A Chicano Historical Analysis: Immigration or Labor?
By Herman Baca, President, Committee on Chicano Rights
Here is Part One.
Proof of the above is documented with the 1951 President’s Commission on Migratory Labor that first recommended reducing the number of “wetbacks” with employer sanctions, and fines on employers who knowingly hired illegal workers.
However, in 1952 when the Immigration and Nationality Act was enacted making the harboring of illegal aliens a felony, punishable by a $2,000 fine and a prison term of five years; the law also included the Texas proviso, which asserted that employing an illegal alien, was not harboring!
Thus, there were no penalties on US employers.
The farce continued after the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) that legalized Employer Sanctions provisions that made the knowing hiring or employment of unauthorized immigrants, illegal. Two studies (Performance Analysis System (PAS) and (LYNX data) proved with documentation; that Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) audits (millions of US businesses) dropped 77 percent from a peak of almost 10,000 in 1990 to less than 2,200 in 2003.
INS warnings to businesses declined 62 percent from a peak of nearly 1,300 warnings in 1990 to less than 500 in 2003. INS fines against businesses dropped 82 percent from a peak of 1000 in 1991, to a total of 124 cases in 2003. The studies noted that even at the peak, when fines amounted to $3.1 million in 1996, the total was relatively small, an average of about three cents for every paid employee in the United States.
Ironically, the NAACP and the AFL-CIO that pressed Congress for Employer Sanctions in 1986 changed their previous positions. The NAACP after the Government Accounting Office found that the IRCA’s employer sanctions provisions in 1990 had caused widespread employment discrimination joined with Latino civil rights groups in calling for sanctions’ repeal.
The AFL-CIO passed a resolution calling for sanctions’ repeal in 2000 arguing that some employers had used sanctions as a justification for calling in the immigration authorities on their own workforce in retaliation for organizing drives, or efforts to assert workplace rights. The studies concluded that large-scale employment of the undocumented, discrimination and retaliation fostered under the IRCA’s employer sanctions provisions would continue.
Securing the Border
Fact: The Obama’s administration spent $18 billion dollars last year ($187 billion since 1986) on border enforcement and has authorized the use of 18 drones ($180 million dollars) to patrol the militarized U.S./Mexico border. To date the border remains “unsecured.”
Question, if the Canadian border is twice (3987 miles) the size of the Mexican border (1933 miles) and according to a 2011 Government Accountability Office report less than 1% secure, why are there no drones patrolling the US/Canadian border? Especially after President Bush’s Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Chertoff stated he was more afraid of terrorists coming into the U.S. from Canada than Mexico and his department had arrested more people connected to al Qaeda and Hezbollah trying to come in from the Canadian than the Mexican border?
Historically speaking; again the main reason (in our opinion) is the US economy’s addiction and manipulation to allow in cheap, exploitable Mexican labor. However by tying the issues of illegality; terrorism, drugs, smuggling and cartels, which are distinct and separate issues from undocumented workers, it provides the political rationale for increasing the U.S. Border Patrol.
La Migra-US Border Patrol
The Texas Rangers’ primary enforcement job was to insure that no person of Mexican ancestry (citizens, documented, or undocumented) got to “uppity” and started to demand the same rights, wages or working conditions as their Anglo counterparts. Since 1924 that law enforcement job has been carried out nationally by the BP.
Bert Corona, Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzalez, Cesar Chavez and numerous others have rightfully labeled the US Border Patrol the, “Gestapo of the Mexican People.” Aside from a history of the BP terrorizing families, incarcerating children, breaking into churches, beatings, shootings (even handcuffed immigrants), killings, rapes, etc. why hasn’t the BP (since 1924) and after billions of dollars spent, been able to control the US/Mexico border?
Note recent history, in 1986 “official” government sources estimated 3 million undocumented persons were in the US; in 2013 the number is 11 million? Right wing nuts talk show D.J’s such as Michael Savage, Glen Beck, Bill O’Riley, Shawn Hannity and wannabe U-T Roger Hedgecrook, etc., with their minions (Fair, Minuteman, Tea Party, etc.) place the number as high as 20 million!
Whatever the number of undocumented persons in the US is, the fact remains that; since 1924 the Border Patrol has never stopped one Mexican from ever crossing the US/Mexico border that wanted to work in the US unless the Border Patrol maimed, shot or killed that individual!
Amnesty – Path to Citizenship?
The dictionary defines amnesty as, “A pardon extended by the government to a group or class of persons, usually for a political offense; the act of a sovereign power officially forgiving certain classes of persons who are subject to trial but have not yet been convicted.”
The 2nd question is what crimes did the undocumented workers commit? Work, pick fruit, clean houses, hotels, gardening, pay taxes, etc.?
President Obama’s amnesty (as all past amnesty proposals) is predicated on the lies that all undocumented workers are criminals, law breakers, culprit, offenders, and illegals. And for those reasons, President Obama has stated that undocumented workers must; “establish a responsible pathway to earned citizenship — that includes passing a background check, paying taxes and a meaningful penalty, learning English and going to the back of the line (up to 24 years) behind the folks trying to come here legally.”
Conveniently excluded from the President’s statements and the ongoing (Congress) immigration debate is; the criminal hiring by whole sectors of the US economy of undocumented workers. No mention of the exploitation, workers living in canyons, fields, groves, rape of live in maids, violations of safety and labor laws etc.
Also the massive profits businesses made from products produced by undocumented workers, consumed by Americans or that are exported abroad. The massive taxes paid (especially into social security), or the consumption by the undocumented.
The Chicanos/Mexicanos’ position on amnesty passed at the 1st International Conference for the Full Rights of the Undocumented Workers in 1978 is that; “Every immigrant worker shall have the right to establish legal residency by demonstrating a status as wage earner and taxpayer.”
In our opinion the proposed amnesty solutions will fail (as past proposals have) until the immigration is addressed as a labor issue, and undocumented Mexican workers are guaranteed the same rights as US workers. Until that time there will never be a permanent solution to the so-called immigration issue in the US.
What then about the 53 million (and growing population) of Chicanos and Mexicanos whose rights and interests have been adversely affected by the so-called immigration issue?
Our position is that our people have to understand politically that the Obama “immigration proposals” are not a solution to resolve the issue, but have been proposed to;
A) Insure that the undocumented workers remain right less, to satisfy the US economy’s addiction for cheap, exploitable Mexican labor
B) Control the changing demographics that will make Chicanos/Latinos the majority population in the US by 2113,
C) Insure that the political disenfranchised status quo for Chicanos remains.
So the question for our people in closing is; what are the solutions for resolving the so-called immigration issue? In our opinion, educate, politicize and organize to create the necessary social, economic and political power to protect our peoples’ rights and interests!