Tag: Alabama

Who’s Next?

As I’ve mentioned before, my family is from El Salvador. I’ve never been there, but I hear that it’s nice.

Actually, I don’t hear that at all. In fact, I hear the direct opposite.

My mom and aunt came to America decades ago, and they have surprisingly little positive to say about their childhoods in El Salvador. One of my cousins came to the United States when he was a kid. He has vowed never to set foot in El Salvador the rest of his life, because the place holds such dark memories for him. And my brother has lived in that country for years now, and he has told me about the struggles of raising a family there.

So no, this isn’t going to be an up-with-the-motherland kind of article.

Because in addition to my family’s subjective experiences, there is also the fact that El Salvador is arguably “the murder capital of world.”

And that is definitely not a phrase to put on the travel brochure.

You see, the legacy of U.S. intervention, a horrific civil war, and a stagnant economy are all major reasons for the country’s problems. And of course, “violence by so-called maras – gangs that originated in the United States and spread to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – is thought to be the major push factor” in propelling the tiny nation into “a lethal cycle that the government’s current rhetoric and strategy will not be able to break.”

In short, it’s a messed-up place.

What’s interesting is that, as bad as El Salvador would be under most circumstances, a couple of stray variables have turned a horrific situation into a pure cataclysm.

Back in 1999, the government thought the best way to fight the skyrocketing crime rate was to arm its citizens. It was that whole fantastical scenario of a good guy with a gun coming in to save the day. Well, that didn’t exactly work out.

The laws “permitted the private possession of heavy weapons. Instead of reducing violence,” however, these laws “fuelled its escalation.”

Another factor in El Salvador’s demise is its hyper-religious culture. The Catholic Church has such sway over the inhabitants that abortion is “illegal in all circumstances, without exception, punishable by up to eight years in prison. Sentences of up to 30 years have been handed down when a judge determined that ‘homicide’ rather than abortion had occurred.”

When women are denied basic rights over their own bodies, the culture notices. And today, “El Salvador is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women,” with “the highest rate of femicide in the entire world.”

Now, you might say that this is all very depressing, but that’s life in the third world — right?

Well, look at some of those factors again: a country where citizens are heavily armed, religion is all-powerful, abortion is illegal, and strongmen run the place.

This is the dream of everyone who voted for Roy Moore yesterday. Fortunately for America, they were outnumbered… this time.

For all the fear and paranoia that white right-wingers have about Latinos, they seem absolutely hell-bent to adopt the very worst ideas of Hispanic culture.

Perhaps El Salvador has bottomed out, and can only improve.

But the United States, if handed over to zealots, can get a lot, lot worse.


Born in the US of A

Not so long ago, life was easy for xenophobes. They could slander Latinos and immigrants simultaneously, because they were thought of as one and the same. Also, there weren’t that many Hispanics around, so one could spew within the comfort of an imposing majority.

Well, the Pew Research Center just made everything more difficult for the narrow-minded among us. The organization recently announced that the U.S.-born Latino population is growing at a faster rate than the immigrant population. This means that Hispanics are now more likely to be born and raised in America, as full-blooded American citizens.

This also means bigots will have to supplement their rants about undocumented immigrants with plain old racist tirades, thus doubling their effort.

At the very least, when told to “go back where you came from,” Latinos are likely to deflate the assertion with something like, “You mean, go back to Wisconsin?”

bucky-badger-wallpaper

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The Slow Fade

The New York Times recently reported on a small rural town where longtime residents complain about “young Mexican men working construction and driving down wages, the children of laborers flooding crowded schools…and strip clubs springing up on roads that used to be dark and quiet.”

Is the town in Wisconsin, Kansas, Alabama, or even (shudder) Arizona? No, it is “a precolonial Mexican village outside Oaxaca City, filling up with fellow Mexicans.”

It seems that the urge to hate immigrants — even of the same nationality — is universal.

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All Aboard

So I was at Union Station here in Los Angeles, waiting to board the Amtrak (more in a future post on what happened once I got on the train). Suddenly I noticed a commotion, and I saw people scurrying around. I checked my twitter feed, which confirmed that ICE was raiding the station.

They were looking for undocumented immigrants, who (if they subscribed to the same twitter feeds as me) already knew to leave the station.

I have no idea how many people ICE nabbed, but I imagine it wasn’t too successful of an operation. I mean, everybody — bored travelers, American citizens, legal residents, little kids, day laborers, you name it — knew what was going on. Let’s just say that the element of surprise was lacking.

But the heavy-handed raid got me thinking. I haven’t written about illegal immigration in some time, which is a relief to me because it’s such an overwhelming, frustrating topic. But it also means that I’ve missed commenting on some truly odd stories.

For example, there was John McCain’s claim that illegal immigrants had set fires in Arizona that were burning out of control. In related news, they apparently also stole his remote control.

And just remember, this guy was almost president.

Perhaps even the residents of Arizona have had enough of the immigrant bashing. After all, they recently recalled the architect of SB 1070. Upon hearing the news, I’m sure the guy muttered, “And after all I’ve done for the nutjobs of this state…”

Meanwhile, in another forward-thinking area of the country, Alabama, the nation’s most repressive anti-immigration law was going into effect. It will, of course, be the subject of myriad lawsuits. But long before the courts make a decision, it’s quite possible that the residents of Alabama will realize that they made a grievous mistake.

For proof of that, they can look to their good friends in Georgia, which also passed tough legislation against undocumented workers. However, now that state doesn’t have enough workers to bring its crops in. Yes, that’s right — U.S. citizens have not stepped in to fill the workers gap, and Georgia farmers are in a tizzy.

Why, it’s enough to make even Georgia Republicans rethink the wisdom of bashing the undocumented.

The continuing crusade against illegal immigration makes even less sense when we find out that U.S. Border Patrol agents, far from being overwhelmed by the dreaded Brown Invasion, are more likely to be pummeled into submission by a more vicious force: sheer tedium. It appears that “agents on the U.S.-Mexico border these days have to deal with a more mundane occupational reality: the boredom of guarding a frontier where illegal crossings have dipped to record low levels.”

Of course, I’m sure if they get too bored, the agents can always snag a little girl (even if she is a U.S. citizen) and kick her out of the country. Or they could take lessons from one our favorite individuals, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and just handcuff legal residents and citizens at will.

Speaking of Sherriff Joe, I’m just as excited as you to know that he has a new underwear line coming out. No, I’m not kidding. You can purchase of pair of pink boxers emblazoned with the phrase “Go Joe!” or even better, “Vamos Jose!”

I’m sure I speak for all the guys out there when I say that it’s not creepy at all to think of Sherriff Joe every time you put on your underwear — nope.

And nothing makes more of a slamming fashion statement than random phrases advocating a xenophobic political position, which I’m sure will impress any ladies who are fortunate enough to see their men strip down to bright pink intimate apparel that has a man’s name splayed across it.

It sounds perfect for a first date. As always, thanks, Sherriff Joe!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a train to catch.


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