This Tide is not for Turning
July 18, 2010 12:55 AM   Subscribe

Illegal immigration is not just a US problem.
Joe Sacco: Not in my country, A tale of unwanted immigrants.
The Big Picture (Joe Sacco previously 1; 2 ).
posted by adamvasco (41 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
You'll know full well in Palma, adavasco, how regularly the Spanish are pulling bodies out of the water that wash up on the Balearics. I remember sitting at a beach cafe on Menorca and watching a tiny boat come in, slam up onto the beach and nine African men jumping out and disappearing into the urb. nearby... They were the lucky ones - the made it to dry land at least.
posted by benzo8 at 1:37 AM on July 18, 2010


Illegal immigration is not just a US problem.

This statement presupposes that there are people who say "illegal immigration is just a US problem. It doesn't exist in any other countries". I guess there might be people out there who would say such a thing. Doubt that there are any here at Metafilter, though.

Well, anyway, I look forward to reading the linked comic, looks like it might be pretty good.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:41 AM on July 18, 2010


I guess there might be people out there who would say such a thing. Doubt that there are any here at Metafilter, though.

I agree with you in broad terms but there certainly is a lot of discussion of unfortunate US immigration policies that don't seem to recognize that for all of the issues, the United States still has some of the most open borders in the world and has for two centuries.
posted by Justinian at 1:48 AM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Illegal immigration happens everywhere. There is always somewhere better. You'll know that feeling someday.
posted by parmanparman at 1:55 AM on July 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah, let's talk about the US for a change.
posted by Phanx at 2:12 AM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


A number of years ago E.O. Wilson noted that the two big issues that would confront a number of countries would black of water and massive immigration from nations unable to sustain life at a decent level, people trying to get into countries where they thought they might have a better chance at life.This, he said, would result finally in a lot of trouble, lawlessness, and chaos. the US, for example, allows any child born here from illegaly mothers who give birth here, to automattically become a citizen of the US. There is now a company or more that sets up clinics on the west coast, staffed by Chinese speaking people, and for 1400 bucks, a pregnant woman can visit the US, have a child here, and have that new-born child a US citizen. Guest workers in Israel have children and now Israel plans to send them back to homelands because that country like many others does not recognize birth as establishing citizenship. Japan on the other hand makes it nearly impossible for a non-Japanese person to become a citizen. And of course many nations allow for dual citizenship.
posted by Postroad at 2:54 AM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a great piece - Joe Sacco's use of the comic medium for reportage is exemplary; vivid, nuanced, and informative.

I'm surprised that Nigerians can't find a better strategy for getting to Europe than trekking to Libya and launching out across the sea in the hope of striking Malta (or even Sicily). It suggests either a level of desperation I wouldn't have expected or a level of optimism verging on stupidity.
posted by Phanx at 3:03 AM on July 18, 2010


I like the People Move blog for the underlying data and documentation it provides on the social and economic forces behind migrations
posted by infini at 3:24 AM on July 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Illegal immigration is not just a US problem.
posted by DU at 4:03 AM on July 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


You're describing an extremely small time immigration loophole, Postroad.

Illegal immigration exists purely & simply because jobs exists for illegal immigrants. All those illegal immigrants will simply return home if you eliminate their jobs by creating harsher penalties for employing illegals.

You establish extremely large fines that pierce the corporate veil and jail time for the employes making the hiring decisions. Illegal immigrants may have nothing to lose, but they're employers sure do.

We've always known precisely how to stop illegal immigration, but the question is : Do we want to stop it? Illegals usually benefit the economy while hurting only the poorest segments of society. Voters love blaming illegal immigrants, but usually voters benefit while only the non-voting poor suffers.

