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"Will the last Mexican out of California please turn out the lights? That will be me."
February 1, 2012 8:41 AM   Subscribe

The Deep Comic Roots of 'Self-Deportation'

In last Monday's Republican debate, Mitt Romney announced that he supported an idea of "self-deportation," in which illegal immigrants would voluntarily return to their homelands. The concept was mocked by Newt Gingrich and called a "fantasy" in a Washington Post editorial. Yet the idea garnered conservative support: "'Self-deportation' Is No Joke" proclaimed one editorial.

Except, actually, it is. The term was apparently coined back in 1994 by conservative Hispanic activist Daniel D. Portado...who is a fictional character created by Mexican-American satirists Lalo Alcaraz and Esteban Zul.
posted by neroli (62 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I would love to see a video of the Telemundo interview with this "D. Portado."
posted by exogenous at 8:48 AM on February 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


“The answer is self-deportation, which is people decide they can do better by going home because they can’t find work here because they don’t have legal documentation to allow them to work here,” Romney said.

I'm happy to hear about Romney's plan to increase regulation in the business sector.
posted by DU at 8:51 AM on February 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


If all the Mexicans leave, I'm leaving with them. I can't make it without their food.

And in the wise words of Jack White:
White Americans, what, nothin' better to do?
Why don't you kick yourself out? You're an immigrant too
Who's usin' who? What should we do?
Well you can't be a pimp and a prostitute too
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:54 AM on February 1, 2012 [9 favorites]


Alabama's new policies and "self-deportation" were the main focus of this week's This American Life (mp3). Well worth a listen.
posted by kmz at 8:54 AM on February 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I thought this was going to be an article about Watchmen. Didn't Dr. Manhattan invent self-deportation?
posted by the1inBK at 8:56 AM on February 1, 2012


My husband said if Mitt Romney wins, we are self-deporting ourselves to any country that will have us.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:14 AM on February 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


If all the Mexicans leave, I'm leaving with them. I can't make it without their food.

¡citado por la verdad!
posted by jquinby at 9:15 AM on February 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


Speaking of Mitt here, everyone has seen the clip of him attempting to make music-like noises right? I'm guessing some sub-routine managers got fired over that.
posted by The Whelk at 9:16 AM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


That man is no John Ashcroft.
posted by XMLicious at 9:20 AM on February 1, 2012


This fpp is missing a link to pocho.com.
posted by Forktine at 9:21 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Voluntary deportation" being how France has justified the deportation of Romani. The whole concept being something like "Why are you hitting yourself?"
posted by lookoutbelow at 9:21 AM on February 1, 2012


Yeah, it was an interesting episode of This American Life. I was most amazed at the Alabama governor (or politician of some sort) who said there hadn't been a single unintended consequence -- really? Arresting executives who have passports and work permits? Losing investment in the state? Maybe these are worth it (I wouldn't think so, but I am more permissive about immigration), but they certainly not planned consequences.
posted by jeather at 9:22 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised not to see the brilliant selfdeport.org in the fpp.
posted by silence at 9:23 AM on February 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


Republican Primary revealed to be performance art piece. Film at 11.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 9:27 AM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


So I know this guy. He is a pretty good programmer from Mexico. He was in the US on a TN visa, and later on an H1B.

His employer went bankrupt, and this guy became an illegal immigrant almost overnight. He worked illegally for a year or so. During this time he spent a lot of money on good lawyers.

I don't understand the details, but he formed a corporation and now companies in the US can legally contract with this corporation, and he gets to stay here and do his job, as an employee of the corporation. He has to go to Mexico several times a year to keep everything legal, pays a bit more taxes and spends money on lawyers, but it all better than the alternative.

I propose the solution to illegal immigration: self incorporation.

I'd love to see someone trying to get a corporation deported.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 9:29 AM on February 1, 2012 [27 favorites]


I'm delighted to see the GOP returning to its historic role as the "party of ideas." Didn't say nowhere they had to be good ideas.

You know what else is we should teach criminals to catch themselves! And carbon dioxide to sequester itself! And potholes to fill their own selves in! Never mind the IRS, pay for it right out of a cash machine! Romney/ATM 2012!
posted by gompa at 9:30 AM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, Mittens. There ya' go again:
Mitt Romney: 'I'm Not Concerned About The Very Poor'.
posted by ericb at 9:32 AM on February 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm afraid you've grossly overstate Romeny's position, DU. I'm confident they'll design the citizenship verification process that benefits enormously from economies of scale, meaning Walmart need only implement one simple policy change and hire a couple specilized lawyers and administrators to verify that it's satisfies the law.

