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Die Tageszeitung, Germany

And Now the Undocumented Aliens!

By Dorothea Hahn

Translated By Ron Argentati

30 January 2013

Edited by Lau­rence Bouvard

Germany - Die Tageszeitung - Original Article (German)

The approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are the backbone of entire sectors of the economy. They pay their taxes; they have families. But they have no rights. They are not allowed to vote. They often don't even make the (pathetic) U.S. minimum wage. They have no possibility of changing their immigrant status. They're liable to be picked up by the police at any time and deported.

Every politician who has tried to end this marginalization of almost four percent of the population in the past has met with failure. That also applies to Barack Obama during his first term as well as to his predecessor George W. Bush. Those forces demanding tighter border security, more police and increased deportations were able to prevail. Ideology triumphed over reality every time. In the confusion, one fact in the American debate has been overlooked: Many immigrants came to the United States only after the jobs in their native lands had been destroyed by free trade agreements and massive imports from the United States.

That's especially true of Mexico, where the majority of undocumented immigrants originate and where—after the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect—small farmers experienced the collapse of their livelihoods, particularly those who raised corn.

The recent presidential election marked the long-overdue turning point in dealing with undocumented immigrants. That's when legal immigrants from Latin America and Asia who were able to vote boxed the ears of the Republican Party. Nearly 75 percent of them voted Democratic. That's both an opportunity and an obligation for Barack Obama. He knows he owes his supporters comprehensive immigration reform and at least the upper echelons of the Republican Party have accepted the fact that they will never win another election without the support of these minorities.

Republicans were represented on the electoral battlefield by Mitt Romney, the candidate who felt the answer to the Latino problem was “self-deportation.” Since then, they have sent their own Latinos into the fray, proposing a new immigration policy that even includes amnesty for those already in country. These latest ideological breakthroughs among the Republican elite can be helpful to Obama if for no other reason than it shows that progress can be made if there is cooperation between the parties.

However, it is not a guarantee of success because the Republican Party is deeply divided between pragmatism at the top and the ideologically radicalized base that are worlds apart—and the Republican base is still under the sway of angry, white males who set the party’s tone.



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