There is a separate question about queue jumping asylum seekers, meaning asylum seekers who enter illegally instead of applying abroad. We probably need to change the asylum seeker conventions eliminating any preference for people who've entered illegally after first traversing several other nations.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:08 AM on July 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'd agree with DU's assessment that the U.S. has no illegal immigration problem. Americans have had racial issues with Mexicans forever, well that's even where our fear of pot arises. We've got numerous illegal immigrants from Mexico now because we want all those cheap workers who's taxes help keep our social system afloat.

Europe has some difficulties with illegal immigrants largely because their social system was designed around poor people paying-in less than their lifetime benefits payed-out, and they've maintained numerous low skill traditional jobs above the poverty line for cultural reasons.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:17 AM on July 18, 2010


Whenever people go on about how bad they are I can't help thinking of the Morecambe Bay cockle pickers. Yeah, such a brilliant life sponging off our welfare system. I just can't imagine why these people are so hated when all they do is work for nothing and try not to engage with the system. We're bad people and should feel bad about this.
posted by shinybaum at 4:44 AM on July 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


You establish extremely large fines that pierce the corporate veil and jail time for the employes making the hiring decisions. Illegal immigrants may have nothing to lose, but they're employers sure do.

I don't think that means what you think it does. A corporation cannot act without some person doing the act. A person who knowingly hires people who aren't eligible to work in their jurisdiction has acted illegally, and the corporation has nothing to do with it. The corporate veil is about the financial shield that a corporation has for shareholders, not for employees.
posted by gjc at 5:02 AM on July 18, 2010


This statement presupposes that there are people who say "illegal immigration is just a US problem. It doesn't exist in any other countries". I guess there might be people out there who would say such a thing.

There certainly are a lot of people who seem to believe that, based on their statements that point to some other country which allegedly has immigration laws more draconian than those of the U.S. "If they tried that in Xenophobistan, they'd be beheaded!" Sometimes those claims are accompanied by explicit assertions that only the U.S. is lax in its immigration enforcement.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:08 AM on July 18, 2010


The myth of invasion: The inconvenient realities of migration from Africa to the European Union. PDF of a very thought-provoking article by Hein de Haas of Oxford's International Migration Unit, for anyone who's interested. About 15 pages, plus notes.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 5:29 AM on July 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


thanks for posting this, adamvasco - it's always good to see new work by Sacco

and thanks DU for saying what i came in to say
posted by jammy at 5:53 AM on July 18, 2010


In fact, piercing the corporate veil also applies when liabilities are applied against management, or any time the courts ignore the corporation's legal personhood.

In this case, I meant steep fines that automatically pierce the corporate veil by applying against stockholder and/or management assets, if the corporation becomes insolvent and the corporation lacks good records of hiring decision.

You'd need records of hiring decisions for convicting the employee that hired the illegals, meaning companies that exist for hiring illegals would not keep those records, so that your fraudulent basis for piercing the corporate veil.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:19 AM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


benzo8 ermmm no I don't remember many bodies or many "pateras" in Mallorca or the rest of the Baleares. Maybe I wasn't looking. In fact there are very few.
The first detected in Menorca was October 2006 there have been under a dozen since.
This is much more a problem in Murcia, Andalucia and the Canary Islands.
However the Baleares have the whole economic and Political force of the Spanish State behind them. Spain is a country of 45 million plus.
Malta,an island state, has a population of under half a million and the equivalent small economic resources.
The population is feeling threatened both economically and socially. There is just not enough resources and not enough work for these immigrants to be able to get a job and earn a basic living.
Joe Sacco is Maltese and reports in a highly original way what he sees and hears from his people.
This problem has been around for over five years now and things seem to be getting worse.
posted by adamvasco at 7:33 AM on July 18, 2010


This problem has been around for over five years now and things seem to be getting worse.

Illegal immigration is never a problem.
posted by etherist at 7:52 AM on July 18, 2010


"This problem has been around for over five years now and things seem to be getting worse.

