02-19-2017  8:43 am      •     

WASHINGTON (NNPA) - If you are really angry about immigration …then you should be asking questions about US foreign policy.
In the aftermath of the extremely racist Arizona anti-immigrant legislation—SB 1070—and the fact that opinion polls seem to indicate that a majority of the public supports this obliteration of basic human rights, it is worth asking a few tough questions. Let's start with these:
1. Was the financial collapse in the fall of 2008 caused by immigrants—documented or otherwise?
2. Has the decline of the US auto industry, and the corresponding loss of thousands of jobs, been the result of immigrants?
3. Has the U.S. lost its shipbuilding industry due to immigrants?
4. Is there any recession (or depression) on record that can be attributed to immigrants?
If you cannot demonstrate that immigration has had anything to do with the declining economy and its impact on working people, then you need to look for other culprits.
What is happening in Arizona is a travesty. Playing on fears, a racist piece of legislation was passed that allegedly addresses a problem that has been proven to be on the decline. That's right, undocumented immigration is declining. Yet the legislation that was passed was playing to the fears largely of White Americans who are watching the demographics of the USA change. In that sense the Arizona legislation that aims to go after anyone appearing to be an "illegal alien" is not so much aimed at undocumented immigrants but is aimed at Chicanos and Native Americans as populations, and also aimed at stirring up right-wing fears among Whites, driving them to the Republican Party.
Contemporary immigration has resulted from several critical factors. One has to do with the legacy of colonialism and Western domination of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, which deformed the societies and economies of these regions. A second has to do with wars, many of which are directly related to the active interference of outside powers, particularly the USA and Europe. A third has to do with the growing environmental crisis, including but not limited to global warming, wherein lands are becoming deserts, on the one hand, and being submerged under water, on the other hand.
Putting this all together, the immigration that we are witnessing is not the result of people coming with the intent to steal "our" jobs but is the result of desperation. Playing on this desperation are unscrupulous employers who seek vulnerable and inexpensive labor.
Putting up walls or massive raids on immigrant communities does not come close to addressing the real challenge. People are moving to the USA, Western Europe and Canada not because they want to, but because they have to. Insofar as they are unable to have real self-determination because their economies have been dominated and/or destroyed by Western countries or to the extent to which their lands have been devastated by wars financed by the West, millions move.
This is the discussion that must take place, including within Black America. Too many African Americans find themselves seduced by anti-immigrant bias in large part because of the desperation of our own condition. As we have watched our own jobs disappear and seen ruthless employers utilize immigrant labor, it is not surprising that there are resentments that emerge. That, however, does not justify such feelings.
Arizona's anti-immigrant legislation is the logical outcome of deep-seated racism combined with a refusal to acknowledge the implications of US economic and political actions on the rest of the world, particularly toward Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. In other words, for those who believe—rightly or wrongly—that immigration is out of control and is somehow a threat, they should not look south of the border but should look into the US mirror…and be prepared for the shock of their lives.
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum, and the co-author of "Solidarity Divided." He can be reached at papaq54@hotmail.com.

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  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
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