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Manuel Vásquez Addresses Your Questions

After the lively immigration discussion on this blog over the past few weeks, sociology professor Manuel Vásquez has addressed some of the questions that viewers had asked following his interview.

Stay tuned in coming weeks as the JOURNAL delves deeper into the immigration debate to explore various perspectives on this most contentious issue, and feel free to discuss Vásquez's response below.


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Tom Pugh: You react to an accomplished fact with fear and resentment. Didn't you hear Vasquez and Moyers agree that,"This is labor we desperately need." I wonder what your economic situation is, Tom? Are you eager to be our in the hot sun paving with asphalt, in a hospital laundry loading soiled linen? Maybe your real fear is the "construction supervisor" Vasquez describes or Professor Vasquez himself. It is unnerving to think an immigrant could quickly surpass you in wealth and status in your own country.

I worked with a variety of aliens in home building in 1980s Washington, D.C. area and was not hesitant to help Latinos,Africans or others assimilate. I was even fined for hiring an illegal Irishman who was deported. I had only one employee, George from St. Lucia, who attended an immigrant welcoming church with his later arrived wife. George was the sweetest, most helpful and harmless man I knew at that time. I celebrated his green card and his subsequent citizenship well after he left the job for better opportunities. I know George is a good man with a nice family to this day, but he is incapable of criticizing the United States. I see this as a handicap considering the current conditions.

Manuel Vasquez, you describe well the repressive El Salvador you left behind, where most people were only "being used" and to aspire to Social Science teaching made one a jeopardized radical. You admit these conditions were the result of U.S. policy. What socio-economic strata doid you emerge from in El Salvador? You seem pretty uncritical of U.S. policy now, though you are a mild advocate for Hispanic immigrants.

It is not unusual for people to use church as a networking and support system. My early college education was from a Southern Baptist scholarship. I wonder Prof. Vasquez if you have found ideologies expressed through the business models of individual churches? I wonder if immigrant churches tend to be conformist and non-critical when it comes to U.S. policies and domestic conditions, to the fairness of the tax structure and so forth? Is immigration policy even an issue in these churches?

After so long a time I don't expect answers to the above. (This post was prompted in reaction to Mr.Pugh.) I also have some research to relate. As one watches TV news we see an emphasis on stories of immigrant crime, auto accidents and other difficulties which distorts the reality. I observed immigrant life in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Allentown, Pa. and now Gaston County, N.C. over the past twenty five years. I saw both success and misery. Immigrants in church families were far more stable and productive. (I am a non-believer, and have no affiliation.), though docile politically for the most part. Festivals revealed to me their continuing dichotomy of identity. One sad thing I saw was how immigrants were forced into not only the dirty work, but illegal activity by their employers, sponsors and domineering associates. The sex industry and drug dealing in Allentown were the veritable pits. In the same way kids are used by the gangsta class, immigrants are used by commercial exploiters, often white business people, to do the legally and physically risky tasks of criminal enterprise. Some slaves are even imported for this very purpose. Chinese boys in Baltimore were imprisoned in a building by their "owner" for the dual purpose of restaurant labor and gay sex slavery. Just the other day I was watching Thai girls endentured in a Walmart located nail salon in Gastonia, wondering how to help them.

Some of the labor we need , Tom Pugh (and Manuel Vasquez), and the exploited labor we could best do without. It is the employers and traffickers who are the true criminals that need eradicating. I believe both of you and Bill Moyers know this very well.

The problem comes when you realize that some employers do not want to pay a fair wage or provide benefits. I tried to treat my newcomer employees the same as my fellow citizens in the 80s but could not compete because of market competition. Illegal labor practices undermined all worker rights and initiated a race to the bottom. The lax enforcement is a result not only of immorality, but of our sick economy. So much of our prosperity (maybe a third) depends on drugs and prostitution. (Maybe Elliot Spitzer should have recognized that regulated drugs and sex are the answer,when he correctly understood that all drivers should have licenses and insurance. Ironicly, his career might have been saved by leglized prostitution.) All socioeconomic groups in America are deeply involved with these vices or entertainments, just like legalized and non-legalized gambling. Churches might have difficulty with these legalizations, but they may be the only solution to rampant exploitation of those lacking citizenship or legal residency. No solution is perfect, but we have to mitigate suffering and injustice.

Illegal employment would not be possible without willing employers and lazy enforcement. Drug trafficking has even infiltrated our military and intelligence community and become a general practice. Prostitution is integral to our party lifestyle. Our country is addicted economically, and there is no going back. At some point the next Manuel Vasquez may prefer immigration to Venezuela, Romania or even China. What thinks you Professor Vasquez?

This program has been on my mind since I watched it and I finally decided to comment on it. A little late I know. First, I don' think I've seen a more obsequious, fawning interview than that conducted by Moyers on this program. Moyers' was about as objective as Hitler. Never was anything challenged. Anyone opposed to letting ignorant, uneducated people who break American law,spurn educational opportunity (over 50% of Hispanics drop out of school) or acceptance of American culture are derisively dismissed as "restrictionists" while Moyers' cloyingly whines and smiles at anything this guy says. Not once was it mentioned that an overwhelming majority of taxpayers, the ones paying for educational, medical and welfare expenses for this bunch of misfits, are opposed to them being allowed to break the law and stay in this country. The attitude of many politicians who want to cram these people down the throats of normal Americans makes even more of a mockery of the the charade that America is a democracy. If you're going to have a discussion of immigration then include panelists on every side of the issue not just Hispanic zealots who feel that they have been granted a dispensation to violate the laws and citizens of this country without consequence.

Your friend who is "undocumented" but has reached middle class is a poor model for his "model
children" who are obetying the laws; something their father did not do.

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