Illegal immigration is never a problem.
posted by etherist at 3:52 PM on July 18 [+] [!] "

"We've always known precisely how to stop illegal immigration, but the question is : Do we want to stop it? Illegals usually benefit the economy while hurting only the poorest segments of society. Voters love blaming illegal immigrants, but usually voters benefit while only the non-voting poor suffers."
posted by jeffburdges at 12:17 PM

So there is no problem as long as you are the well-off, middle classes.
posted by marienbad at 9:25 AM on July 18, 2010


most of your great-grand whatevers were undocumented immigrants. stop using the bigoted term you all know as "illegal immigrant" or even worse "illegal alien".

and i would like to propose that metafilter refrains from condoning the use of these bigoted terms in all FPPs henceforth.

thank you.
posted by liza at 9:53 AM on July 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


and i would like to propose that metafilter refrains from condoning the use of these bigoted terms in all FPPs henceforth.

I am betting this wasn't a joke.

Yes, let's just re-describe it; that will solve everything. This is how the energy of the left is always expended: worrying about what we call the problem instead of the problem itself, always more eager to fight against language than anything else. For people who fly the free speech flag so ostentatiously most times, it's a curious focus.

I'm an undocumented PhD. That sounds much better than drop-out. And is technically correct. And is bullshit.
posted by umberto at 10:20 AM on July 18, 2010 [9 favorites]


Thanks for posting this. I think Sacco is one of the best reporters around.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:28 AM on July 18, 2010


most of your great-grand whatevers were undocumented immigrants

Actually no, one of my great-grand whatevers was Cherokee and the rest came through Ellis Island or another legal entry point in the late 1800s/early 1900s. Generalizations and bigotry don't work in either direction. Also, this is an insult to African-American members, whose ancestors may have been undocumented, strictly speaking, but did not come here by choice.
posted by desjardins at 11:04 AM on July 18, 2010


You gain a lot of power in the debate if you get to define the terms. That has been a strategy of the right for a long time. The left may lose focus by bickering over terms, but the problem is the bickering, not the focus on terminology.
posted by Nothing at 11:55 AM on July 18, 2010


stop using the bigoted term you all know as "illegal immigrant"

Perhaps you would care to educate us about the correct term for someone who has illegally immigrated.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:01 PM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


You can't illegally immigrate. You can work without a visa, but that's working illegally, not immigrating illegally. You can also arrive in a country without the legally required documents, but if the law forbids your being allowed to immigrate without such documents, then you won't get to immigrate.

So the "correct" term is "migrant" for someone who arrived without full documentation. For the person who has arrived without the right papers and who hasn't tried to get migrant status the "correct" term is "exploited foreigner doing all the shitty jobs you don't want to do for less pay, poorer conditions, and no protection of law".
posted by GeckoDundee at 4:54 PM on July 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Illegal immigration is never a problem."
Do you know how I know you are not a blue collar worker or from the south west?
Mass movement of peoples legal or otherwise will present problems and it is best if we address them honestly and with sensitivity.
That would mean looking at both sides of the issue like this Sacco fellow is doing.
Sadly we cannot do that without offending "progressives" who often do not have to deal with the reality of these issues and who think their emotional need to pose as virtuous and enlightened should be more important than blue collar workers being able to work peacefully together.
posted by Iron Rat at 5:03 PM on July 18, 2010


You can't illegally immigrate.

This is false. Most developed countries require a visa to immigrate. If you immigrate without the requisite visa, you have immigrated illegally, even if you never work and never attempt to work.

The most neutral noun phrase available to English speakers for someone who has undertaken this activity is "illegal immigrant." It doesn't help your case when your first reaction to people who are merely describing an activity in the most concise terms available is to try to portray them as bigots when they aren't.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:44 PM on July 18, 2010


"exploited foreigner doing all the shitty jobs you don't want to do for less pay, poorer conditions, and no protection of law".

