Monday, May 01, 2006

Where's the Pool Boy?

This morning when I took my morning swim I had to scoop all the debris out and get my own towel afterwards. Jose was nowhere to be found. And when I went to the kitchen to ask Rosa for something to drink before breakfast, she was out too. I had a devil of a time trying to froth my own latte. She's so good at it. Finally I noticed that Luis was not out tending to the grounds. Something was dreadfully wrong.

Fortunately I passed a TV that Rosa had left on, she's so forgetful sometimes, and heard that darling young girl from CNN - the most trusted name in news, Kyra Phillips talking about this Day Without Immigrants. Whose idea was this anyway? Surely the immigrants hadn't thought of it themselves. I became frightened. What if they all decided never to come back. I would be doomed to a life of flat froth on my lattes or having to drive-thru at Starbucks. I shutter to think. Kyra asked that we write in to CNN to tell them how a day without immigrants is affecting us, and that is why I'm writing this.

This should not be allowed to happen. The president must do something. Who will bus the tables at our favorite dinning spots? Who'll get the car? Someone should get down to this Day Without Immigrants rally and send all those people back to work pronto. They are mostly good workers, but they do need guidance.

Ok, that was my fantasy day without immigrants, but there is a couple things I'd like to say on this May Day. I think it is a shame that many people in this country focus their frustration and anger in this debate on "illegal immigrants." That they focus on those who are poorest and least economically and politically able to make a change in the situation. That is unless those people do as they are now, organize and work together in large numbers. This is not a problem of "illegal immigration." That is a bottom up approach to the problem. It is one that blames those who are victims of the problem. A top down approach sees it as a problem of corporate exploitation of undocumented poor people who have little choice if they want to have a home, clothes and food.

San Francisco Immigration March - 4/23/06

It is a problem that economic policy in both the US and Mexico created. NAFTA which was supposed to ease illegal immigration has made it worse. It enabled large corporate food producers to sell their goods in Mexico, putting small Mexican farms out of business. Those farmers had no choice but to find work wherever they could if they wanted to feed their families. They risked life and limb to come here out of desperation. And once they arrive they are exploited by the same corporate system that created the economic disaster in their own country.

As long as the problem is framed in terms of "illegal immigration", Lou Dobbs, it creates animosities that pit poor whites and the middle class in this country against poor Hispanics. Basically the poor against the poor. And it practically ignores the large corporations who created and ultimately benefit from it, raking in billions off the labor and suffering of desperate people. Focusing on the corporations who profit from it would fix the problem of illegal immigration in record time. But it would not fix the problem of those left in dire straits by disasterous economic policy. Those in the corporate owned media and the corporate owned politicians who frame this debate in terms of illegal immigration part of the problem. They know which side of the bread the butter is on. They will never bite the hand that feeds. You may occasionally hear one of them talk about corporate responsibility for this problem, but never as much as you will hear the words illegal immigrant. Words that play directly into the fears of the bigoted.

That is why these demonstrations and boycotts are being compared to the Civil Rights movement of the '50s and '60s. I only wish that people could be persuaded in the same numbers to demonstrate against the Iraq war and for saving those suffering in Darfur. This day is about more than missing immigrants for one day or forever. It's about justice for poor people. Si se puede!

Photo above by Michael Brandon. Immigration rally in downtown Manhattan 4/10/06.

No comments: