By Mark Cromer, Senior Writing Fellow
If President Bush has anything in common with Minutemen founder Jim Gilchrist on the issue of illegal immigration, it is that both men—on paper at any rate—favor increased border security and enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws.
The consensus that the border has to be effectively secured seems to be a mile wide these days, as the push for ‘comprehensive reform’ of the nation’s immigration laws and policies gets underway yet again.
Even radically ethnocentric Chicano Studies professors who have long made their paychecks preaching a pan-Latino nationalism and separatist ideology can now be found feigning support for stronger border controls.
Unfortunately, this mile-wide consensus is less than an inch-deep; and in fact is illusory all together among many groups in the coalition that seeks to ram their immigration reform platform through Congress and onto Bush’s desk.
Bush understands that a vast majority of working Americans desperately want the border secured and its immigration laws enforced, so like a compulsively passive-aggressive con artist he lulls his mark to sleep by relentlessly voicing his empty agreement.
He is yes’ing us to death.
Like any good flim-flam man, Bush is using lots of props to accomplish this task: photo-ops surrounded by Border Patrol agents, Predator aerial drones and the hyped-up raids of a few worksites that result in a lot of media flash but very, very little pain for the corporate violators.
While a scheming president is hardly a newsflash, one that has made common cause with groups that seek nothing less than the effective dissolution of the United States as a sovereign nation should be a big headline.
Far from being a collection of radical fringe groups that pack no real punch in the prevailing social discourse, the activists promoting a no-border agenda have infused themselves into the much larger and powerful movement seeking immigration reform.
This was evident at a series of recent immigrant rights rallies, including a protest march through downtown Pomona, CA, in response to recent raids by Immigration & Customs Enforcement.
The marchers, perhaps two hundred of them, trudged along the west end of Mission Boulevard, a boisterous-but-peaceful parade of sign-toting Latino immigrants, street activists and a few earnest white college students.
On one side of the street stood the long-shuttered remains of the massive General Dynamics plant, which once hummed with thousands of skilled labor employees working in the defense of the nation. On the other side of the street, a bustling day-labor center that now brims with illegal immigrants waiting for their contractors to arrive.
Though they never intended it to, the marchers’ route captured in stark terms America’s epic transition from a mighty industrial nation that once defined manufacturing to a country whose core identity now is that of a vast market of sedentary consumers ruled by the bottom line.
The erosion of actual borders and the collapse of the rule of law that defines sovereignty suited the marchers just fine, many of whom were toting signs with slogans like “End the raids! End the terror!” and “Don’t scar our children.”
The hysteria that the raids triggered within the illegal immigrant community and the frenzied, vitriolic response by its activist leaders is quite revealing.
The debate is now no longer over whether local law enforcement agencies should enforce federal immigration law; the protesters who marched in Pomona and in many other cities across the country attacked federal enforcement of federal law.
Their agenda at its core was undeniable: millions of illegal immigrants and their increasingly powerful network of supporters in the United States don’t support any enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws.
Local efforts to enforce the law are promptly litigated to death and federal enforcement actions are challenged by mass street mobilizations. Enforcement of any new legislation is certain to come under relentless attack from these groups before Bush’s signature is even dry.
It begs the question: if a nation no longer has the uncontested authority to establish its sovereignty along a very real border and to control the evolution of its national character by enforcing its immigration laws, then can it be considered a nation any longer?
For Devon Whitham, a 21-year-old political science student from Scripps College who joined the march, the erasure of America’s borders was a blissful goal.
“Personally, I don’t believe in borders, particularly in the neo-liberal, capitalist sense,” she said. “It is the nativists that seek to keep immigrants out.”
The future Whitham envisioned for America, which she offered in a script-like cadence, was one of “economic justice,” “social justice” and “human justice.” What precisely those utopian terms meant in any real sense was a bit more amorphous.
But Whitham was clear-eyed about one thing: America, as a definable nation-state, has to go.
Though he didn’t make the protest march, it seems President Bush couldn’t agree more.