If you parse that as "(exploited foreigner doing all the shitty jobs) (you don't want to do for less pay, poorer conditions, and no protection of law)", rather than "(exploited foreigner doing all the shitty jobs you don't want to do) (for less pay, poorer conditions, and no protection of law)", then I would agree.
posted by transona5 at 6:28 PM on July 18, 2010


this will have to go to metaTalk but let me address these three:
I am betting this wasn't a joke.

Yes, let's just re-describe it; that will solve everything. This is how the energy of the left is always expended...
posted by umberto at 1:20 PM on July 18
really? so denying the human rights of migrants and their right to due process under our constitution is a waste of time? oh ... ok

most of your great-grand whatevers were undocumented immigrants

Actually no, one of my great-grand whatevers was Cherokee and the rest came through Ellis Island or another legal entry point in the late 1800s/early 1900s. Generalizations and bigotry don't work in either direction. Also, this is an insult to African-American members, whose ancestors may have been undocumented, strictly speaking, but did not come here by choice.
posted by desjardins at 2:04 PM on July 18


this is not the oppression olympics but i'll play :

1) i said "most" (and yes it's a generalization but it was done to make a point)
2) havent pin-pointed the actual group but for in our family know we're part native Central American
3) if you didnt notice either, am Afroboricua and am actually 3rd generation free-slave. yeah, Puerto Rico was the last country/protectorate in the Americas to abolish slavery.
4) the US invaded Puerto Rico in 1898. for all intents and purposes we are East Coast's original documented migrant "others".

thank you for playing.
You can't illegally immigrate.

This is false.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:44 PM on July 18

everybody who comes to the US and stays does so under many different circumstances. whether it is to be with family, to work, to study, to vacation; the fact of the matter is that the majority of the people who come to the US and end up being undocumented workers come with visas other than working ones.

and even if the situation is so desperate that they paid a coyote to pass them across the border they still can and should have their day in court. this is especially true for the thousands of children who come across in search of their parents or relatives.

the fact of the matter is that each case can have a set of mitigating circumstances that could indeed lead them to the appropriate visas and documentation while in US soil. yet people like you who use jingoistic, bigoted rhetoric to refer to non-US residents or citizens as "illegal aliens" do so to strip not only people of their humanity but of their right to due process.

people who look remotely "illegal alien" are being killed or assaulted everyday in this country exactly because allegedly forward thinking people like the anti-immigrant apologist in metafilter have no problem verbally normalizing the hatred and violence against "those others". thousands of families are being destroyed for exactly the denial of due process that comes with the moniker "illegal alien". people are being literally left to die in private detention centers that have no interest in letting these people go free because it would go against their business' bread and butter to help those "illegal aliens".

it's amazing to me that people here at MetaFilter talk about how horrible torture is, how horrible racism is, how horrible rape, pedophilia, human trafficking, child abuse are yet when all these things happen to "illegal aliens" it's ok. and let me tell you: it is EXACTLY because of the use of language like "illegal aliens" that some of those the worst human rights violations are happening in private detention centers hand-picked by the US government and paid for by your goddamn tax money.

metafilter should NOT normalize the hatred, bigotry and violence against migrant or undocumented workers that comes with the use of "illegal immigrant/alien".

metafilter is better than this.

And here's a list of blogs you should read for more on the subject (mine, you can look it up on my profile page)

VivirLatino

Unapologetic Mexican
LatinaLista
New America Media
Change.org's immigration channel
xicanopwr
Migra Matters
Dream Activist
Of America
posted by liza at 7:11 PM on July 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


everybody who comes to the US and stays does so under many different circumstances. whether it is to be with family, to work, to study, to vacation; the fact of the matter is that the majority of the people who come to the US and end up being undocumented workers come with visas other than working ones.

Yes, and there are proper and legal channels for all of these: K visas (and others) for family members, temporary work permits, student visas, and visitor visas (or visa waivers). Those who intend to immigrate without the requisite visas are doing so illegally. Statement of this fact is not indicative of bigotry.

yet people like you who use jingoistic, bigoted rhetoric to refer to non-US residents or citizens as "illegal aliens" do so to strip not only people of their humanity but of their right to due process.

