Ruben Navarrette Smokes from the Neoliberal Pipe

Let me start by saying that I have really begun to enjoy reading Ruben Navarrette Jr.‘s editorials this past year. There are far too few Latino journalists out there, and even fewer willing to speak from a grounded and informed basis on issues surrounding the Latino populations of the U.S. While I hardly agree with him all the time, he has been at the journalistic forefront of dissecting the current immigration debate in a way that often centers the racism at its core.

That said, brother’s got some crazy in him, too…as we all do. Navarrette’s latest sampling is a reflection of his own political foundations and assumptions, that of the neoliberal order that is “the West.” It is marked by a faith in individualism, in the market rationales, and in a democratic system to assure people’s rights. It is both Clinton and Reagan and everyone in between and, often, on to the right and left of both.

Navarrette might see himself as a political realist or pragmatist (I don’t know), but a neoliberalist he is. He sees open borders as an unfeasible solution because of the politics of it. He advocates for some solution to the current immigration situation by proclaiming some kind of faith in “the law.” And he thinks kids are lazy. Okay, that one might not be a feature of neoliberlaism, but he does

“It’s worth mentioning that not only do illegal immigrants do jobs that Americans won’t do, but many of the jobs they’re doing were once done by young people in their teens and 20s – your sons and daughters – who, as a generation, have shown themselves to have a terrible work ethic.”

His neoliberal tradition is reflected here in the belief that economic decisions which have lead in the past two decades to the substitution of youth labor by undocumented and documented immigrant labor are decisions made at the point of labor entry by the worker in question.

When I was working near Salinas, California–a town that does not run without immigrant labor–some students in one of my Chicano Studies classes had a conversation with a local employer who discussed his concerted effort to hire adult immigrants over teenagers for his fast food franchises. He saw them as more permanent and flexible with their hours, as well as willing to work for the wages he offered.
Such decisions are not rare. They are also not ones made solely–or even a little bit–by the workers themselves.

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