Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Some Republican Reaction To Arizona

A Republican gubernatorial debate was held in South Carolina on April 23. Responding to a question about the recently enacted law in Arizona targeting immigrants, Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer commented (first paragraph from Politico, the second from the video posted by The Huffington Post)

If you don't have a workforce, people that are peach farmers, people that are in the hotel business, people that are in the construction business, they're going to go somewhere to fill those jobs.

The real problem is the work force. The problem is we have a give-away system that is so strong that people would rather sit home and do nothing than do these jobs. Laziness is not a disability. There are a lot of people that are flat-out lazy and they are using up the goods and services in this state.

Before there was Andre Bauer, there was John McCain. Not today's "I never considered myself a maverick" John McCain, trying to out-right Attila the Hun, or at least J.D. Hayworth. The old Senator McCain, working with Senator Edward Kennedy on "comprehensive immigration reform." The old John McCain, who in April 2005 told a gathering of AFL-CIO construction and building trades employees (video below; this never gets old for me)

Now, my friends, I'll offer anybody here $50 an hour if you'll go pick lettuce in Yuma this season and pick for the whole season. So -- OK? Sign up. OK.

You sign up. You sign up, and you'll be there for the whole season, the whole season. OK? Not just one day. Because you can't do it, my friend.

We know the head of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh, favors government of, by, and for the wealthy. But what is it about these other Republicans- a general elitism or a specific contempt for the American people?

Significantly, in the case of McCain and Bauer, these remarks alleging the laziness of Americans were in service of excusing, and supporting, the use by employers of low-paid individuals competing with American citizens for jobs.

On a different note is former U.S. Reprsentative Tom Tancredo, the Colorado Republican nearly as identified with the anti-illegal immigration cause as was Lou Dobbs. Though Tancredo is not opposed to Arizona's law, he cautions "I do not want people here, there in Arizona, pulled over because you look like should be pulled over."

Tancredo's lack of enthusiasm is far more consistent with his prior position on immigration than generally supposed. In an online chat with Washington Post readers in March, 2006, Tancredo made clear the thrust of his concern with illegal immigration:

most of the 12-20 million illegal aliens in the U.S. came here for a job. But take away the jobs and, I think, you can stop much of the illegal immigration. The way you do this is first come up with a system that allows employers easily to check the legal status of their employees. We actually already have this -- the basic pilot program. Our bill makes that mandatory. Second, you go after employers who hire illegals. Last year, the government sent 3 -- count that, 3 -- notices of intent to fine employers for hiring illegals. You wouldn't have to construct a police state to get the job done. Just start trying to enforce the law, and after employers see the penalties of hiring illegals, they'll get the message.

For the past several years, advocates of what supporters call "comprehensive immigration reform" and critics term "amnesty" routinely attributed Tancredo's opposition to racism. In retrospect- and especially with the perspective of the new state law- Tancredo appears less a racist than (unlike Bauer, McCain, and some others) someone actually concerned about workers. Someone who thought employers should be discouraged from, rather than encouraged to, hire individuals in the country illegally and therefore easily exploited. He responded to one Post questioner by noting

President Bush likes to say that he just wants to match "willing workers with willing employers." The reason that a lot of these jobs are going unfilled is because they're not jobs that Americans are willing to do... AT THAT WAGE. Continued non-enforcement of our immigration laws will continue to drive down wages and convert jobs Americans will do today into jobs they won't do (at that price).

Clearly on the right track, Tancredo could be excused for not having realized that many Americans would be willing to perform the job even at a low wage. He is today, probably, a little conflicted, having devoted much of his political career to decrying illegal immigration and encouraging government on some level to act aggressively. Now the state of Arizona itself has responded with legislation which discourages immigration into that state.

But the law does more than that, targeting not illegal immigration but immigration. At times, it is difficult to determine by mere appearance whether an individual is from Mexico. But it is virtually impossible to determine from appearance that someone is here illegally from Mexico, a problem exacerbated by a provision in the law which, the Arizona Republic reports

would allow Arizonans to sue agencies if they don't believe an agency is complying with the law.

Police chiefs who oppose the bill have said these requirements will mean officers will have to make immigration enforcement their first priority over every other type of crime.

And stop people who don't look quite right. Certainly, Arizona's initiative is one which many opponents of illegal immigration, such as Lieutenant Governor Bauer and the born-again Johnn McCain, would love. But for those who have been not nearly as hostile to immigration as to illegal immigration, the act raises serious concerns.

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