Monday, June 12, 2006

Immigration, the new magic wedge issue?

Why did the immigration problem bubble to the top as of late? Who brought it up and made it a problem we must deal with right NOW? Was it something on your list of concerns? Did you even think about it before the president brought it up?

Probably not. It probably didn’t cross your mind until recently. Could it be that immigration is the real wedge issue this time around? I think it might be, and I also think this is another of Rove’s magic tricks. The president brings it up as a hot button issue. The base gets fired up because they want no sort of amnesty. The president who is not running again takes a middle of the road approach, allowing the Republican house to break with him and show they support a much stronger position, one just short of deporting anyone who is here illegally. The Democrats tend to lean much closer to the president.

Are the Republican’s base the only ones with a strong anti-immigration feeling? No, I don’t think so. I think there are plenty on the left who quietly feel the same way, whether they talk about it or not. Yet the perception is that Democrats are soft on illegal immigrants.

So bet on the strong Republican candidates coming out heavy and tough on immigration because they believe their base is with them, plus a few and perhaps enough of the Democrats and Independents too. So where does that leave Democratic candidates?

I doubt we’ll hear much about immigration after the November elections, with wedge issues you never do. They are temporary fuel for a fire that’s later left to burn out and turn to ash. They can be restarted whenever they’re needed.

Sadly this may be the deciding factor in November, and if it is, it doesn’t portend well for the Democrats.

Please let me be wrong!

29 Comments:

Blogger Jamie said...

Good Morning PoP,

As it happens, I am one of those people who vote Democratic and for whom illegal immigration is a big issue. It was an issue long before the Reps decided to turn it into the next shiny thing.

Unfortunately, you are right. The leaders of the Democratic party come across as squishy, altruists holding "Welcome to America" signs for anyone who manages to get across a border. They totally ignore what has been a economic disaster for at least the past 25 years and, certainly, a security hazard for at least a decade.

No country can survive as a sovereign nation unless it can control access. Legal immigration is a wonderful thing and in many ways the heartbeat of this country, but it is not good for either the nation or the immigrant unless the system is legal with the maximum benefit to those striving for success and those providing the doorway to their dreams.

June 12, 2006 5:10 AM  
Anonymous Knox Rover said...

I think about it all of the time because I live 11 miles from the Mexican border and have to deal with the ramifications of illegal immigration every day. People here are glad that the issue is finally getting some nationwide attention, though I think that people back East still don't understand the full extent of the problem (kinda like trying to understand exactly what it's like to be a soldier on the streets of Iran from your living room in Des Moines). I know that I didn't know about half of what goes on with illegal immigration when I lived in Tennessee until I moved to San Diego.

A lot of California Democrats like me would consider voting for Republicans over this issue. Funny thing, though, the Gropenfurher has really waffled around on this issue, acting like a "girly man." He's lacking his usual bluster.

June 12, 2006 5:28 AM  
Blogger spadoman said...

Political ramifications aside, the "wedge" is driven into the side of the beast hard and often by this administration. I don't want to give them, the repubs, this much praise. Surely this isn't a strategy?

Why is there no grand announcement about the corporations that hire illegals and how we will deal with them? All the strife is placed at the blame of the immigrant.

Let's face facts. In all the parades and protests, ANYONE with a latin face is looked at as an illegal immigrant. Even if American citizens of Latin descent were there, it was "look at those illegals".

It's the same with Muslims as our enemy. This administration fuels this divide and conquer set-up constantly. Look at the Flag issue. Fly it, you're good to go. Don't fly it and you're against the troops. I sincerely belive they want to keep any people other than "white" down and under their thumbs.

When people see this and realize it, much of the problem will be gone.

June 12, 2006 5:36 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

A border patrolman is being charged with accepting bribes according to the late news Saturday. Didn't hear any more about it yesterday. The Saturday report said the partolman was turning his back and letting vehiles buldging with illegals just drive in. Of course that was for a fee, $1,500 per head.

Let's do the arithmetic. If the vehicle has 10 illegals then the patrolman was getting, $15,000 for doing nothing. Looking at it from another angle, it cost the border agent 15 grand to do work, stop and turn back or arrest the occupants. So the border patrol is either the best paying government job there is or the highest cost place there is to work if one holding the position chooses to actually work.

Is there such a thing as a temptation too great to be resisted? I would wager that a vast majority would take the money. All who think immigration is a God given right for sure. That suggests that screening the border patrol applicants for a "keep'em out" attitude is also required. One can lie about one's attitude of course.

