Sunday, March 26, 2006

To Anglo political junkies:
Where'd all those marching immigrants come from?

This entry started as a comment on dKos but seems substantial enough to post here. Besides, then I can lead with this wonderful photo from the LA Times of the immigrants in their hundreds of thousands streaming past Los Angeles City Hall yesterday.

We need to understand that there are more ways of knowing what is going on and more ways of doing "politics" than we assume. We've just seen it. I am lucky enough to be far less surprised than many by the wonderful demonstrations in LA and elsewhere in the last two days.

Some thoughts:
  • When the Catholic and evangelical Latino churches get up a head of steam, their parishioners turn out.
  • Spanish language media is powerful among its consumers. You may not have heard the news, but the immigrants did.
  • Many immigrants come to this country with forms of political sophistication that are different from ours. In particular, they are not stymied by finding themselves inside a system that treats them like dirt; that's normal for politics as they understand it.
  • For many Latino immigrants, politics is not a horse race. All the horses are corrupt. But they'll participate if the issue is what they think is moral.
  • For the same folks, "immigration reform" is a moral issue. It is about their ability to keep their families together and do an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. It is about their right as human being to the dignity of human beings. There are principles they will take risks for.
And so the rest of us get surprised, again.

Republicans and Democrats engage in immigrant bashing at their peril. These folks are the future of the country, regardless of what laws we enact. Some of the brighter bulbs know it.

Some Republicans fear that pushing too hard against illegal immigrants could backfire nationally, as with Proposition 187. Strong Republican support of that measure helped spur record numbers of California Latinos to become U.S. citizens and register to vote. Those voters subsequently helped the Democrats regain political control in the state.

"There is no doubt Proposition 187 had a devastating impact on the [California] Republican Party," said Allan Hoffenblum, a Republican political consultant. "Now the Republicans in Congress better beware: If they come across as too shrill, with a racist tone, all of a sudden you're going to see Republicans in cities with a high Latino population start losing their seats."

It would be great if ALL our politicians, especially fearful liberals, learned that lesson.


Duke1676 said...

Great analysis,

One of things I noticed at dKos yesterday was how many people were shocked that THEY hadn't heard about these rallies before...

But all you have to do is read an immigration diary over there to see why. Either it goes unread entirely or has a nasty flame war, full of misinformation, racial sterotypes and slurs.

Very few over there have taken this issue seriously from the start... and now as it heats up they're wondering why the bus left without them.

If this is true of the lefty blogosphere's largest forum can only immagine how out of the loop and misinofrmed the general public is.

janinsanfran said...

Thanks Duke. And thank you for your work at keeping the lives of so many even vaguely on the radar among our myopic brethren.

I'd go even further -- they don't actually understand who is the base of the Democratic party they support. If you look at who reliably votes Dem, it is African Americans and people of color, especially Latinos, but, just like the DLC liberals they routinely trash, they seem to be stuck fighting over marginal white suburbanites.

I greatly enjoy the online environment, but it is not where a politics I value will be created. It might be where such a politics can be amplified.

Arcturus said...

Quite succintly put!

Would you also consider posting this at BT?

& thank you for those great photos from the hunger strike Flashpoints interviewed Renee Saucedo on the Friday broadcast.

Police crowd estimates used to diminish the number by as much as 1/2; are they getting better or were there nearly one million people in LA's streets yesterday?

Anonymous said...

Illegals are 12 millions out of 300 millions human beings in America.

And they do the worst jobs, How many times you hear people saying
"americans will do these jobs" but I never see any bum claiming that.

By the way, have you ever seen a latino bum? probably 10% of bums?

Anyway, bums need love too, we all are humans.

And please, post about these topics.

-"do it the legal way"
-sign the papers and become legal

why do people say that? do illegal immigrants had to choose ??

jesus !!

glenda said...

Wonderfully writ.

What I have not been hearing people talk about is how to fix the root cause of illegal immigration, which is poverty, lack of education and lack of jobs, both in Mexico and on this side of the border. You brought out that issue.

People do not come here because they want to leave their homeland. For some Mexicans, the life they have there is so desperate, that they must leave or die a slow death of starvation.

It is my opinion that many Americans fear the current wave of immigrants not because they will take their jobs away, (because, face it, many good jobs are already on the brink of being outsourced), but because they fear losing their traditional familiar lifestyle.

They don't want new foods (except for margaritas), or foreign language and customs (except for Carnival) taking up their airspace and filling up their malls (except for sushi).

Why, because Americans are somewhat traditionally xenophobic and isolationist at heart, and do not welcome change, (except for iPods and other fun American stuff). But not that furry, foreign stuff, why that makes us nervous.

So why is there no serious dialogue in this country on poverty as it relates to immigration?

1. Because it is not in the interest of big business.
2. We have gotten lazy and learned to ask only about the public policy positions we hear about on TV.

The issues brought up on TV, such as: Will they take American jobs? Do they only take the jobs American won't take? are, I believe, smokescreens intended to keep us from asking the harder questions. Such as: Why isn't poverty a priority? Why don't we support programs that help people get out of poverty, have dignity and get better jobs to support their families? This type of pro-family stance could actually stimulate the economy and in the long run, create more jobs for all of us (that hopefully won’t be outsourced.)

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