"Now, We Have No Work. We Are Not Free."

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Your morning shot of misery comes from Monica Rohr in aptly-named Postville, Iowa, the scene of an immigration raid that swept, blew, rampaged—pick your hurricane metaphor—the immigrant population that was making the town liveable.

Red ribbons, symbolizing support for the detained workers, still flutter from lamp posts and tree trunks. A sign on one front lawn near the Agriprocessors plant declares: "Immigrants Welcome. Bienvenidos."

"We've got a lot of people here who need help. We can't just throw them out on the street," said the silver-haired mayor. "They're our family. They've made their homes here, had jobs here, raised families here."

As with a disaster, the initial mobilization has been followed by shifting emotions—quiet anger at the federal government's actions; outrage at allegations of abusive working conditions at the plant; and above all, worry.

No one could have predicted this:

The Mexican and Guatemalan families who once pushed strollers along the streets or frequented the downtown stores and restaurants now try to stay out of sight.

In their place are newcomers drawn, as they were, by reports of job openings at Agriprocessors, or recruited by labor agencies contracted by the plant. Many of the new workers are Somali men who keep to themselves and gather to share food and coffee at a storefront on Postville's main drag.

Stories like this remind me of Hazelton, Penn., the town famous for Mayor Lou Barletta's anti-illegal immigration ordinances. Barletta, of course, is now running for Congress.

NEXT: Just Gettin' off on Misery

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  1. People who look different are not human.
    People who speak a different language are not human.

    People who are not human do not deserve dignity, sanctuary, or a means to elevate their station above what it is.

    Have I summed it up OK, Lonewacko?
    Or am I an unwitting shill for BigForeignGovernments?

  2. Lonewacko in 5…4…3…

  3. To me, open borders is the great libertarian issue of our day, with clear lines between right and wrong and very little room for nuance.
    (Yeah, I’m lookin’ at you, Wacko.)
    Unfortunately, guys like Paul, and Barr to a lesser extent, seem to be on the wrong side. I’m still voting for the Libertarian candidate for president, however, in hopes of better things to come.

  4. Well, at least all those white people who got their jobs taken away will flood back into to town to fill them.

  5. Paul and Barr add an unnecessary extra step to the immigration issue: close the borders, get rid of welfare, then open them up again. I prefer opening them up and eliminating welfare, without the weird cul-de-sac.

  6. Maybe you could address the issues instead of baiting the neighborhood trolls? It gets old.

  7. Oh, poor Agriprocessors! They have lost their
    Latin slave labor force. But they are resourceful, now they are now using Ethiopians and underage kids, they have been indited for violating child labor laws.

  8. I often wonder why no one comments on the obvious causal link between reduced demand for housing and falling real estate prices.

  9. LMNOP,

    You’ve got it all wrong. It’s not about race or ethnicity. It’s about security and the rule of law. Rounding these people up for the heinous crime of working for pay is justified because they have broken our laws.

    Excuse me, I mean OurLaws.

  10. “Maybe you could address the issues instead of baiting the neighborhood trolls? It gets old.”
    Does this constitute meta-trolling?

  11. CN,

    No. It basically just amounts to whining.

    Meta-trolling is trolling the trolls, not defending them from the criticism they so richly deserve.

  12. Ok, SF, but there really needs to be a name for trolling about trolls.

  13. Trolls are a virus.

    We are an immune response.

    😉

  14. Ok, SF, but there really needs to be a name for trolling about trolls.

    Trolling^2

    (trolling squared for those not familiar with power notation in code–the reason comment box won’t recognize superscript tags)

  15. Many of the new workers are Somali men who keep to themselves and gather to share food and coffee at a storefront on Postville’s main drag.

    Be careful what you wish for…

    (what, no khat?)

  16. What’s truly surprising is the absence of out-of-work mortgage brokers applying for these chicken plucking jobs. I can’t understand it.

  17. trolling about trolls could simply be “baiting,” (to be distiguished from “‘batin”) but actually calling a troll to a thread is “summoning.”

