Note: If you are tired of major issues like this getting no coverage in the face of a media blackout and thus you would like to see my nationally syndicated column in your local paper, see the bottom of this post on what to do to make that happen. - D
The debate taking place in America over illegal immigration is not just overheated. As I discuss in my new nationally syndicated column out this past Friday, the debate is dishonest. Both parties are trying to focus attention on the illegal immigration issue in order to distract attention from the underlying problem of worker exploitation and regressive economic/globalization policies that intensify the exploitation. We see it most often from Republicans, but we saw it just last week from Democrats at the presidential debate, as that debate only addressed the immigration issue from a punitive standpoint (driver's licenses, etc.) - rather than discussing the root of the issue, which is economic exploitation of all workers.
The fact is, both Democrats and Republicans know that exploitation is at the heart of illegal immigration, but neither party is really willing to confront that exploitation because that would mean confronting their big corporate donors who are profiting off the status quo. And so, taking a scapegoat play out of the Reagan and Clinton playbooks, the con artists in both parties are trying to channel Americans' intense anger at Big Money interests into a rage at illegal immigrants.
This is particularly disgusting on the Democratic side, mainly because the Democratic Party is supposed to be the party of the little guy, and of fairness. Instead, it is becoming the party of Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) - the former investment banker and NAFTA architect who is cravenly trying to protect the moneyed interests that have underwritten his political career by playing to the ugliest societal instincts. The whole debate is about how much or little to punish undocumented workers - rather than about how to punish the moneyed interests that are abusing all workers, undocumented or otherwise.
Clearly, illegal immigration is a serious issue that needs to be addressed - but simply bashing illegal immigrants or proposing punitive measures against them doesn't go the root problem, nor will it solve the issue.
But then, perhaps neither party wants to get to the root of the problem. Maybe both parties want a scapegoat to take take heat off the interests writing the big campaign checks. That would be a real tragedy, especially considering polls show that the American public is ready to embrace the kind of populist power-challenging politics that would be required to beef up wage/workplace safety enforcement and reform our globalization policies so that they lift up all workers, rather than crushing them and exacerbating the illegal immigration problem.
Go read the full column here. And if you'd like to see my column regularly in your local paper, use this directory to find the contact info for your local editorial page editors. Get get in touch with them and point them to my Creators Syndicate site. As you can see from the graphic above (and linked here), the Denver Post ran my column right next to an op-ed by Tom Tancredo himself - so it shows that helping to get progressives' work far and wide has a real effect - it makes sure the Right does not go unanswered.