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Ever celebrated a day ‘without an immigrant’?

by SajiniW on 3rd May, 2006 at 9:14 am    

Ridiculous, racist and narrow-minded. Just three of the adjectives used to describe the hostile callers and comedians talking about the inaugural ‘Day Without An Immigrant’ celebrated in the US on May the 1st.

Held in protest against the demonisation of illegal immigrants in the US, it passed without friction.

The Minuteman Project, which has organized citizens’ patrols along the Mexican border to monitor illegal immigration says they cost Americans jobs, and that black communities in inner cities are hurt most. The group plans rallies across the country, beginning Wednesday in Los Angeles, to highlight its view. Republican Congressman, Tom Tancredo, echoes this view, saying: “If all illegal aliens all took the day off and were truly invisible for one day, there would be some plusses along with the mild inconveniences.”

Some Hispanic leaders are, surprisingly, in agreement with him. CNN reports that Washington, meanwhile, is struggling with immigration legislation.

The Senate bill would include provisions for improved border security, a guest-worker program and options for citizenship. If a Senate compromise is reached, it would still need to make it through the House, where the going could be more difficult.

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  1. Jay Singh — on 3rd May, 2006 at 12:39 pm  

    Interesting stuff! I read somewhere that the future demographics of America are going to be heavily Hispanic.

  2. Sunny — on 3rd May, 2006 at 1:48 pm  

    The Minuteman project I believe organised a rally on the America-Mexican border too a few months ago on this. Hardly anyone turned up.

    So I reckon this will be a damp squib. Or rather it reminds me of the MAC - trying to grab the limelight while riding on an issue.

  3. Rakhee — on 3rd May, 2006 at 2:15 pm  

    Jay, you’re right. In total, Hispanic, African and Asian-American populations are growing at seven times the rate of the general market with a spending power of $1 trillion.

    Immigration is a sensitive topic and although there will always be fruitloops who run campaigns like the above, I’d like to think that in general, Americans can see the economic and social benefit of having people in their country from different backgrounds…

  4. sonia — on 3rd May, 2006 at 3:22 pm  

    “I read somewhere that the future demographics of America are going to be heavily Hispanic”

    ha - possibly somewhere in Samuel Huntington’s writings? ! :-) his book ” who are we?t he challenges to america’s national identity’ ..pretty much talks about the ‘hispanic’ influx and then goes on to interpret it as a threat. of course - what can you expect from the person who wrote ‘clash of civilizations’.

    of course, say for example, California..looking at the demographics, Hispanics are the biggest group. so pretty much - 50% ‘white’ and so out of the ‘others’, yes the Hispanics are the biggest groups.

  5. Jay Singh — on 3rd May, 2006 at 3:51 pm  

    It wasnt from Samuel Huntington I read that - it was a piece about Latino culture and Spanish culture increasing in importance in America - it was a positive article.

  6. SajiniW — on 3rd May, 2006 at 4:53 pm  

    Many of the immigrants are Cubans - people from a country America has impoverished over the years.

  7. Bikhair — on 3rd May, 2006 at 6:08 pm  

    Pickled Pill Poppers,

    “The Minuteman Project, which has organized citizens’ patrols along the Mexican border to monitor illegal immigration says illegal immigrants cost Americans jobs, and that blacks in the inner cities are hurt most.”

    I hate this argument because when some conservatives, especially black conservatives want to talk about how blacks lack a work ethnic, they always point to the undesireable work done by illegal immigrants. Now, since it is politically advantageous, they speak about how blacks are being pushed out of jobs that they really really want.

  8. Sunny — on 3rd May, 2006 at 6:49 pm  

    Sunny agrees with Bikhair shock!

  9. Jai — on 3rd May, 2006 at 7:01 pm  


    Agreed. Personally, I quite like Bikhair these days.

  10. SajiniW — on 3rd May, 2006 at 7:22 pm  

    Interesting analogy Bikhair - thanks!

  11. Bogdan — on 3rd May, 2006 at 8:17 pm  

    Sunny: Have you been reading the Guardian? ; )

    I’m not sure you have it right. The “Day Without Immigrants” rallies were organized BY immigrants, not against them. The idea is to demonstrate that the U.S. depends on immigrants, and that immigrants are Americans. Tom Tancredo has nothing to do with it, except to pour fourth bile in response to either of points the rally organizers hope to make.

