Our August 28/September 4 issue on immigration set off an avalanche of furious mail. We were lashed for using the term “nativist” to describe those who are anti-immigration, for not distinguishing between legal and illegal immigration, for criticizing CNN’s Lou Dobbs and for being out of touch generally with mainstream America.–The Editors
Nothing could better illustrate the left’s abandonment of the working class than your issue on “The New Nativism.” It is a long-established capitalist maneuver to pit groups of workers against one another to hold wages down and increase corporate profits. That is what is happening with the influx of undocumented workers allowed by the government’s neglect of immigration law. When I was a carpenter in the late 1970s, I earned $11.62 an hour. Now, if I wanted to, I could do the same work for $9 an hour, more than thirty years later! No, thanks.
By labeling concerns of American workers “nativism,” you dismiss those concerns as reactionary or invalid. Characterizing those concerns as racist or xenophobic allows you to ignore the economic impact on the working class while gallantly mounting your high horse in defense of the oppressed minority you prefer to focus on. You are playing into the multinational corporations’ agenda. Way to go.
I’m very liberal, and I know the liberal stand is to support immigrants. I do support legal immigrants. However, I can’t understand why The Nation defends illegal immigrants’ rights to enter this country, work here and receive the same rights and privileges as law-abiding American citizens and immigrants who have entered this country legally. I would have liked an article devoted to the failed NAFTA and CAFTA policies that have created the conditions that drive people to endure the perils and hardships of illegally entering the United States. Or you could have discussed how the corporate lobbyists have twisted government’s arm to keep minimum wages low and propose “guest worker status.” Or how almost nothing is done to force companies to be accountable for employing illegal immigrants.
Palm Bay, Fla.
As a longtime reader of your wonderful magazine I confess I am dumbfounded by your stance on illegal immigration. Your characterization of people who are anti-illegal immigration as racists is unfair and untrue. Like myself, most are just working stiffs. I’m a plumber, trying to hold on to my job and a way of life I grew up with. Like being able visit an emergency room without having half the people there not only unable to speak English but also not able to pay their bill.
DAVID L. BRANEN
All who oppose illegal immigration are not right-wing racist extremists. I myself am black. And those of us in the lower depths are definitely negatively affected–not only by the downward pressure on wages but by the fact that a requirement for many jobs now is the ability to speak Spanish!