A small business owner could likewise verify that his own compliance, probably by hiring an highly specialized lawyer for several days to examine his employment practices, but perhaps analyzing a thousand pages of legalese himself.

There aren't expected to be any more worries about that little fruit rotting on the vine problem experienced by every state that's passed similar legislation because reducing unemployment benefits will surely create field labor skills. If that fails, they could always ask the FDA to tell people they need to eat even more wheat and less fruit.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:35 AM on February 1, 2012


I propose the solution to illegal immigration: self incorporation.

Man, I'd love to hear any of MeFi's legal eagles weigh in on that one. That sounds brilliant.
posted by jquinby at 9:35 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I propose the solution to illegal immigration: self incorporation.

This guy needs to write a book
posted by fusinski at 9:37 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


My solution is Person-States.

I'd love to see someone try to deport a sovereign nation.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:40 AM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Romney's dog self-deported to Canada.
posted by cotterpin at 9:40 AM on February 1, 2012


Mitt Romney: 'I'm Not Concerned About The Very Poor'.

I came in here to see if anyone else had noted that. It ties in to the "the public asks debate questions" I have for this year, which is simply this: "Why are poor people poor?" I'd love to see the various candidates answer that question.

I'm afraid you've grossly overstate Romeny's position, DU. I'm confident they'll design the citizenship verification process that benefits enormously from economies of scale, meaning Walmart need only implement one simple policy change and hire a couple specilized lawyers and administrators to verify that it's satisfies the law.

Actually, it'll probably be simpler than that. The "citizenship verification process" only needs to run in front of voting booths and emergency rooms. They can stay here and work for a non-living wage, but they can't benefit from participation in society.
posted by DU at 9:41 AM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


My solution is Person-States.

Some people have already tried that one.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:49 AM on February 1, 2012


I'd love to see someone trying to get a corporation deported.

Corporations are people, my friend.
posted by atrazine at 9:58 AM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


but, as my colleague Julia Preston reported, the concept of making life in the United States so uncomfortable for those who came here illegally that they might leave “is central to tough laws passed in Arizona, Alabama and South Carolina, among other states.”
Lol, what a funny article!

Okay but seriously -- people joke about horrible things but it seems like the mocking of Romney here is premised on the idea that things aren't horrible enough for Mexicans, and that we should be engaged in massive ethnic cleansing instead of just pestering them until they leave?

Now if you want something actually funny, the law in Alabama now requires every immigrant to keep their immigration papers on them at all time, or face arrest. Over the past decade or so they've been trying to build their industrial base up by getting foreign car companies to build plants there, and they've been successful.

So the most notable result of their harsh immigration laws has been not one but two foreign auto executives. One from Honda and another from Mercedes Benz.
posted by delmoi at 10:04 AM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Corporations are people, my friend.

I think that's the point. "Corporations aren't people" would soon be a rallying cry of the right, as well as the left, if Mexicans were incorporating in order to sully our pristine emergency rooms with their foreign blood.
posted by DU at 10:04 AM on February 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Corporations aren't people until Texas executes a mentally deficient one or Arizona deport a whole family of corporations.

I just talked to the friend I mentioned above, he tells me my explanation is too simplified, but essentially correct. He even gets discounted health insurance through the corporation, he pays the insurance in Mexico, it covers up to one million dollars in the US, a lot more in Mexico.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 10:05 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


A sure sign that your political ideology has problems is when it becomes indistinguishable from satire.
posted by exogenous at 10:06 AM on February 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Not to be all lolusian here, you know I love most of you, but the whole of US politics is indistinguishable from satire when looking in from the outside.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 10:08 AM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


It ties in to the "the public asks debate questions" I have for this year, which is simply this: "Why are poor people poor?"

That is brilliant.
posted by Shepherd at 10:08 AM on February 1, 2012


Not to be all lolusian here, you know I love most of you, but the whole of US politics is indistinguishable from satire when looking in from the outside.

