watered down and the rally cry of decent wages, legal protection and dignity can barely be heard. What remains is the desperate call of the poor and the predictable reply of the privileged…

“Let me in! Give me hope!”

“Oh yes, we’ll let you in…sort of. Just come around to the back door and sign up for the company store first.”

So, hats off to those who took to the streets.

We have a lot of fucking work to do.

Because 'getting in’ and ‘being allowed to stay’ can never be the final goal.

Workers deserve more than the 'right' to serve our needs.

And the sad reality is that the masses remain huddled long after they cross the border...regardless of how they crossed it or how legal that crossing was."

Amen, sister.

(And yes, that's Maya in front of the Statue of Liberty, in 2000...we went on "The Beast" speedboat tour. VERY fun.)


Gina said...

Immigration is a many-headed hydra that seems very complex to me.

There are so many factors that come into play that it is hard for me to believe it will be ironed out any time soon.

But it does need fixing.

Uncivil said...

I've been out of the blog loop lately. I posted one on Illegal Immigration today, but it wasn't written by me. I have a friend that has been in the trenches and seen some pretty amazing snafus within our government. Gonna hit ABB next........Hey I checked your's first!!!!!!

L. said...

As I said on ABB`s blog, you can`t really compare the plight of slaves to that of illegal imigrants. There`s exploitation in a forced situation, and there`s exploitation people choose, because it`s the best of even less desirable alternatives.

None of us has it within our power to solve the big-picture problems, like health care. But those of us who are grateful for a way of life made possible by immigrants, legal or illegal, have a moral obligation to do all we can as individuals to support them as fellow humans.

L. said...

Good related article --

J said...

I think the just comparison to make is in the mentality of the people who take advantage of the opressed. No, it's not the same to come over against your will as it is to come by choice, but the basic mentality of saying, "
"Well, we need them here to keep our lifestyle affordable", so we just look the other way at the inhumanity involved. That's what I was trying to get at, and I think what you brushed against in your post, L. The changes that need to be made need to be made here, and it's not something that is easy or that we can see on an individual level, I don't think. It's complicated, and in a way more difficult than just outlawing slavery, because what we really have to discuss is how the poor in our country will be treated, no matter how they get here. I wish I had the answer.

Uncivil said...


I think they are exploiting us.

It's so bad in their country or they are living in a real shit hole to want to take the risks to come here.'s a conspiracy to reclaim American soil that they lost due to conquest by the Good ole USA many moons ago.

check this out

Jessica said...

Great post - thanks for sharing. A lot of work, indeed.

And I love the pic of your daughter - I'll be visiting NYC for the first time this month.

Granny said...

Hi J. I saw your comment on Gina's blog last night. Just went back there and apologized for mine which may have sounded racist which I certainly didn't intend.

You're paying out of pocket for your teachers? We're in bad shape here (Merced) but not quite that bad yet.

Ann (aka granny)

No big secret - it's on my sidebar so anyone who wants me can certainly find me.