una dia sin immigrantes

Well, it looks like the Day Without a Mexican marches were a huge success. Someone thoughtfully sent me a link to an excellent retrospective on what May Day celebrations have meant in the past.

Because today’s marches are on a workday, they recall the mass strikes and marches that turned workers out of factories that convulsed America in the decades after the great railway strike of 1877, the first national work stoppage in the United States. Asserting their citizenship against the autocracy embodied by the big railroad corporations, the Irish and Germans of Baltimore and Pittsburgh burned roundhouses and fought off state militia in a revolt that frightened both the rail barons and the federal government. Hence the 19th-century construction of all those center-city National Guard armories, with rifle slits designed to target unruly crowds. The protesters wanted not only higher pay and a recognized trade union but a new birth of egalitarian freedom. Indeed, May Day itself, as an international workers holiday, arose out of a May 1, 1886, Chicago strike for the eight-hour workday. The fight for leisure—clearly lost today—was a great unifying aspiration of the immigrant workers movement a century ago with its slogan, “eight hours for work, eight hours for sleep, eight hours for what we will.”

Of course, red-baiting and a pro-big business lapdog government have made sure that May Day got turned into Law Day, and don’t you commies even THINK about it…

My own experience yesterday was pleasant enough. I didn’t go downtown to Atlanta for the big march there, though I probably should have. I focused on working in my garden, got a haircut, did a little business for my band. As I was kneeling down to pull some weeds around my collard greens, eponymous called to tell me that there was a demonstration brewing right in downtown Athens. If I hadn’t been working in the garden, I would have been right there.

As it was, I took a day off from my job as a Macintosh computer consultant at my university job to show solidarity and to have my own private May Day celebration… so, it was A Day Without a Mac-sican where I work…. (ba-dump bump, pish!)

30 Comments

  1. Wait a minute… isn’t all the recent hoo-ha in the government about ILLEGAL immigrants??? Emphasis on the word *illegal*.

    I don’t think anyone is saying “we don’t like immigrants”. They’re saying “we don’t like illegal immigrants.” There’s a big difference.

    Personally, I think immigrants are great, but illegal immigrants should be deported. We have a process in place to become a citizen here, if you’re too lazy to go through the process, and think you can just sneak over the border to steal jobs from Americans — some who are LEGAL immigrants — then fuck you, and don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.

    And fuck all the companies who are hiring you under the table.

    If, however, you have come here legally, then bienvenidos mi amigo.

    These protesters should be handing out immigration applications, and teaching free english workshops if they want to make a difference. Otherwise they’re just complaining for no reason.

  2. Oh yeah and last but not least, fuck all the illegal immigrants who get pregnant in Mexico and sneak across the border to have their kids. Whoever wrote the law that the children of illegal immigrants are automatically granted citizenship (if born in the U.S.) should be shot. Twice.

    How the hell does that even make sense?

  3. I believe, sir, that what stirred these people to adjourn to the streets is that the evil bill introduced into the House that suggested that illegal aliens should be tried as felons, when what they have done here is flee the brutal economies of their home countries (upon which our prosperity is based, see NAFTA) and do the jobs that no one here wants to do.

    I find your heated rhetoric on this a little troubling. Clearly you haven’t worked hand to hand with these guys and heard their stories, shared a meal with them day after day and come to know them as friends. I have, and I am a better man for it.

    You should try it.

  4. Well, this issue isn’t as simple as either of your comments paint it, but, I do find it hard to disagree w/ this:

    These protesters should be handing out immigration applications, and teaching free english workshops if they want to make a difference.

    There’s protesting negative action and then there’s creating positive action. The latter is harder to do, but damn if it doesn’t get you some respect.

  5. Darren

    “We have a process in place to become a citizen here, if you’re too lazy to go through the process . . . ”
    You make it sound as if it’s like going to the DMV and renewing your license. The process is byzantine at best.

  6. Hey I never said it was easy. But according to several of my foreign friends, the U.S. does have one of the most accepting immigration policies of any industrialized nation. To compare, just try getting citizenship in Germany or France.

    That’s not to say we’re going to accept everyone, and the people whose mindset is “Well, they’re not going to accept me anyway, so I’ll just be illegal” or “This process is too hard/expensive/time-consuming… so fuck it.” Well, like I said, too bad so sad.

    I mean really, it sucks that they’re trying to make illegal immigration a felony… but if that’s what it takes, well? They knew they were breaking the law one way or another.

  7. That’s not to say we’re going to accept everyone, and the people whose mindset is “Well, they’re not going to accept me anyway, so I’ll just be illegal” or “This process is too hard/expensive/time-consuming… so fuck it.” Well, like I said, too bad so sad.

    Well, I am sure that you won’t mind dropping out of college to pick apples in North Georgia for $5.00 an hour to fill the gap, then?

  8. Well, I am sure that you won’t mind dropping out of college to pick apples in North Georgia for $5.00 an hour to fill the gap, then?

    I hardly see how that follows…

  9. I hardly see how that follows…

    Then you clearly have no concept of how the economy works. Your whole prosperous way of life is predicated upon the assumption that there will be a permanent underclass willing to work for a fraction of what you work for.

    That’s why these marches happened: Because people in this country stamp their feet demand that the illegals be deported when they have every benefit and privilege from their labor. Shit, I’d turn out and march in the streets, too.

  10. Dude, take it easy, alright?? You’re starting to sound like Xon, talking about what I “clearly don’t understand.” WTF.

    Yes, I GET that higher-class people benefit from lower-class people’s endeavors. When did I ever say anything to the contrary? I just don’t see how that means Ben has to drop out of college and pick apples.