    Now, if you are talking about people who defend trolls (real trolls, not contrarians or passionate non-libertarians) they are almost always sock-puppets of the trolls themselves. If they actually are someone sticking up for the troll, especially with a drive-by insult post of their own, I support Epi’s “troll^2.”

    People who try to control how the thread is going, the “let’s get back on topic” people already have a name: “douchebags.”

  18. Ok, Paul Harvey. That’s three San Fransicso murders committed by one IllegalAlien.

    And how many murders have been committed by U.S. citizens this year? Oh, that’s right, more than 50 and counting. We really need to do something about those damn Americans.

  19. …how many (San Francisco) murders…

  20. People who try to control how the thread is going, the “let’s get back on topic” people already have a name: “douchebags.”

    I don’t mind people trying to get threads back on topic, if they’re posting something substantive in the process.

    So, doing pretty much exactly what I’m not.

  21. Let’s get back on topic people. This thread is about immigration.

  22. Leave douchebag alone, you jerks.

  23. Somalis are taking Mexican jobs!

  24. Listen Hugh Akston

    Being an illegal alien is, in fact, breaking the law.

    So is
    – DWI (kills over 16,000 people per year)
    – Minor Marijuiana offenses (Keep Dope Alive)
    – Drive 80mph in a 65mph

    The penality for being an illegal Alian is FAR TOO HIGH and TOO mean-spirited…and appears to be RACIST since these LAWS that u are so proud of didn’t come into affect until non-europeans started coming to america.

  25. Addiction to cheap labor causes myopia, tunnel vision and mental disorders.
    It causes one to not care a tinker’s damn for his fellow citizens, the laws
    of his country and for what is right and just. The disease of addiction to
    cheap labor cannot be cured; it can only be controlled. It is an insidious
    disease that manifests itself in those that embrace illegal aliens into the
    work force. Those individuals addicted to cheap labor as a means of their
    existence must be quarantined; otherwise greedy, selfish, weak minded,
    spineless and other easily infected people could be infected with this
    horrible, debilitating disease

  26. Facts thru the Mist.
    They are real flesh & blood people who arnt asking for hand-outs.
    The families they speak of are mostly American citizens.
    The employers, the city, the people of Postville are all suffering desperately.
    Our Federal Govt has a clear history of resolving the issue for the best of all parties, check it out.
    Federal Tax rolls will decline as a result of the raid.
    The future of the city is bleak.
    If this were to happen again, in a larger city with a larger raid. it would be a total disaster for a lot more than just the hispanic crowd.

  27. Hey SuperSam

    I agree with the cheap labor thing. Perhaps they should pay those immigrants more. But, boy will that TOMATO cost a lot of money.

  28. that swept, blew, rampaged-pick your hurricane metaphor

    I would think that tornado metaphors would be more appropriate for Iowa.

  29. If you really thought hard on it you would realize that in the end you would suffer from this catastrphic, be reasonable or ask yourself is it just hate?

  30. If you really want to dig deep into this subject check out the blog at http://www.contempomag.com about HR 4088. & see what the budget office says about lossing the labor of illegal immigration. its not just about the tomatoes, your taxes will go thru the roof.

  31. Is it just me, or is the title of this post actually a self-Godwinizing reference to concentration camps?

    You know, the ones with “Arbeit macht Frei” over the entrance.

  32. “””Those individuals addicted to cheap labor as a means of their
    existence must be quarantined; otherwise greedy, selfish, weak minded,
    spineless and other easily infected people could be infected with this
    horrible, debilitating disease””””

    Nice. But they do it to supply those addicted to cheap goods. Those addicted to cheap goods should be punished the same. Maybe we should turn Wal-mart into internment camps.

  33. David Weigel wrote:

    the immigrant population that was making the town liveable

    Your article doesn’t explain this statement, unless you use the second blockquote as an oblique observation of the effects of changing cultures on living conditions. The town’s cultural makeup certainly is changing, which is what most of the Rohr article remarks upon.

    So what part of this has to do with the “liveable”? If nothing, then the remark is wrong. If it has to do with the penalties imposed on the illegal immigrants, then it’s misleading (you would rather say that it’s changed the illegal immigrants’ ability to live there, and thus the law should change). If it’s to do with the changing culture (Somali violence? I only skimmed the article, but I didn’t see any mention of it), then it’s misplaced.

