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It's Valentine's Day and your restaurant workers go on strike...
February 15, 2006 7:35 PM   Subscribe

A day without an immigrant.
posted by angrybeaver (49 comments total)

 
Illegal immigrants strike on February 14 to protest Bill 4437 - the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005.
posted by angrybeaver at 7:36 PM on February 15, 2006


Interesting tactic . . . seems risky?
posted by grobstein at 7:49 PM on February 15, 2006


great stuff
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:49 PM on February 15, 2006


So the plan is to make illegal immigration more illegal, so to speak? I was under the impression that the 11 million illigal immigrants in the US are pretty bloody important to the US economy (maybe not in all States?). Seems odd to want to criminalise them further in the name of combating terrorism...
posted by jack_mo at 7:50 PM on February 15, 2006


it's a good idea, but most people can't afford to take a day off, and have no protections if they're fired because of it. I think the stakes are too high for many, unfortunately.

Unions really should be all over recent immigrants, legal or not, bringing them in.
posted by amberglow at 8:02 PM on February 15, 2006


Interesting idea, but there's nothing like taking illegal immigrant day off to show everyone that you are an illegal immigrant.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:18 PM on February 15, 2006


If they approve the law, they will treat us like criminals

That's funny, I've got no problem with criminals being treated like criminals.

You can argue all you want about whether or not we need increased immigration to support the economy, but that is a question for setting the level of legal immigration we allow. It doesn't justify allowing people to break the laws of this country. I agree that doing it in the name of stopping terrorism is kind of silly, but there's nothing wrong with treating people who break the law like criminals.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:31 PM on February 15, 2006


You can argue all you want about whether or not we need increased immigration to support the economy, but that is a question for setting the level of legal immigration we allow. It doesn't justify allowing people to break the laws of this country.

Hear, hear!
posted by frogan at 8:35 PM on February 15, 2006


it's a good idea, but most people can't afford to take a day off, and have no protections if they're fired because of it. I think the stakes are too high for many, unfortunately.

I was thinking just the opposite, though, I mean illegal generally work for very short periods of time, and (I would imagine) can find another (just as crappy job) just as easily as they found the first one.

That's funny, I've got no problem with criminals being treated like criminals.

Oh, go fuck yourself.
posted by delmoi at 8:39 PM on February 15, 2006


by the way, Bulgaroktonos and frogan: If you're so sure of these people's 'criminality' what specific statutes are they violating?
posted by delmoi at 8:41 PM on February 15, 2006


You can argue all you want about whether or not we need increased immigration to support the economy, but that is a question for setting the level of legal immigration we allow

But since thats not going to happen anytime soon, this becomes a theoretical vs. a real-world consideration.

Anyways, these things never pass. People on the left have too much sympathy for the immigrants. People on the right have businesses to run.
posted by vacapinta at 8:46 PM on February 15, 2006


That's funny, I've got no problem with criminals being treated like criminals.

Then I guess it's also funny that you're not out protesting the huge number of undocumenteds who remain gainfully employed in the US, supporting the economics that keep several industries afloat, including the one that puts food on your table.

that is a question for setting the level of legal immigration we allow

No it isn't, because if all those workers were legally employed, they'd be paid legal wages, and there'd be cost-laden collapses all over the place, starting with agriculture. The economy's support of illegal immigration isn't just about getting around the paperwork, it's about circumventing the labor laws we've fought so hard for over many, many years.
posted by scarabic at 8:51 PM on February 15, 2006


So is the rationale, "We need them, but if we had to pay them what they're worth it would suck, so leave them illegal"?
Just trying to understand.
posted by nightchrome at 9:12 PM on February 15, 2006


delmoi, as far as I know it's illegal to enter the country without proper authorization or to stay beyond the terms of your visa. They might not be criminal offenses under the law(I'm pretty sure the first is), but they are criminal in the common sense of "violating the law"

as to scarabic's point, you're point out one of the major problems with tolerating illegal immigration. Illegal immigration is poisonous to the body politic because it creates an entire class of people who exist beyond its effective control. Many of the laws/protections of our society do not apply to them because of their illegal status.

