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Jewish World Review
May 1, 2006
/ 3 Iyar, 5766
The Great American Turnoff
Debra J. Saunders
I am one American who will be moved in the direction not intended by sponsors of the May 1 National Day Without Immigrants Great American Boycott demonstrations.
When supporters of illegal immigration threaten to boycott all stores, it makes me feel like shopping. When I see TV reporters interview demonstrators, who announce that they are undocumented, I can only surmise that illegal immigrants have nothing to fear from immigration authorities.
When demonstrators say that Americans should welcome them because they are willing to work at low wages, I notice that they have depressed wages for other low-skilled workers and made it harder for less-educated Americans to earn a living wage. I salute anyone who wants to work hard, but I cannot feel good about the fact that they do so by dragging down other people's ability to earn a decent living.
When I read Mexican American Political Association flyers for the May 1 event that demand "immediate legalization without conditions," that tells me activists don't want the earned citizenship in the Senate Judiciary Committee immigration bill, because it requires would-be citizens to learn English, attend civics classes, pay a fine and back taxes, and pass a criminal background check.
When I read, "no escuela" (no school) on MAPA flyers, and that the Los Angeles Times reported that in Southern California some 40,000 students may have skipped school to join in past protests, I think of the 18 percent of Latino high school seniors who have not yet passed the state exit exam.
When I read, "no trabajo" (no work), I see activists who are ready to stick it to their most potent lobby, American employers, which makes them ingrates.
Then, when MAPA President Nativo Lopez calls for "no employer sanctions and no guest-worker programs," that tells me he wants no laws whatsoever governing who can come to and work in America.
When the California Senate passes a resolution in favor of the May 1 boycotts, and doesn't even bother to tell children to go to school, I am grateful for term limits and yearn for reapportionment.
When Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa go public to bemoan stupid racist threats and letters they have received, I know I can match them epithet for epithet, except I wouldn't give the nut jobs who send such missives the satisfaction.
When organizers in Mexico call for a "Nothing Gringo" boycott of American goods on May 1, I know that racism visits all sides of this debate.
The bottom line is that while these demonstrations, I am told, are supposed to make me feel better about illegal immigrants, I feel angry when I see thousands of people who knowingly break American law, yet somehow feel entitled to do so and outraged that they have not been sufficiently rewarded for it.
And I'm someone who wants to find a compromise that accommodates working families that have put down roots in California.
Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., represents a district that includes suburbanites angry about the lack of enforcement, as well as agricultural interests desperate for guest workers. As he sees it, the recent protests, especially marches that featured the Mexican flag, "really did harden up people's positions. It really politicized the whole issue. It took away any hope we have of having a workable policy."
Now: "I don't think that there's a political solution that makes sense from a policy standpoint that can possibly come out of this."
Even Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer has told demonstrators that while she supports their right to boycott, the demonstrators have made their point, and now it's time to cool it.
I can only say that when I read, "no trabajo" and "no escuela" and "no compra" (no shopping) and "no venta" (no selling), my response is: "No mas." No more.
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