Trust me, it's pretty much the same from the inside too.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:10 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Satire is dangerous these days. If a Yes Men or Colbert-type stunt really aptly condenses a bit of right-wing insanity, it becomes so apt that it crosses the line and becomes a real talking point or policy proposal — and the satirists end up giving tips to the strategists. It's as if Swift's salvo were immediately followed by a vote on a baby-eating act in Parliament. I wonder if the satirists shouldn't be a little more worried about this — isn't there a case to be made at this point that they're just playing into their presumed opposition's hands?
posted by RogerB at 10:11 AM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


do any of the republican contenders actually have a position on any issue?
posted by facetious at 10:16 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would love to hear more about the self-incorporation option. It seems like it would be a great FPP.
posted by COD at 10:16 AM on February 1, 2012


Trust me, it's pretty much the same from the inside too.

It's just lest funny when you get paid in US dollars. But hey, I'm unemployed right now so if you happen to be in a country not run by madmen know someone who needs an analytical biochemist....
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:18 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


My solution is Person-States.

Some people have already tried that one.


I was so hoping your link went to Emperor Norton - he was so much less insane than the sovereign citizen movement.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:19 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay but seriously -- people joke about horrible things but it seems like the mocking of Romney here is premised on the idea that things aren't horrible enough for Mexicans, and that we should be engaged in massive ethnic cleansing instead of just pestering them until they leave?

That's just you, I think. I am certainly not seeing any such subtext.
posted by anigbrowl at 10:20 AM on February 1, 2012


You don't have to incorporate unless you want freedom to travel in and out of the US. If you do, you need to be turning over about $250k or more annually, and ideally have multiple employees. Plus, you must start from a position of being here legally. Within the US, it's fairly easy to file and carry on business as a self-employed person filing schedule C. The IRS will give out tax IDs on request and keep the data confidential, but as they're diferent from SSNs ITIN users are basically excluded from access to credit, and banking can vary.
posted by anigbrowl at 10:29 AM on February 1, 2012


Lalo and Esteban also have an outstanding weekly radio show, The Pocho Hour of Power (rss).
posted by euphorb at 10:32 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I propose the solution to illegal immigration: self incorporation.

Which would lead to Republican nominees talking about "involuntary off-shoring".
posted by zamboni at 10:50 AM on February 1, 2012


Which would lead to Republican nominees talking about "involuntary off-shoring".

Republicans forcefully sending American jobs out of the country!?
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:53 AM on February 1, 2012


I propose the solution to illegal immigration: self incorporation.

Several feminist bloggers I read have joked about doing this in order to get fewer regulations on their uteruses and more protection from interference.
posted by emjaybee at 11:04 AM on February 1, 2012


... in order to get fewer regulations on their uteruses ...

I got a kick out of this poison pill proposed legislative amendment in Virginia: in a bill that would require women to receive ultrasounds before abortions, the amendment would also include a requirement that any man seeking prescription medication for erectile dysfunction must first submit to a digital rectal exam and cardiac stress test.
posted by exogenous at 11:27 AM on February 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


anigbrowl: Thanks for the info.

My friend did not incorporate in the USA. Do you know how that would work?
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 11:27 AM on February 1, 2012


If all the Mexicans leave, I'm leaving with them. I can't make it without their food.

Hardy fucking har.
Everyone who makes a damn burrito in America is an illegal immigrant.

This kind of nonsensical rhetoric helps no one and further more completely discounts the hundreds of thousands of immigrants (not all of whom are fucking Mexican, by the way) who spend years of labor and bunches of money to become legal citizens, or at least documented workers.
There is nothing wrong with having a system for legal work or immigration in place. If the system needs fixing then that should be the conversation, not this bullshit, waste of time LOLpoliticians crap.

And that sort of reductionist "joking" just comes off as racist.
posted by mikoroshi at 11:27 AM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


This kind of nonsensical rhetoric helps no one [...]

Sorry to ruffle your plumas, but you seem to have missed the point.

Romney's "self-deportation" idea is not only actual nonsense, it is named after the work of a comedian making comments on our immigration situation. Many of those thousands of immigrants who spent years becoming legal or documented are themselves caught up in the fallout -- white reactionaries who are too busy foaming at the mouth and fomenting fear of anybody with brown skin. Reductionism to the extreme. And your last statement,

And that sort of reductionist "joking" just comes off as racist.

is from Racist Rhetoric 101 -- trump any racism by crying racist first.

No joke.
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:44 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


If all the Mexicans leave, I'm leaving with them. I can't make it without their food.

Hardy fucking har.
Everyone who makes a damn burrito in America is an illegal immigrant.


