Every Six Feet

Copyright © by Len Holman, 7/3/13


  The U.S. Senate passed what is called “sweeping legislation” on what is pretentiously called “immigration reform.”  CNN’s website called it potentially the crowning legislative achievement of the President’s second term.  If this to be Obama’s crowning legislative achievement, then the next Democratic contender for the White House will have some big explaining to do.  

  This bill is hailed as “fixing” a broken immigration system, and as a great achievement, but it is neither.  It fixes nothing and its great achievement is to anger, confuse, and turn off Latino voters in that continual merry-go-round called the American election “cycle.”  The bill establishes a 13-year path to citizenship, which, to me, is not a path at all, but a long hike up a steep mountain, ending in a horrific rockslide.  It raises the cap on high-skilled workers, so that when you call for info on your meds, the fractured English you hear will come from Nebraska, not Lahore, plus the added bonus of America’s giant tech companies getting new people for much less than they’d have to pay Americans to sit in front of a computer ten hours a day, to churn out yet more games for the Attention Deficit disorder America we now live in.  It establishes a new visa program for low-skill workers on America’s farms, which is good, since, I don’t usually pick my own green beans or potatoes or strawberries. 

  But the main thing in the bill, the sweetener, the item which is there to draw votes from conservatives, is good old border security.  This is a term which needs explaining.  It sounds as if there is no end to the mobs of illegal aliens pouring across the southern border of the U.S., even though crossings are at a forty year low.  It sounds like Al Qaeda is running teams of terrorists from Latin America to Arizona, California, and Texas.  It sounds like there is some national emergency which only the perspicacious, vigilant, and crafty U.S. Senate can spot and fix.  Part of this border protection is a fence about 700 miles long and the addition of perhaps 20,000 border patrol agents, probably deployed every six feet along the border to keep out the moms carrying babies and little kids carrying no water. 

  There will be high-tech monitoring (to the tune of over three BILLION dollars, billed as “upgrades” similar to the stuff used in Afghanistan and Iraq), and drones, of course, and underground monitoring, and maybe even squads of SEALS and Special Ops guys roaming the deserts and valleys along the border with live ammo and attitude.  We need to SEAL the border, not just secure it.  How high the fence will be is unknown, but it will be high enough to keep out even the tallest illegal person.  There will have to be a hardy electronic verification protocol in place and another hardy entry-exit visa check.  OK, and then?  THEN there will be a start to that path to…wait, maybe not. 

  Conservatives want to know what happens to those already in the country without permission of the Speaker of the House or Glenn Beck or someone really important.  Are there eleven million or twenty?  However many there are, they need to disappear, they need to go away, and not get what is being called “amnesty” by conservatives in the House. Speaker Boehner is petulantly refusing to even consider the Senate bill, telling the world that the house will do its OWN bill (so there!), and he won’t even consider a bill without a majority of Republicans signing on.  All of this, as the King told Anna, is a puzzlement.  Does the GOP seriously believe that they will fare better with Latino voters if they proudly pronounce their opposition to even a 13 year journey toward a green card?  Do they really think Latinos will vote Republican because Senator Rubio says HE likes it, or at least part of it?  If it’s going to take 13 years for this, that’s on top of the building of the fence and the dispensing of thousands of border agents, and the testing of the electronics, and the verification process for employers and the setting up of the English testing centers and the paying of taxes and penalties and fees, and whatever else there may be to have them all do.  Thirteen years?  More like 20 or more, minimum.  And this is supposed to turn out the Latino vote for the GOP?

  But, wait, the Dems are going all out for this one, so I wonder who will be left for the Latino  voter to mark a ballot for?  Since the Supreme Court has struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, maybe conservatives will go ahead with their re-drawn districts and voter suppression laws and that means they’ve learned nothing.  They are still playing to the white, male, very conservative voter, and that rules out the so-called “Big Tent” GOP that some like to think is the new wave of Republican thinking.  If I’m a man or woman with a family and have been in this country 20 years, have kids in college and/or the military, have scrubbed toilets and picked apricots and bought food and appliances and paid sales taxes, and grown accustomed to being in the United States, have contributed to the U.S. economy, do I really want to be told I’m still on the waiting list and that—if I am lucky and silent and invisible, and promise not to vote for any more Democrats—I MIGHT get a green card before my grandkids have kids of my own? 

  This program is akin to not only closing the barn door after the horse has left; it is building the barn after the horse has had several foals.  The undocumented are here and have been scrubbing our toilets, cleaning our pools, picking our food, babysitting our kids and walking our dogs for a very long time.  Big fences, high-tech, and a border agent every six feet will not change that, but it might guarantee that the GOP never gets another Latino vote.


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