Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A Day Without Immigrants has come and gone and it remains to be seen whether or not people sit up and pay attention or if we all return to normal. Driving down near the beach, I saw a good number of mom'n'pops closed down along Venice Blvd., though the big chains were open for the most part. Maybe, 1/3 of the places I passed were shuttered for the day? I did have to stop and get milk at one point and the manager of my market said that a bunch of his employees had not come in and that he wished he'd stayed out too. There's no question that it had some kind of impact in LA, but I also heard a lot of people bitching about their commutes and the inconvenience. To me, standing in my market yesterday with no carts (they were all in the parking lot because no one could be spared to go get them), hand baskets a mess, unreturned food sitting in odd places, shelves all messed up, it was a pretty strong sense of just how much the LA infrastructure relies on immigrant labor. Whether 'legal' or 'illegal', this city is running on other people's backs. One day was kind of a mess. What if it were two days? A week? A month? Big mess. Yesterday showed us that much, at least. So what are we going to do? Yes, it was inconvenient. That was the point. So are we going to sigh in relief and say, "Oh thank god they got it out of their system, now we can all go back to normal." or are we going to start poking at our elected officials to make some changes in our immigration laws?

An author I really love, Hanne Blank, said yesterday that, "Just like there are no "illegitimate" children, there are no "illegal" human beings. There are only unethical and immoral laws and governments." and then goes on to elaborate on her viewpoint here. You can read it if you like. I thought she was pretty spot on, but then I generally do.

I can't argue the point that there are 11 point something million people in this country who lack the paperwork and governmental approval to be considered "legal" because, well, they are and they do and yes, they made the choice to do so. But I will say that making that a criminal act, when we are tacitly approving on the other hand, that's plain wrong. It's like with one hand we're saying "come" and with the other we're saying "go" and the hand that is saying "come" is entirely hidden and secret and shameful but we are all in on it because it benefits us to be so. It's like someone preaching against prostitution on Sunday but visiting the local madame every Saturday in secret. I'm just saying, we really need to look at all sides of this issue and acknowledge that the US has been totally complicit because it benefits the US to do so.

The other thought I had was, "Gee, if we could just get this kind of response, this kind of turnout to protest the war. I wonder what would happen then?" Who knows? If we did, the US media would probably not cover it anyway.

Stephen Colbert is my hero.


Kendra said...

mmmmmm, as a fence sitter on this I can see your point of view.

I also know that undocumented workers get mistreated and underpaid, employers don't have to respect them nor do they have to even treat them humanly because they lack the resourses and status to complain about thier treatment. Plus they'd rather not direct attention at themselves. (kind of like the drug users/dealers who have their drugs confiscated by bad cops-- they aren't complaining and they cops get away with it).

I understant that undocumented workers get paid more then they would in their home countries, but I also know that they would get paid more if they could go through proper chanels and be a documented and legitimate part of the work force.

I don't like our reliance on undocumented workers because while they are getting shafted, someone is profitting.

Elspeth said...

I have been thinking that instead of protesting by not using mom n pops for a day, maybe the rich white people could boycott Mexico for a day. It seems to me that if they took care of their people, we wouldn't have so many "undocumented" workers coming here to make money. But could they give up their Mexican bars and resorts, even for one day?

BTW I did give my nanny, gardener, and maid the day off yesterday ;)