    I really want to criticize such a broad statement, but I just don’t know where you got it.

    Sincerely,
    Anonymous

  34. So what part of this has to do with the “liveable”?

    I’d have guessed it was the part where taking away the immigrants destroyed the town’s economy. It’s a bit tougher to keep your job at the grocery store (or keep the store open at all) when a quarter of your town’s population gets snatched by the feds.

  35. Is it just me, or is the title of this post actually a self-Godwinizing reference to concentration camps?

    It’s a quote from the article.

    “Before, we tolerated everything they did to us at the plant. We worked very hard, but we lived free,” said Fidelina, 37. “Now, we have no work. We are not free. And we have no idea what will happen to us.”

  36. I bet it would suck if you worked at a restaurant that made its profits catering to Mafia families, and then those same Mafia families got thrown in jail.

    Doesn’t mean Mafia activities should be legal, does it? Sounds to me like people who have already made up their minds on the issue are jumping all over this sob story like a starving squirrel on the last peanut on earth.

  37. Being an illegal alien is, in fact, breaking the law.

    So is
    – DWI (kills over 16,000 people per year)
    – Minor Marijuiana offenses (Keep Dope Alive)
    – Drive 80mph in a 65mph

    The penality for being an illegal Alian is FAR TOO HIGH and TOO mean-spirited

    What. The penalty (if you don’t commit identity theft) is deportation. That’s like making somebody who’s speeding go slower.

  38. I bet it would suck if you worked at a restaurant that made its profits catering to Mafia families, and then those same Mafia families got thrown in jail.

    Doesn’t mean Mafia activities should be legal, does it?

    Your analogy is intriguing… in a clinical sort of way. Why don’t you go ahead and explain why “worker in a chicken processing plant” is more similar to “member of the Mafia” then whatever it is you do for a living.

  39. “We’ve got a lot of people here who need help. We can’t just throw them out on the street,” said the silver-haired mayor. “They’re our family. They’ve made their homes here, had jobs here, raised families here.”

    Sounds like that mayor could use a nice long stretch in the Federal pen for about 900 counts of aiding and abetting violations of Federal law.

    What do our brilliant economists have to say about this?

  40. What. The penalty (if you don’t commit identity theft) is deportation. That’s like making somebody who’s speeding go slower.

    More like taking the speeder’s car away, regardless that the speeder needs it to earn a paycheck.

    I bet it would suck if you worked at a restaurant that made its profits catering to Mafia families, and then those same Mafia families got thrown in jail.

    Doesn’t mean Mafia activities should be legal, does it?

    Does working at the Agriprocessors plant = Mafia activities? Is earning a paycheck anywhere similar to racketeering, extortion, etc?

    The crazy thing is that Americans don’t want the jobs, they were filled without trouble until the Feds decided to step in. Now, the employer is enduring hardship, the workers are enduring hardship, the taxpayers are enduring hardship through incarceration/deportation costs/lost taxes, and Americans still don’t want the work, forcing the company to find immigrants from halfway around the world.

    There is a simple solution here. Something about smaller, less intrusive government. But that’s just crazy talk.

  41. Your morning shot of misery comes from Monica Rohr in aptly-named Postville, Iowa

    That article was very depressing indeed. Stanhope cheered me up.

  42. Fed Up,

    I’ll assume you endorse the article you linked, even though you didn’t technically say so. A couple of things spring to mind on first glance:

    First, blaming gang violence in South LA on recent immigrants is a lot like blaming anti-semitism on, say, Netflix subscribers. Blaming the old problem on the newcomers is pretty pathetic.

    Second, the whole concept of “reconquista” is silly. Half a dozen nutjobs and a website does not a vast Mexican conspiracy make. You shouldn’t be concerned about those bozos any more than you should be concerned that all the Indians working for tech-support lines are secretly controlled by Breatharians who want to take over the world and outlaw food.

    That article seems to be deploying the same sort of specious “reasoning” as those written by 9/11 Truthers, Flat Earthers, and Icke believers.

