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Colbert actually has a point on immigration

I have to say, I absolutely love the way Stephen Colbert constantly injects himself into the political discourse. Even though he’s making fun of the Republicans, he’s able to stick the shiv right under their ribs by pretending to be one of them. And over this particular comedy routine, making fun of the blanket Republican stance against foreigners, the Grand Old Party has absolutely lost their shit over the fact that he was invited to deliver this five-minute counterargument to the committee on immigration directly by the Democrats in charge.

Even some of the stodgier Democrats are incensed that they got upstaged by a comedian. For some totally unexpected and unpredictable reason, making fun of the patently ridiculous stance that a country built out of immigrants should close the borders to immigration, is turning out to be a better strategy than taking their patently ridiculous stance seriously.

For those of you that don’t recognize Colbert as having an actual point here, let me boil it down for you. It’s really very simple.

1. Immigrants are working dirt-cheap jobs under terrible living conditions, and the fact that they are not citizens means they aren’t afforded protections.
2. Because they aren’t afforded protections, their employers can keep paying them next to nothing and treating them like shit.
3. If they were afforded protections, they might not be in such dangerous and shitty conditions working for next to nothing, so maybe “real Americans” would do those jobs again.
4. If that were the case, some of the artificially lowered prices for farm produce might rise again, spawning more farms to replace the millions of farm jobs that have been lost over the past few decades to big agribusiness and south of the border.

Take the invisible hand’s thumbs off the scale, and equality and sanity returns, at the expense of the bigger agribusinesses that are profiting hand over fist at the expense of the country, and at the expense of the immigrant labour they’re exploiting. By doing that, you might actually cure the illegal immigration problem.

But that’s just crazy bleeding-heart liberal talk!

Comments

  1. Shannon says

    Just a note to this as a man married to a legal immigrant, legal immigrants do have the same protections and rights as a US citizen except for the ability to vote. Illegal ones while not having quite the same protections are afforded many of the same rights and protections as a citizen or legal immigrant, however, many of them tend to not take a stand on this by calling authorities and what not for fear of being deported. In most of the states, the police do not handle anything to do with deportation and are required to treat a crime against any person as a crime no matter what. Now how often this works out in actuality obviously varies from region to region or from officer to officer, but I do know that quite a few major cities are basically promoting the fact that they do not handle citizenship cases in order to try and get immigrant communities to report crimes and to try to help improve the overall ability to live in those areas. Just for the record I am not against immigration what so ever. I just prefer people to do it the correct way. Almost all countries have a correct legal route to immigration, we at one point at one point looked at having me move to Canada, and it was actually the exact same process, but cost a bit more. (I guess Canada costs more :(}

  2. Teri says

    There is a right way to do things and a wrong way of doing things. If you can’t afford to run away from your bad situation in your home country and decide to come to the US as an illegal immigrant and after you get settled and make an income you decide to right your wrong and go through the right legal process to become a conditional resident then citizen then I applaud you, and respect you. One of my idols Ceaser Millian ( dog whisperer ) did this.
    However
    If you decide to stay here get fake papers, use social systems like gov funding, food stamps etc and don’t get off your ass and make a living for yourself then I have a major problem with you.
    I did it the right way, and yes it should be an easier way, but there’s not yet, but if I did it, if a poor Mexican (ceaser) can do it, there is no reason to not do it right.

  3. says

    So, they’re already here (well, THERE), and working. Since they’re contributing to the country’s GNP, and farms would basically disappear without them, force them to go through the legal process. Same paperwork, but a virtual guarantee that they’ll get in, unless they’re some kind of crazy Mexican mass murderer escaping justice.

    The problem here is, there’s a hell of a lot of traction for the status quo. Locking down immigration against all comers is the wrong way of fixing this problem — that’s just going to entrench the status quo, making it so all the workers are illegal, and once they get deported, the last few farms disappear. Things can’t get better by going isolationist.

  4. Shannon says

    Im all for letting them live and work while applying for a change of status. I can’t blame anyone for wanting to try and better their lives or their families lives. I personally think they need to revamp the whole system for immigration to make it more streamlined and easier for all involved. In fact most people I know here in the states are not against immigration what so ever, however those that are most vocal(the more fringe, isolationist groups) tend to get more media coverage, as those types of things sell. I actually have and have had quite a few immigrants working for me at my restaraunt and they are some of the hardest working people I have for the most part(this is not 100% the case) I really feel that if they were to expand the parameters for immigration it would help everyone out, in that regard things are changing but slowly. It is amazing how many hoops you must jump through at the moment.

  5. says

    Yeah. It really, REALLY sucks that the fringe gets airtime, because it drags the political discourse out of the realm of rationality and way the hell out into crazy-town. I’m glad not everyone automatically thinks they need Minute Men to shoot brown people. But why is it they get all the goddamn attention? Why is the debate between those crazies, and normal people? Why do crazy people merit any sort of attention besides mockery?

    Sigh.

  6. Shannon says

    On the plus side they give the comic set a lot of ammunition :D Also speaking as a brown person, i would prefer not to be shot by a minute man or a second man, and if they do I am shooting back lol

  7. says

    But if they did go through the legal process, or were granted amnesty, and were suddenly given the rights and privileges of citizens, the first thing that would happen is they would all lose their jobs. The only reason they have jobs in the first place is they’re cheap and they can’t complain. Require them to be paid more and have legal protections and they’re all going to end up on welfare while agbusinesses wait for the next flood of illegals to take their places.