Now we see why Bush's, $2,000 fee isn't well received. It's too high. He needs to lower the price of his ticket. There's competition.

The obvious thing to do is set up a ticket booth at the border and charge a fee to get in. What we are seeing is just that, unofficially. We're paying the ticket seller and he's keeping all the money for himself too. Next thing we'll find out is that he's not paying any income taxes on it either. Yep. We're getting screwed every way possible. As usual.

June 12, 2006 5:44 AM  
Blogger SB Gypsy said...

I lived in So Cal long enough to know how illegal immigration boggs down the economy, but if there were no "jobs that americans won't do" available, they would not risk their lives and families by crossing some of the worst badlands the planet provides in order to come here to work.

The solution is not amnesty, or passes. The solution is going after the people who take advantage and hire the illegals. They are the ones who are gaming the system. If they had no desperate people to cheat, they would have to pay a living wage, and the job would not go begging, no matter how dirty it is.

June 12, 2006 6:39 AM  
Blogger SB Gypsy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

June 12, 2006 6:52 AM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Spadoman,

You are absolutely right that the emphasis needs to be placed on the business people who do the hiring. They are the ones who should be punished. Then there is the matter of identity theft. If someone knowingly assists in the commission of a felony, that means jail time.

As a life long westerner, I will say that Hispanics who have been here since before their was a U.S. and official citizens since the Spanish American ware as well as those who came legally since that time really, really resent being lumped in with illegal aliens. You do not stop the prejudice by assisting those who break the law. You do it by rewarding and respecting those who do it right.

The lack of enforcement is what sets up the climate of fear towards Hispanics, muslims, asians etc. It is one thing to encourage and welcome immigration from many societies and traditions. It is another to create a climate of criminality.

June 12, 2006 9:40 AM  
Blogger eProf2 said...

PoP, this is one of the most complex issues we as a society and as human beings face. I agree with you that this hasn't been a particularly hot issue until this year and I have no idea from whence came the urgency. Migration from Latin America (think Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic on the east coast and Mexico, Central America on the west coast) has increased significantly in the past thirty years. Yet, the unemployment rate for the US as a whole is about as low as you can go without declaring "full employment." See the stories on college grads facing a great hiring boom this year. Employers are not only hiring undocumented workers but native born and legal migrant peoples too.

There isn't enough room on this comments section to go into all the variants of this issue here. It is, indeed, a wedge issue, as we saw in the CA 50 election recently, and will be near the top of the fall election issues after the war, gas prices, and post-Katrina America. The latter issue will be a really hot one should you and your neighbors get hit with another severe hurricane season.

I hope opposition candidates to the Republican majorities can find the words and the grace to put a human face on the issue instead of giving into demonizing, for the most part, innocent and decent people.

And, yes, Jamie, Hispanic folks who have been here for a long, long time are being profiled as part of the problem. Using my family as a micro view of the issue, we have been identifying with the Mexican migrants more and more as the politicians become more and more xenophobic about their rights as Americans. Thus, hundreds of thousands Hispanics and others turned out for the demonstrations in May to register their solidarity with their kin folks on both sides of the border.

June 12, 2006 10:32 AM  
Blogger Kathleen Callon said...

Hey you,

Just heard about the hurricane abrewin' near you and just wanted to let you know I'm thinking about you. Hope it dies down and/or misses you.

June 12, 2006 10:36 AM  
Blogger The Future Was Yesterday said...

I see I'm late to catch the comment train. Immigration most assuredly IS and will be a campaign issue - but only for those in states where it is a big problem. Like the commenter in San Diego who's ready to vote with the Republicans. Dude, you are getting sucked in a con job! In other states, the issue will be Gay Marriage. In yet others, it will be flag burning. "All politics are local." That is a truism. And when all is said and amplified and resaid on "Meet The Press", election year "solutions" will be applied as always, which means temporary bandaids that always come off after the elections. We shouldn't fool ourselves into thinking a Democrat in that office will change things. They are bought and paid for by the very same lobbyists who now own the Republicans. Lobbyists know they have to pay x dollars. Who gets it, they could care less.

This bleeding heart "let's cuddle them crap" is a large part of what has got us to this point. We have nobody to blame but ourselves. A person sneaking into this country illegally is committing a crime. We don't give somebody that breaks into our home free health care and housing....it dumbfounds me why we are for these criminals! If you are here illegally, You Are A Criminal! I don't want to hear all the crap about jobs Americans won't do. If You Are Here Illegally, You Are A Criminal!! We have many laws already in place to deport known criminals. These people are known criminals. It starts and ends there. What is so hard about that, people???
TUA

June 12, 2006 10:38 AM  
Blogger Kathy said...

