Systemic Faults

Honestly, I wasn’t too surprised to hear that the Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s  “lemme see your papers” doctrine; such laws are completely constitutional, and, furthermore, illegal aliens are guaranteed precisely zero protections under the U.S. constitution. Also, we need to keep American jobs for Americans and Mexicans are a drain on our already-burdened social welfare system.

Just kidding, I’m not a fascist slob.

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Really though, this wasn’t too shocking for me: the first half of what I said in the first paragraph is true; it will remain true and will become codified into our social contract unless we wake up and realize that the way immigrants are treated in the U.S. (a nation composed almost entirely of immigrants) is indicative of endemic flaws within our society. The Supreme Court (which, thanks to my man G.W. Bush is dominated by a repressive conservative white male majority) upheld its role as constitutional arbiter and didn’t legislate from the bench. Nonetheless, it is quite evident to any humane individual that their ruling was unfair.

Thank the gods that’s how it went, however: by utterly alienating any influence they might have had with the Latino voting bloc, conservatives have paved the way to systematic reform which could lead to something truly effective, such as amnesty on a grand scale. Were SCOTUS to rule against Arizona’s weird police state maneuvers, we liberals would have a Pyrrhic victory on our hands and a troubled election in November.

The moral outrage that has already followed this ruling will hopefully result in a greater awareness of how integral undocumented immigrants are to the functioning of this country. Take this into account: in 2010, illegal aliens paid 11.2 billion dollars in taxes; bailed-out multinationals like GM and CitiGroup, on the other hand, paid precisely zero. So how about we inquire once more who it is, exactly, that is leeching our system and contributing to state and federal deficits.

Take into account this as well: when you’re briskly walking through Penn Station, Planet Smoothie beverage in hand, your vaguely-healthy caffeinated fruit drink is entirely dependent on the labor of Hispanic immigrants, very often women, who woke up several hours before you did and went to a job for which they are paid minimum wage or less. Immigrants are the urban proletariat that wakes up and runs the city; it’s not a question of whether we are humane enough to want to allow them to remain in our country, the flow of capital and, indeed, our entire economy depends on the (exploited) labor of undocumented workers.

What we need is not concessions, nor is it careful pandering to voter interest groups; what we need is a shift, which recognizes how factually incorrect right-wing rhetoric has become: it is still very much true that undocumented aliens are unprotected by the U.S. constitution. Corporations, cheating, scheming, lobbying, bribing corporations, on the other hand, are granted personhood and their money is granted free-speech rights. Yes, I suppose this is also about spreading the message of humanism and democracy; most of all, however, this is about recognizing what put us into a situation where such rulings are both possible and utterly justifiable.


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