    SajiniW — interesting concept: Cubans come to the U.S. because the U.S. has impoverished their country? Maybe they come to the U.S. because they think Castro has impoverished their country, and they think they may have a chance to earn a living in the U.S. Would you risk your life to sail a raft to a country that made you poor? Think about it.

  12. BRIAN of CHINGFORD — on 3rd May, 2006 at 8:24 pm  

    A day without YOU scrounging parasitic immigrants……HEAVEN!

  13. Don — on 3rd May, 2006 at 9:51 pm  


    I think you are reading a typo; ‘against the of illegal immigrants ‘ suggests that Sunny was seeking le mot juste to insert between ‘the’ and ‘of’, but forget to get back to it before posting. Treatment? exploitation? Perhaps he’s over-tired. He has rather been spreading himself around.

    And I think it is pretty clear that America has impoverished Cuba over the years. Deliberately and with malice aforethought. I’m not a fan of Fidel, but US policy towards Cuba has been consistently ugly.

  14. Sajn — on 3rd May, 2006 at 10:39 pm  

    Sunny just once, try not mentioning muslims.

  15. Sunny — on 3rd May, 2006 at 11:00 pm  

    Would it have made you feel better if I mentiond a Sikh or a Hindu organisation Sajn? Because I can, just so, you know, you don’t feel victimised too much.

    Bogdan - How did you know ;)

    I’ve amended the original post. Admittedly it gave the impression the march was organised against immigrants.

  16. Amir — on 4th May, 2006 at 2:59 am  

    Americans have every right to be concerned about their porous borders and lax immigration policy. I agree with Rakhee that there are definite economic benefits to immigrant labour - but there are, also, huge social consequences. Unfortunately, there are silly journalists like Gary Younge of the Guardian who pretend otherwise.

    A democracy isn’t just a piece of paper with a set of rules written on it. It’s a culture. Obedience to the law demands that people feel enough in common with each other to accept the legitimacy of a polyarchy. Take away the demos, the community with which we identify when we use the word ‘we’, and you are left only with the kratos, the power of a state that must compel obedience by force, because it cannot appeal to civic patriotism.

    To ensure that all immigrants are active citizens, the American administration needs to pursue a rigorous policy of assimilation.

  17. Rakhee — on 4th May, 2006 at 10:53 am  

    Amir - completely agree with you on the social consequences front but also think there are huge social benefits.

    An amendment to your words - To ensure that all immigrants are active citizens, the American administration needs to get rid of f**kwits like George Bush. They will then have a better chance of pursuing policies which are not influenced by such insular, racist leaders and hopefully, improve the social conditions of the state.

    Not that I have any strong feelings on the matter…

  18. Dan Collins — on 4th May, 2006 at 12:55 pm  

    The Minutemen have been in the US news for over a year, attempting to bring attention to the lax border security that has permitted an estimated 11 to 15 million to enter the country illegally since 1989.

    The protesters don’t want the US to tighten its controls, beef up border security, or to more stringently monitor immigration and begin enforcing its laws vigorously. What they would like is amnesty.

    In Mexico, it is against the law for non-citizens, even those who are there legally on student visas and the like to engage in any kind of political activity or demonstration, and people have been deported for marching. There are machine-gun emplacements on Mexico’s border with Guatemala. Yet Mexican government agencies, particularly social service agencies have had the gall to send delegates to the rallies.

    The average Yanqui has nothing against Hispanics who are in the country legally, but is concerned, post 9/11, about border security. The average Yanqui also finds it appalling that protestors who wish to have the rights of citizens have so little respect for the law or for US sovreignty.

  19. Amir — on 4th May, 2006 at 4:21 pm  

    Bush… insular?
    […removing Saddam Hussein from power and the Taliban?, ending Syrian occupation in Lebanon?, exerting ample pressure on Hosni Mubarak to conduct ‘free’ and ‘fair’ elections in Egypt?, being the first American President to publicly criticise Israel?, & showing active support for Palestinian self-determination?]
    Bush… racist?
    [Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell, voting to improve trading links with the UAE…when both republicans and democrats refused to ratify it?]

    Are we talking about the same George W. Bush? Or is it this guy you’re thinking of?

