Before registering as a Democrat in 2008 so I could vote for Obama in the Oregon primary, I was "unaffiliated" for a long time. I like to march to my Independent Drummer rather than move in lockstep with what either the R's or D's are pushing politically at the moment.
Back in 2005 I locked arms with conservatives on illegals, saying "The right is right on immigration reform."
This being the holiday season, a time of brotherhood and good will, I’ve been searching my progressive soul for any political common ground that I have with the right-wing in America.
I’ve been listening more than I usually do to Tony Snow, Sean Hannity, Lars Larson, and Victoria Taft (a local Portland rightie) as I cruise around in my progressively pure Toyota Prius, wishing that I could harness the hot air emanating over the radio waves for even greater mileage.
There’s one issue—only one—that makes me nod in agreement when I hear it discussed on the conservative talk shows: immigration reform. Not Bush’s weenie guest worker version, but the hardass lock up the borders and send illegals home variety.
My reason, though, was environmental. The United States already has too many people, who suck up a hugely disproportionate share of the Earth's limited resources.
In 2006 I was still amazing myself by agreeing with Michael Savage, who I normally consider to be a right-wing-wacko talk show host -- but as I said back then, "Immigration reform brings strange days."
However, now I was focusing on the unholy alliance between big business and reform advocates. It bothered me that guaranteeing a continued supply of low cost labor to maximize profits was a prime motivating force behind Bush's immigration plan.
Now we come to 2010, and I'm blogging "Boycott Arizona and all the other crazy states."
Arizona, because it just passed a "show me your papers" anti-immigration law that even a Kansas editorial board called unworkable, likely unconstitutional, and clearly inhumane.
And today I was happy to see that key provisions of the law were struck down by a federal District Judge, Susan Bolton. Something has driven this leftie leftward when it comes to immigration policies.
I think the main reason is captured by the Take Our Jobs campaign of the United Farm Workers of America that I first learned about by watching a Stephen Colbert interview of UFW President Arturo Rodriquez (the interview is in the last segment of the video).
As Take Our Jobs says:
Agriculture in the United States is dependent on an immigrant workforce. Three-quarters of all crop workers working in American agriculture were born outside the United States. According to government statistics, since the late 1990s, at least 50% of the crop workers have not been authorized to work legally in the United States.
We are a nation in denial about our food supply. As a result the UFW has initiated the "Take Our Jobs" campaign.
Farm workers are ready to welcome citizens and legal residents who wish to replace them in the field. We will use our knowledge and staff to help connect the unemployed with farm employers. Just fill out the form to the right and continue on to the request for job application.
Rodriguez told Colbert that so far just three people have applied to be farm workers. Now, there's some reason to suspect that the UFW Take Our Jobs campaign is more a clever public relations maneuver than a serious attempt to have American citizens replace illegals in the fields.
Nevertheless, even with unemployment so high nationally, I haven't seen any evidence that non-Hispanics are clamoring to pick lettuce all day in 90-plus degree temperatures for minimum wage.
Until they are, it only seems fair to welcome immigrant workers -- legal or illegal -- who are willing to do the jobs that American citizens shun.
It'd be crazy to have the cost of fruits and vegetables skyrocket just to make a right-wing political point, like Arizona Governor Jan Brewer attempted to do with the ill advised struck-down S1070 bill.
Thomas Roach helped change my opinion about immigration reform with his excellent piece in the Portland Oregonian, "Myths Muddle the Immigration Morass." The myths are:
1. Illegal immigrants take American jobs.
2. Illegal immigrants don't pay taxes.
3. Illegal immigrants don't learn English or assimilate.
4. Illegal immigrants don't contribute to the U.S. economy. They just come here to get on welfare.
5. Illegal immigrants can and should apply to legally come in to work in the U.S.
6. Illegal immigrants commit a disproportionate percentage of crime.
7. Illegal immigrants abuse the health care system.
8. Illegal immigrants can and should be ferreted out and deported.
9. The illegal immigrant situation would be fixed if we just completed the fence along the southern border.
10. The proposed immigration reforms in Congress are just another "amnesty."
11. Americans don't support immigration reform.
12. Denying illegal immigrants driver's licenses will help solve the immigration problem.
13. If employers were required to verify the Social Security number of every employee, we could solve our illegal immigration situation.
14. A law like the new law in Arizona would solve our immigration situation.
15. Those people who are upset about the current immigration situation are racists.