Land of the Jailed and Home of the Fearful

(noon – promoted by ek hornbeck)

I know there are a lot of my fellow citizens who have little sympathy for the struggles of undocumented workers in the United States.

I’ve heard all the arguments, the fears, the anger, and the confusion.

This essay is not intended to address any of that.  Whatever anyone feels about folks coming in to the United States illegally is something I will be happy to discuss at another time, in another essay.

Right now we have legislation pending written to treat immigration as a local law enforcement problem.

I got an email from talking about the Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga) sponsored S2717:

[The] Effective Immigration Enforcement Partnerships Act of 2008. The purpose of this bill is to provide local governments and law enforcement the resources, training, and authority to enforce U.S. immigration law at the local level. According to his website, aspects of the bill include:

• “Clarifying their authority to enforce federal immigration laws during their normal course of duty”

• “Expanding the 287(g) program to every state.” Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act authorizes state and local police to perform enforcement duties related to illegal immigration

• “Offering a basic training course for all state and local law enforcement officers”

• “Compensating state and local entities for immigration enforcement related expenses”

If you go to, you will see an option to have your say over this bill, whether you agree it should be passed or disagree and wish to let your representatives know you think this bill should not be passed.

Here is the email I wrote in response to all my representatives as well as the AG:

I strongly urge you not to vote for this legislation (S2717).

Our problems with immigration lie far more in bad laws and a system that does not work smoothly.  To treat this as a law enforcement problem will solve nothing and be bad for communities and families.

This isn’t a matter of chasing after hardened criminals who mean to do

harm, so this kind of cops and robbers enforcement will do nothing except ruin our communities.

Please vote against this legislation.  Thank you very much.

I wonder what kind of society we are turning into here in the United States.  We make preemptive war on countries who do not attack us.  We torture people.  We have more folks in prison than any other nation.  Think about that – we have the largest prison population in the world.

I wonder what kind of society can survive when our laws, both international and domestic, are geared towards brutal enforcement with never a notion that always making war, always  playing cops and robbers leads to the ever increasing need to continue to make war, continue to use aggression as the sole solution to every problem.

There have been many diaries here that speak to how we can have a comprehensive immigration policy, a progressive policy that deals with root causes and delivers real fairness both to undocumented workers and US citizens, that addresses labor issues and infrastructure issues.

No domestic problem will be solved by force alone.  I think we have seen the results of that kind of thinking, both in our policies abroad and here domestically.  The only reason that legislation like this is being put forth is purely political … the Republicans and Blue Dog Dems who favor this are not interested in the real problems we face here in the US when it comes to jobs, health care, education, and our crumbling infrastructure.  They just hope to ram this legislation through without our noticing what they are doing.  I hope we won’t allow that to happen.

I don’t think local law enforcement should be used to hunt down and arrest undocumented workers and I don’t think cronies of Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney should be making huge profits off building detention centers as provided for in the egregious SAVE Act, as diaried here and here.  I believe if anyone thinks about this for even a moment, the bad effects of these kinds of legislation will be clear – how this will affect communities, how folks report crimes, the endless list of abuses that can flow from treating undocumented workers like dangerous criminals.  The only ones who will profit from these kinds of legislation are corporations like Halliburton and KBR who build the detention centers, virtual family prisons, and who profit from the suffering of others.

If this is the best we can do to solve problems, then I think it’s a sad day for America, and a sad day for all hope of real freedom, justice, and liberty for all.


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  1. … at the orange.

  2. tried to pass similar legislation in our state. It was pretty roundly defeated, mostly because our Police Chiefs spoke out LOUDLY that they wanted no part of enforcing immigration. It undercuts their ability to do their jobs. I just hope that cash-strapped police departments don’t buy into this as a way to get additional funds.

  3. One that thinks it can solve its problems by putting them in prisons…or Gitmo.

    Yeah, that’ll work.

  4. is going to be defined in my Orwellian buisness buzzword dictionary as a plan originating from Satan’s own personal think tank.  The most obvious part of it’s “comprehensiveness” being mandatory Mark of the Beast 666 Satan’s microchip implantation.

  5. As you say, the problem is a very complex one.

    First, you might ask why are the immigrants coming here in the first place.  NAFTA has been the main reason.  If people can’t make it where they are, they simply leave to try and do better elsewhere.

    Of course, there have to be employers who take these people on as employees in the first place.

    And on and on!

    First of all, these people who do come here are some of the hardest working people I have ever seen — they more than earn the pitiable amount of money they make.  But to deal with these unfortunate people as though they are criminals?  

    This is the Bush way of dealing with things quickly — much easier that way — doesn’t have to be thought through thoroughly or worked out in a way that would be sensible for the immigrants or for us.  

    On the other hand, it might just be a ruse to commence the premier installation of a police state.

  6. This is definitely one to write the congress critters over. The Federal Govt. is out sourcing it’s law enforcement with this, and letting all the local Bubbas have at being a Fed.

    I apologize to all the good law enforcement officers out there that I just insulted, but I am going to let the statement stand because there ARE Bubbas out there and they WILL use this as an excuse to be even more of a bully.

    I hope that you don’t mind that I copy/pasted your email, it was succinct and quicker than composing my own. However I did add the following paragraph, trying to point the Congressional Critters to the true cause of the problem.

    The problem lies with NAFTA, and the devastation to the small, family farmer it has caused. Reverse the ills of NAFTA, and the immigration problem will be greatly reduced.

  7. When Congress has a bill before it that has both the word “effective” and the word “enforcement” in the title, it’s bound to be draconian and mean spirited and is designed to screw somebody who doesn’t deserve it.

    Nice catch.  

  8. and I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s ridiculous to treat undocumented workers as dangerous criminals – especially when we know there are plenty of major companies that are knowingly employing illegal workers.

    The prison business is BOOMING in the United States. More and more prisons are being built to house non-violent “offenders” – many who are being detained without proper legal representation, simply because they don’t have papers. Big business is exploiting people, and profiting off of the plight of people who need work. Big prison business is profiting off of the further exploitation of these people, and the offending companies get off scott-free.

    There are ways to improve the immigration system. There are laws that can be enforced. There should be better, more effective policies that can provide the US with workers of particular skill levels we don’t have, and not criminalize or demean those workers. We can control our immigration policies, giving more people opportunities and provides businesses with workers, without exploiting people.

    We keep turning our back on people in need. We keep closing our borders to refugees from countries in crisis that we have directly been involved in destroying (Iraq and Afghanistan, for example).

    Our nation has been building a thick wall around itself. Isolation and discrimination abound. It’s not the nation I thought was supposed to be a beacon of freedom for the tired and the poor. We need to be the land of the free and the home of the brave again.

    • Valtin on March 13, 2008 at 8:14 am

    Thanks for writing this.

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