  20. Sunny — on 4th May, 2006 at 4:41 pm  

    Amir, as you admitted in the other thread, he only removed those people in power because he managed to sell (through lies) to his people that they posed a threat. Otherwise he has no real desire to help other people. What about the unwillingness to fund contraception in Africa or force the pharmas to reduce their prices in Africa? Hmmmmm.
    Plus, he never ended Syrian occupation in Lebanon and neither did Hosni Mubarak really carry out fair elections. Neither want the ISlamic Brotherhood to get anywhere.

    Criticising Israel openly is ok, but what happened to the , much vaunted peace roadmap? They chucked that back in his face.

  21. Rakhee — on 4th May, 2006 at 7:40 pm  

    Here here Sunny.

    Amir, to avoid getting in fierce debate, I’ll leave you with one thought.

    Actions speak louder than words. Motives speak even louder than actions. Especially when it comes to politicians.


  22. Amir — on 5th May, 2006 at 12:25 am  

    First up: Sunny
    George W. Bush’s motives for the Iraq war were clear enough: to shake up the sclerotic power structures of the Middle-East and hasten the spread of democracy. After Sept. 11, several conservative policy-makers decided in effect that there were ‘root causes’ behind the al-Qaeda attacks. These ‘root causes’ lay in the political slum that the United States has been running in the region, and in the rotten nexus of client-states from Riyadh to Islamabad. That was how the argument was put: our national security requires a spread of our democratic values elsewhere to bridge the civilisational divide.

    Unfortunately, the Bush and Blair administration decided that it was easier to scare voters than to try and persuade them, and simpler to stress the language of ‘threat’ than the discourse of human rights or regime change. That did not mean to say, however, that the WMD argument was a priori bogus (why fabricate something you know will shortly be refuted?). Rather, the intelligence agencies and policymakers were culpable of cherry-picking (magnifying a few salient bits of disturbing information) and sugarcoating (glossing-over contradictory evidence). It was a tactical game of smoke and mirrors – not lying.

  23. Amir — on 5th May, 2006 at 12:27 am  

    Sunny & Rakhee
    And yet – notwithstanding the cynicism of its use – the WMD argument was a serious one, and it deserved to be taken seriously by the political opposition at home and allies around the world. Instead, the war’s critics, including leaders of the Democratic party, steadily refused to engage in debate. Now, let us consider for a moment what we have learnt since the war has ended:

    Point 1) Iraq had belonged to a notorious group of nations that sought to obtain illegal weaponry by stealth. At this time, this club included Libya, Iran, North Korea, and an insidious military clique revolved around the rogue scientist A.Q. Khan in Pakistan. As well as state-sponsored terrorism, there was also the possibility that as a result of a coup, or a civil war, or some other breakdown of power and control, terrorist groups would gain access to such arsenals and laboratories. (And we also know, from the Duelfer report and many other sources, that Iraq hoped to retain his latent ability to restart production once the UN sanctions had been lifted or rendered ineffective.)

    Point 2) On June 20, 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that 2-tons of low-enriched uranium, as well as other radioactive materials such as thorium, had been recovered from Al Hatteen and elsewhere. Some of these nuclear facilities, including the Baghdad Nuclear Research Facility and Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center, were found looted in the month following the invasion.

    Point 3) Shells containing illegal chemical elements have been discovered all over Iraq, including mustard gas (02/05/04) and sarin (15/05/04). Under the orders of Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaeda operatives had entered Jordan from Syria with trucks filled with 20 tons of toxic chemicals. The Jordanian authorities tell us that their ingredients have been discovered, in the hands of extremist gangs, on Jordanian territory.

    Point 4) In February 1999, Wissam al-Zahawie (Iraqi representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency) left his Vatican office for a few days and paid an official visit to Niger, a country known for its vast deposits of yellowcake uranium ore. It was from Niger that Iraq had originally acquired uranium in 1981, as confirmed in the Duelfer Report. Unfortunately, this occurrence has been sullied by a fake document, dated July 6, 2000, which claims to show Zahawie’s signature and diplomatic seal on an actual agreement.