    They’re making money because they’re illegal, not because they’re hard workers. Making them legal, from any rational standpoint, is the worst thing you can do for them.

  8. says

    Cephus, that’s why the process needs to change, not just the situation for the current group (who are, in fact, very hard workers in general). It’s also why people who are invested in the idea that immigration overall(not just “those people”) isn’t great for the U.S. actually look at improving the situation in other countries. Global inequalities create unequal immigration, and treating immigrants in general like criminals or some other kind of undesirable leads to very large local inequalities.

    Note that you also ignore about half the post to make your economic argument.

  9. says

    Unfortunately, it’s not our job to fix other countries, it’s theirs. We’ve spent far too long sticking our noses into situations that do not concern us and spending trillions of dollars trying to fix other people’s problems and in the process, making them hate us. Maybe if these criminals would just stay home and try to fix their own country instead of taking the easy road and violating our immigration laws, they wouldn’t have to leave their crappy country to begin with.

    Whether or not these people are hard workers, they are criminals, simply because they are here. Add to that the very large percentage who come here to commit even more crimes, belong to criminal gangs, import and sell drugs, etc. That right there ought to deny them the right to become legal citizens, especially when there are so many who are trying to do it the right way and are waiting their turn. How can we reward people who have such a basic disregard for our laws to begin with? They *ARE* criminals, by definition.

    Only a fool thinks that laws are only worthwhile if convenient. They exist to be followed, period. If you’re not willing to follow them, by all means, stay the hell home.

  10. says

    Unfortunately, it’s not our job to fix other countries, it’s theirs.

    But it obviously is our problem, or we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Unless you want to spend far more than the problem actually costs, sealing our borders up tightly, it is going to continue to be our problem.

    Maybe if these criminals would just stay home and try to fix their own country instead of taking the easy road and violating our immigration laws, they wouldn’t have to leave their crappy country to begin with.

    And maybe if they lived in countries where those at the bottom have any kind of voice, they would. Unfortunately that is simply not the case in a lot of the countries to the south of us.

    Whether or not these people are hard workers, they are criminals, simply because they are here.

    And a whole lot of those “criminals” are paying social security they will never collect on, paying taxes they have no voice in and avoiding public services like the plague. Many are members of our communities, their children often play with ours (at least they play with mine) and they join us at community meetings or volunteering with us at our kid’s schools. A great many of these “criminals” just quietly do the work they could find and avoid making trouble, because making money to either send home or support a family here is what is important.

    Add to that the very large percentage who come here to commit even more crimes, belong to criminal gangs, import and sell drugs, etc.

    And what percentage would that be? With the exception of a few specific criminal organizations, the vast majority of gangsters are born in the U.S. Of the foreign criminal organizations operating in the U.S., most use either U.S. born thugs or “refugees” for their presence in the U.S. Staffing a criminal gang with illegal immigrants isn’t exactly a bright idea, as that just provides the governments here with more tools to bring against the gangs.

    El Salvadoran gangsters are a great example of this. They are bar none the most violent, most ruthless gangsters in the U.S. They have among their members, members of former Salvadoran death squads. Most of them are here with refugee status, entirely legal.

    The Russian mafia is big on recruiting people who want to provide a better life for their children. They send families over, covering the costs of legal immigration and require some amount of service of the fathers (occasionally mothers). This fosters intense, motivated loyalty in the lower ranks – not simply because of gratitude, but also because the Russian mafia uses the same tactics the Soviets did. Not only does disloyalty put you and your immediate family at risk – it also puts family left back in Russia at risk.

    What is most important in all of this though, is that foreign born gangsters are a small percentage of gangsters in the U.S. and a very tiny fraction of immigrants in the U.S. – legal and illegal combined. The vast majority of immigrants – legal or otherwise, appreciate the opportunities they have here and aren’t interested in fucking that all up.

    Finally, as someone who has spent most of his adult life working the building trades, bring on the Latin American workers – or at least their work ethic. We really could use an infusion of that into our workforce. Hard working, not complaining and actually fucking grateful if you give them a bonus. We could definitely use a bit more of that.

  11. says

    Cephus, have you ever gotten a parking or speeding ticket? Imbibed below the legal drinking age? Jaywalked? Then you’re “a criminal” in a sense every bit as meaningful as the one you’ve used here.

    DuWayne’s covered your unsourced claims about criminality pretty well, so I’ll focus on your ideas about what we’ve done for other countries. Would you care to provide some examples of our “trying to fix other people’s problems”? I’ll settle for two, really, as long as they aren’t industrialized countries (from which we get almost no illegal immigration) and as long as they are actually us spending a fair amount of time or money trying to fix a problem we didn’t create.

    See, the problem with your idea that we can’t help because nothing we’ve done has helped to date is that we’ve almost never tried to help. Yes, the U.S. has a long history of foreign intervention. It pretty much all falls into three categories: post-war reparations or assistance to industrialized allies, isolating the U.S.S.R., and protecting our colonial and post-colonial economic interests. If you look carefully at these three categories, you’ll note that none of them do anything to build the economies of nations from which our illegal immigrants come. And many of them destabilized popular governments in favor of oppressive dictatorships, which encourages migration.

    Don’t kid yourself. The U.S. built its own illegal immigration problem. Now it just has to decide whether it will accept the responsibility for its actions. You remember responsibility, yes? It’s a plank in any conservative platform.

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