The Democrats would be wise to keep pointing their fingers at the employers who created this problem, particularly since the Republicans and Bush appear to be giving them amnesty too. Prosecutions against employers is down since Bush took office and I'm sure that is by design. It's a double standard and one that infuriates me.

I don't think we should punish the illegals who took advantage of a system that turned a blind eye, but we should be going after the businesses and people who took advantage of the system and created this mess.

June 12, 2006 11:23 AM  
Blogger Trial.Lawyer.Richard said...

POP: I fear you are right. What happened in the San Diego race for U.S. House Representative was telling. I saw interview after interview of voters that said they voted GOP due to the Immigration Issue.

I keep going back to this, but this is what happens when a party like the Democrats stay in "passive mode." They think that just being "not Republican" will be enough to win in November. Their failure to have a visionary plan, something the voters can identify the party with, makes them subject to whatever issues come down the pike.

The Republicans will not lay down. They have more fight in them than the Dems realize. The Democratic Party needs to wake up and get some urgency. They need to sharpen their message and not start worring about "who will be the Speaker of the House when we win."

Rich

June 12, 2006 11:36 AM  
Blogger Frederick said...

I'm thinking of getting some kind of camera so I can v-log from the border at El Paso and bring a little reality into this debate.

mccs1977

June 12, 2006 12:14 PM  
Blogger glenda said...

Fred...hope to get to hear from you. Let me know if you ever make it to Austin.

PoP, I think you are right about this. It's an election year gambit. Nothing can be taken seriously in an elction year.

June 12, 2006 3:42 PM  
Anonymous ds said...

Patricia, I've been thinking the same thing since immigration exploded out of almost nowhere as the hottest issue.

This article seems an appropriate link for the topic. It's an interview with one of the Republicans involved in the phone jamming scam in NH in 2002.

But he said the scheme reflects a broader culture in the Republican Party that is focused on dividing voters to win primaries and general elections. He said examples range from some recent efforts to use border-security concerns to foster anger toward immigrants to his own role arranging phone calls designed to polarize primary voters over abortion in a 2002 New Jersey Senate race.

``A lot of people look at politics and see it as the guy who wins is the guy who unifies the most people," he said. ``I would disagree. I would say the candidate who wins is the candidate who polarizes the right bloc of voters. You always want to polarize somebody."

June 12, 2006 3:49 PM  
Blogger Reflections said...

Illegal immigrants have been around for lots of years. I was in the job corps in the early 60's in San Marcos Texas. Most of the civilian labor there were mexican. I remember seeing immigrants on tv and movies long before that.
I agree that immigration should be done legally. But now a days we seem to feel that they are getting a free ride somehow. Do we remember the abuse they have lived with on farms, poisoned by pesticides, killed at some farms. Remember the union guy who uncovered those things?
Yes we should go after businesses that hire them, yet we have to be prepared for higher prices, some times much higher, if they can find people to do the work in thoses conditions.
It is an issue now because of politics. Bush is trying to show that he is doing something, and to take the heat off Iraq the economy, oil, scandal and on and on.
Do we really think 6,000 National Guard on the boarder is going to stop the flow? They are in support roles to begin with.
And what about Mexico, their government is making maps to help people get here. Why not a hue and cry about that and how do you fight it?
The issue is not as simple as it seems. Again I am not soft on immigration I am just pointing out the issues.

June 12, 2006 4:43 PM  
Blogger Peacechick Mary said...

I can't believe I got in here. I've been trying all day and Blogger kept flaking out. Anyway, agreed, the Rovarians came up with the right term to push - illegal aliens rather than illegal immigrants. I object to the term aliens as it makes them sound like things from outer space rather than people who are trying to live. Hope you're high and dry.

June 12, 2006 5:24 PM  
Blogger windspike said...

Can we get a wedgie issue instead? Preferably delivered directly to the president and his staff of numb nuts in the white house

June 12, 2006 8:08 PM  
Blogger spadoman said...

Oh, I forgot. I guess if you can pitch a baseball around 95 miles per hour, you can get a good paying job in the United States no matter where you're from. That includes Cuba.

June 12, 2006 8:29 PM  
Blogger Rex Kramer, Danger Seeker said...

If I know Rove (and I do, as he's been my regular bridge partner now for six years,) the real wedge issue is gay marriage. Let's see where the liberals stand on gay marriage between illegal immigrants!