  11. I just don’t see how that means Ben has to drop out of college and pick apples.

    Because those beans have got to be picked and, if you want the cheap food that America is famous for, someone is going to have to do that labor for less than minimum wage, without health benefits or any rights as a worker. Otherwise, food prices will rise, inflation will skyrocket and all of the sudden someone like Ben might not be able to afford to go to college without picking beans in the summer and fall.

    Why are you so defensive?

  12. to be clear;
    I think that every worker in this country should be able to make a living wage. I also think that we need to stop creating these “alliances” like CAFTA and NAFTA that cripple the rural farming economies of the rest of the Americas.

    I also don’t think there’s any good to be accomplished by dehumanizing these workers. Some of them are friends of mine, and I want to see them be able to stay here and work here.

    I don’t like that they get ripped off on payday. I don’t like that many of them sleep in their cars and have to fight dogs for their meals. But I respect them and why they came here. They want a better life. If that’s a crime, then I am a criminal too.

  13. Yes, I understand where my apples, peaches, and strawberries come from and who picks them.

    And I also didn’t say that I particularly have a problem with the price of fruits and vegetables going up a little bit, if it means fairer wages and benefits for agricultural workers.

    I think it’s a bit of a cop-out to say that the cheap prices of certain fruits and vegetables are a direct result of the illegal immigrant workforce.

    As far as I know, New Zealand labor standards are pretty high and they don’t have an illegal workforce… and their apples are cheap too.

    =)

    I’m fully aware of the “benefits” of having an illegal, underpaid, and mistreated workforce in the agricultural and meat processing industries. If anything, the companies who hire them should be held responsible, not the illegal immigrants who are seeking better jobs (than what they can get in Mexico).

    Anyway, I digress…

  14. And I also didn’t say that I particularly have a problem with the price of fruits and vegetables going up a little bit, if it means fairer wages and benefits for agricultural workers.

    Agreed, but the cost of food is one of those underpinning costs in an economy that can cause other prices to rise precipitously. Oil is the best comparison in that regard.

    I think it’s a bit of a cop-out to say that the cheap prices of certain fruits and vegetables are a direct result of the illegal immigrant workforce.

    How so? Cheap labor == cheap food. If you don’t have to pay your labor a living wage, pay taxes on them, pay for their health care you can pass on those benefits down the supply chain. Then, of course, the taxpayers have to pick up the tag. The goal of all industries that rely on physical labor is the cheapest labor that gets the job done. It’s not really more complex than that.

    If anything, the companies who hire them should be held responsible, not the illegal immigrants who are seeking better jobs (than what they can get in Mexico).

    Agreed. Similarly, like the “drug war” we need to address this issue from a demand standpoint. Consumers demand low, low prices. Companies respond by meeting those demands with cheap labor. Cheap labor can only be done with undocumented workers who cannot protest their treatment. Voila: large amounts of undocumented workers and laws that punish the workers instead of the companies that created the need for illegals in the first place.

    Similarly, if the US’s policies towards Mexico and its corrupt goverment were altered to reflect disatisfaction with the endemic corruption there that drives these people to the US for a better life, we might see a solution after a while.

    If you ask me, the majority of undocumented workers that I have worked with are some of the most American people I know. They come here to slave away at two or more jobs, living three families to a one-bedroom apartment just to give their kids an oppurtunity to achieve a better life. Compared to the spoiled, fatuous, callow and generally entitled behavior that I see from comparably aged Americans, I can tell you who’d I’d rather have working for me.

  15. I think what’s happening with our “cheap” fruits and vegetables is that the companies are pocketing the savings accrued by hiring an illegal workforce… I really doubt these savings are getting passed on to the consumer.

    In other words, if we forced the companies to be honest and fair in their hiring practices and wages, but still demanded low prices, the prices probably wouldn’t change much.

    See my comment on apples from New Zealand… not really more expensive are they?

  16. Easy, easy folks….

    We’re all friends here.

    Yes, that’s what I thought. So what gives w/ you getting all up in my grill and talking to me all condescending?

    Also, epon, please point me to anything I said herein that is “defensive.”

  17. Claire

    “Immigrants take American jobs.” The flipside to this is that immigrants take American jobs Americans don’t want to do, like back-breaking farm work. Big business likes cheap labor, legal or illegal. Instead of deporting the illegal immigrants, we should just make big business pay all employees at least minimum wage, legal or illegal.

  18. Mayra Navarrete

    You people don’t know what it feels like to live in a place where your only payed $60 a week. my mother works at one of the Swift ans Companies. she was an illial immigrant once. she came all the way from Guatemala. she sisn’t come here looking for problems. she came her so she could help her family back home so her kids could have a better education. you guys have never gone through the things this people go through so you don’t have a right to talk. Putos

  19. sindy

    my father was an immigrant when he came here to the United States. so that way we can have a good life in my country Guatemala. You dont no exaclty wat all immigrant pass through the desert u dont have any fucking idea. also those people that are said that immigrant came here to stole there jobd that is fucking lie. we came here to work dont to stole jobs. All immigrant do the work that any body else do. One example is cleaning house.

  20. lizzeth

    look i respect all these people that shouldn’t be called illegal im legal in this country but i also consider myself 1 of them i dont care about what racist people say you know what fuck them que vivan los hispanos que vivan los mexicanos

  21. ??????????la mexican

    fuck all of u racist bitches dont be hating that were better than all of u white people fuck u and mad respect to mexicans

  22. Jennifer

    fuck all of u racist bitches dont be hating that were better than all of u white people fuck u and mad respect to mexicans

    Wow, nice to meet you kettle. You’re not a bit racist at all. Shame, shame on us Americans.

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