Friday, January 07, 2011

Immigration: The New Tea Party Wedge Issue

I’ve been watching the progression of the rightwing hard line stance on immigration for a couple of years now. I am continually amazed at how it is evolving.

Case in point. A couple of years ago we had the right, including some moderates, all advocating immigration reform and border security. Amnesty was off the table. Send all eleven million of them (or is it twelve million) back to Mexico – because in illegal immigration issues, the issue isn’t whether an Australian national has overstayed his visa, it’s whether some brown-skinned alien is working within the US and sending money home to Mexico.

Not that they really wanted to send anyone home back to Mexico. Not that they really wanted to build the equivalent of a Berlin Wall from Brownsville to Chula Vista. It just made good theater and it made such a good wedge issue to differentiate themselves from their bleeding heart liberal colleagues in the halls of congress and the legislatures of Border States.

But now the issue seems to have evolved, and evolved in a perfectly predictable way. Because even back then there were business-oriented conservatives who were moving around backstage warning these yahoos about keeping the rhetoric down because illegal aliens are very good for the economy. An economy that pays them miserably, but compared to what they can earn back home, what they do get paid is truly like manna from heaven.

And now the backstage whisperings have come to the forefront. Arizona and its rightwing reactionary Teabagger governor saw to that.

Since passage of Arizona’s infamous SB 1070, and the federal injunctions that have ensued the reactionary rightwing of Texas, personified by State Rep Debbie Riddle (R - Tomball) has brought this whole issue to center stage. Arizona-like bills are being filed left and right.

This is alarming to moderate conservative business-oriented Republicans, according to this article in the Austin American-Statesman, because businessmen see these bills as detrimental to business and economic recovery.

Bill Hammond, executive director of the Texas Association of Business, usually an advocate of Republican-friendly causes, possibly taking a lesson from what happened to Arizona in the fallout that occurred after SB 1070’s passage, is afraid that among other things, passage some of these bills would result in a downturn in convention business as well as investments in Texas businesses.

It is so strange, though, to see that the Texas Association of Business, a Republican haven, is now marching arm-in-arm with the ACLU of Texas. Not for the same reasons, but in the end it isn’t motivation that unites them, it is results. Neither want to see these oppressive anti-Hispanic bills passed into law.

Funny how politics sometimes make strange bedfellows.

What will be fun for me, and I consider myself very much on the sidelines here, is watching as the Republican right wing reactionaries start jousting with the business-oriented “can’t-we-all-just-get-along” moderates. Because immigration and illegal aliens is still a wedge issue, but not one that separates the left from the right. It now separates the reactionary rightwing from the center-right moderates.

In the past, this issue has been used as a  bloody shirt to wave in order to deflect public interest away from the issues of true import, as in the fact that the number one issue that faces the Texas legislature is not immigration, not by a long shot – it’s the $25 billion budget shortfall. But now, I’m pretty sure that this isn’t the case because if it were I’d be angry over this. Instead I am absolutely delighted that the right has brought this up and will eagerly anticipate the public barbecuing in the Republican Party, a festivity that is going to develop in the very near future and hopefully manifest itself in several forms.

1 comment:

Chad said...

My ultimate question is to whether (and how, EXACTLY - in sound economics terms) would giving min. wage jobs (that are currently taken by illegals) to american citizens be bad for the economy. Yes, the price of labor would go up, which would drive up prices of goods and services. But unemployment would also go down. We'd have a resurgence of Americans doing laborious jobs, the way our parents did. I'm a green card visa holder, and I'm very curious about this.