June 12, 2006 8:35 PM  
Blogger Time said...

Yes, it's illegal. To what degree? Some make it sound like murder. Some think no punishment is needed.

Wedge issue, what isn't. If it wasn't, they wouldn't be talking about it.

June 12, 2006 9:24 PM  
Blogger thepoetryman said...

Okay. I will let you be wrong! :>)

June 12, 2006 9:29 PM  
Blogger Endorendil said...

Hm. 22 comments and only one indirect mention of the underlying problem. Most of these people don't come to the US for fun. They have little or no other choice. Immigrating to a country where you don't speak the language and don't share much of the culture is very, very hard. If you are visually different from the majority of the population, this forms an additional hurdle. If these people had a realistic alternative, many of them would go back.

So the logical position on immigration should be to focus on raising Mexican living standards. At least as an integral part of the solution. No?

Apparently not. You won't hear Democrats argue that position. Much easier to focus on how hard-working people are being exploited, how businesses are chewing them up and spitting them out. It's the equivalent of the Republicans focussing on criminal elements, vague security concerns and the lot.

The simple truth is that both sides love wedge issues, because it allows them to avoid taking realistic, thoughtful positions. Much easier and much more effective in a sound-bite world.

So, vote third party! If no third party candidate is present, write one in! Can't do that? Spoil the ballot, by writing on it in BIG letters "GIVE ME A CHOICE!!!".

Otherwise elections will continue to be decided based on a few cultural hot-button issues.

June 13, 2006 12:23 AM  
Blogger Silly Adventures said...

Hi PoP,

thanx for dropping by at my blog. I put I some more pix and will add additional ones over the next couple of days. Have a great time. And thanks for sparking the great thinking and all the commnets on imigration.

June 13, 2006 12:45 AM  
Blogger Katharine said...

Where I live now, on New York State's Long Island, there are plenty of absurdly rich white people who are American citizens; I am one of the token middle-class white people. But there are also plenty of Mexican, Ecuadorian, and
Salvadoran immigrants—some citizens here, some not—on Long Island, working for peanuts paid by all of those fat-cat white folks.

I spent most of the first 21 years of my life in a suburb of Houston, Texas. While I was in college, I had a part-time job in the office of a grocery store that was part of a national chain of stores. In that office, I cashed many a Brown & Root paycheck for undocumented Mexican workers and learned to say "No dinero" when the allotment of office funds for cashing those checks ran out for the day. Brown & Root has been subsumed by Halliburton, the company Dick Cheney, who's now for closing U.S. borders, once led. He was plenty
happy to pay those Mexicans then, but now he wants 'em gone?

My sister, the Realtor with her fancy, expensive home, and my brother, the financially struggling IT professional, still live in the Houston area where the three of us grew up. I know from them what life (including the influx of immigrants) is like there.

I still do not see the need to treat Mexicans who would like to earn enough money to feed their families as criminals.

June 13, 2006 5:20 AM  
Blogger The Pagan Temple said...

This is going to be the issue that might keep the Democrats from taking over both houses or either house of Congress, or at the very least will keep their gains down to the level they won't be able to accomplish much. Then in '08 anything that has gone wrong will be blamed on the ostructionist, do-nothing Democrats.

And it's all so pointless and self-defeating on their part. All they have to do is agree to comprehensive border security. Americans want to make sure that is implemented before any other immigration policy, and if it isn't, the Democrats are going to be the ones to suffer for it, and probably rightly so. Stupid.

June 13, 2006 5:22 AM  
Blogger Callooh said...

"a person's a person no matter how small" - Dr Seuss

or what country they are from.

I too am an immigrant, but my white skin and light brown hair let me blend in - I am treated well. with only the odd Canadian joke when someone picks up my 'accent'.

I'm with endorendil - Demand Choice, this 2 party clown show is a farce and it's women, children, immigrants, minorities and the environment that bear the brunt end of it.

June 13, 2006 7:35 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

I made a similar comment on "Right Angle Blog" about the border partolman being caught taking bribes as the one I made above. Well, not exactly the same. In both cases I was noticing the irony and the humor involved. At "Right Angle" I noticed the "free enterprise system." Just as suspected, they have no sense of humaor at all.

June 13, 2006 1:31 PM  
Blogger Left of Center said...

well, from what I've read, Bush has aways been pro immigrant since he was governor of Tx. I dont think he has changed his veiw on the matter. Rove of course will make hay of anything. Looking for the next padawan he is.

June 27, 2006 7:49 AM  

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