Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Javier Morillo-Alicea wins Spotty!

For his op-ed in today's Star Tribune, Morillo-Alicea wins a Spotty award. The subject of the piece is Dick Day's flirtation with the Minutemen. Spot has written a little about that, and it has also been a featured topic on A Bluestem Prairie several times. Here's the piece from the Strib, reprinted in its entirety here because it will eventually come down at the Strib:

In our national dialogue about our broken immigration system, our political leaders have two choices: They either can come together to find solutions that are practical and fair, or they can fuel the flames by appealing to worst in us by creating fear and confusion around the issue. Unfortunately, in his run for Congress, Minnesota state Sen. Dick Day has chosen the latter path.

According to a recent report in the Star Tribune, Day, R-Owatonna, recently traveled to Arizona at the invitation of a group called the Minuteman Project. It's been widely reported that the Minutemen are a group of civilian vigilantes that take the law into their own hands by patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border fully armed, without the official sanction of the United States Border Patrol or local law enforcement. Their members advocate the immediate expulsion of all undocumented immigrants in the country, no matter the effect on our economy and society, and for the construction of a 700-mile-long fence along the border, no matter the cost.

While the Minutemen are treated by some as just another voice in the immigration debate, they have demonstrated that they are an extremist group with no interest in real solutions. It's been documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center that they've attracted racists and hatemongers into their ranks and have spawned a slew of copycat organizations that are even more explicit in their agenda of hate. Witness Dave Bertrand, the Minuteman who hosted Day's personal visit to Arizona and who describes himself as a "culture warrior." Bertrand has posted photos and stories of Day's visit to the border on his website.

Sadly, that's not all you'll find there. Bertrand's blog is also filled with paranoid rants about a supposed Hispanic conspiracy to "take back" the United States for Mexico. He believes that America is on the brink of a civil war brought about by too much cultural diversity. Indeed, just last October, he wrote that Confederate-style secession from the United States "may be a viable solution to avoiding a civil war."

The racial anxiety that underlies Bertrand's radical positions on immigration is palpable. In a post entitled, "The Rebirth of America by Sex," he argues that the government should be actively encouraging American citizens to have more babies because "Hispanic opponents supporting illegal immigration are encouraging their culture to mass produce children in order to outnumber the Anglo Saxon and other cultures that make up the United States." So a fully armed vigilante advocate for secession from the United States who fears Hispanic reproduction was Day's exposure to our southern border.

Americans want honest, long-term solutions to the immigration issue, but while we've been waiting for Congress and the president to act, one thing is clear to most of us: Fear and hatred have not brought us closer to a comprehensive solution. Is it clear to Day as well?

Most of us recognize that a workable, long-term solution to the immigration issue will include some combination of sanctions on employers who exploit undocumented workers, an earned path to citizenship for those who have worked hard and paid taxes for years, more-effective border security, and a controlled, legal immigration flow. Most of us also recognize that deporting 12 million people and erecting a 700-mile-long border-fence will not solve the issue. And none but the most politically opportunistic want our honest political debate poisoned by paranoid rants.

Immigration is a tough issue, but an enforcement-only approach of raids, detention centers and border fences -- all paid for by taxpayer dollars -- won't solve it. It's time to replace the chaos of our broken immigration system, which exploits immigrant labor and hurts all American workers, with a pragmatic, controlled system that works for all of us.

As Minnesotans, we must challenge our political candidates and elected officials to bring people together to address the tough issues head-on. But so far, Dick Day has shown that he's more interested in dividing us.

As Minnesotans, we deserve better.

Javier Morillo-Alicea is an immigration reform advocate. He is also president of SEIU Local 26, a union of more than 5,000 janitors and security officers in the state.

Remember, boys and girls, a Spotty is awarded to the author of an op-ed piece, a letter to the editor, or a blog post of comment that Spot wishes that he had written himself.

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