Monday, May 15, 2006

Natl Guard Troops on the Border + Blacks & Immigration + Brazil Riots

US National Guard Troops on the border?
National GuardTonight we are getting an opportunity to hear about W's newest horrible policy, which involves deploying about 150,000 National Guard troops (or 6,000 troops replaced every few weeks" according to W tonight) on the Mexico border to supplement the US Border Patrol's agents. This appears to be part of Plamegate leaker Karl Rove's proposed to placate the right-wing Republican base and dangle yet another phantasm before the increasingly less gullible American people in order to win the 2006 midterm elections and hold onto Republican control of Congress. W is making this proposal even though his 2006 budget only funded 210--yes, that's right, ONLY TWO HUNDRED TEN!--new Border Patrol agents, and despite the fact that the US National Guard, like the Army and Marines, are currently under extreme staffing pressure because of the ongoing War in Iraq. We saw last fall during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina what sorts of problems arose when necessary National Guard troops were unavailable.

W has had FIVE years since September 11, 2001, his endless touchstone, to secure the borders through increased border patrol staffing, better technology, and better cooperation with Mexico, but he was more concerned with his vanity war against Saddam Hussein and providing tax cuts for the rich and cheap labor for US corporations to do anything serious. Now that his approval rating has plummeted to 29%-30% and the GOP base is revolting, he's proposing to militarize the border, while still floating his awful guest-worker program, which would lead to legalized exploitation of a large mass of people, even cheaper labor for businesses, and no set guarantee of citizenship after the explotation. Also, does anyone believe that if the rest of the world realizes there'll be open slots every year for foreign workers everyone who wants to come won't try? If we already have 10 to 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country now, we'll have 20-30 million by the time the Congress decides to repeal the program. Meanwhile, enforcement against hiring of undocumented workers has plunged from 2,000+ investigations in 1999 to about 213 last year, while fines and prosecutions have fallen from the several hundred to only 3 last year.

Meanwhile, some on the far right are talking about more extreme measures...yet another mess created by the Worst President Ever.

My question is, how many people yet again will be suckered by this blatant political ploy?

Stephen Steinberg on Blacks and Immigration
I came across this essay, by author Stephen Steinberg, entitled "Immigration, African Americans and Race Discourse," in New Politics. Steinberg analyzes and historicizes the relationship between African Americans and non-Black immigrants, showing in the process how immigration has tended to harm the interests of Black workers, particularly those at the bottom of the economic ladder and at historical junctures, such as the post Reconstruction era and in the mid-1960s, when the possibilities for Black labor looked brighter. One fascinating point he notes is how during the 20th century world wars, when immigration to the US came to a halt, the options for Black workers improved substantially even in spite of racism.

Steinberg also discusses how neo-liberalism underpins the arguments of some pro-immigration enthusiasts, particularly social scientists, and repeatedly returns to how they've actively and extensively overlooked the the fundamental role of racism. (He doesn't mention white supremacy or skin privilege as contributing factors to political, social and economic capital, but the idea underlines his arguments.) He has a number of suggestions for how to rethinking the issue, among them that the issue of America's earlier unfinished agendas needs to be addressed, that a sane immigration policy that protects immigrants and American citizens should be implemented, that targeted affirmative action be reinstituted to counter the effect of closed social networks, and that immigrants and African-Americans develop and strengthen coalitions to protect each others' interests. The article makes many other great points, and I highly recommend it.

Riots in Brazil kill 80
Prison HostageThe First Capital Command crime syndicate, or PCC, decided on Thursday to show the Brazil's local and federal authorities who was really in control in São Paulo city and state, the country's economic engine. Reacting to an attempt by the police to transfer eight of the PCC's leaders to a high security prison, the gang launched more than a hundred attacks against the police, both at work and at home, then on Sunday targeted commuters, before staging multiple simultaneous riots at more than 70 prisons both inside and outside São Paulo that have so far left 80 people dead and many more injured. Brazil's president, Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva, has ordered more than 4,000 federal troops to quell the violence, but terrified bus drivers in São Paulo city and its environs refused to go to work, stranding millions of residents. Riots continue in prisons across the country, like the one pictured above, in the wealthy southern state of Paraná (AP Photo/Dirceu Portugal-AGENCIA ESTADO), and police have foiled attacks in other parts of the country. Still, federal authorities also fear that the violence could spread to the teeming, slum-ringed city of Rio de Janeiro; state and municipal authorities in both São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro states have struggled over the last three decades with rising crime born, in part, out of the vast economic inequities and resources disparities that plague both densely populated regions.

Random photo

Greenwich Village street scene: trop belle pour tout?

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