Friday, November 9, 2007

A Day Without a Mexican

That giant sucking sound was the brains of 42 Democrats vanishing into lala land. That's how many (so far) who have sponsored H.R. 4088, the "Save America with Verification and Enforcement Act" (SAVE), introduced by Heath Shuler (D-NC) and Brian Bilbray (R-CA).

"SAVE" would sanction employers who hire undocumented migrant workers, require them to verify hires using the controversial E-Verify program, add 8,000 new border patrol agents, and expand the investigation capabilities of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, among other things. (New rule: No more BS legislation titles.)

If Kos is correct, almost as bad is word that "centrist" Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Rahm Emmanuel (D-IL) is quietly pushing House Democrats to sign on to this darling of uber-nativists Tom Tancredo (R-CO) and Duncan Hunter (R-CA).

One, as Kos has been commenting all week, Republicans found out in Virginia's election outcomes on Tuesday that hard-line anti-immigrant posturing isn't turning out to be the magic bullet they thought it would be. Why, then, would Democrats now decide to drape themselves with the white sheet? I guess because we have an unmatched genius for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Two, this big brother of Arizona's Employer Sanctions law, due to take effect in January 2008, suffers from many of the same "circle the wagons and fire" notions of our home-grown measure. The main one is that nobody knows exactly what percent of the GDP is contributed by undocumented workers, but study after study tells us that they give more to local economies than they take from them. If that's the case, removing them from employer payrolls is going to bring bad things to life, starting with crippling the employers who presently engage them. How is that helpful? If the assumption is that all those middle managers, programmers, and technical support personnel whose jobs have gone to India are going to become busboys, construction workers, dishwashers, and fruit pickers, well, HELL-BLOODY-O????

Three, let's pause a moment in reverent gratitude for all who understand the velocity of money theory. It notes that each dollar dropped into a local economy circulates through it many times. See, that's why cities love it when conventions come to town. It's not just the hotel fees and restaurant patronage. It's not just rental cars and the parking lots and the gasoline and the taxi services and the night club and entertainment tabs and, oh, the liquor, or the souvenirs and T-shirts and the airport traffic. It's all that AND this: Every one of THOSE dollars cycles back through consumer world, generating ever more sales taxes and ever more capacity for local folk to buy or rent houses, remodel, get new clothes for the kiddies, get groceries, have clothes cleaned, grab a Tecate, have the carpets cleaned. . . .

So why would any Democrat, especially in this market, intentionally grow the ranks of the unemployed? Why would anybody voluntarily subtract X dollars from the national economy? Why would anybody shut down viable businesses, add X million people to the detention/deportation rolls, fracture their families, do physical violence to them, ensure lasting psychological damage among them, give legs to racist impulses, and, oh yeah, alienate their votes? Have we had a collective breakdown here?

Four, and by the way, the E-Verify program is full of errors, and word here is that our Employer Sanctions law, at least, will probably be found unconstitutional. Could that be a clue?

Five, supporters believe that Latinos will self-deport in anticipation of the law's taking effect. That's begun to happen here in Maricopa County, and one result is that public schools are seeing their operating budgets tank in tandem with enrollment declines. Oh Yah-hoodley-hoo! Great public policy! (Unless, of course, you subscribe to the shock doctrine school of shakedown government, in which case you think it really is great public policy.)

Six, employers aren't thrilled. We know that because the US Chamber tells us so, and because here in Phoenix, it's a small big cowtown where people talk with each other.

See, if I were running the DCCC, I would look upon that fact as offering an opportunity to make alliance with employers in order to push for safeguards against exploitation and abuse, in order to begin the long-term effort to instill a commitment to a healthy workplace ecology--meaning equitable treatment of workers and owners. But I'm not.

Seven, measures like these are racist, mean, ugly, and a form of terrorism. If you think not, put yourself in the place of an immigrant who's been here for 9 years, with family and a hopeful life, working hard and paying federal and state taxes and FICA. It disgusts me that my country is capable of this kind of law-making, and appalls me that my party is complicit. Complicit in this just as in condoning the use of torture. I'm one hair away from becoming an Independent. It doesn't seem to do any good to write, call, fax, and otherwise express my outrage to the numbskulls and chair warmers that presume to "represent" me in Congress. I am beyond furious.

I just called the DCCC at 202-863-1500. You're asked for the extension of the person you're calling. I punched in 100 just for the heck of it, and got Charlie Rangel's voice mail. I wish I could say that the message I left him was eloquent and coherent, and so will he, I'm sure, but I think he got the gist that I'm really unhappy at the racist, stupid, moribund turns my party persists in taking.

Give 'em a buzz and let them know your feelings, too.