Their are two solutions to this dilemma, allow completely unfettered immigration or do our best to keep the amount of illegal immigration low. I don't think the first is a workable solution, since the ensuing wave of immigration would likely sink our economy far more than clamping down on illegal immigration would.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:17 PM on February 15, 2006


i think illegal immigrants should be rounded up and exported, personally. i'd prefer shot, but i'm willing to to compromise.
posted by keswick at 9:21 PM on February 15, 2006


Okay. so that last post was fraught with typos. Sorry 'bout that, it's late.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:22 PM on February 15, 2006


jack_mo: So the plan is to make illegal immigration more illegal, so to speak? I was under the impression that the 11 million illigal immigrants in the US are pretty bloody important to the US economy (maybe not in all States?). Seems odd to want to criminalise them further in the name of combating terrorism...

Why would it seem odd? The southern border is a gaping security hole. All our other measures are a complete waste of time unless we work on fixing it.

With regard to the importance of illegal immigrants, I've heard everything from them being absolutely critical to actually detrimental to the economy. I suspect they are detrimental, myself. The social services they use - primarily education for their children and emergency room visits for them and their families - are expensive enough that they are likely enough to completely wipe out their usually small tax contributions. One severe illness or injury could easily cost the hospital more than they produced in their entire time over here, and since they work under the table and evade OSHA, it is not an unlikely event.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:34 PM on February 15, 2006


they've done tons of studies over the years, and illegal workers give far more than they ever take. Many of the things people fear--a hospital stay or emergency room stuff affect legal citizens as well, you know--almost 50 million citizens don't have health insurance. ...Chief among its findings is this: Immigration, legal or illegal, while imposing net fiscal costs on this state, produces a net economic benefit for the country. ...

... "It's not like they broke into the bank to rob it," said Gay. "They broke into the bank to sweep the floor." ...
posted by amberglow at 9:55 PM on February 15, 2006


Mitrovarr, I use social services - primarily education and emergency room visits - things that are expensive enough that they are likely enough to completely wipe out my nonexistant tax contributions.
Guess I'm detrimental to your society.
posted by baklavabaklava at 10:19 PM on February 15, 2006


delmoi -
Regardless of your views on immigration, it seems pretty silly to suggest that border-jumpers aren't breaking the law.
It should also be noted that employers who hire illegal aliens are also breaking the law, as are the matricula consular folk(and the attendant public agencies) who have been travelling around my state recently.

Personally, I'd rather they focus on the companies rather than the individuals. I'd be tickled pink the first time the government siezed a Purdue chicken plant or IBP slaughterhouse.

(I am not a lawyer, but I play one on the Internet)
posted by madajb at 10:27 PM on February 15, 2006


This is what unions are for, and if unions had any sense they'd be in developing countries fighting for better working conditions there. And frankly, if necessary, they shoud use force to ensure protection for workers. You want to stop illegal immigration? Create jobs in the Third World that pay living wages. As far as the rest of the Lou Dobbs/Minutemen claptrap above, try arguing from something aside from ignorant talking points.
posted by klangklangston at 10:30 PM on February 15, 2006


Wow, a "Day Without An Immigrant." That takes me back. I haven't heard those words uttered since October 11, 1492.

(The day before Columbus landed)
posted by HiveMind at 10:36 PM on February 15, 2006


baklavabaklava: Mitrovarr, I use social services - primarily education and emergency room visits - things that are expensive enough that they are likely enough to completely wipe out my nonexistant tax contributions.
Guess I'm detrimental to your society.


Well, the difference is that you are (I'm assuming) a citizen, so the country has a responsibility to help you. But we have no such responsibility to potential immigrants, so we should evaluate them rationally on the basis of their contributions when considering whether or not to let them in.

