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Thursday, Nov 12, 2009, 7:51 am

Weekly Diaspora: Deporting Dobbs

By Nezua
After 30 years, commentator Lou Dobbs—infamous for his tirades against undocumented immigrants—has left CNN, as TPM reports. Dobbs employed disturbing, dangerous, and dated language to slur immigrants, often equating them with disease and infection. There is a connection between this type of demagoguery and violence.

Clearly, the organizing efforts of groups like Basta Dobbs have borne fruit, as even Dobbs admits. GRITtv recently covered the "way the mainstream media equates 'Latino' with 'immigrant'" and Latino organizing efforts to correct this perspective.

"Over the past six months, it's become increasingly clear that strong winds of change have begun buffeting this country, and affecting all of us," Dobbs said in his last live broadcast for CNN. Other commentators belonging to the old school of racist separatism ought take note. It's a new day in the USA.



Much like the ideological frames that Dobbs was fond of, our current immigration policies wrongly mark some citizens as harmful so that others can "benefit." This week, ABM Industries in Minneapolis worked with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to execute a silent raid similar to September's raid on American Apparel. In the case of ABM, 1,250 janitors were fired in an economy where massive job loss further harms struggling communities.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio continues laboring under this illusion, as National Radio Project reports, and the effects of enforcement-first policies have been drastic. Once upon a time Latinos and immigrants and whites lived together mostly peaceably in Maricopa County, AZ. Now, people scream "build a wall, deport them all" and law enforcement sweeps are aimed at the undocumented. Fear rules the town. National Radio Project reports on these seismic changes, and also how gangs are able to extort community members because nobody dares call the police.

Tyler Moran reports for New America Media on how the broken immigration system affects all workers, and not just the undocumented. Systems that would normally redress unfair working environments fall apart when workers cannot stand up for themselves. Moran calls this dynamic "a secret weapon for keeping down wages and working conditions."

Using a wicked sort of revolving door style, "unscrupulous employers" hire the undocumented for lower wages, and if they happen to complain about conditions or pay, the employer calls the Department of Homeland Security or uses the threat to suppress challenges. This type of exploitation brings down the wages and conditions for all, and has no place in a modern society.

Jorge Rivas reports for RaceWire on recent attempts by some cable news networks to diminish the worth and meaning of Megrahtom Keflezighi's New York marathon win. Even though Keflezighi legally immigrated and is an American citizen, to CNBC Sports Business Reporter Darren Rovell, the win was "empty." And Keflezighi's Americanness itself is merely "taking a test and living in our country." Dividing "real Americans" from people like Keflezighi is an ugly reflex. It does nothing to prom0te a healthy country.

Emily Deprang reviews Helen Thorpe's Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America for the Texas Observer. The story unfolds on a bus trip from Tucson to Houston and back and "details four young Mexican women" in varying legal situations—two with papers and two undocumented. DePrang calls the book "an epic journey through the realities of undocumented life" and feels that "every American—documented or not—deserves to meet Marisela, Yadira, Elissa, and Clara."

Marcelo Ballve, reporting for New America Media, recaps the minute, but important, shifts that have come about since last week's elections, and how they may aid the coming immigration reform showdown. "Viewed through the lens of the immigration issue," the results are not dramatically telling on either side.

In states like Virginia and New Jersey, Republican hardliners gained power. But in other places, like New York's 23rd district and California's 10th district, the Democrats picked up two seats. This two seat gain should make it "just a bit easier for House Democrats to marshal the votes" they need to advance immigration reform soon. Ballve explores numerous other states, stances, and policies—such as the 287(g) program—and how the political landscape has been affected. Clearly, it's all very much in play.

Finally, a note on Veteran's Day from Alemayehu Addis, an immigrant and a veteran.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, The Pulse and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

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