The “Border Beat” (February 7, 2009)

It’s time for another “Border Beat,” a round-up of the latest news and views from Latino USA.

Without a doubt, the most significant and under-reported story for Latinos (and all working people) is the coordinated effort by the Republican minority to stall the vote on President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis.  [See Peter Rothberg’s recent post on this at The Nation for the latest.]  As they stand in the way of a truly meaningful appointment to the cabinet, the Senate Republicans also show their hand: they’ve elevated their disgust of organized labor to such a irrational extreme that it becomes an evil in and of itself, tantamount to a crime.  That is the status of working people in the eyes of some elected officials.

Here’s some more food for thought for your late-night, can’t sleep, intellectual snack time…

• “The Nativists Are Restless” (NY Times)
This is the opinion piece that pissed off Bill O’Reily last week. By way of offering proof against it, he showed a video clip of himself saying he is pro-immigration.  One clip out of the years and years of him saying inflammatory and, yes, racist things to the contrary.  Just for that you should read it, print it out and share it, put it on a t-shirt…do something.

• “Arrests of Americans in Tijuana up in 2008, but drop in other cities” (LA Times)
If you’ve ever been on one of those college trips across the border where drunken 18 and 19 year-olds drink cheap beer and go looking for a “donkey show,” well, then this doesn’t surprise you.  I don’t know how I feel that the piece is from the “Travel” section.  It ends up having one of those “watch out if you travel to Mexico” kind of effects, made all the more palpable by the lack of specific cause for the rising arrest rates.

• “A shortage of hands” (Baltimore Sun)
Turns out, Mexicans are the backbone of the crab industry.  There’s probably a more cleaver way to say that, but it’s the case nonetheless.  The unavailability of H-2B visas allowing them to come work for their low American wages might mean and end to the industry this year and forever.  Ah, the doom and gloom that keeps immigrant-imported labor underpaid!

• “Death Spurs 911 Drive To Assure Immigrants” (Washington Post)
So it’s like this: José Sanchez is dead.  He is dead because he lay fatally-inured on the street for 20 minutes before anybody called 911.  Some 150 people walked by and did nothing.  The predominant theory as to why is that there is such a cultural fear of the authorities in this ICE-friendly part of the nation that nobody wanted to risk what might happen to themselves.  There are undoubtedly other issues involved–not the least of which is a general societal indifference to life in the barrio.

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