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Arizona, You Missed An Opportunity

by Alex Iwashyna

in Progressive Politics

where-is-arizonaInstead of leading the immigration reform, Arizona has taken us backwards with a draconian and down-right embarrassing bill, SB 1070. As I mentioned yesterday, this bill makes me so irritated that I can hardly type. But I am finally ready to take a closer look at why Arizona enacted SB 1070.

The most common argument against illegal immigrants (IIs), especially in our current economy, is that IIs are taking away jobs from “real Americans” (RAs).

Okay, let’s look at the argument. Let’s say that there would be RAs lined up around the country to pick apples and wash dishes and trim the bushes. But companies are still employing IIs. Why? Well, what are the benefits?

Companies can pay below minimum wage. If you are illegally in the country, you have no say in the matter. Because you will be deported. And in all likelihood, the II risked his life and life savings to get to the United States.

Companies can provide no benefits. If an II gets sick, she goes to the ER because there is no medical home for her and no insurance. Because companies don’t have to provide insurance to someone who does not technically exist.

And if these jobs are so coveted, why AREN’T the RAs showing up at the manual labor offices and parking lots? Why aren’t they willing to work for less than minimum wage in the hot sun for 12 hours a day 7 days per week?

My question is why isn’t Arizona going after these companies with tougher policies? Why the IIs? The companies are not only keeping the RAs from getting jobs, but they are creating a caste-like system. And costing the RAs money by giving jobs away and having the IIs go to the emergency room for all healthcare. But for the more business/less government people, the question may then come up: how are companies just barely making it, going to increase wages to appropriate amounts and grant benefits without help? How can these companies afford RAs? (Although if Arizona is getting rid of all the IIs, Arizona companies are going to have the same problem with SB 1070.)

The other option is that there are NOT people lining up to take over these jobs. That even on minimum wage, RAs don’t want them. If that is the case, why not grant amnesty to IIs so these jobs can be done. Because we need them done. Maybe we can even do them without FORCED LABOR! But again, we will probably have to help all those companies do the right thing and pay minimum wage and benefits if IIs become RAs. And companies cannot like that idea.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to go after the small and large businesses? The farmers? The guys with the good lobbyists? Oh wait, IIs don’t have lobbyists. Within our system, they don’t even exist. What a perfect scapegoat. Win-win. Voters have someone to blame for their economic woes. Companies get off (well until they need someone in the fields. Of course, in Arizona IIs are so much more vulnerable with SB 1070 that companies will have even MORE power to control their workforce.)

Arizona could’ve put into place a law to go after the companies. They could’ve encouraged citizens to turn in their landscaping company instead of the officer who isn’t harassing enough Hispanics walking down their street.  And Arizona could’ve provided grants and loans to businesses. These would offset the cost of raising pay to minimum wage and providing benefits. But only if the companies would actually go under if they had to, you know, DO THE RIGHT THING by their workers. (Yes. It’s a bailout. But probably cheaper than teaching officers how to not do RACIAL PROFILING while doing RACIAL PROFILING.  And it’s almost definitely cheaper than lawsuits.)

Although I am an advocate for amnesty because I believe that people, who have come to our country to contribute and create better lives, deserve to stay and be recognized, I understand that some people can’t let go of the word ILLEGAL.  Well, what if after enacting this anti-corporations-using-illegal-immigrants bill, Arizona places advertisements around town to see how many of these jobs at the fair wage are filled? Arizona could’ve been the testing ground. And let the people in this country, who think illegal immigrants are destroying our economy, know: Look. We don’t have people to do these jobs. That was just smoke and mirrors for hate. Let’s grant amnesty to the hard working IIs.  If only for the sake of our economy.

And we all win! Perhaps even corporate America could sleep at night.

Photo credit: Arizona Map

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Alexandra April 28, 2010 1

I can’t even tell you how this situation makes me want to cry. People being punished for trying to feed their families??? Really???

Meanwhile, the jerks that employ them cuz they can pay them next to nothing, and nothing for benefits , get to pretend that by golly, they’re mad as hell, too.

Hey! hard working II’s, quit taking our jobs that NO ONE here will do.

Such hate. I can’t even tell you. The wrong people are being blamed, punished, hated…and I’m starting to get chest pains, so I”ll stop.

Thank you for this. I seem to be the only one around here that can see how screwed up this is. So screwed up I can’t even believe what I saw on the news yesterday.
.-= Alexandra´s last blog ..LOL =-.


