Buttoning Bashing

Since the Republican Congress seems to be having a gay ol’ time IM’ing former pages, the single-sex marriage issue might not be the best headline pusher for people looking for votes in November. I’m sure they’re glad the other hot button issues are going well. You know things like the Iraq war and immigration.

Oh, wait! There was that little intelligence document that sneaked it’s way into the mailboxes of various journalists last week. Well, we can at least keep the Republicans in the border states like California and Texas going to the poles using the immigration issue. Right?

Oh, wait! Both the LA Times and the Washington Post are both running stories that show less than ecstasy on this point. The LA Times reports on people living directly on the Mexican border while the Post runs with the problems growers are having finding enough help to harvest the crop this year due to increased immigration restrictions.

Miguel Bustillo visits south Texas for the LA Times to give a taste of the feelings directly on the border.

[Border rancher Mike Vickers] very badly wants to stop the trail of death and despair that passes by his doorstep. But when he considers the wisdom of building twin steel walls along the Rio Grande to seal off the Mexican border — the plan Congress approved early Saturday before heading home for the November election — his verdict is swift and harsh: stupid idea.

“That’s just a big waste of money,” said Vickers, a Texas Republican activist who heads a group opposed to illegal immigration that until recently was the state branch of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.

“The Rio Grande is the lifeblood of South Texas,” he said. “A wall is just going to stand between farmers and ranchers and others who need legitimate access to water. It’s not going to stop the illegals.”

It seems the border fence isn’t quite the solution most people directly effected would like to see. Those pesky questions involving water, natural landscapes and social structures are somehow more important to the bilingual, binational towns riming the southern edge of the United States than who garners votes to Washington. Apparently in south Texas, the plan is almost universally disliked and quoting from the story again.

As Congress approved building the fence, it was hard to find a South Texas politician, merchant, economic analyst or academic who believed a wall would work — and who did not consider it an insult to the people of Mexico, with whom the region shares a strong social and economic bond, especially since passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“I am reminded of when Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross and he said, ‘Father, forgive them because they know not what they do,’ ” said Richard Cortez, the mayor of McAllen, which became one of the fastest-growing areas in America after NAFTA.

Ah Republicans! A bible reference for everything! Thank Allah.

Instead of driving into dusty border towns no one has ever heard of, Sonya Geis from the Washington Post chose to report from somewhere even more remote – California. Here the problem isn’t fences, its fruit. Too much fruit and not enough labor to harvest it.

Farmers of all types of specialty crops, from almonds to roses, have seen the immigrant labor supply they depend on dry up over the past year. Increased border security and competition from other industries are driving migrant laborers out of the fields, farmers say.

Earlier this year, many farmers were optimistic about finding a solution in the Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits and Security Act, or AgJobs. The bill, proposed by Sens. Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho) and Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), would allow undocumented agricultural workers already in the United States to become legal permanent residents and would streamline the current guest-worker program. In March and September, hundreds of growers traveled to the Capitol to lobby for the bill.
As the border tightens, Mexican workers who once spent part of each year in American fields without a work permit fear that if they go back to Mexico, they will be trapped behind the border, farmers say. Instead, they stay in the United States, taking year-round jobs that pay more and are less backbreaking than farm work, such as cleaning hotels or working in construction in cities on the Gulf Coast devastated by last year’s hurricanes.

There are several factors at work here. First, since the immigrant workers can’t be sure they can get back over the border, they stay in the US and take jobs that are attractive enough that they might even be filled by an American citizen. This puts pressure on the lowest income brackets and allowing the Republicans to get those votes. On the other side of the issue, the Republican farmers and fruit growers are facing losses and possibly forced to increase prices because the harvest is rotting in the fields and might not vote Republican. I wonder which demographic is larger.

But Pat Ricchiuti, owner of P-R Farms in California gives the surprising quote

“Certain Republicans are very closed-minded,” he continued. “They’re prejudiced, and they’re concerned about people taking their jobs. Well, you know what? You won’t do those jobs. You might stick your head up the grapevine once or twice, but you won’t do it a third time.”

Well, maybe no one wants to be a congressperson either.

I think Michelle Malkin should go down there and just tell those people what the problem is. Her. Job. Is. On. The. Line. She could be replaced at any moment by some Spanish speaking, dark skinned, foreign BIMBO. This is all about protection!  But then again, even I would prefer to work in a field than have to do Michelle Malkin’s job. Think of all the cans of worms you would have to open. Blah!

Perhaps the Republicans should just go back to gay bashing. Or IM’ing pages.

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