It’s time for Democrats Suck: The Immigration Reform Edition. Here’s a clip from my latest Salon essay:
When Republicans stand strong on principles while Democrats obsess about political practicality, Democrats repeatedly concede too much and Republicans repeatedly win more than policy and politics would otherwise dictate. The immigration reform markup is only the latest example of this larger, depressing state of affairs.
Read the rest here.
UPDATE: Here is a response the Daily Kos’ Markos Moulitsas wrote in response to my piece. An important discussion for all of us to be having. And I think if we don’t have this discussion, the Democrats will continue to feel free to sell out their base with no fear of consequences.
From my latest essay for the Fox News opinion page:
When my great, great grandparents came to America from Europe a century ago, they didn’t get in line. They just got on a boat.
They didn’t get visas in their home countries or secure jobs in their new homeland. They just got on a boat carrying few possessions but their hearts and minds overflowing with abundant faith in the vision of opportunity for all enshrined in America’s founding documents and evolving history ever since.
You can read the full essay here.
I am proud of America.
Though we have long dangled the promise of the American Dream in front of the world, we have more recently too often used our nation’s promise to taunt others. In a world of economic struggle, in no small part created by policies pushed by big business through our government onto the globe, millions have come to see America as an oasis of bread and water amidst strife. It may be a mirage, as poverty within America is growing, but still, millions come to America looking for sustenance and salvation, only to be condemned and told to get in the back of a line that has been far too long and far too broken for far too long.
For some time now, American businesses have actively subverted our nation’s laws in order to lure low-wage immigrant workers and increase their corporate bottom line. But those on the Right don’t attack big business for this dynamic, they blame those poor and desperate enough to follow the trail of crumbs the businesses set. Somehow, immigrant workers who are picking our fruit and cleaning our homes are stealing from America, but millionaires and billionaires who pay lower taxes than the rest of us are just keeping what they earned. It strikes me as profoundly hypocritical that conservatives who repeatedly proclaim themselves the defenders of patriotism and American history so blatantly lionize our nation’s kings but vilify its immigrants. King George III gained his wealth and power through entirely legal means and was the rightful leader of the American colonies, while Christopher Columbus was an undocumented immigrant. But American history firmly sides with the latter.
Of course, with President Obama’s executive order to halt deportations of young, undocumented immigrants and students, we’re not even talking about the hardworking mothers and fathers who came to our great country looking for hope and possibility. We’re talking about their kids, who were brought here when they were two years old, three years old, maybe 10 or 11, for whom America is all they have ever known. These are the so-called easy cases, the most sympathetic immigrants among our nation’s undocumented, the kids who only speak English and want to be able to go to college to become doctors or teachers or entrepreneurs. But still, those on the Right attack these young Americans as law breaking criminals who steal jobs from rightful Americans. Wall Street executives who drained billions in wealth from middle class families? Model citizens. Young Americans who want the same opportunities my great-grandparents sought? “Illegals” we should lock up and deport. Policy disagreements aside, the sort of inhumanity with which the Right wing talks about undocumented immigrants in America reflects a deep nastiness that darkens the heart of our nation.
Apparently, conservatives think the free market should not be free and open to everyone. Apparently, conservatives think that economic opportunity should be doled out according to a first-come, first served policy, not hard work. Apparently, they think wealth is not a zero-sum game when it comes to taxing the rich but jobs and opportunity are finite when it comes to the poor. Apparently, they think that more people working hard doesn’t multiply opportunity but somehow depletes it.
Economic opportunity is indeed elusive in America. But somehow, many feeling that insecurity take comfort in or at least overlook the notion of a growing class of robber barons yet are deeply threatened by Latino/a immigrants coming to America to work for less than the minimum wage. Over the last several decades, productivity in America has risen while real wages have declined. That is simply not the fault of immigrants. But perhaps blaming immigrants is easier than blaming our entire economic system, which is increasingly designed to bilk working class and middle class families for the benefit of the very rich. But I can’t help but wonder… if conservatives were right, if all the undocumented immigrants left the United States tomorrow and unemployed Americans took all those mostly-crappy, low-paying jobs, so that the already-profound gap between high income and low-income earners were to yawn even wider and the wealth gap increase, is that the Right’s idea of a solution? Sounds infinitely worse to me than treating our fellow human beings with basic decency and extending them the opportunity that we have so long held out for the world’s awe.
President Obama did the right thing. I wish he’d done it sooner. Providing a path to citizenship for America’s undocumented immigrants was supported by President George W. Bush and, incidentally, last enacted by President Ronald Reagan. So at the very least, I hope that conservative vitriol against undocumented immigrants has more to do with President Obama supporting them than any inherent, inhuman nastiness. I hope… Regardless, I am very proud of America and very proud to share her promise more broadly.
I’m thrilled that the United States helped dissident activist Chen Guangchen flee China. Now why aren’t we as hospitable to other immigrants who want to come to America, including undocumented immigrants seeking a better life for their families? Questions raised by this infographic:
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