Sunday, December 12, 2004

Kerik's nanny problem

Joining Zoe Baird, Bernard Kerik has a "nanny problem"that is at least part of the reason he withdrew his nomination to become head of Homeland Security. And again our immigration policy highlights the problems and the hypocracies.

Kerik long ago joined the wealthy elite (he also made $6.2 million on his Taser stock options - the real scandal) whose membership often includes seeking to save a few bucks by hiring an undocumented nanny. To save even a few bucks more, Kerik also failed to pay the requires taxes on her wages.

While he waxes eloquent about how she loved his kids, the truth is that he apparently liked child care on the cheap and he also likes an employee who dares not ask for much without risking deportation. So we again get a glimpse of how the rich are still willing to screw over the poor just to hang onto a few more dollars they will never live long enough to spend.

We also get a lesson in how the millions of undocumented workers who live among us drag down the wages at the lower end of the wage scale.

Charting an ethical and moral course on immigration is no easy matter. Listening to CNN's Lou Dobbs hammer home the anti-immigration theme each night often means that you find yourself accepting parts of the argument, at the same time you want to take a hot shower to wash off the stink of finding yourself in the company of nativists like Pat Buchanan.

If you open the U.S. borders to all comers, the result would be a surge of millions of the most desperate and unskilled workers escaping oppression everywhere else. Earlier this year, when Ralph Nader spoke at Michigan State, a Communist Party member challenged him to adopt an open border campaign plank. The ever-cerebral Nader looked at the young man like he was promoting belief in a flat earth. Yet there is no denying that the millions of undocumented workers already here serve as a stick to keep low-wage workers from asking for more, though chucking them out is not only unfeasible but inhumane.

What we have is the worst of both worlds. The Federation for American Immigration Reform says that there are at least nine million undocumented workers living among us. Bottom line is that we are not going to deport them all. Deny them driver's licenses and other benefits of our society and all you do is harass them and make their lives more miserable while they hang our drywall and take care of our kids. Auto insurers might enjoy be delighted to avoid paying claims on uninsured drivers, but you will not find that families who have been here for decades will opt to go home just because you make their lives tougher than they already are.

We need a mix of immigrants with various skills from all over the world to fulfill the American dream. When we demonize those who do so by hook or by crook instead of waiting in line, we are forgetting that these are the people with the courage, the brains, and the tenacity we need. The challenge becomes how to accept if not welcome them without encouraging an influx of newcomers who outstrip our economic and ecological carrying capacity.

1 comment:

Libertarian of Pennsylvania said...

It just shows what kind of people President Bush picks to run his administration.