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Tuesday, May 24, 2005 | This week, Voice focuses on different perspectives on San Diego’s relationship with the border.
A San Diego Union-Tribune editorial, “Minutemen effect” (May 12, 2005) closed with “… Latino leaders have glimpsed the alternative – lawn chairs and all – and they don’t like what they see.” Well, I am not a Latino leader and I don’t like what I see. Disguise it as much as you want, give it whatever patriotic sounding name – vigilantism under any name is vigilantism.
Were the Arizona participants requested to do so by any law enforcement agency? No. Were they a part of any law enforcement agency? No. Were they deputized by any law enforcement agency? No. Were they armed while sitting in their “lawn chairs and all”? Yes. Did their armed presence represent a potentially dangerous situation to life? Yes. They are vigilantes.
So how in God’s name, can any editorial board accept such activity? How would editorials read had there been loss of life at the Arizona border? Had it been an American sitting on his lawn chair – would an invasion of Mexico be justified or killing of Mexicans coming across illegally? Would the entire border have been shut down until saner heads prevailed? Or, had it been a Mexican illegal killed, would newspaper editorials call for the swift apprehension of the killer(s) and prosecution to the fullest? And if one of theirs was killed and they then killed one of ours? What then?
Is memory so short that it has been forgotten that in the mid-1990s such murderous acts did occur? The case of the Mexican illegal attempting to escape his pursuer by jumping over a chain link fence in San Ysidro was shot and killed. Or the case of the Mexican family along the freeway median close to the border prior to the erection of the chain-link fence wherein one driver purposely ran over them killing one and maiming others – the hit-and-run culprit never apprehended. These barbarous acts following a constant daily barrage from radio talk show hosts pounding and enflaming listeners with anti-illegal immigrant ravings, much like today. Did not the lesson that it takes only one madman take?
The editorial began with the observation that as a majority, (U.S. citizen) Latinos oppose illegal immigration. This observation is not only correct today, it has been for decades. But as a majority this does not translate into supporting mob rule to solve the problem; or as in Proposition 187, to throw children out of school.
The U.S. became the greatest capitalist nation in the world because better than most other nations it clearly understands the economic law of “supply and demand” – demand is the engine of supply. But when it comes to Mexican illegal immigration we are to believe that supply is the engine of demand. Seal the border first (supply) before we tackle the issue of those who hire (demand). This is nothing short of political hypocrisy that now is fast expanding into national hypocrisy aided and abetted by U.S. media.
It’s not a secret that the hiring practices of some U.S. industries cause the demand for low-cost labor. Additionally, there are jobs that U.S. citizens have outgrown due to the harshness of the work and its low wages. This is particularly true in the agricultural industry where field-hands work in scorching sun from dawn to sunset without overtime pay, other benefits and for under two-digit dollar wages. The agricultural industry has had remedy since 1964 through the usage of the H-2 (since 1986, H-2A) temporary worker visas, but have as a majority, refused to apply under the “excuse” that it’s too burdensome instead hiring illegal immigrants either directly or through labor contractors.
This is universally known, yet did the so-called Minutemen even consider placing their lawn chairs alongside any of the hundreds of agricultural fields in Arizona where the demand brings the supply? Did they consider placing their lawn chairs outside major restaurant chains where the odds they hire dishwashers and busboys are high? Or outside hotels, or at construction sites? Of course not – that would not create major media impact.
Locally, what have San Diego’s congressional representatives done to curb illegal hiring practices other than lip service? Have any of them demanded that businesses in their own districts stop hiring illegal immigrants? How many businesses has the Union-Tribune exposed for hiring illegal immigrants?
Ah, but let someone promote a book or seek political office attacking illegal immigrants, and full press media coverage is sure to follow.
Patrick Osio, Jr. is editor of HispanicVista.com. Contact him at