Friday, May 9, 2008

The "Lou Dobbs Effect" On The Democrats

This year looks very good for the Democrats, but with some House Democrats who captured their seats from Republicans in 2006 the "Lou Dobbs effect" is in play. Lou Dobbs is a CNN commentator who views comprehensive immigration reform as the next thing to Judas' betrayal. So these Democrats, generally more conservative than the rest of their colleagues, are supporting the Secure America through Verification Enforcement Act which mandates verification of employment, raises employer sanctions for hiring the undocumented and add more fence. There is not likely to be any repressive legislation on immigration before the election, but if the act comes to the floor of the House it would pass with near unanimous support from the GOP and from enough conservative Democrats. In their tight re-election campaign these Democrats want ads telling constituents how tough they are on illegals. But the real significance of this "mini-dissent" is that no real immigration reform will come quickly after a Democratic victory -- save perhaps for sweeping majorities in both chambers. (See Arizona Republic article.)

The U.N. Children's Fund reports that about 300,000 child under 15 years old are illegally working in Mexico's farm fields -- most of the produce of which goes into our salads. This is not acceptable to the Mexican government since it is contrary to Mexican laws. It's the result of the desperation of poor families. Since NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) a new migratory pattern of farm workers has emerged. Peasant farmers from the poor southern states of Mexico were forced out of production by new competition. So they and their families moved northward to large vegetable farms encouraged by NAFTA for export markets in the U.S. As an Arizona Republic article documents, the children who were without schools or day care followed their parents into the fields. Their income eventually became essential to supplement famiiy income. As a result many children in this internal farm migratory force are poorly educated or even illiterate and are at risk of poor health and accidents. Eventually these children may join the trek north and be among a new and less capable undocumented population.

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