  43. I think the analogy between mafia and plant worker goes to both partisipating in a illegal act. However, that’s like comparing those who kill and extort to those who jay-walk and drive too fast.

    The illegal immigrant issue is what the right-wing used to get republicans to look the other way so they could run amuck.

    I understand the issue, and it is a problem. But I’m far more concerned about how the government is screwing us, and trying to control our lives. It bugs me that they are using the immigration issue to support federal authorization of employment for everyone.

  44. I think the analogy between mafia and plant worker goes to both partisipating in a illegal act.

    I figured. But I wanted to highlight the fact that, considering the discussion is about whether or not immigration *should* be illegal, it’s completely circular to pretend that the fact that it is is therefore a sufficient reason that it should be.

  45. Some people, are not honest about the issue, they claim that the illegality is the cornerstone of their arguement. But if you say, then make them legal, they have a problem with that too. If legality is truly the issue, just make them legal, problem solved. But it’s not their legal status that is really the issue, it’s the fact that they are foreigners.

    You’ll know the one because they will bring up things that dirty foreigners do that they don’t like as evidence of why they should be kicked out. It’s not a question of law, it’s much more personal.

  46. I find it amusing that many of them think we should throw the book at the immigrants, no punishment is too severe. Yet believe Scooter Libby’s punishment for lying under oath, or the punishment for a couple of border guards for shooting someone running away, lying about it and filing a false report, was too much.

  47. Crying a river of tears for the individual sob stories
    totally misses the big picture that Mexico is
    doing everything it can to create an
    Illegal Mexican Nation within the borders
    of the USA! Aiding,abetting and even urging
    it people to illegally emigrate to the U.S.
    calling them “heroes” and “Those who
    will think Mexico First into the 7th Generation”
    Asking U.S. Hispanics to become
    “Dual Citizens” by applying for Mexican Citizenship
    and using over 50 Mexican consulate as “Beachheads”
    for Mexicans Legal and Illegal in the USA!

  48. I don’t think my mafia analogy proves that immigration should be restricted.

    It does, however, prove that not all things that local economies will miss should automatically be legal. This is the argument Herr Weigel seems to be making, or maybe he’s just posting a sad immigration enforcement story so that you all can stroke your self-righteousnesses and thank God that you’re not one of those dirty, evil xenophobes who thinks national borders have a purpose beyond making maps more colorful.

  49. TrickyVic, wow you know some nasty right-wingers. I hope I never meet them.

    I don’t hate foreigners. I just think immigration rates that are faster than the existing society can hope to assimilate the newcomers are not a good thing. Assimilation is necessary to avoid our political system devolving into a third-world “election loss ==> riot” zeitgeist.

    My preferred plan of action?

    1. Secure the border. This is not negotiable. It is beyond dispute that the Mexican govt and its military are assisting people crossing the border illegally, and we’re not just talking about people looking for jobs, but those with less wholesome intentions.

    2. Increase the legal immigration quota from Mexico. This is set ridiculously low because massive illegal immigration is expected. Once the border is secured, that concern will no longer prevail.

    3. Guest worker program, for those who don’t want to be Americans, just take the money and run. I don’t blame them sometimes.

  50. My preferred plan of action?

    End all quotas and expirations on visas. Deny entry solely for a specific cause in the compelling public interest.

    With reference to your numbers, that simple plan means…

    1. You don’t need to secure the border because all labor demand can be satisfied legally. Since no one would try to hire anyone illegal, there would be no demand for illegal entry and its assistance.

    2. No immigration quotas from Mexico.

    3. Guest worker programs would be irrelevant. People can come and go as they wish. If they wish to stay, they can go through the long process of citizenship. If not, no biggee. Call them guest workers after the fact if you like.

  51. I just think immigration rates that are faster than the existing society can hope to assimilate the newcomers are not a good thing. Assimilation is necessary to avoid our political system devolving into a third-world “election loss ==> riot” zeitgeist.

    Is there any reason to believe that either immigrants are not assimilating or that lack of assimilation is even a problem?

  52. 1. You don’t need to secure the border because all labor demand can be satisfied legally. Since no one would try to hire anyone illegal, there would be no demand for illegal entry and its assistance.

