The sleeping giant grumbles

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I was going to do a post on the huge protests occuring throughout the country this week, which are being sparked by moves in Congress to crack down on illegal immigrants:

How does the United States count the cost of at least 11 million immigrants living and often working outside the law?

For business groups – now urging a path to citizenship or other legal status for such workers – it’s the lower cost of a head of lettuce, new home construction, or a restaurant tab, because these people will do the work that Americans won’t.

For local officials across the country – no longer just those near a border – it’s the strain illegals pose to schools, hospital emergency rooms, law enforcement, and other social services, driving municipal budgets deep into the red.

For illegal immigrants and their supporters – rallying by the hundreds of thousands around the country in the run-up to this debate – the issue is freedom from fear.

500,000 Pack Streets to Protest Immigration Bills

As I was saying, I was going to do a post on the subject, and provide some thoughts on how this is good for progressives and bad for Republicans, but David Niewart over at Orcinus has a post so thorough I won’t even try:

The Associated Press report of the rally noted that the legislation “would make it a felony to be in the U.S. illegally. It also would impose new penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants, require churches to check the legal status of parishioners before helping them and erect fences along one-third of the U.S.-Mexican border.”

The Republicans in Congress who spearheaded these measures — particularly Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado and Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin — represent a resurgent Cro-Magnon wing of the party, one that is threatening to swamp the genteel grip of corporate conservatives whose approach to immigration is decidedly different, if equally poisonous.

The Cro-Magnon approach, embodied by vigilantes like the Minutemen, is to blame the pawns. Their policies are predicated on the laughable idea that we can build a fortress wall around the country and just keep people out, a pretty notion that quickly runs aground on the reality that no wall can contain the larger forces driving illegal immigration. They consistently scapegoat the emigres while ignoring — and indeed abetting — those same larger forces. (emphasis mine)

Go check out his work, his analysis is spot on:

So what the American far right is doing is appealing to white Americans’ base racial instincts: associating the immigrants with crime and disease, accusing them of being part of a “conspiracy,” complaining that they’re polluting white culture. These are all significant features of the rhetoric used by both the Minutemen and their supporters in Congress. (emphasis mine)

Two weeks ago, Dr. Magdaleno Manzanarez presented a discussion on Hispanic/Latino issues at the Grant County Democratic Party’s issue lunch. If you missed it, check with CATS. Nonetheless, one of the items he spoke about was the so-called sleeping giant: a bloc of unified Hispanic voters. As the largest (and fastest growing) minority in America, with 40 million people, this sleeping giant could easily sway any election in which it participates. No wonder Bush is calling for “civic debate.”

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