Let's face it, we can't let in the whole world or we'd just end up an overpopulated wreck, and we certainly shouldn't decide who gets in on the basis of who can jump the fence or swim the river.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:38 PM on February 15, 2006


"Let's face it, we can't let in the whole world or we'd just end up an overpopulated wreck, and we certainly shouldn't decide who gets in on the basis of who can jump the fence or swim the river."

Right, and because the border's not a permiable membrane, people would keep coming after we had plunged into collapse.
Further, you're subscribing to a bit of a moral fallacy: States are artificial and arbitrary, and there's no reason to priveledge those who by accident of birth belong to one over the other. But don't let me stand in front of your escatological xenophobia.
posted by klangklangston at 10:44 PM on February 15, 2006


You want to stop illegal immigration? Create jobs in the Third World that pay living wages.

I think as American citizens we should be looking out for other citizens first - how about we create jobs in the U.S. that pay living wages, so any lawful citizen willing to work can get one?

Or do U.S. citizens deserve a living wage less than illegals? Can you explain that to me if that is the case.
posted by beth at 10:44 PM on February 15, 2006


It comes down to this: do you believe countries have a right to control their borders, or not? It's a basic issue of sovereignty.
posted by beth at 10:46 PM on February 15, 2006


Mitrovarr: Well, the difference is that you are (I'm assuming) a citizen, so the country has a responsibility to help you.
Why? What do I do that they don't? I don't pay taxes (I made $3,000 last year), I just sit here and take up space. If it's all about being a citizen, I didn't choose to be born here (or at all) and nor did anyone else choose where they were born, so I guess it's all just pure dumb luck and as klangklangston notes, artifical borders.

And by the way, if the country has a responsibilty to help me, where's my health insurance, university education, housing subsidies, bus tokens, and meal cards?
posted by baklavabaklava at 11:00 PM on February 15, 2006


beth: It comes down to this: do you believe countries have a right to control their borders, or not?
No, I do not.
posted by baklavabaklava at 11:01 PM on February 15, 2006


klangklangston: Further, you're subscribing to a bit of a moral fallacy: States are artificial and arbitrary, and there's no reason to priveledge those who by accident of birth belong to one over the other. But don't let me stand in front of your escatological xenophobia.

It's not a matter of morality, it's a matter of pragmatics. The fact is, if we just let anyone who wanted to live here do so, we'd have millions of people flooding over here from countries with poorer economies. Not just Mexico, but South America, Africa, China, Eastern Europe, everywhere. We'd basically become an overpopulated third world nation overnight.

Is it wrong to keep those people out because they didn't have the luck to be born here? I don't know. But it's a really good idea if you don't want our country to become like theirs.

baklavabaklava: Why? What do I do that they don't? I don't pay taxes (I made $3,000 last year), I just sit here and take up space. If it's all about being a citizen, I didn't choose to be born here (or at all) and nor did anyone else choose where they were born, so I guess it's all just pure dumb luck and as klangklangston notes, artifical borders.

And by the way, if the country has a responsibilty to help me, where's my health insurance, university education, housing subsidies, bus tokens, and meal cards?


Again, it's a matter of pragmatics. It would be our responsibility to take care of people everywhere, if we could, but we can't. Not even close. The attempt alone would destroy us. But we can take care of our own countrymen, and I think doing so will improve the country for everyone, making it a worthwhile investment.

As for the other things you suggest, well, I think we should fund most of them, actually. But I don't run the place.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:07 PM on February 15, 2006


Q: Do you believe countries have a right to control their borders, or not?
A: No, I do not.


Holy schnikees.

Please enlighten the class ... How is it possible to even have a discussion about immigration if you don't believe sovereign nations have a right to control their borders?

On second thought, nevermind. I don't have discussions with crazy people.
posted by frogan at 11:26 PM on February 15, 2006



These are people we are talking about here. Families, personalities, loves, lives.