    What about the people you deny entry to, and people who don’t want us to know when they enter? You don’t think they might try to sneak across the wide open border, do you?

    That’s the problem with some of these semi-laissez-faire schemes. You say, let’s legalize prostitution so we can tax the hell out of it, and force johns to use condoms. The problem is, once you put restrictions on it, you wind up with the same black market / unauthorized entry problem that you had to begin with. All you’ve given yourself is a false sense of security.

  53. What about the people you deny entry to, and people who don’t want us to know when they enter? You don’t think they might try to sneak across the wide open border, do you?

    Yes. Yes they might.

    Of course, they’ll try to sneak across in the face of any border fence or controls the government tries to apply.

    However, if the government does not invest its limited capabilities to stop harmless immigrants, the border protection resources of the nation can be mustered to address actually problematic people.

  54. Is there any reason to believe that either immigrants are not assimilating or that lack of assimilation is even a problem?

    On the first one, the presence of multiple Spanish language TV stations in our large metropolitan areas a worrisome sign. Tulpa seems to have answered the second one in the quote you give.

  55. On the first one, the presence of multiple Spanish language TV stations in our large metropolitan areas a worrisome sign. Tulpa seems to have answered the second one in the quote you give.

    The data is pretty clear on the assimilation issue. By the third generation, immigrants are culturally indistinguishable from natives. Sure, the guy who sneaks across the border is never going to speak English like a native, but his kids will speak it. They’ll see themselves as being of two cultures, they’ll be bilingual, and they’ll get along just fine in our society. By the time the grandkids come around, they’ll be dyed-in-the-wool Americans, and they’ll have trouble communicating with Grandpa because they speak only English.

    This is why even if there were a substantial number of people in Mexico plotting “reconquista,” their plan would be utterly doomed. The first batch to sneak across the border can’t vote, and later generations don’t have the ties to Mexico necessary to want to hand over the keys to the country.

    In the long run, there’s no problem with assimilation. In the short run, yeah, you have to suffer through the horror and indignity of knowing that there are more than zero Spanish-language television stations in your city.

  56. On the first one, the presence of multiple Spanish language TV stations in our large metropolitan areas a worrisome sign.

    The presence of Spanish language TV a worrisome sign? I suppose… if you can’t figure out how to change the channel. I’m not sure the existence of Spanish TV (or Korean, Armenian, Iranian, etc, all of which exist in my hometown of L.A.) is any more worrisome than channels devoted to science fiction, or comedy, or cooking.

    Tulpa seems to have answered the second one in the quote you give.

    The data is pretty clear. But let’s assume that for whatever reason, immigrants are not assimilating. Shouldn’t people have the freedom to do as they please? Perhaps the Amish should be forced to assimilate into 21st century America.

    If somewhere along the line, English is replaced by Spanish, or Japanese, or Gaelic, it will happen because of a massive amount of momentum will make it happen. Until then, the government has much more pressing concerns, as the chances of such a thing coming to be are so insignificant as to be nil.

  57. The illegal immigrants are not being assimulated. They are coming in way to fast. They do not want to be American citizens. They will not speak english, they fly the mexican flag, they send money back to mexico which hurts our economy. They should all be kicked out of this country. If anyone gives birth while in this countrry illegally, that kid should not be a citzen of the U.S. and the bill should be sent to there respective govnment.

  58. they send money back to mexico which hurts our economy.

    Come for the intolerant anti-immigration rant. Stay for the profound economic illiteracy!

  59. Tripple the immigration quotas across the board. That will humanly and quickly relieve much of the pressure for illegal immigration while politicians haggle about the rest of the details.

  60. Misery? What did they expect, a banquet? Smell the tacos folks, they’re illegal. And by the way, they’re not immigrants, Latinos or Hispanics.

    “Hispanic” is an American term derived from the Spanish word Hispanohablantes, which merely means “Spanish speaker” encompassing Spain, The Philippines, et al. “Latino” also is an American term derived in 1945 from the term Latinoamericano or Latin-American and it denotes citizenship the same way that the terms Black and Amerind denote citizenship.