    Point 5) The David Kay inquiry, while finding no stockpiles of WMDs, established that as late as March 2003, the envoys of Saddam were meeting the envoys of Kim Jong Il in Damascus, with a view to Saddam exchanging some of his stolen money for some of North Korea’s illicit missiles and for the production of facilities to make illegal weapons. Inspectors also uncovered a few biological laboratories and a collection of ‘reference strains’, including a strain of botulinum bacteria that ought to have been declared to the UN. According to Kay, Iraq worked on WMDs right under the noses of UNMOVIC, and had tried to weaponize ricin ‘right up until’ Operation Iraqi Freedom

    Point 6) On June 25, 2003, it was disclosed that an Iraqi scientist named Mahdi Obeidi, the former chief of the Iraq’s uranium-enrichment program, had led American investigators to a spot in his back yard. In this place, in 1991, he had buried several components of a gas centrifuge, used for uranium enrichment, along with a two-foot stack of blueprints. The burial had been personally ordered by Saddam’s younger son, Qusay, and the trove had survived several waves of inspections.

    Point 7) Georges Hormiz Sada – the former Vice Air Marshall under Saddam Hussein – was informed by the Ba’ath interior that portions of the WMD stockpiles were flown to Damascus in Syria just prior to the 2003 invasion. According to Sada, the weapons were transported to Syria under the guise of humanitarian aid after a natural disaster had destroyed a dam.

    Point 8) On Feb 7, 2006, the Pentagon disclosed to the public that it had retrieved tapes of Saddam Hussein meeting with top aides during the 1990s. These ‘smoking gun’ cassettes reveal Iraq’s persistent efforts to hide information about WMD programs from U.N. inspectors. The tapes have been verified by US analysts as authentic, and cover hundreds of hours of recordings made in Saddam’s presidential offices from 1988 to 2000.

    (Note: in the last weeks of the major military campaign, government offices were systematically looted, with files and computer disk drives with information regarding Iraqi weapons program stolen, destroyed, and burned. The failure of the United States to secure these facilities may have meant that a great deal of evidence was either hidden or destroyed.)

  24. Sunny — on 5th May, 2006 at 1:05 am  

    Amir - we are arguing over pedantics, which I don’t want to. There is constant wrangling over what evidence was out there and what wasn’t.

    But most instructively, you say:
    to shake up the sclerotic power structures of the Middle-East and hasten the spread of democracy.

    Not really. He has done nothing about Saudi Arabia, which remains at the heart of the problem, because they are an ally.

    As I also said before, he did not really facilitate good elections in Egypt because they did not want the Muslim Brotherhood to get anywhere. And lastly, when the Palestinians exercised their right to democracy by voting in Hamas - Bush rejected any plans to engage with them. So there seems to be very little evidence to support what you say he wants to do.

  25. Amir — on 5th May, 2006 at 2:02 am  

    Here’s a picture of Claire Short on the campaign trail with local councillors.

  26. Amir — on 5th May, 2006 at 2:26 am  


    He has done nothing about Saudi Arabia.

    This is a misleading and counter-intuitive: ‘If you invade x, why not invade y? Y is bad’. Iraq wasn’t merely a dictatorship: an authoritarian regime unremarkable amongst other such regimes. It wasn’t, for example, Egypt, Uganda or Cuba today; or Nicaragua under Somoza. Saddam Hussein is single-handedly responsible for two genocides (one against the Kurds and the other against Marsh Arabs), initiated two industrial-scale wars with lethal consequences, and – to top it off – slaughtered an estimated 300,000 in his regime’s deadly maw.

    The important revelations in Cobra II, by Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor, about the underestimated reserve strength of the Fedayeen Saddam, give us an excellent picture of what the successor regime to the Baath Party was shaping up to be: an Islamized para-state militia ruling its peoples by a vicious divide-and-rule policy. I am glad - as are the Iraqi people - that such a contingency is now impossible.

    At any rate, America can’t just declare war (at a whim) on the planet’s natural constituency of tyrants – it hasn’t got the resources or public support to do so.

  27. Amir — on 5th May, 2006 at 2:44 am  

    …not really facilitate good elections in Egypt because they did not want the Muslim Brotherhood to get anywhere.

    Notwithstanding the electoral corruption and gaping anomalies (notice: I put ‘free’ and ‘fair’ in inverted commas), at least President Bush and Egypt are moving in the right direction. Progress occurs incrementally. You can’t expect Egypt to blossom into a bed of roses overnight. Bob Geldof hitherto hasn’t eradicated Third World famine, but at least he’s trying to get the ball rolling the right direction. As for your other point: Preventing the Muslim Brotherhood from entering into the national election was not ‘undemocratic’ or hypocritical. Germany, for instance, has permanent laws preventing anti-democratic parties from competing for seats in the Reichstag (i.e. the neo-Nazi party). Tolerating the intolerable is a paradox that Karl Popper discussed at some length – and I recommend you read it. In any case, there were pragmatic reasons for not allowing them to compete - i.e. destabilization, a greater incentive to sabotage the elections, etc.

