Thursday, May 04, 2006

Minuteman Caravan

The Minuteman Project Caravan set off for Washington DC yesterday from South Central Los Angeles. According to the Los Angeles Times:
Seeking to counter mass demonstrations by immigrant rights groups, organizers of the Minuteman Project today launched a nationwide caravan from Los Angeles that will focus, in large part, on the jobs they contend are lost to illegal immigrants.
In particular, the group hoped to highlight the concern over job losses in the African American community.
"Our cause is not a racial cause, it is a legal cause," said Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist, who kicked off the nine-day caravan to Washington, D.C. from Leimert Park at 8 a.m.
"Why should we give preference to 30 million illegal immigrants," said Gilchrist. "We should give preference to those who rightfully deserve it, especially African Americans whose history goes back 400 years."

A few observations:
1. The LA Times also reports that the Minuteman Project counts 200 African Americans among its 200,000 members. I can't help feeling that "preference" for African Americans is not high on the group's agenda.
2. Driving hundreds of cars and trucks from coast to coast when gasoline costs more than $3.00 a gallon hardly seems like an effective way to demonstrate wisdom.
3. How is it that the undocumented workers rather than the unscrupulous employers are blamed for the sweatshops and economic slavery? Assuming arguendo that the availability of undocumented labor keeps the sweatshops staffed, it does not excuse them any more than the availability of women walking alone at night excuses rape.
4. Sweatshop conditions persist in the US because corporate "ethics" value stock price highly and human dignity not at all. Immigrants take these jobs because conditions offered in their homelands--often by the same employers--are worse. Effectively restricting immigration would not eliminate any of these conditions; it would simply move more jobs out of the US.
5. The number of jobs American workers--African and otherwise--have lost to undocumented immigrants over the past several decades cannot even begin to compare with the number of good jobs--with actual living wages and benefits--eliminated from the US economy to boost corporate earnings and funnel money into the hands of the already wealthy. The Minuteman Project mindlessly accepts the US border as the line between people who deserve a chance to live decent lives and those who don't, thereby facilitating and encouraging the flow of of corporate investment and employment out of the US.
6. The Minutemen are deluded if they think they can close the border to illegal immigration. They cannot succeed in sealing the borders because the major corporations controlling the government do not want the borders closed. What they can do is serve their corporate masters by exacerbating divisions among workers of color, diverting attention from the real causes of our declining standards of living, and by joining the shrill chorus demanding a solution to the immigration "crisis," thereby forcing liberals and Democrats to take a public position on immigration, which they are unable, unwilling or afraid to do. This is the real immigration crisis: countless new citizen voters are waiting to see what the Democrats are willing to do for their undocumented friends and families, and will not be satisfied with lame explanations of how the problem is really complex.

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