Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

Barbara Ehrenreich's article on illegal immigrants is but one more example of the guilt-ridden white liberal who's willing to overlook criminal acts (illegals who use fake Social Security numbers are committing a felony) on the part of a minority group due to their victimhood. She and other like her such as the liberal establishment have permitted hordes of illegals to take over black neighborhoods in places like Los Angeles and do the their jobs for much lower cost. What's progressive about that?And as another letter writer commented, Barbara Ehrenreich shows her true racist colors by giving preference to illegals from Mexico or Guatemala over, say, Africans. If the goal is to give the poorest of the poor a chance, lets send boats to places like Africa and India and bring over hundreds of millions of their poor who are in much worse shape than Mexicans.

Vince Hamon-Enriquez

Los Angeles, CA

Jun 26 2007 - 2:06am

Web Letter

In my eighth year of sobriety I made it to a semester of community college six years ago at the age of 43. I couldn't afford to continue, however, because my physical strength wasn't enough to do some kind of OJT job where I'd gain skill at something like construction and move up the ladder. Working at temp jobs in construction labor as a helper I saw firsthand how big companies hire dozens of Hispanic undocumenteds through a patsy sub-contractor and then harass that guy for every last piece of work his "team" would get done, main contractors always holding out on the illegals while they pocketed huge bonuses because they would accomplish the work ahead of schedule and under cost.

Walking into the woods for going on three years now to sleep every night, my hands now no longer have the strength to do any menial job for very long, and as I approach my 51st birthday I am going to try to get shelter at some halfway house downtown in a probably dangerous neighborhood. While I've had my skull fractured twice from being asssaulted, maybe at least my likely next assailant will be a citizen from a neighborhood that's been neglected long enough to go on hating any white interlopers (both assaults on me were by African-Americans), because of course they never began with a level playing field, and all the civil rights in the world don't mean anything when there aren't any recruiters breaking down the doors in the inner city to try to keep blacks from making money in more entrepreneurial ways without the successful classes help. We know some of those entrepreneurial efforts result in extended prison terms because one race prefers a different form of one illicit drug in particular. The moral of the story? I would rather be next to an angry young black man that has a history than an illegal immigrant who is likely to support the kind of classism hurting people left back because of long ago addictions and a few poor life choices.

I've saved people from violence on a few occasions. I've written one really good poem that my PhD'd brother said was wistful, hopeful.. I've accepted long ago that although addiction is a disease, I no longer qualify for a government program that promised that I'd be educated after a four-year tour in the army. I've a slower ability to learn after the trauma to my head in the service but have no ability to prove this qualifies me for any additional help, educational or basic support. So many people that basically play by the rules can't afford the runaway inflation for tuition in any school, and unless you have health insurance through your job, I don't think most people really understand how far little health problems can set back the average poor person.

The dirty secret of immigration is that it's just a continuing form of discrimination that now merges both racism and class warfare. The least little investment the writer of the article I'm commenting on in her lawn care probably over a few years denies one or two legal contractors thousands of dollars they might have used to support education or health care for their families. Her argument about the contributions to the Social Security coffers are meaningless when we realize the true cost of actually having any system where immigrants seem assimilated enough to make a playing field in which the classes that are left behind aren't factored into the economic indicators used to advocate this laissez-fare treatment of labor. You can't imagine how really hard it is to do manual labor to feed oneself when we get older, and the fact it hasn't paid me enough to even afford to rent a roof over my head is just an example of not being willing to share a two-bedroom apartment with ten other men, or remaining trapped in a blighted community ignored by inflating health and education costs which are to a great extent the product of the tremendous demand for those services by the inflow of legal and illegal immigrants.