Chara April 28, 2010 2

Watched more about this on the news last night. They have some pretty funny clips from SNL and Bill Marr comparing it to WWII movies in Germany, etc. Not that it’s funny, but it made a GREAT point and got MY attention. Asking for “papers” and the idea of cops trolling the streets for people that might be II is just plain SCARY! Not to mention then when the parents are deported what happens to their kids that ARE citizens because they were born here? They then go into the overcrowded foster care system. While I am not sure I agree with amnesty (maybe a zippier become a citizen program) but I TOTALLY agree we need to go after the employers of the II and give prop$ to the companies not employing them or those that set up programs to get those to become citizens that may have a working visa and want to stay.
.-= Chara´s last blog ..The Davids =-.


Cecilia April 28, 2010 3

Thank you for caring so much to write about this, Alexandra. My parents were immigrants, exploited…I won’t go on. This hits close to home.
.-= Cecilia´s last blog ..It’s a Cruel, Cruel World =-.


The Mother April 28, 2010 4

My son (taking US History AP) was yakking this morning about how the tolerance “pendulum” swings.


We have a black president of the US, and Arizona thinks it’s going to get away with a bill that allows racial profiling. Where does that leave our pendulum now?
.-= The Mother´s last blog ..The Mother’s Guide to College Accommodations =-.


Ann April 28, 2010 5

When are you running for office??? You’ve got my vote! You could not have stated this more perfectly!


Justine April 28, 2010 6

Amen sistah! I am an immigrant – not illegal but still an immigrant – and I work to support my family on another continent. I’m lucky enough to have an education that enabled me to have a job that pays above minimum wage, but not everyone is. I know what it’s like to work hard here to send money home, but I can’t imagine being exploited just because I’m trying to give my family a better life.

It’s true that the uproar with many RAs lie with the word “illegal” but aren’t many of the RAs’ descendants of folk that came from another country? Illegal or not, they came here to the land of opportunity to provide a new, better life for their family. It’s ironic that these same people, the benefactors of this noble ambition, are the ones with an issue with the IIs who are in essence trying to do what their own forefathers/mothers did years ago.
.-= Justine´s last blog ..A Little Birdie Told Me =-.


Jana @ Attitude Adjustment April 28, 2010 7

I’m like Alexandra. I get chest pains just thinking about this stuff. That’s why I have followed less news (not that that behavior is to be applauded, but I’m a sensitive creature). Hopefully enough people will rally together that this law can be overturned.
.-= Jana @ Attitude Adjustment´s last blog ..The Unbearable Lightness of Swinging =-.


Kate April 28, 2010 8

I wish everyone saw it this way. When I think about immigration, bigotry words fail. Glad your words flow.
.-= Kate´s last blog ..When watercolors aren’t enough =-.


stayathomemd April 28, 2010 9

I couldn’t agree more. Everyone against undocumented workers should stop eating fruit and chicken, smoking cigarettes, having their homes cleaned, and living in constructed homes if they want to put their money where their mouth is. Look out for a post from me about the racial profiling aspect of this law–when I get over my inarticulate rage!
.-= stayathomemd´s last blog ..Please excuse me while I rant for a moment… =-.


Reasonably Chubby April 28, 2010 10

GIRL!!! You are very smart and eloquent as well. I enjoy reading your blog because my IQ increases by a few points every time I do. I’m definitely going to have to ponder this post even though National Ponder Day is officially over. And I’m certainly going to need some smores to get the job done. :) I hope you have a wonderful day…thanks for letting your voice be heard!
.-= Reasonably Chubby´s last blog ..I’ve Gone Plumb Crazy! =-.


Mandy April 28, 2010 11

“…A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles…
‘Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!’ cries she
With silent lips. ‘Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wrentched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’”

This entire situation deeply saddens me.
.-= Mandy´s last blog ..Gardening Addiction =-.


Mrs.Mayhem April 28, 2010 12

Your argument is so well thought out, that I have nothing to add. The entire situation is WRONG. Why can’t so many people forget the word illegal and realize that immigrants are people?

I read news articles and have such a feeling of hopelessness. What can we, the average Americans, do to change anything?
.-= Mrs.Mayhem´s last blog ..Sunday Morning Bike Ride =-.


Alex Iwashyna April 28, 2010 13

Thank you for all your amazing comments and support! It’s so cool to be surrounded by such amazing people.
Mrs. Mayhem inspired me to comment about things we can do:
1) write letters! To our congressmen and senators AND to theirs. And especially to their governor:
2) don’t travel to AZ
3) boycott AZ companies (which there aren’t many comprehensive lists. this is the best and most uptodate that I could find):
4) there is a petition but i think that it’s more of a show than something with teeth (like letters and no money is):

Thank you!!


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