    “Immigrant” defines people who came to America legally. The term “illegal immigrant” is oxymoronic and the term “legal immigrant” is redundant. Often hidden behind the term “immigrant,” is an illegal alien. It means neither Hispanic nor Latino.

    Mexicans commingle illegal aliens with these three groups to create confusion and enhance illegal alien survival. It’s the same way that birds enhance survival by flocking together. Such amorphy makes it difficult to focus on them. Obscured is the fact that illegal aliens are neither citizens nor immigrants. But Mexico hates any clarification because it removes their camouflage. Perhaps, deep down, they consider the term “Mexican” offensive.

  61. “Immigrant” defines people who came to America legally.

    Doubleplusgood argument!

  62. “””TrickyVic, wow you know some nasty right-wingers. I hope I never meet them.”””

    I know many of all kinds. But you’ll know the ones I’m talking about. Say Pelosi and immigrant in the same sentence and they start foaming at the mouth. Usually just saying Pelosi works.

    “””Secure the border.”””

    Like East Berlin did?

    They system you create to keep them out will one day become the system to keep you in.

  63. Boo fucking hoo. Why is it that every time these people break the law and have to pay the penalty for it, we get some ridiculous fucking sob story that reads like it came from the pen of Alan fuckin Alda? Illegal immigrants should not be treated differently than any other criminal. When you break the law, you suffer the consequences for it. If you don’t like it, vote in representatives that will change the law instead of constantly fucking whining about how these poor innocent people, you know, the ones who willingly broke the laws of the United States, are being abused.

    “They system you create to keep them out will one day become the system to keep you in.’

    Please. I hope the above quote wasn’t supposed to be some profound insight because it is quite possibly the stupidest thing I have ever read on this sight. But that is to be expected if it comes from a moron comparing the actions of the United States in its efforts to stop the flow of illegal immigrants to the actions of an oppressive dictatorship that imprisoned its own populace

  64. “But if you say, then make them legal, they have a problem with that too. If legality is truly the issue, just make them legal”

    I take back what I said in my earlier post. The quote directly above is even more fucking stupid than the previous one.

  65. In my post above, the word sight should be spelled s-i-t-e.

  66. “But if you say, then make them legal, they have a problem with that too. If legality is truly the issue, just make them legal”

    I take back what I said in my earlier post. The quote directly above is even more fucking stupid than the previous one.

    Why? It seems to be the operative question.

    If legality is truly the issue, just make them legal.

  67. “””Please. I hope the above quote wasn’t supposed to be some profound insight because it is quite possibly the stupidest thing I have ever read on this sight.”””

    Not a fan of history?

  68. “”””But that is to be expected if it comes from a moron comparing the actions of the United States in its efforts to stop the flow of illegal immigrants to the actions of an oppressive dictatorship that imprisoned its own populace”””

    From Wiki
    “On 1 April, 1952, East German leaders met the Soviet leader Stalin in Moscow; during the discussions Stalin’s foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov proposed that the East Germans should “introduce a system of passes for visits of West Berlin residents to the territory of East Berlin [so as to stop] free movement of Western agents” in the GDR. Stalin agreed, calling the situation “intolerable”. He advised the East Germans to build up their border defenses, telling them that “The demarcation line between East and West Germany should be considered a border – and not just any border, but a dangerous one … The Germans will guard the line of defense with their lives.” [4]””

  69. The wall the East Germans built to keep the westerners out, became the wall that kept them in.

    Now why did china build there wall?

    What wall has a free society ever built?

  70. “””Illegal immigrants should not be treated differently than any other criminal. When you break the law, you suffer the consequences for it.”””

    I agree with that. The problem is in the first sentence, some people think that illegal immigrants SHOULD be treated very differently than other criminals by denying them righs of the accused afforded by our Constitution.

    But then there is an issue with the last sentence. Something about agents of government not being punished for the laws they break, or ask others to break on their behalf.

  71. B, one other thing

    If you had any concept of critial thinking you would know that appeal to personal attack does not further your argument, nor does it weakens your opponents.

    Tulpa, I don’t know B, but he’s a good example to your earlier question. Notice how he froths at the mouth with name calling when he disagrees with my statements.

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