People that allow this to continue are reverse racists; they will allow any beefed-up border security to be sidetracked for the least little reason; they won't vote the admittedly massive resources it would really take to enforce the border or do decent background checks on the people already here. They've already got theirs, and want to go on getting the dividends received by cheap lawn care, construction labor and restaurant labor staring them right in the face every day. Even I don't want to pay $5 for a head of lettuce. But they won't meet me half-way. And so I'll fade away to my halfway house in the ghetto and forsake what it should have meant to be a citizen because they believe they have been given a privilege that's more important than a system of law.

Bret Erwin

Gaithersburg, MD

Jun 21 2007 - 6:07pm

Web Letter

Finish the sentence. Americans won't do this work...for a slave wage. Further, these people are paid peanuts by their employers, but given huge amounts of assistance from government programs paid by taxpayers--i.e., the Wal-mart Model. This is actually a formula for lucrative industries to be further subsidized by the government.

People who are for the immigration laws are sadly uninformed and demonstrate no understanding of the effects these immigrants will bring to the American working poor. This is a pure and simple formula to undermine wages at this economic level. Americans know too well that working at these slave wages are actually destructive to their well being. How? First of all, no one can work at these wages unless they are being supported by someone else. It's impossible to live on these wages, and so the person is forced to be someone's dependent in order to have the "luxury" of spending any time serving someone at this wage. Further these jobs never offer health care, so then again, you have to be supplied medical by a parent, spouse, or the government. Always at great hardships for these individuals.

For most all people at the lower economic levels there is no medical plan. We suffer and die without benefit of medical help. To add insult to injury, it is usually the case that these low-paying jobs are physically demanding while not offering medical benefits. People that bend and carry burdens, toil and clean filth, as well as have high exposure to manufacturing chemicals and agricultural toxins are asked to do so without benefit of medical services. If these workers become ill they are dismissed to whatever illnesses or injuries they aquired doing this work to fend for themselves like wild animals.

We need to honor these jobs as valid work worthy of a living wage...not find a way to justify paying people less than a living to do them. When Hitler begin his ethnic cleansing, he provided industry with free work provided by Jews sent to work camps who then were worked to death. This is a lesser form of the same formula.

I love people and I love ethnic diversity. I do not, however, love formulas that justify the belief that a human being is supposed to work without making enough money to live on even at the lowest level of poverty without medical care.

Leslie Nova

Spokane, WA

Jun 21 2007 - 3:12pm

Web Letter

My grandchildren are partly of Mexican ancestry. I live in a neighborhood that is increasingly becoming Hispanic. I have no problems with them. There are no gangs, and no criminal activity. They work hard and they are friendly. They are not the problem!

The problem is big business using them to drive down wages in this country. The multinationals are attempting to drive down wages in this country by outsourcing jobs and industries overseas, and in sourcing cheap labor, both legal and illegal, into this country. We now have over 300 million people in this country. I would think with 300 million people it would not be difficult to find the right people for every job. They are doing for this country what NAFTA did for Mexico. They are attempting to create a two-class system of the very wealthy and the working poor without a social safety net. The US, Mexico, and the world face the same problem, which is "free trade." Since I first read about Alexander Hamilton tariff policies in high school and benefited from them, I have been a protectionist. It was behind trade barriers that we became a major industrial power, and we can be one again. There is no reason why Mexico and the world cannot benefit from tariffs too. There is no independence without economic independence. The world economy cannot be controlled, but every country can control their little piece of the world.

Pervis J. Casey

Riverside, CA

Jun 20 2007 - 12:37pm

Web Letter

In response to Ms. Cisnero's web letter about lack of native-born workers lining up for the less desirable jobs: You pay me a living wage to pick tomatoes or strawberries, change bed sheets or mow lawns and I will gladly do those jobs. But don't use the lack of labor as a pretext to justify illegal people being used as slave-wage workers. Lack of native born labor is due to lack of a livable wage.

I cannot live in any town in the United States with a decent standard of living from picking strawberries at the wage offered. Get real!

Roy L. Payne

San Jose, CA

Jun 19 2007 - 10:55am

Web Letter

The issue here is plain and simple; those who have 'b-r-o-k-e-n the l-a-w of the l-a-n-d' with respect to immigration, are to be considered illegal aliens.