They come to America to be our service-industry serfs. They don't take jobs from the millionaires on TV who feel so irrationally threatened by illegal immigration, or the white-collared management class, or even the dwindling middle class. They do the slop jobs few white Americans would ever consider doing, except for teenagers and college students.

So now we hire our domestic servants a la carte, they don't live in our homes anymore and we don't know their names. We don't even have to look at them, they stay in the kitchen while you dine at the Outback, and some blonde girl takes your order and brings the food; they sweep in after you leave a table full of crumbs and dirty plates and trash, (you aren't even considerate enough to even slightly clean up after yourself - they pay somebody to do that!), and they come in after close, and lock up the place after all the white waitresses have left.

America's serf class doesn't just comprise legal or illegal immigrants. It's the underclass, and increasingly the lower levels of the middle class. This is a much broader issue. I salute the strike.
posted by bukharin at 11:45 PM on February 15, 2006


Yeah, *this* is an issue that always inspires rational, civilized debate. They're takin' our jobs! They're the backbone of our economy!

Me: I understand that a huge segment of our economy is based on cheap, illegal labor. I'm not in favor of mass crackdowns and deportations that could crash the economy. I also place a pretty low priority on hooking illegals up with the benefits of citizenship - drivers' licenses, college tuition, social security. Aside from basic civil rights and labor protections, living off the grid and under the radar shouldn't be easy or encouraged. I shed no tears for illegals deported for even minor crimes. Meanwhile, let's make the third world a better place to stay, and America a more difficult place to sneak into.

On preview: I got news for you bukharin, there are *tons* of poor American citizens competing for those serf jobs. I do one of them (driving a cab). You think there are no unfortunate whites (citizens, no less) slaving in the back of your restaurant? No guys too dumb, ugly and anti-social to work the tables with the pretty blonde girls? How about the huge number of young blacks with criminal records? What kinds of jobs do you think they score? So the citizens in the underclass should compete with illegals, because why? You don't think there's enough of them?

And baklavabaklava, I don't know about where you live, but in Mass I know plenty of people who get *everything* you've listed. Maybe you're not disabled, poor, or otherwise unfortunate enough to qualify for the gov't to give you everything you think you deserve.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 11:57 PM on February 15, 2006


This reminds me of the movie from last year, A Day Without a Mexican, about what disarray California would be in if all the Hispanic immigrants disappeared.
posted by TunnelArmr at 12:17 AM on February 16, 2006


"I think as American citizens we should be looking out for other citizens first - how about we create jobs in the U.S. that pay living wages, so any lawful citizen willing to work can get one?

Or do U.S. citizens deserve a living wage less than illegals? Can you explain that to me if that is the case."

Wow, Beth, way to frame the question in completely the wrong manner.

Think of it this way: You're a business, who's responsibility lies toward creating profit. You can pay an American $10 an hour to do a job, or you can pay someone in Vietnam 60¢ an hour, and then pay a flat shipping cost. How are you going to convince the business that it's in their best interests to pay more money? Now, you could argue that having a population with a discretionary income promotes development (a good example would be Mexico's rapid industrialization under the later years of Diaz), but the first world is already pretty developed. Further, that's a long-term concern and the heads of companies are motivated by quarterly reports.
I live in Michigan, and I love the idea of solid auto line jobs, but those days are gone precisely because it is more profitable to pay lower wages elsewhere. Now, the trend has been not for developing countries so much to rise to our standard of living, but rather for our median to decline while the standard of living disparity grows between the upper boundaries and the lower boundaries.
Arguably, a decent chunk of that comes from illegal immigrants who are willing to take jobs at wages that are below the legal standard for pay here in the US (or below what workers believe they deserve). Now, you'll hear some arguing that this means we should step up enforcement. But as anyone paying attention to the last, say, 50 years of American immigration could see, that does nothing to address the problem. And without getting to a level of barbaric force that most would frown on, there's no way to deincentivize the draw of the labor market here for immigrants.
Oddly enough, this is one issue that a lot of "free market" conservatives abandon their principles on. Borders are a labor market distortion that are propogated by the priveledged to maintain their power, even if it's just percieved power (you'll find a lot of poor white guys who are extremely anti-immigration, even if it ultimately does them little good). And this is one part of globalization that liberals should embrace— allowing labor to follow the market will ultimately reduce wasted capital and encourage efficiency. But a large part of that requires the vision to realize that those who are at the bottom rungs of society in developing nations need the help of the rest of the world to lift themselves out of dependence, and that ultimately helping others far away benefits all of us save those who would disproportionately benefit from the status quo.
It's easy to argue that our actions should be directed locally, because that's where they'll have the most visible effect. But noting that a dollar in Zambia goes much further than a dollar here, the rational response is to work to aid the worst off first, as that will ultimately have more effect in the future than, say, offering a tax cut to businesses who manufacture here.
posted by klangklangston at 12:29 AM on February 16, 2006