This is not what I am doing. The term "illegal immigrant" is neither jingoistic nor bigoted. It does not automatically apply to non-U.S. citizens; only to people who intend to live and remain in the United States (or any other country, as applicable) without the legally required authorization. I am doing nothing to strip anyone of their humanity or due-process rights. Please do not make those baseless accusations or otherwise put words in my mouth.

By the way, it's entirely possible to be opposed to illegal immigration and to the horrors that are private detention centers and due-process violations like the Arizona "papers, please" law. I speak from experience.

it's amazing to me that people here at MetaFilter talk about how horrible torture is, how horrible racism is, how horrible rape, pedophilia, human trafficking, child abuse are yet when all these things happen to "illegal aliens" it's ok.

Who's said this?

and let me tell you: it is EXACTLY because of the use of language like "illegal aliens"…

metafilter should NOT normalize the hatred, bigotry and violence against migrant or undocumented workers that comes with the use of "illegal immigrant/alien".


"Illegal immigrant" is the normal term for someone who immigrates illegally; it does not normalize hatred, bigotry, or violence, except in those who would exhibit it anyway. There's enough of those things in the world; there's no need to invent them where they don't exist.

metafilter is better than this.

Indeed.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:55 PM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Note to the majority of people upthread.
This Post is not about America.
Malta is not American
The European Union is not part of America
There are places is the world which are still not American.
It seems that this is probably very difficult for many of you to understand.
I am glad some of you enjoyed Joe Sacco's work.
And just to clarify; when you wash up on the shoreline of a foreign country you have arrived from somewhere else and therefore are by definition an immigrant. When you have no papers
and arrive washed up on this unknown shore you are by definition illegal.
Enjoy frothing and dissecting what you think is correct terminology. Meanwhile since this was posted 28 more people have been rescued in Maltese waters. There are no reports on those who died.
posted by adamvasco at 1:23 AM on July 19, 2010


PS I realise that I shound call these people migrants as they have not arrived at their preferred destination where they would become inmmigrants
posted by adamvasco at 1:25 AM on July 19, 2010


Note to Europeans.
This post is about the attempt by an Australian 2nd generation immigrant to understand the attitude of his "homeland" to "migrants".
Malta is an "everyman" in this story in that it represents the general problem of exodus. It's not that we're all queuing up to get into Malta.
Malta has been part of the European Union for an impressive six years.
There are places is the world which are still not European.

Now that I've got that off my chest.

Thanks for the post. The comic format makes it fascinating. It's also very topical. It's very topical everywhere. It's very topical everywhere because everywhere is either bleeding people to "better" places or on the receiving end of this bleeding.

The USA is not the only destination for migrants. It's not even the first choice for all migrants. However, it is the preferred destination for many of them and it is the country of residence of most Mefites. It's also a country whose history is a history of immigration and one which used to pride itself on this. Any debate about migration will talk about the USA, even if none of the participants are from there.

Do you want us to restrict our discussion to the effects on Malta? If so, you have completely missed Joe Sacco's point. He's interested in this at least in part because of the way it reflects on the racist crap his parents had to put up with and the racist bullshit in contemporary Australian politics.
posted by GeckoDundee at 2:06 AM on July 19, 2010


Migrants are people who go and live somewhere else. All humans are migrants.

An immigrant is someone who's come to live at your place. An emigrant is someone who has left. Ergo, immigrant / emigrant is relative.

More importantly, a migrant is someone who is living somewhere away from their home. That means away from their friends and family, away from the traditions and other comforting stuff that makes for home. They are all tough people because they have to be. But it's up to us whether to be hospitable towards them or to be jerks.

