Thursday, December 2, 2010

Punishing children for their parents' immigration?

Mark Shea, writing about the DREAM act, says the following:
This seems to me to be simple justice. Sure, secure the borders. Do what you can to stop more illegal immigration. Fine by me. But, in the meantime, while "failure to fill out paperwork" is certainly a problem, depriving workers of their wages is a sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance in our tradition. Since we have long ago agreed to integrate these people into our nation in order to exploit them, we owe it in justice to, at the very least, not screw their kids. One might even hope that a time will come that we won't screw the parents either.
This seems very sane and sensible to me. In some instances we are debating sending home the adult children of those who came here illegally, when those children have been here since the ages of one, two, or three years old, don't remember their home country, speak English as well or better as their parents' native tongue, and have no roots anywhere but here. To punish them for the illegal entry of their parents seems like an injustice, and one we can easily remedy.

8 comments:

  1. The children will not be sent home. Nor will the parents be sent home. Nor is the wage system going to change so that the scabs are paid a living wage.

    When a man crosses a union picket line the die is cast that a living wage will not be paid. That is what scabs do. If Mark Shea wants to wring his hands over the exploitation of scabs, so be it. I hold them accountable, for what they have done. As also do most Americans I know who work in fields directly effected by the scabs willingness to take wages no American can live on.

    The scabs have changed the dynamics of the American work force driving down wages while in turn driving up consumer expectations. Just as offshoring has driven down American wages while in turn driving up consumer expectations.

    Mark Shea is safe enough from that same dynamic, just as most pundits are equally insulated from the harm caused by their hand wringings. But the working poor and middle class are not insulated. And that is where the grievance is coming from.

    Change for the better may perhaps come when those who are currently insulated and benefiting from cheap labor likewise find themselves expendable to some substandard third world wage earner. Just as attorneys and doctors are just now finding out that much of their research and lab work can also be offshored.

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  2. I don't think of undocumented workers as scabs, but rather as those waiting to obtain the same labor conditions as others. We need to apply Catholic teaching on labor to them as well as the biblical injunctions on being kind to the strangers among you (repeated many times. Thank you mark for speaking out on it.

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  3. Joseph Drake writes : "I don't think of undocumented workers as scabs, but rather as those waiting to obtain the same labor conditions as others."

    When a man knowingly underbids another man for the job that other man already has, that is being a scab. What the immigrant have to market is no different than what scabs have to market. An underbidding of the market reducing living wage jobs to non-living wage jobs. That is why they are hired.

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    Joseph Drake : "We need to apply Catholic teaching on labor to them as well as the biblical injunctions on being kind to the strangers among you"

    That does not apply to this circumstance. Because its the immigrants who are intentionally causing the market to not pay a living wage.

    Nor does it apply because the biblical injunction does not require us to sacrifice our families for the good of strangers.

    While sacrificing one's own for the good of strangers is common enough, one needs look no further than affirmative action and the like to see examples of it, nevertheless, to do so is disordered.

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  4. Think about it. Strangers come into a foreign land and destroy the livelyhoods of those who are there, and what is the response?

    Castigation of those who have lost their jobs. Would we likewise castigate union laborers on strike for their lack of courtesy to scabs crossing their picket line? But yet we expect Americans in similar circumstance to stand idly by while other men take their jobs by the same tactic of underbidding their livelyhood to a non-living wage.

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  5. @ltg: That [kindness to strangers] does not apply to this circumstance. Because its the immigrants who are intentionally causing the market to not pay a living wage.

    How does this command not apply to immigrants - or, for that matter, to scabs?

    Scabs, at least, know exactly what they're doing. There is a clear picket line they have to cross. Even so, they remain humans worthy of dignified treatment.

    But the thousands of migrant laborers are not here to "destroy the livelyhoods [sic] of those who are there;" rather they are seeking a livelihood for themselves and their families.

    No, the ones who cause the market to pay less than a living wage are the consumers themselves, you and me, when we refuse to pay the actual cost of the food we eat or the clothes we wear or anything else produced through the sweat of unjust labor practices.

    Are the illegal immigrants blameless? No; they did indeed break a law.

    But are they to blame for the systematic exploitation of both laborer and consumer in pursuit of Mammon? No. They are caught in a trap that gives them some very bad options.

    Rather than seeing them as the enemy, perhaps we could see them as a potential ally in bringing true justice and maybe even Christian charity to the businesses that are taking advantage of all of us.

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  6. First off, I could not care less that they are here illegally. If that's the argument against them, then to hell with it. What I do care about is that they are undercutting other men's livelihoods, and that they're not even indigenous to the society on top of that. So that far from being courteous to their hosts, they are no better than parasites.

    Robert writes : "Scabs, at least, know exactly what they're doing. There is a clear picket line they have to cross. Even so, they remain humans worthy of dignified treatment."

    So do the immigrants know what they are doing. They know perfectly well that their value is as cheap labor. Just as those that hire them know that what they have to offer is cheap labor. It's well known in the industry that their craftsmanship and competency is substandard, but they more than make up for it by going far below the living wage.

    True, market is now driven by consumers demanding more than it's possible to supply except by using that same cheap labor. But so what? That doesn't reduce the scabs complicity of undercutting the market.

    Further, they're not interested in being allies? Nor do they see themselves a being in a trap. The libertarians are interested in utopian fantasies, I am not. Nor are any immigrants, of whom I have overseen many.

    The ones who are trapped are the American workers. Their living wage jobs are being taken right out from under them, and they have no where to turn except to impoverishment.

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  7. A) I would argue that migrant workers know they are "no better than parasites" in the same way that American consumers know they are no better than slaves.

    Depriving American workers of their jobs is not their priority; it is something that, if they even thought about it, they would be willing to do for the sake of supporting themselves and their families. In the same way, we shop at WalMart and don't think about the sweat-shop labor and market-manipulating tactics that allow us to enjoy those low prices. Just because the American worker is caught in a trap doesn't mean that others aren't caught in a trap as well. Whether they want to be allies or not, American workers and immigrant workers share a number of enemies. It would be a good thing to work together rather than against one another.

    B) The scab argument here is a distraction from the citizenship argument. I don't know the DREAM Act inside out, so it may in fact be a bad law in various respects. Moreover, the status of scabs in the economy is worth exploring. But it's a red herring to call people scabs, claim not to care about their immigration status, and use that as an argument about citizenship.

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  8. As for the Dream act, obviously it was going to pass, and if it didn't pass, so what? It's not as if anyone was actually under threat of being deported all hand wringing notwithstanding. American citizenship has become a farce, and I could not care less about it, one way or the other.

    Further, I didn't even know that the Dream act even existed when I commented on your comment and quote of Mark Shea. And still wouldn’t know, if I had not run across a blaring headline of about it on vox nova this past Tuesday evening. Not that my comment was a red herring, regardless.

    I don't have a television, I virtually never listen the radio, I don't read the newspaper, and I almost never read news blogs. And find myself far better off for it. But I do pay attention to what is happening to those around me locally with whom I work and know professionally. Which is what I speak of.

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    Robert writes : "Depriving American workers of their jobs is not their priority; it is something that, if they even thought about it, they would be willing to do for the sake of supporting themselves and their families."

    Well of course it's not their priority.

    And neither is depriving workers a living wage the priority of scabs who cross picket lines. Their priority is also supporting themselves and their families. It simply happens that their method of doing so does deprive other men of their livelihood.

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