"The real reasons behind the immigration debate

If you notice an unusual smell in the air this week, don’t worry. It won’t be a septic tank failure, it’ll just be the stench created when the neocon media and their followers collectively poop their pants over the immigration issue.

For every march and every rally held by Mexican immigrant workers, the conservatives will get just a little angrier and their rhetoric will become meaner and meaner. You’ll hear demands for giant concrete walls to be built along the border and for more cops and more guns to keep the Mexicans out.

Years of inaction by the president and the Republican Congress have brought us to this point. Both sides are angry and unwilling to compromise. Even the most modest reform proposals will be rejected by fundamentalist conservatives.

Sens. John McCain and Ted Kennedy came up with a reasonable plan a while back, one that would gradually reduce illegal immigration and provide a path to citizenship for those already here.

What happened? It failed, of course, as will all future non-insane plans for dealing with this issue. The conservative media has adopted this issue as its pet, since their policies on everything else have failed. It’s easy to stir up emotions about foreigners sneaking into our country and taking jobs away from Americans.

Part of the furor, of course, is the old conservative bait-and-switch. In the late 1990s, when the government should have been working to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks, the Republicans had FBI agents examining Monica Lewinsky’s dress.

After Sept. 11, when Osama bin Laden was cornered in the mountains of Afghanistan, the White House instead focused on non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Now that the war has been a failure on every conceivable level, the conservatives have to keep their followers by pushing hard on the immigration issue.

Every argument made by the neocons on illegal aliens comes down to some variant of “Our laws must be upheld. People who break the law on immigration have to pay the consequences.”

And while that argument makes sense, it ignores the fact that in our current society, the laws, in fact, aren’t being upheld against anyone except the poor and disadvantaged. If you’re wealthy or powerful, you don’t have to pay the consequences.

Bill Clinton allegedly lied under oath. He’s now a millionaire and his wife is getting ready to be the next president. O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson walked free out of court. Rush Limbaugh didn’t do one day of jail time on his drug offenses. Both Bush and Dick Cheney have DUIs on their records and that didn’t stop them from getting government jobs.

Former CIA director George Tenet helped build up the fraudulent case for the war in Iraq – and his punishment is a multimillion dollar book deal. Ask Randall Tobias how much time he’s going to spend in the lockup for his involvement in the call-girl scandal.

The concept of equal protection under the law was thrown away years ago. For quite some time, our laws have been enforced very selectively. The amount of trouble someone is likely to get into is directly proportional to his or her amount of wealth and influence.

The furor over illegal immigration can’t be attributed to the desire to keep American jobs, either. If it was, then we’d have limited imports from China and enacted laws to keep high-tech jobs from being outsourced to India.

If protecting American jobs was the No. 1 priority, then there would be no NAFTA, no WTO and no World Bank. We’d have stiff tariffs on imported goods and big incentives to keep our industrial base going.

But I think I’ve figured out why the conservatives are so afraid of Mexican workers getting citizenship in America. It’s not about enforcing the law or keeping jobs or even racism against Spanish-speaking people.

What they’re really afraid of is a dramatic increase in the number of pissed-off people. Pissed-off people who might earn the right to vote and throw the conservatives out of office, to be precise. Pissed-off people who’d feel free to demand a change in the power structure of their new country.

Pissed-off people who’d potentially band together with pissed-off white, African-American and Asian people to demand that the promises made in the Bill of Rights be kept.