"Again, it's a matter of pragmatics. It would be our responsibility to take care of people everywhere, if we could, but we can't. Not even close. The attempt alone would destroy us. But we can take care of our own countrymen, and I think doing so will improve the country for everyone, making it a worthwhile investment."

Again, it's a matter of misunderstanding what is 'pragmatic.' Not to get all Kantian, but we can do more good by allowing many, many, many more legal immigrants and by working to reduce the causes of emigration in third-world countries than we can by tightening borders or giving guest worker passes.

(I really wish Kwantsar was here.)
posted by klangklangston at 12:34 AM on February 16, 2006


"It's not a matter of morality, it's a matter of pragmatics. The fact is, if we just let anyone who wanted to live here do so, we'd have millions of people flooding over here from countries with poorer economies. Not just Mexico, but South America, Africa, China, Eastern Europe, everywhere. We'd basically become an overpopulated third world nation overnight.

Is it wrong to keep those people out because they didn't have the luck to be born here? I don't know. But it's a really good idea if you don't want our country to become like theirs."

Yeah, and if they were all legal workers, that would be such a huge boon to our economy that we'd easily outpace the social costs. And the fact is, you're not arguing from pragmatics. You're arguing from emotion. You think that illegal immigrants would keep coming if they weren't likely to find jobs? If they didn't have a better chance here than in their home countries?

Nationstates are a relic of Westphalia, and the most likely massive seachange in politics during the next 200 years will be their effective dissolution.
posted by klangklangston at 12:39 AM on February 16, 2006


Nationstates are a relic of Westphalia, and the most likely massive seachange in politics during the next 200 years will be their effective dissolution.

And they're a fiction that applies to you and I, or to some poor Mexican wetback, but one that most large corporations dispensed with years and years ago.

They move their plant and labour where it's cheapest and most convenient, move their corporate headquarters where taxes are lowest but perpetuate the fiction so that suckers won't question why they pay top dollar to subsidize their tax breaks.

But it's been very edifying to watch all those people who have managed to get a foothold on the wall trying to kick down the ladder that makes sure nobody else can follow them.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:18 AM on February 16, 2006


Nationstates are a relic of Westphalia, and the most likely massive seachange in politics during the next 200 years will be their effective dissolution.

Given recent balkanization in eastern Europe I suspect this is not a given. But if you're right, what do you see it being replaced with?
posted by IndigoJones at 6:36 AM on February 16, 2006


Give Texas back to Mexico!!!
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:57 AM on February 16, 2006


Wow, immigration issues really brings in the crazies. Amusing thread at least.
posted by skallas at 7:07 AM on February 16, 2006


A day without an immigrant.

I think they forgot to put "illegal" between an and immigrant.
posted by gyc at 8:37 AM on February 16, 2006


And thus it was that the socialists found out they were actually nationalists...

