Friday, May 19, 2006


One Step Closer To The Police State

In which the Cato Institute joins the ACLU in saying that Bush's plans for putting troops on our borders is a violation of posse comitatus.

I found the plan for additional equipments to be interesting also:

Bush Turns to Big Military Contractors for Border Control
May 17

"The quick fix may involve sending in the National Guard. But to really patch up the broken border, President Bush is preparing to turn to a familiar administration partner: the nation's giant military contractors.
Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, three of the largest, are among the companies that said they would submit bids within two weeks for a multibillion-dollar federal contract to build what the administration calls a "virtual fence" along the nation's land borders."


It's looking exactly like another boondoggle to shift money from the U.S. Treasury to Bush's cronies, isn't it?
(Aside: MEC, PW, redcat is one of the posters at William Arkin's Washington Post blog. One of the few whose comments I look for).

I think things like the border fence are what the Chinese called this "The Iron Rice Bowl." Guaranteed employment for loyal Party members.

The Wall in Israel shows that one can control population flows. The cost is that you militarize your nation, create sustained grievances, and inflame destructive nationalistic passions on both sides of the wall.
The lack of media coverage and recognition from both parties about the planned, high-tech border surveillance programs is curious. One would think that certain Republicans would want to turn this information into a talking point for the administrarion to counter the 'partial fence/troops are not enough' argument. They would, however, have to admit that particular government/military contractors are going to profit, once again, from a decision made by the administration, as MEC suggests. I suspect that they will 'announce' the programs nonetheless in an effort to impress their currently irritated base of supporters.

The Dems options are somewhat limited regarding this issue, IMHO. Criticizing the programs could be perceived as meaning that the Dems are weak or uninterested in border control. Alternately, publicly supporting them could be perceived as meaning that they, too, are interested in ensuring the future profitability of particular government contractors. Perhaps that is why they have refrained from comment.

Hmmm. Interesting point, redcat.

House Democrats: More border agents (emphasizing deficiencies on our northern border and a unified watchlist.

DNC: Fair immigration reform. Seriously. That's the whole statement!

I guess the strategy is to let the Republicans flail. Either that, or they have no clue either.
Looks like only Molly Ivins is saying publicly that the way to discourage illegal immigration is to go after and punish the employers who hire undocumented workers. The underlying problem isn't the people who cross the border illegally. It's the people who give them the incentive.

It's looking more and more like the War on Some Drugs. Punish the little people so you look like you're doing something about the problem -- even though it is completely ineffective for reducing the problem.
I'm not sure I would simplify what is a complex issue to the point of saying that it's just a matter of employers, MEC. That's a major, major factor in illegal immigration, but the whole picture is fascinating and complex.

First, you have many families who arrived and settled in the southwest before the Pilgrims landed. The Native Americans, of course, but also many Hispanics. While there were some land disputes between the two groups, they had pretty well worked things through by the time of the American invasion. These people have family on both sides of the border and, while many have chosen to assert their European heritage and American identity, it's beyond possible to do so for people who have close kin living on the Rez. For those who identify as Hispanics, the American southwest is occupied Mexico. For those who identify as Indians, it's paradise before the Europeans came and %$#^% it up. One finds the fascinating practice of Indians who trade up and down the Rocky Mountains, across both borders, in much the style they did before Columbus.

Except they drive pickups and listen to country western.

More common is the family along the Texas border (or other border states). Many of them can remember a few decades ago when they walked across to visit family living a few miles away. The point is that these people don't recognize the border. In their eyes, it's the US government that is behaving unlawfully by restricting the flow of people who want to visit their friends and relatives.

Now, well-established Hispanic communities are all over the US, not just in the southwest. One stumbles across them in North Carolina, Iowa, even the Great Lakes states. These date back generations, and they often retain some connection to other Hispanic communities despite extensive acculturation.

Next you have the supply side pressures from Latin America-- the political repression, the dirty wars, the unemployment that official statistics never seem to capture, the low wages. Now, the US likes to wash its hands of this. Occasionally there will be a Congressional investigation or a Truth Commission that pries loose facts about US complicity, but for the most part, this story remains untold. Whatever one believes, it's awfully d--n convenient for certain US economic interests that low-wage labor is desperate to immigrate.

And so on the demand side, with employers going down to Mexico and recruiting, the hypocrisy becomes evident. The left wing magazine In These Times did a good expose on Iowa Beef (IBP), how they sent recruiters to central Mexico to hand out flyers advertising jobs and benefits.

There's the trade in contraband. The American government doesn't admit this, but many Americans who vacation in Mexico are smugglers. It used to be common practice to drive down to Mexico, sell the car, report it stolen, and collect from the buyer and the insurance company alike. I was told of one fellow who drove down with a freezer full of weapons and back with a freezer full of drugs... tastefully covered by fish he had caught on the smuggling jaunt. Now I don't doubt there's mass smuggling of prescription drugs.

The problem I foresee is that Bushco will go after smaller employers, like building contractors, while mysteriously managing to miss GOP contributors. Or employers will start importing Chinese, Vietnamese, Canadians-- whoever and play one group against one another.

The proper way to control the border is to focus on scofflaw employers-- but also to end the US role in creating the supply.

One further note: consider that the US-Mexican border was created roughly 150 years ago. Consider that there is still resentment of that occupation.

Now, compare to Iraq.
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