Chances are, a lot of the non-burrito food you eat is on your plate because of a Mexican.

Or maybe this is more satire? Or maybe it just sounds racist to say "Mexican?"
posted by swift at 11:46 AM on February 1, 2012


It ties in to the "the public asks debate questions" I have for this year, which is simply this: "Why are poor people poor?"
It's not like the republicans don't have an answer for this. They would say that it's because the government causes dependency by having all this wealfare, and if there was no welfare people would have to work [to survive] and therefore they would learn to be industrious. That's the republican theory, in any event.

It's obviously not practical for all people, some people can't find jobs, and so they would -- just die I guess? It's never clear.

But we already know what they think.
I got a kick out of this poison pill proposed legislative amendment in Virginia: in a bill that would require women to receive ultrasounds before abortions, the amendment would also include a requirement that any man seeking prescription medication for erectile dysfunction must first submit to a digital rectal exam and cardiac stress test.
Heh.
Chances are, a lot of the non-burrito food you eat is on your plate because of a Mexican.

Or maybe this is more satire? Or maybe it just sounds racist to say "Mexican?"
It's kind of a little racist to act like all Mexicans are illegal immigrants, which I think was his point.
posted by delmoi at 11:53 AM on February 1, 2012


"Why are poor people poor?"

Predominantly, overwhelmingly because they were born into it and don't have the resources to climb out. Among other big reasons medical issues loom largest.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:00 PM on February 1, 2012


It's not like the republicans don't have an answer for this. They would say that it's because the government causes dependency by having all this wealfare, and if there was no welfare people would have to work [to survive] and therefore they would learn to be industrious.

Specifically this year they would say that Obama's creation of an Entitlement Society is putting people on food stamps, and that Obama is strangling businesses run by Job Creators that could be providing poor people with the opportunity for hand up rather than a handout.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:19 PM on February 1, 2012


So if I'm understanding correctly, the idea is to make our country such a shitty place to live, that an immigrant's country of origin begins to look better by comparison?
posted by jcreigh at 12:29 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


The GOP establishment wants immigration reform. 'Self deportation' is GOP code for 'no new money for deportation.' It's the xenophobic rank and file that won't let them ditch the issue. It's like Democrats and drugs.

Ayn Rand and God, I can't give legal advice on this. You'd need to consult the USCIS website.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:34 PM on February 1, 2012


jcreigh: "So if I'm understanding correctly, the idea is to make our country such a shitty place to live, that an immigrant's country of origin begins to look better by comparison?"

That does seem to be the republican's plan.
posted by octothorpe at 1:04 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mitt Romney's father, George Romney, was born in Mexico. Willard Mitt Romney is an anchor baby.
posted by Xoebe at 2:53 PM on February 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Satire is dangerous these days. If a Yes Men or Colbert-type stunt really aptly condenses a bit of right-wing insanity, it becomes so apt that it crosses the line and becomes a real talking point or policy proposal

I propose to dub this Eop's Law.
posted by dhartung at 2:55 PM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was going to make exactly that point earlier, Xoebe, and got side-tracked.

The grandparents were U.S. citizens but meh, details.
posted by XMLicious at 3:08 PM on February 1, 2012


I thought "self-deportation" was shown in Up In Smoke, when Cheech's relatives called La Migra on themselves so they could get a free trip back to Mexico to attend a wedding.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:26 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Poe Slaw
posted by LogicalDash at 5:08 PM on February 1, 2012


A childhood friend of mine set up a corporation when he was just out of school. He got employers to write contracts with the company, of which he was the sole employee, instead of hiring him directly. When we were 24 I thought it sounded clumsy and pretentious, but now he seems like a genius: I mean, just think of the continuity in retirement benefits & health care.

Now he's doing great, running an architecture studio and emailing me pictures of his stuff going up all over our home town. How that affects the old corporate structure I have no idea, but now I am getting curious.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:35 AM on February 2, 2012


I propose to dub this Eop's Law.

With a dollop of the Notrevo Window.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:12 AM on February 2, 2012


If all the Mexicans leave, I'm leaving with them. I can't make it without their food.

Hardy fucking har.
Everyone who makes a damn burrito in America is an illegal immigrant.


Careful about offhand comments about "ethnic" food...especially if you're the mayor!



http://www.wfsb.com/story/16595269/east-haven-mayor-taking-heat-for-taco-comment
posted by chela at 7:49 PM on February 2, 2012


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