Seneca on Border Security: Thwarting the New Menace

August 9th, 2010 · 7 Comments

Border Security has become like drug enforcement. In the last 40 plus years, the US is estimated to have spent over a trillion dollars nationally on anti-drug enforcement, feeding that beast until it has developed, like the Cold War, into an industry. This anti-drug frenzy has made the US the country with the largest prison population on the planet. Now the new target is illegal immigrants. They are the latest boogeymen. Communists are gone and the anti-drug crowd has made league with the dealers in keeping narcotics illegal, therefore a profitable business while the enforcement-only crowd spends more on the industry. Presently, the legalization of illegal immigrants is fast becoming like trying to get a public debate on legalizing or decriminalizing narcotics use or possession.

The new age of political correctness has created the insidious nature of this new racism: the great and grand struggle to protect America from getting too foreign (read: dark and alien) looking. After all, Latinos are not traditionally viewed as acceptable immigrants but instead like Native Americans: conquered and vanquished people but without reservations. They are people who traditionally were confined to certain sides of town. They were the ones with the ability to seasonally service rural parts of the country but who were expected to return to their places of origin.

If one ‘passed’ or assimilated in unnoticed numbers, then one could be accepted, especially with the increasing need for cheap labor, as the US rapidly became less competitive in the global market, as cost of labor skyrocketed. This occurred as traditional white and black Americans insisted in the American dream of high (living) wages. The massive migratory movements from Latin America began concurrently. Previously, the only significant flow had been during the Mexican Revolution. The Castro Revolution of 1960 ignited the first migratory movement covered by the mass media. The anti communist factor helped generally in accepting the first waves of mainly the Cuban white enclave fleeing a majority non-white country. Subsequently, the truly large numbers of immigrants coincided with the US need for cheap labor and the economic and political upheavals in all of Latin America. Hence, the rise of both legal and illegal immigrant movements into the US occurred.

At the same time, the increasing rise of remittances (dollars) sent back to the countries of origin “hooked’ many Latin American governments to actively support or encourage this massive migration to the US and other developed countries suffering a labor shortage. With the US economy soaring from the late 80s through the 90s, the flow continued. It was the tragic incident on 9/11 that brought a noticeable halt to this readiness to accept this immigrant flow. As the deepest economic recession since the 1930s reared its head in the aftermath of 2001, the exacerbation of economic conditions especially unemployment together with the foreign anti-terrorist awareness or phobia heightened the rejection of ‘outsiders’.

During the Depression years of the 1930s, a backlash against Mexicans arose, significant round-ups of anyone suspected of being Mexican nationals took place and all were deported. Many US citizens were taken to Mexico forcibly. It is common to see, during these uncertain times, the ever-present nativist crowd spring into action as guardians of sovereignty and sentinels of the American tradition. The recognition that the “Latino” population is over 45 million is daunting. The battle cry of “border security” is now the operative term against illegal immigrants and increasingly anti-Latino. The feared white backlash is perhaps and unfortunately the gathering storm in civil relations in the US. Much lies ahead and the impending 2010 electoral cycle will serve to polarize the discourse. The “Latino” leadership must take note and rise to the occasion.

Tags: Cuba · Department of Homeland Security · drug war · Immigration · Latino History · Mexico · racism · Seneca

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 india blanca // Aug 9, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    How is it that we have the time and the dollars to spend chasing undocumented immigrants, building walls and militarizing our borders, at that time when our country so needs to focus on the real problems we are facing? How can we as a society dilute ourselves into thinking that immigrants without immigration status are a menace to our security, when most of the hands that feed us are theirs? Why do most of us remain silent and robotically repeat the ludicrous statements that turn these immigrants into pariahs, such as “they are taking our jobs” or “living off our backs”, when time and again serious studies have shown that in fact they do the jobs Americans do not want, even in the face of unemployment and when we all know the majority of undocumented immigrants work under social security numbers that do not belong to them which means all those dollars they contribute simply end up in the hands of our social security system and at some point will end up providing for us. The discourse against illegal aliens is nothing but a deep seated racism that becomes more publicly acute when we are unhappy, with our jobs or lack thereof, with our fate, with ourselves. The silent majority needs to find its voice and demand our authorities concentrate on the real problems we are facing; our global position is waning not because we have millions of undocumented in our country, but because we don’t count with the leadership to courageously tackle the enormous challenges we face and cope out by targeting the weakest. ” Al perro mas flaco se le pegan las pulgas y hasta las agarrapatas”. Once again Seneca thank you for putting it all into perspective.

  • 2 IE // Aug 9, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    I was picked up by the border patrol in brownsville, texas as a young grade school student hanging around some undocumented friends washing cars. I’ll never forget telling the border patrol officer that i was a U.S. citizen just visiting my grandmother for the summer: all in perfect English. He wasn’t having any of it. I was taken back to the border with my 3 friends, put in a holding cell for several hours, and then told to go back to Mexico and fly a kite. Regardless of that one experience, I still served my country in the US military.