I say all that as a migrant myself. (Am I an immigrant or an emigrant?).
posted by GeckoDundee at 2:14 AM on July 19, 2010


Having grown up as the 'dependent child of a temporary skilled/migrant worker' I'd say migrants have it worse than immigrants. Immigrants pick up from one place and go to another to settle down. Migrant workers - both skilled and unskilled - are often temporary with no paths to settling given the specific rules and regulations of the country in question and just there to work hard and send money home. The situation gets worse the less skills and education you possess - such as for the many different Asian origin manual labour/construction workers in the Middle East and across the ASEAN OR worse, if there are no jobs available in your home country such as for the degree holding Filipina domestic help who leave their children and families behind for two years at a time to enter the unknown.

Worse, they face xenophobia - like in South Africa a couple of years ago or more - abuse of domestic help is common in Singapore newspapers

Immigrants, imho only, fall into a different category. There's no going back for them and usually the whole family moves together.

Illegal aliens is perhaps the best term for those who fall into the grey areas... though I didn't start this comment with any intent to enter the definition fray...

What am I right now? I don't know, I came here as a temporary skilled worker but will I be an immigrant if I stay or simply an accidental permanent resident? The planet earth is still my home ;p
posted by infini at 3:38 AM on July 19, 2010


I am betting this wasn't a joke.

Yes, let's just re-describe it; that will solve everything. This is how the energy of the left is always expended...
posted by umberto at 1:20 PM on July 18

really? so denying the human rights of migrants and their right to due process under our constitution is a waste of time? oh ... ok


No. And if you want to put words other people didn't say into their mouths you should head to a fiction blog. First off, what is your accusation even, here? You don't even make sense. Denying rights is a waste of time? Since you said that, not me, wtf? I would say denying rights is...er...yes, a BAD use of time.

See, in the sentence, "Rights are being denied to illegal immigrants," the part to get upset about is the 'rights being denied' part. Not the --despite the emotional tangent about torture, or whatever, that made no sense-- 'illegal immigrant' part. I'm sorry, real language trumps political bullshit language. If you have come to a foreign country to live (an immigrant) and are doing something illegal (working sans visa) you are an..illegal...immigrant. It's not some horrible insult. It's a description of legal status. Wetback - insult. Boat person - insult. Migrant worker - umbrella description of a type of work. Illegal immigrant - legal status. Many illegal immigrants are migrant workers,yes. But many migrant workers are not illegal immigrants.

Illegal aliens is perhaps the best term for those who fall into the grey areas... though I didn't start this comment with any intent to enter the definition fray...

The problem is there is a definition fray. Fighting the words and not the problem. Again. Being upset at words is putting knives in the hands of your enemies. It is a loser's ploy.
posted by umberto at 7:20 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


this is not the oppression olympics

Erm, no, that was not my point, I'm definitely not oppressed in any racial sense and was not claiming to be. It's probable that most people in this thread are of European descent and as such it was very obvious that you were targeting your comment towards those people, including myself. What you seemed to be pointing out was that most of us in this thread have undocumented ancestors, and thus are being hypocritical in some way. Even if most people did have undocumented ancestors, it's not hypocritical or bigoted to call a current group "illegal immigrants." If my grandfather stole a car, I can still point out that auto theft is still against the law and call someone a car thief.
posted by desjardins at 8:25 AM on July 19, 2010


Malta is an "everyman" in this story

No, I think it's Malta. Two of the main points made by interviewees here, for example, are that Malta (unlike Italy or Spain) is too small to be able to cope, and that the Africans don't actually even want to be there. Those are not generic "everyman" points about migration which apply equally to the US.

Do you want us to restrict our discussion to the effects on Malta?

Wouldn't it be good, when discussing a piece about Malta, if we could talk mainly about Malta? Or even a little about Malta?
posted by Phanx at 8:32 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


A little more about immigration and Europe; legal and otherwise.
posted by adamvasco at 12:10 PM on July 21, 2010


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