Friday, May 26, 2006


Senate Spokesperson Mel McCovey stood outside the Capitol Building this morning, facing the bleary-eyed press assembled in the morning sun of our nation's capital, "I'm here to announce the near-unanimous passage of the Sweeping Immigration Bill that we've worked on for weeks now," he proudly announced.

"All illegal immigrants that use brooms, attempt to use brooms, have thought occasionally about asking their employers to use brooms, or look like the kind of off-the-books, backroom workers that normal Americans associate with the use of brooms are ok, and will be granted official Non-Citizen Sweeper status, so long as they promise to learn English, pay taxes, and tell their relatives back home to stay put. Everyone else? Go home."

The "Sweeping Immigrant Omnibus Reform Act," contains a number of controversial passages, all of which passed following weeks of contentious debate, bringing to light American's famous tendency to seek distractions from their real troubles, and politicians' willingness to waste time and money responding to these wishes during election years.

Among these hard-fought elements of the Bill is the so-called "Getcher' Broom, Pedro" rider, added at the 11th hour by both Texas Senators, in response to extensive lobbying efforts by Lone Star State restaurant owners, as well as a number of shady Mexican land owners suspected of collecting sizeable "commissions" on the wages of Mexican busboys and dishwashers who have wives and children back home.

McCovey explained to the press what the Bill means for illegal immigrants not falling under the four sweeping requirements he outlined earlier: "Allow me to outline for you, in simple terms for those who don't 'speekee thee Eengleesh': if you don't use a broom, get the hell out! Use a mop? No. Drive a limo? Drive it over the border. Load ships? Load yourself and set sail. This is America, amigo. And if you don't use a broom, it's time to leave the room."

Responding to a reporter's questions, suggesting that these measures were not only racially loaded, but rather draconian as well as grossly shortsighted, McCovey said only, "Yeah, you're probably right on that one."

No word came directly from the White House, but White House Press Secretary Tony Snow offered the following canned remark: "The President assures Americans and Sweeping Immigrants that this Bill will make America safe from the terrorists. Keep buying, keep hiring sweeping immigrants, and God Bless America."

A few reporters asked McCovey if he could explain the significance of the broom, as opposed to other tools Americans associate with immigrant labor, such as burlap sacks for migrant farmers, heroin-filled condoms for drug mules, or bicycles with large chains for urban food deliver boys.

"Those are good questions," McCovey admitted. "But I'll tell you that after a couple months of spending millions of dollars of tax-payer money on focus groups, independent research, as well as rigged research, we've concluded without any doubts we'll admit to, that most Americans can accept a Mexican or Chinese guy sweeping floors covered in animal waste, rotting vegetable matter or cancer-causing dusts and resins. Let's face it, no normal Americans want those jobs anyway. But migrant farming and bicycle food delivery, for example, involve outdoor work, fresh air, sunshine. The American people just aren't willing to let short, dark people who talk funny have those plum jobs. What can I tell you?"

Asked about heroin-filled condoms, McCovey simply said, "Heroin and birth control are sensitive subjects, and may have national security implications. That's a matter for the Department of Homeland Security. C'mon, you guys know that."

Hillary Clinton, peppered with questions as she walked down the Capitol Hill steps said she voted for the Bill for "one reason & one reason only: these immigrants don't vote. Hill in '08!"

Rick Santorum, on the other hand, explained his decision by noting that, "We have determined that illegal immigrants overwhelmingly support gay marriage, abortion, atheism, Al Qaeda, free speech, gay marriage, abortion, and Al Qaeda, not to mention other anti-American concepts such as gay marriage and abortion. This measure will protect the American family. God bless America."

Asked about the potential effects of the Bill on the economy, none of the 100 Senators claimed to understand the question.

Finally, about an hour after McCovey ended the Q&A session, Juan Rodriguez and Chang Min-Shao spoke briefly to us, while sweeping the steps of the Capitol Building.

"Who know what this mean," Chang said, using an official Congressional push-broom estimated to cost $450,000. "I just want sweep and make paid. Why they no leave me alone?"

Rodriguez paused from his work with his smaller Congressional pull-broom and dustpan, together costing $1.1M, to explain, "It's bullshit, man. You think some lazy American teenager's gonna ride his bike through the city to deliver take-out Thai noodles. Nothing's gonna change, no matter what that chingado cabron told you guys."


Blogger Jim Robb said...

Thanks Mike! Breath of fresh aire!

10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mike:

Again posting as Anonymous!

I just finished reading 'Texas' by James Michener. Not the best writer in the world, not even a good writer, rather mediocre to say the truth.

But what ability to weave a nice mishmash of fiction and historical fact! I've learned more about Ireland, South Africa, the Pacific Island, etc., from reading Michener than any other learned treatise. And his research is usually pretty good, too!

Anyhow, to my point.

One of the final chapters in 'Texas' deals squarely with the problem of illegal immigration. Some context: the book was wrote in 1983. That particular chapter of the book is placed in the late 1960's.

What hit me square between the eyes is that the description of the problem, i.e., the miserable border controls, the flight of Mexicans from an unjust and oppressive society, the ambivalence of public authorities trying to balance the law against the financial interests of Big Money, and the relentless flood of illegals pouring into this nation, all of this could have been gleaned from yesterday's newpapers, down to the heartless, cruel coyotes abandoning their charges to a slow death in the arid Texas west.

But that story is forty years old. Quite something, huh?

Truth of the matter is that our present nativist explosion has much more to do with a souring economy than with a real concern about stopping illegal immigrants. We had the Reagan reaction to nativism which coincided with the throes of the early 80's recession; all that sound and fury was quickly forgotten when things swung into action in the 90's.

Now that our economy is looking more and more fragile and Joe and Sally Sixpack realize that the Amurkan dream is exactly that, a dream impossible to reach, the knee-jerk nativism that's just scratch-deep below the skin of every red, white and blue Amurkan is starting to reappear. Hence all the noise.

Will it make a difference in the great scheme of things? Going back to 'Texas', I'd venture the answer as no. Mexico has teeming millions it can't feed, clothe, or educate properly. The US of A is adapting to the globalized world by depressing salaries and benefits, which makes the illegal immigrant an integral part of the strategy. Guess who's paid and bought the Republican party? The selfsame fat cats that need depressed wages and benefits to be able to run their businesses against $1 an hour Chinese laborers.

The flood of illegals would stop cold if the CEO's of Toll Brothers, Four Seasons, or Burger King were thrown into jail. I don't see that happening any time soon; hell, I don't see that happenning ever!

40 years of history have shown us that these episodic rampages of border concern and latter-day nativism are trumped once and again by the economic self-interest of our capitalist monopolistic plutocrats. I predict that the brown torrent from south of the Rio Grande will keep coming in, unabated, until such a day that things really, really change over here.

Like, in a revolution.



9:57 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

The description of things in the 60's being the same as now is great.

And in 40 years, we'll hear the same crap all over again.

10:22 AM  

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