I am one American who will be moved in the direction not intended by sponsors of the May 1 National Day Without Immigrants Great American Boycott demonstrations.
When supporters of illegal immigration threaten to boycott all stores, it makes me feel like shopping. When I see TV reporters interview demonstrators, who announce that they are undocumented, I can only surmise that illegal immigrants have nothing to fear from immigration authorities.
When demonstrators say that Americans should welcome them because they are willing to work at low wages, I notice that they have depressed wages for other low-skilled workers and made it harder for less-educated Americans to earn a living wage. I salute anyone who wants to work hard, but I cannot feel good about the fact that they do so by dragging down other people's ability to earn a decent living.
When I read Mexican American Political Association flyers for the May 1 event that demand "immediate legalization without conditions," that tells me activists don't want the earned citizenship in the Senate Judiciary Committee immigration bill, because it requires would-be citizens to learn English, attend civics classes, pay a fine and back taxes, and pass a criminal background check.
Well obviously things are not going to go that way. In fact it has been said that the demonstrations will backfire. Will they? I suppose that depends on what their purpose is. If the goal is to seperate the Hispanic from the Republican party base and drive the nativists berzerk then it just might work. Otherwise it will be counterproductive. I also would not be surprised if a great many of the undocumented workers in this country just wish these people would shut up and stop making trouble for them. It has been my observation that often times activists only represent other activists. Most people just want to be left in peace.
But I do not agree that these people just depress wages. There is no way Americans will do migrant labor work in the numbers needed. Paying another couple of bucks an hour won't help. The truth is the only time Americans have been willing to do that work in any numbers in the last century were the years of the Great Depression. My grandparents went to work the fields in California and as soon as they could get out of it they did. My grandfather was not a lazy man but he hated picking fruit and was ashamed of the time he spent in the camps. By the 50's the US was encouraging people to come up from Mexico and work. I suppose that if we did try to unionize the work and offer enough benefits it might help, but that would raise prices to consumers. Considering the reaction to high gas prices I doubt this would be popular or sustainable.
So while it is true that Americans will do some of the jobs these people do, like construction and truck driving, I think the truth is that without Mexican migrant workers we would be looking at some empty produce shelves.
This is why I think the guest worker program is needed. But it seems that any more people think in extremes, everything is all or nothing.