Sunday, January 3, 2010

Guest Post: Robert Gittelson: Observation: Is "Enforcement Now, Enforcement Forever" Winning?

In today's New York Times, there was a disturbing yet oddly compelling article about homelessness among the undocumented day laborers in Queens, New York.

It made me ask myself the question, "if we can't pass comprehensive imigration reform, will Mark Krikorian of CIS win?" Krikorian wants all undocumented immigrants to become so miserable under the current outdated "enforcement only," (or as Professor Kevin Johnson has labeled it, "enforcement now, enforcement forever"), policy, that the only option left for them in order to surive starvation and the elements will be self deportation. Here is a passage from the article that illuminates the issue:

"Sipping coffee at a Colombian bakery on Roosevelt Avenue, Mr. Saldaña, Mr. Sanchez and Carlos Orellana, an Ecuadorean who has worked for 14 years as a day laborer, told of the sadness of being far from their children, whom they have watched grow in pictures that come with the occasional letter from home. At least there was a sense of empowerment while they were able to provide for them, they said. "We were the men of the family," said Mr. Orellana, 40. But now that they have no money, all they are left with is disappointment and shame, he said."

One of my fellow Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition advocates Juan Jose Gutierrez, appeared on the radio in a panel discussion with the notoriously anti-immigration and CIR obstructionist Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies last week. The CIS is one of the sister groups, along with NumbersUSA, that have roots tying them inextricably to the hate group F.A.I.R., an ironic acronym for the disingenuously named Federation for American Immigration Reform.

On the show, Krikorian was his usual outrageous self, calmly extorting the wonderful success of the current “Enforement Only” policy of the Obama Administration. Krikorian is the champion of the status quo. He likes to see enforcement only, because it fits nicely into his long held strategy of “Attrition Through Enforcement.” A couple of years ago, I addressed the shortcomings and cruel repercussions of that strategy after Mike Huckabee lost his Presidential bid, largely by endorsing Krikorian’s 10 point plan for Presidential victory, in which he first went public with his Attrition Through Enforcement policy. The article was titled, The Cruel And Intolerant Myth of Attrition: Why The Huckabee-Krikorian Scheme To Starve 20,000,000 Undocumented Economic Refugees Out Of The Country Is Inhumane, Fiscally Irresponsible, And Undermines American Values.

It concluded with the paragraph:

“It's like condemning 20,000,000 hard working and God loving people to execution by a thousand small cuts. It is a slow and painful torture of humiliation, condemnation, loss of dignity, hunger, helplessness, homelessness, desperation, and finally submission. Is this the America that we want? Is this the America that we have become? Huckabee and Krikorian seem to think so. One minute, Huckabee is saying that, "we are a better country then that", and the next he is proposing a scheme that would make the American Indian Trail of Tears seem like a casual stroll. Better then who, Governor? North Korea? Saudi Arabia? Darfur? If America is a better country then to demonstrate intolerance and inhumanity, (and we are), then show a little leadership by supporting a comprehensive immigration policy that can solve this problem in a compassionate and logical manner.”,1217-gittelson.shtm

In the radio discussion on December 30th, Krikorian claimed that “Illegal immigrants have been having a picnic here since 1986.”

Juan Jose rightly corrected Krikorian, when he replied, “I wouldn’t say that the over 30,000,000 human beings that came here to work hard and make a better life for themselves and their families, and that have been arrested, deported, and separated from their families since 1986 have been having a picnic."

Clearly Krikorian just doesn’t have a clue as to the humanitarian consequenses of his scheme, and that is extremely unfortunate, since he is looked upon by many of the opponents of CIR as being some sort of an expert on this subject, when clearly he is simply an obstructionist.

On the show, he went on to boldly threaten President Obama, stating that "he would be impeached if he tried to enact Comprehensive Immigration Reform." Is this simply hyperbole, or is Krikorian truly that delusional? Frankly, I say who cares? The time for restrictionism and obstructionism on this issue is over.

As Professor Johnson has asked before in this blog, "Is anybody out there listening?"

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