immigration is on the top of the debate list for every major candidate, and for that matter, or due to that matter, rather, on the top of the list for most americans. the continuing media war on the poor has found a new face, and it is a lighter shade of brown this time. the use of our borders as a possible threat of terrorism is the cause championed by nearly all right wing media and candidates. the threat of losing work to illegal mexican immigrants has every white american working class citizen on the full defensive. i have seen otherwise intelligent, thinking individuals, turn into neo-conic fascists, with a direct result of racist intention, and self instituted ignorance to the real issue.
MEXICANS ARE NOT STEALING YOUR JOBS! THE CEO'S ARE GIVING THEM AWAY! and they are all to happy to do this. the use of undocumented workers in this country is simply a tool used by companies to avoid labor laws, environmental policy, taxation and of course, alleviates them from providing health care, all at a fraction of what they would have to pay american laborers. it is a way for the rich to remain rich, and at the same time, offer an enemy to the working class, so as not to have them focus on the real danger.
enemies are necessary for power to remain in power. they have convinced the working class americans that the bosses are needed, that they have our interest at heart, when history and even a little inspection into present matters show us quite the opposite. power and control are synonymous. therefore, when the power remains in the hands of the elite, the wealthy few, who are not the workers, then control is dictated by this power and asserted over the dominated working population. when power, which could be obtained through information, the realization of the truth, is asserted by the people, the elite class have few other options than to strangle the economy until the poor are subservient to their needs.
a powerful tool in this process of control is to separate the poor into warring classes, used historically through racism. at the turn of the century, the ghettos in our largest cities were swelling with poor, multiracial, communities. the communities, for reasons of preservation and security, segregated out into neighborhoods, each neighborhood being populated by immigrants of similar origin. irish neighborhoods, italian neighborhoods, black neighborhoods, etc. if these populations were to unite, in a struggle against the wealthy dominating class, there is no question as to the outcome. the sheer numbers alone tell us that the wealthy elite would have had their asses on a platter in time for dinner. this, however, has not occurred, not on a large scale anyway. white anglo puritans, or mayflower whites, were encouraged to fear the italians and the irish, that they might take their jobs, steal food from the mouths of their children, and eventually destroy their culture by inseminating it with hedonistic ideologies. then, when a great war, WWI, comes along, the first people enlisted to go defend out freedoms, was of course, the poor irish, italian and black populations.
this is no different from today. there have been many instances of an undocumented mexican american, entering a recruiting station, and leaving an american soldier. no one is up in arms over this aspect. "let them die for us! but for god's sake, do not let them live with us."
growing up a child of working class factory workers in the eighties, let me experience firsthand, a thing or to about econo-tics (economics + politics). my mother an father were on strike, repeatedly, causing our family to go on public assistance. this would not have been an issue had my parents not been subject to the great amount of shame associated with the welfare system. it was decided that my mother would go to work with a family of migrant workers that she had befriended, and work the corn fields of indiana and ohio, for two dollars an hour. ten hours a day, she would walk through muddied corn fields, hand picking corn. we could not afford a baby sitter for me, so i had the opportunity to go with my mother.
we would arrive at the house of her friend, lydia, an organizer of pretty much any and everything in the mexican migrant community in area. it would be 4:30 in the morning when lydia would be handing out paper cups of "cafe con leche" and tortillas to about forty men women and children, in her back yard. she gave the younger kids, like myself, pan dulce, sweet bread and juice. after about ten minutes of eating, we would climb into trucks and vans and drive for forty minutes to the fields that they would be working that day. the younger children would play around the trucks and play hide and seek in the corn, while the adults and older children would work, in long lines, walking down the rows of corn taller than themselves, stripping away strands of leaves from the husk. they would break at noon and everyone would come back to the trucks where lydia would pull a grill and a cooler out for lunch.
it was the most amazing thing i had ever seen and affected me deeply. that these people worked tirelessly, six days a week, and for next to nothing, and would come together for lunch and there would be nothing but smiles and laughter. i did not speak spanish, and neither did my mother, but it was not necessary. every person i can remember, would struggle to speak broken english and would try so hard to communicate with us. it was not a matter of "lazy mexicans not anting to learn english" as the status quo would have you believe. these people were kind, hardworking people, and my mother was one of them.
many years later, i lived in the northern california town of big sur. big sur is a small community of wealthy people and working class. the workers tended to the land and whims of the rich, on a very concentrated level. there is no middle class there. we lived in room next a mexican family that lived 5 to room. every day they would cook and share food with us and stories and struggle at english while i struggled at spanish. they were the best neighbors i have ever had.
about forty five miles to the north of us were the cities of monterey and carmel. this is the area of california where strawberries are farmed. just below napa valley. driving through this area, on highway 1, north to san francisco, you will find beautiful landscapes of hills and beaches, wild birds of at least 100 species migrating through, small town shops, still surviving the sprawl of san fran and l.a. you will see great pastures of strawberry fields, and in those fields, you will see lines of hunched over workers. sweating and protecting themselves from the sun with only ball caps, and handkerchiefs. rows of shirtless men, bent to back breaking positions, filling baskets with red strawberries. at the end of the row of migrant workers you will find a man, on a horse, overseeing the operation, wearing a full chemical protection suit, with respirator and hood. this is the place famed for being the home of john steinbeck. author of the grapes of wrath.
these people were working for dollars a day to provide strawberries on the plates of americans, whiteout protection from the chemical spray, or the cancerous sun. these are the people that take the blunt end of our aggression. these are the ones credited with stealing american jobs. these are people i know to be good. they are america, goddammit.