Thursday, April 06, 2006

A worker is a worker is a worker....

Published in April 6, Marquette Tribune viewpoints section...

The immigration debate is heating up, as though there were a shortage of hot political issues in America. Joseph Kastner's April 4 Viewpoint argued against legislation that might aid the advancement of the status of illegal immigrants through amnesty. Apart from his "practical" proposals, there are two theoretical problems that plague his Viewpoint.

The first issue concerns rights. Kastner states that "illegal immigrants are not U.S. citizens, and therefore, are not entitled to the same rights, or privileges as official residents." As strong as this statement by Kastner appears, there is a problem with his idea of rights. Since the inception of the global war on terrorism, the Bush administration has come to define rights less by nationality and more according to the status of human persons. Freedom is not America's gift to the world, President Bush stated in his State of the Union originally justifying the Iraq war; rather, freedom is God's gift to humanity.

The political context for rights is terribly unclear because of this. There is a sense in which this administration really does think that humans are afforded rights on their status as humans, rather than as their status as members of a particular nation.

While many may be chuckling under their breath about the true opinion of the Bush administration concerning human rights, this apparent break from nationality for defining human status raises a troubling question for Kastner: How do the rights of American citizens differ from human rights?

The second problem for Kastner is capitalism. The real issue of illegal immigration is not illegal immigration: It is capitalism. What does this mean? Imagine, for a moment, a context in which illegal immigration is abolished — either by one extreme (building a wall and apprehending all "illegals"), or by another (abolishing "illegal" status by offering progressive steps for "illegals" to obtain citizenship). One problem remains: who will fill their shoes as menial laborers in the American capitalist system?

Kastner is confused when he muses about the existence of bureaucratic red-tape for those that wish to "legitimately" live and work in the United States. The problem is simple: There is no difference between a legitimate or illegitimate worker in the eyes of capitalist economics. A
worker is a worker is a worker!


What Kastner means by legitimacy is legality. But this is a stale definition of legitimacy. It's easy to hide behind legality when one feels that the law protects a particular political position. But, the whole situation becomes cloudy when the law itself is illegitimate. The laws, as they exist, do nothing to address illegal immigration because the laws need illegal immigrants to support a large, cumbersome economy.

In order to address the issue of illegal immigration, we must actually step away from the issue of legality into the realm of morality and attack the issue at its foundations. I offer this challenge: If one truly wants to abolish illegal immigration, one must abolish capitalism, for to rid America of illegal immigrants is to rid America of menial labor as an institution.

We must abolish illegal immigration not because we care about the legal status of persons, but because we are concerned with the exploitation of human persons made readily available by American legality in itself.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Jess said...

Hey, Nick, just wanted to say it's a good post and a good viewpoint. I keep wondering when people will wake up and realize that we can attribute much societal friction to classism. We don't like to admit we're a classist populace, but even a surface reading of Locke proves that we were founded on principly classist ideas. And they have been socialized into every generation since.

Also, you got a shout out on McAdams' blog. Though, I'm sorry to report, you've been classified as "leftist." I guess the lesson is that if you're going to disagree with conservatives on any issue, you must be leftist (hidden conclusion: anyone not a leftist need not pay attention to you, unless it is to scoff). There are no other options.

8:17 PM  
Blogger Nick Z. said...

Jess, thanks for the note, I appreciate it.

I agree with you completely about Locke. His Second Treatise really seems to be entirely present in the American constitution...

I find it disappointing that it's the abortion post that classifies me as a leftist!

8:19 PM  

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