You rock, nightchrome!
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 8:51 AM on February 16, 2006


Please enlighten the class ... How is it possible to even have a discussion about immigration if you don't believe sovereign nations have a right to control their borders?

Nations based on idealogy/opinion and not based on economic control? The idea of independent states with different legal and economic codes that can be chosen by a world populace? If I want to pay a much larger percentage of my taxes to live in a more socialist state, I could. If I want free market capitalism, also possible. I think this is still a little short-sighted because each system would endow its citizens with benefits so there would be the necessity of determining who is a citizen. So yeah, border control...
posted by mikeh at 9:09 AM on February 16, 2006


Did any of them actually take the day off? I mean, I sure as hell didn't notice.
posted by drstein at 10:47 AM on February 16, 2006


"Given recent balkanization in eastern Europe I suspect this is not a given. But if you're right, what do you see it being replaced with?"

Economic confederations on the larger scale; small, locally controlled and unstable nations based on ideologies or ethnicities (or corporate affiliation) without firm borders on the regional scale. As things like the EU get bigger and more influential in terms of what we now think of domestic politics, I think areas like Tuscany or Rhineland will become more important than Italy or Germany. Removing restrictions on immigration, as will be likely mandated by WTO agreements, is likely to end up making places in the third world more sustainable, though I expect to see an upswing in ideological non-positional combat.
But as for Balkanization, I think that ironically that will make national distinctions less important over time. You'll see more states like what Iraq is shaping up to be: ficticious nations held together by arbitrary borders, until those borders (due to economic cooperation leagues or whatever they end up being called) become more like the borders of EU nations or US states. Eventually Iraq will cease to exist as an actual country, and function more as Kurdistan and an Arab Shia Republic, with small pockets of Sunnis exerting local control but without official borders. I think that identity becomes a lot more fluid as civilizations modernize, and I think that you'll have far fewer people identifying as Americans first, and rather thinking of themselves as from Seattle or from Texas.

Shame I won't be able to live to see if I'm right, as I think the time span this will occur over will be pretty large.
posted by klangklangston at 11:15 AM on February 16, 2006


KlangKangston said "This is what unions are for, and if unions had any sense they'd be in developing countries fighting for better working conditions there. And frankly, if necessary, they shoud use force to ensure protection for workers. You want to stop illegal immigration? Create jobs in the Third World that pay living wages."


Wrong!If Unions did that then their employers would simply shunt more jobs offshore without the guilt or pangs often laid on them for using cheap non-union labor. In the eyes of the Union an abused offshore workforce is a political tool to keep Union Jobs in America.
posted by Gungho at 12:42 PM on February 16, 2006


You can argue all you want about whether or not we need increased immigration to support the economy, but that is a question for setting the level of legal immigration we allow. It doesn't justify allowing people to break the laws of this country.

I'd give this argument more credence if we did not, as a nation, have a tendency to pass oodles of laws that are enforced only selectively. If everyone was prosecuted for everything they did, or even if we simply attempted to police all the laws on the books, we'd be broke in 72 hours.

Many laws are a polite fiction and few are more so than immigration and employment regs. When you consider that the overnight enforcement of laws against employment for illegal aliens would cause a monumental economic shift I think yeah, that maybe does justify allowing it. I don't think it obviates the need to come up with a better lasting solution, but illegal workers are the service industry's heavy heroin habit - cutting it cold-turkey would be a catastrophe.
posted by phearlez at 1:42 PM on February 16, 2006


Gungho: Wait, you think guilt keeps jobs here? And unions are dying here. Going abroad would give them the numbers they need to survive. You're just wrong on all counts (but have a wonderfully ironic handle, Michael Keaton).
posted by klangklangston at 1:56 PM on February 16, 2006


hoverboard: Well, uh, I wasn't actually trying to make a statement. I was honestly asking if that's what people were thinking about the situation.
posted by nightchrome at 7:17 PM on February 16, 2006


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