Friday, October 01, 2010

Meg Whitman Is a Symbol of Republican Hypocrisy on Immigration

Meg Whitman has been working overtime to explain away her maid problem.

But the story is larger than Whitman. It is a symbol of the Republican hypocrisy that is at the heart of the entire immigration debate. The irony is always in the background.

Migrants would not be pouring into the U.S. if there were no employers hiring them. Most of those who take advantage of undocumented workers are business owners - construction contractors, rural farmers, manufacturers, restaurant owners, etc. And the vast majority of them are Republican/Conservative.

They use undocumented immigrants as a way to maximize profits. It is part of the business model for some of these people. For them, it is a way to take advantage of defacto slave labor, with little risk of facing any consequences. Having undocumented workers allows these employers to avoid paying minimum wage, avoid dealing with the IRS (can pay workers under the table in cash), can avoid paying workers the exact amount they are owed for their work, can avoid paying workers compensation expenses, can avoid OSHA regulations, can avoid State and Federal labor regulations, etc. The result is that many of these migrants are in work environments where they are subject to all sorts of abuse.

When will the media start using the term "illegal employers"? When will the focus shift towards those who hire undocumented workers, despite available E-verify technology that can prevent the vast majority of the problem? One main reason is because Republicans in Congress, and their rich Conservative supporters in the business community, really don't want to see any kind of enforcement that targets employers. It is no coincidence that the Chamber of Commerce- basically a Republican group - supports the GOP. The business community wants to maintain the status-quo. I am amazed by the fact that this always seems to be left out of the discussion.

It is interesting to see Republicans on one hand using immigration to rally their base by stirring up xenophobia & racism against Latinos, but on the other hand not really tackling the problem in any meaningful way through immigration reform (obstructing anything Obama proposes on the issue) because what they really want to do is maintain the status quo. Republicans in Congress want to make sure that their benefactors in the business community can continue to reap the benefits from the defacto slavery that currently exists for migrants... because the savings (profits) are just too enticing for them.

This is the elephant in the room that the media never seems to focus on when it comes to immigration. The Republicans are playing the hell out of both sides, and they have been doing a pretty good job fooling the public on this for a long time.

2 comments:

Karen said...

What evidence do you have that the "majority" of people who hire illegal aliens are Republicans? When I lived in California, it was the smug limosine liberals who knowingly hired illegal aliens, paid them squat and then used threats of exposure to keep them silent and compliant.

Your overly broad generalizations, not based in empirical facts, but on your own prejudices, undermine your argument.

I agree that illegal migration wouldn't be a problem if the jobs, free education, free medical, etc as magnets didn't exist, but you are disingenuous when you cast this in a R-vs-D light.

The Angry Independent said...

Republicans face a dilemma on Immigration that splits their party into 2 camps - 1) The Law & Order Conservatives who are really concerned with protecting their demographic numbers, and 2) The pro-business, Chamber of Commerce wing of the party that wants & needs cheap labor.

I'm not suggesting that there are no liberal/progressive business owners who use migrant labor, including undocumented workers. But they are not the majority. There is a reason why the Chamber of Commerce openly and aggressively supports Republicans. Republicans support the interests of businesses (esp. big businesses) more aggressively than Democrats, often to the detriment of workers. But the Chamber of Commerce & other business groups have found themselves in a conundrum over immigration. While they want to support Republicans and their political platform on one hand, they also know they need cheap labor..and that doesn't necessarily jive with the position of the Republican political leadership. Some have found themselves playing both sides of the issue, as is the case with the Arizona Chamber... They want cheap labor.... and they don't want business owners targeted...but it also wants to support Republicans. I don't know how you can support Republicans (who are against so-called illegal immigration), while coming out against the idea of employers (the magnets) being targeted by law enforcement for enticing and accommodating undocumented workers. Can't do both. The Chamber of Commerce claims it support immigration reform... but it really doesn't. By supporting Republicans... they know that they aren't going to get CIR. What the Chamber really wants is the status quo. If there were CIR, businesses would be forced to deal above board... would have to pay fair wages, would have to follow state/federal labor laws, would not be able to underpay/overwork, would not be able to skirt safety regulations, etc... all the things that they view as not being in their best interest. They love it the way it is now..and they will fight to keep it this way.

Not much empirical information about business ownership in Arizona & the breakdown in the use of undocumented laborers by Conservatives, Dems, etc. But a little deductive reasoning tells me that these businesses are mostly owned/operated by Conservatives. California has a different demo and culture...so I don't know if you can use that example. But Arizona is largely a Conservative State...very Conservative, & lots of Conservative representation, which is why Conservative causes get plenty of support there (such as the "papers please" legislation). The Chamber of Commerce is particularly active in the State (a powerful Conservative group). Your suggestion that the owners of factories raided thus far are Liberals is just not supported even by anecdotal evidence. But there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that suggests the opposite. It seems that whenever we hear about an immigration raid...labor fraud, human trafficking or sweatshop investigation... we often find some sort of GOP connection.

This stuff goes way back for Republicans. Are you aware of Tom Delay and his scandal (one of many) regarding the Northern Mariana Islands? Republicans and their dislike of labor laws protecting workers is well known.