fresh voices from the front lines of change







Country legend Tom Russell, known for being one of the pioneers of Americana music, last year responded to the anti-immigrant frenzy with a brilliant song, “Who’s Gonna Build Your Wall?”

I’ve got 800 miles of open border – right outside my door.
There’s Minutemen in little pickup trucks who’ve declared their own damn war.

Now the government wants to build a barrier like old Berlin, 8 feet tall.
But if Uncle Sam sends the illegals home, who’s gonna build the wall?

Tom, how right you were.

Blue Texan’s latest Firedoglake post sums it up: “BushCo’s Border Fence To Keep Out Illegals Being Built By Illegals.”

The Austin American-Statesman reports on a planned 70-mile wall in the Rio Grande Valley:

Asked whether a border wall could be built on deadline without illegal workers, [Perry] Vaughan, with the general contractors group, told the Brownsville Herald in June: “It’s probably borderline impossible to be honest with you.”

The remarks were widely circulated on the Internet and picked up by other news organizations. Some in cyberspace said they don’t care who builds a border wall.

“I just want the damn fence built. … I’ll let the Libs and the Intellectuals sit around and worry about irony,” one poster wrote on a conservative Web site.

“I was simply acknowledging that in the construction industry, a pretty significant percentage of workers are obviously undocumented,” Vaughan told the American-Statesman.

Although federal law prohibits employers from knowingly hiring illegal workers, an estimated 9 percent of Texas’ workforce is unauthorized; 5 percent is nationally. Many employers and business and trade groups emphasize that they don’t condone immigration-related fraud but that they can’t vouch for the documents their workers present.

This is merely more evidence of a complete breakdown in our economic, trade and immigration system.

Unfair trade ship American jobs abroad to chase cheap labor. Reckless industrialization disrupts local agricultural economies south of our border. Those who don’t get factory work leave home, cross the border illegally so they can be exploited farther away from their home. Workers everyone lose.

Instead of helping workers, conservative politicians posture about cracking down on immigrants and building border walls, while looking the other way when it comes to employer behavior. (The Bush Administration penalized a mere 17 employers for illegally hiring unauthorized workers.)

And that means you can’t build a border wall to keep out illegal immigrants, without illegal immigrants.

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