  28. Sunny — on 5th May, 2006 at 2:44 am  

    Right, so they can’t invade countries willy nilly and depose of whoever they like… but you said:
    to shake up the sclerotic power structures of the Middle-East and hasten the spread of democracy.

    Where is the evidence Bush has done this?

  29. Rakhee — on 5th May, 2006 at 8:19 am  

    …so they can’t invade countries willy nilly and depose of whoever they like… EXACTLY.

    Amir, with all the best will in the world and every fact under the sun, the point remains that George W Bush’s motives are questionable.

    Are you honestly telling me that if it Iraq did not have the world’s second largest proven oil reserves, he would give a damn about the people out there? If you are, then revert back to Sunny’s first point - why isn’t he getting heavily involved in Africa?

  30. sonia — on 5th May, 2006 at 12:26 pm  

    “to shake up the sclerotic power structures of the Middle-East and hasten the spread of democracy”

    time and time again you hear this old argument.

    people who make this seem to a) know nothing about the middle east apart from what they’ve heard on FOX news - that purveyor of great global information . Certainly have they been to the Middle East ? you’d think they were all experts or sth. Though given the understanding of ‘expertise’ - hell Condi was an ‘expert’ on Russia -oh yes her msg? keep up the cold war.

    and b) no one seems to understand democracy.

    First and foremost, I would suggest to the US administration to consider democracy at home. Once they’ve fixed that - move abroad. Assuming they have ’sorted’ it at home, they could try looking up democracy in the dictionary - i.e. don’t butt in and tell someone else what to do and then pretend it was all in aid of ‘helping’ people to be democratic - i.e. ‘govern’ themselves. Unless they’ve got some quirky definitions of ‘governance’ yet again.

    Really people don’t think very much do they.

    I can appreciate that Americans might not be bothered enough about their own democracy or lack thereof. but what’s this great pretence of having such a wonderful understanding of what’s going on anywhere else?!

  31. sonia — on 5th May, 2006 at 12:28 pm  

    “anti-democratic parties”

    oh yeah what a brilliant term. what’s that exactly? the Republicans?

    haw haw

  32. sonia — on 5th May, 2006 at 12:38 pm  

    Bogdan - ” SajiniW — interesting concept: Cubans come to the U.S. because the U.S. has impoverished their country? Maybe they come to the U.S. because they think Castro has impoverished their country, and they think they may have a chance to earn a living in the U.S. Would you risk your life to sail a raft to a country that made you poor? Think about it.”

    yes erm its not so simple. it goes both ways. Certainly the US has done a HELL Of a Lot to make life difficult for Cuba. They’ve gone out of their way to isolate them and punish them. they’ve also engaged in a lot of propaganda to make it ’seem’ that life would be better there. ( and that’s highly questionable)

  33. sonia — on 5th May, 2006 at 12:49 pm  

    but i do think bogdan has a point about the day without immigrants in the US - my understanding ( though of course i could be wrong = what with the kind of reporting that comes out of the US) was that the immigrants had taken the initiative in order to show the nation they couldn’t do ‘without’ them. something along those lines. so they went off and boycotted work and held masses of rallies etc. to show their ‘presence’ and power. and good for them i say.

    for a nation founded by ‘immigrants’ i find their discourse around immigration bizarre, as it does not acknowledge that fact. if they at least said sth like..okay we’re all immigrants, but we’re gonna close the door now cos its full or whatever, fair enough. one can debate that how one likes. but to pretend that some folks were ‘legitimate founders’ and had the ‘right’ and others don’t - well that brings the whole discourse - in my opinion - down to a human rights issue.

  34. sonia — on 5th May, 2006 at 12:59 pm  

    Sunny’s comment up above - ‘where is the proof bush has done this’ - is a good one. After all, if we have a look, all we can find in history is that the US administration has had some dodgy allies, ( who have been turned subsequently into major enemies..and ‘enemies of democracy’ heh heh) , and have interfered with democratically elected administrations - look at the coups in Latin America.

    where in all this history is there any evidence of the US administration thinking of anything apart from its own very narrow interests? Even then i would say a lot of these interventions were not in the interest of the American populace or country, but political interests of a few.

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