Let me break this down further using a simple metaphor; if some one is caught trying to enter a theatre or 'show' through the back-door without paying for the ticket like all the others are doing at the front,what happens to that person?? I think I have made my point.

To spin and twist the issue any other way, is to lie about the whole thing.

Paul Amigo

Appalachia, VA

Jun 18 2007 - 8:51pm

Web Letter

What is it exactly that Americans are willing to give up and maintain our current comfortable quality of life? Where are the lines of the strong and healthy in "legal" status waiting for the jobs to pick strawberries and tomatoes, in the packing houses that convert the tomatoes into ketchup, where are the lines of able bodied workers to wash the towels and sheets from hospitals and hotels, where are the lines of those who clean hotel rooms, and the lines of workers who care for the elderly in nursing homes and many who take care of kids? So what will you give up?

This is a complex issue and attacking Ehrenreich does not make it any less complex.

Rochelle Cisneros

Cocoa Beach, FL

Jun 17 2007 - 7:51pm

Web Letter

Stop trying to "fix" the old laws with complicated "new" laws--that will not be enforced any more than the old laws were. Repeal, redress or whatever it takes to get rid of NAFTA or any other free trade bill, with a fair trade bill (meaning only trade with countries that honor workers rights and a living wages). Enforce the laws we have, such as fining and/or imprisoning employers who hire illegal workers. Arrest those who have and are making or using illegal documents and those who let them. Double-check Social Security numbers. The problem would fix itself in a few years.

Susan Nelsen

Olympia, WA

Jun 17 2007 - 2:08pm

Web Letter

Radio Personality Thom Hartmann argues very succinctly that the population of "illegal" immigrants is silently supported by those who gain the most from the cheap labor. It is becoming more evident that the aims of the American oligarchy is to destroy the strength of the middle class by dissolving unions, allowing cheap labor to filter in through the borders and to send our manufacturing to cheap labor offshore. Many of us know that this country is becoming more fascistic day by day and we refuse to acknowledge it. I saw a bumper sticker that quoted: "If you're not appalled, you're not paying attention!"

Currently the best solution we have to protect our middle class is to solve the hiring of undocumented workers by fining the employers who hire illegal workers, place tariffs on products made off-shore by forced cheap labor, child labor and concentration work camps.

The ignorance of my fellow members on the "left" is to turn a blind eye to the practice of hiring illegal workers without having a notion about the strategies of the "right." The oligarchy wants to destroy the infrastructure of the middle class and create a native-born economic slave class in America, which is exactly what is on their agenda. What the left would be wise to do is educate those who are here illegally, particularly those from south of the border, to turn their own government around and stop bringing our society to a level of fiefdom with the creation of lords and serfs such as that experienced in tenth-century Europe.

I am disappointed that Barbara Ehrenreich would propose such a premise in support of the hiring of illegal immigrants, particularly when she experienced the greed and prejudice of the hiring of illegal immigrants and documented it in her book. Shame on you. Educate and send back the illegal people in our country, please don't ruin my country with claims of xenophobia.

Roy L. Payne

San Jose, CA

Jun 17 2007 - 11:59am

Web Letter

A completely emotional article brimming with wholly obvious abhorrent reverse racism.

The statistics used in the article are incredibly false and deliberately chosen (solely from the ACLU) to mislead the average reader.

We owe illegals nothing but the opportunity to gain lawful entry into the United States.

Barbara Ehrenreich, a Soros devotee, evidently lives in the twisted and foggy reality Soros and his Open Borders school of thought have created for the hobbled minds.

She's written thirteen books and I've never heard of her. I should be passing on this article as completely irrelevant. However, given her very dangerous and publicized stance on this position, it was incumbent upon me to comment.

Clementine Turnipseed

Long Beach, CA

Jun 16 2007 - 5:39pm