Essays & Images on Cities, Travel and Contemporary Culture. A web journal of James A. Clapp, Ph.D., an UrbisMedia Ltd. Production

Vol.4.5: Come One, Come All [Immigration, Part One]

Hey, what’s this green goo on my burger!

Yesterday George Boosh announced his new immigration policy. Un-documented workers will get a “not an amnesty” three-year amnesty for sneaking into the country so they can legally fill jobs that American workers putatively will not fill. Though posed as an “economic” policy that will allow worthy workers a slice of American pie while fulfilling an economic need, one can hardly not be suspicious and cynical about Mr. Boosh’s motives. Supposedly, too, it will also have a “homeland security” payoff, since the un-docs will be registered with the government and we will be able to keep track of them when they sneak away from the bean fields for their flying lessons. They can also go back and forth to Mexico (yes I realize that I’m singling out Latinos here, see below) at will. So when it is Code Orange keep a sharp eye out for Osama Gutierrez.

But there’s other possible political benefits to Mr. Boosh.

First, he pissed off his erstwhile buddy Vincente Fox over the Iraqi War, and this is a good way to patch things up, as Fox would like more open borders so that Mexico, a far more prosperous country than it seems, can jettison more of its peasantry to El Norte to send billions back home to their families. That way the Mexican government doesn’t have to bother with economic reforms and income distribution that give its people a decent chance at home. [It should be noted that probably more than half of the estimated 12 million un-documented workers are from south of the border.]

Immigration sign, Puerto Madryn, Argentina © James A. Clapp

Immigration sign, Puerto Madryn, Argentina
© James A. Clapp

Second, Mr. Boosh might be remembering what happened to California Governor Pete Wilson when Wilson backed Prop 187, the anti-immigration measure that resulted that backfired and killed Wilson’s presidential ambitions. Sucking up to California’s huge Latino population, a good number of which seem strangely enamored with Arnold Schwarzenegger, who won’t let their un-docs have driver’s licenses (maybe it was that “Hasta la vista, baby” line), might better chances for winning the state next year. It’s a gamble though. He might be pissing off many of the Latino’s who are already here and working because of the possibility his policy will encourage even more illegal immigration and force down wages even further. But then this is what probably would make his agri-business and other corporate friends happy: lower wages mean higher profits. And you thought Willie was “slick.”

Never mind that the day after this announcement came the news that in the last quarter the US economy lost another 26,000 manufacturing jobs. You know, those well-paid and benefited (and often unionized) lunch bucket jobs that are capable of supporting a whole family, and that the unemployment rate still dangles just under 6%. So Mr. Boosh can perhaps make the case that his employment numbers are better, made so by Social Security paying (which they can take back with them) bean pickers, burger flippers, domestics, and leaf blowers, while not doing much to stem the hemorrhage (exchange?) of higher wage work and productivity to China, India, and Mexico.

Something did indeed need to be done about America’s immigration policies, and Bush might have done worse than with this policy. Then again, the immigration amnesty might be part of a broader policy view. Mr. Boosh is supposed to announce next week his policy for putting an American manned space station on the moon (to be built by Halliburton), not presumably (to the chagrin of John Ashcroft) to inter suspected terrorists, but as a staging point for eventual possible colonization of Mars. (No, I’m not kidding.) The station will be manned by astronauts Juan Rodriguez and Jesus Martinez. (OK, now I’m kidding.) But consider this: those pictures of Mars we’re getting now don’t show any agricultural fields, leaves, or golden arches; so if there really are little green, gooey Martians, as we have long suspected and feared, the question might be how many of them might try to sneak into America for those bean-picker, burger-flipper, leaf-blower jobs.

You better pray over that one a little longer, Mr. Boosh.

©2004, James A. Clapp (UrbisMedia Ltd. Pub. 1.10.2004)