    For those people out there that think that only undocumented immigrants would be affected by laws such as SB1070, they’re wrong! U.S. citizens that look Mexican like me will also be affected. I really hope that our elected officials can take a step back and do what’s right for “ALL” American Citizens.

    Thank you for this fine post Seneca! It’s refreshing to hear it put so bluntly and eloquently.

  • 3 Chicano future tense // Aug 10, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Seneca’s article does a good job of reminding us that America has always during different times in it’s history been racist and xenophobic in response to immigration.The latest wave of racial hatred being directed against undocumented workers,especially from Mexico.
    One cannot come to any other conclusion after reading Sr Senecas article than that we truly live in a monstrously hypocritical society when it comes to race.Apply this same principle to Americas historical Wars against Indians,Wars against Mexico,Wars on Communism,Wars on drugs,Wars on terrorism,Wars on “illegal immigration”..the list goes on and on…ad nauseum..
    I also have to agree with the author that we are indeed witnessing a “gathering storm in civil relations in the US” as he states.Hopefully America can weather such a “storm” and prevent it from spiraling into a straight-out race war.Personally,I seriously doubt it.
    A sane,intelligent and wise people will upon seeing a “gathering storm’ forming on the horizon will prepare themselves to survive the potential destruction of a storm.
    In our Latino community we look to leadership for guidance,direction and instructions on how best to avoid death and destruction from such storms.
    As the social,political crisis in America sharpens and becomes ever more hostile and violent there will inevitably appear different ideologies,voices-different
    guidance,directions and instructions on how to survive the “gathering storm”.
    IMHO establishment Latino leadership will in a time of crisis prove itself compromised,ineffective,cowardly,weak and ambiguous in it’s leadership to Latinos.So far they have proved themselves such.
    In the course of Latino struggle for justice,civil and human rights there will surely arise voices that are not traditional,mainstream,establishment or based upon the two-party system of democrat vs republican which I call the “tyranny of the two-party system”..
    In all struggles there will always be action and matter what race nation or community.As a crisis intensifies so too will a struggle for leadership and power take place wherein the forces in power will try to silence or crush critics,or opposition ideologies and politics.This will happen in our Latino community as well and those forces of the mainstream political establishment will try to convince the Latino community to ignore and reject alternative points of views.They will attempt to rally Latinos to support even more wars of imperialism,to fight in those wars thereby maintaining and extending corporate US exploitation of the third-world.They will use patriotism and the lure of privilege to get their hooks into Latinos….whitewashing and brainwashing them to believe they have a “stake” in supporting and participating in Wars of imperialism and exploitation of third world labor and natural resources.
    They will use racism and say to Latinos..”hey,they’re just rag heads,gooks,niggers,they are Latin american communists it is’s good to make war on them..we hate them because “we” are Americans..(even though we despise Mexicans and wish they would all disappear,even though we would love to put them all in prison and get them “out of sight”.. “out of mind”… Latinos who fight for us are ok so we’ll let you in…ok??..a green card..citizenship..hell of a deal eh!!?
    Let us consider that all reforms are not always “good” reforms and that in reality some reforms are adorned with the ornamentation of “rights”which are just that- ornamentation which serves to trap and destroy it’s victims..sort of like the “venus fly-trap”.
    Unfortunately there are too many Latinos out there who will no matter what will always jump on the reform bandwagon for different reasons and motives ..they proclaim, shout out to the world..” I’ve never met a reform I didn’t like!!”..
    All Latinos should welcome and embrace a wide and inclusive dialogue from alternative sources…including socialist or communist ideas.
    This is what Latinos want .. this is Democracy.Let Latinos hear all ideas and let them make up their minds what will ideas will best serve their interests and needs..

  • 4 Anna // Aug 10, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Re: “communist ideas.”

    Oh, please. The real issue here is that undocumented workers from Mexico are at some point going to have to fight for changes in Mexico. That’s the source of the problem.

  • 5 Danny Gonzalez // Aug 10, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    it’s long been my belief that we latino’s will ( and shouldn’t ) ever be taken seriously or sincerely on the immigration issue if we continue to be as hypocritical as those extremist xenophobic types on the other side

    if we want reforms, if we want things like DREAM act, if we want better access to citizenship and naturalization as a LEGAL process, then we have to to respect THE LAW in other places too. I’m talking about ILLEGAL immigration.

    It’s ILLEGAL. If we can reckon that with ourselves, and accept the fact that people trying to cross the border illegally are committing a crime, and support efforts to curb this by law enforcement (border patrol) I think that gives us a lot more legitimacy to ask for the reforms we need.

  • 6 Anna // Aug 11, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Re: “people trying to cross the border illegally are committing a crime.”

    Crossing the border is not a crime. It’s a civil infraction. Right wing liars call it a crime. It’s not a crime because the agricultural industry need its workers.

    That being said, at some point Mexicans are going to have to fix their own country. If that ever happens though, the US government will side with the corrupt Mexican government.

  • 7 BettyM // Aug 11, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    I read this well written article and then read the second paragraph again…how true it is.

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