Craven stunts over immigration


If you don’t have any good ideas to deal with the U.S.’s immigration problem, just put on a show

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s hypocritical move to recruit undocumented immigrants in Texas and then dump them in Martha’s Vineyard in Massachussets, follows the example of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who’s also been also shipping busloads of immigrants to New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C.—supposedly to dramatize the dysfunction of the U.S. immigration system and the unequal burden it imposes on Texas.

Those shameless and dishonest political stunts do nothing to address the real immigration dilemma in the U.S. Instead, they are bloody chum tossed to the rabid anti-immigrant and in some cases outright racist factions that populate today’s Republican Party. It’s particularly true in the case of DeSantis who keeps auditioning for the role of the new Trump.  

In Florida, one wonders why DeSantis chose to go to Texas to recruit the pawns for his charade. Doesn’t Florida have enough undocumented Cuban boat people arriving every day to fill the two planeloads of immigrants he sent to Martha’s Vineyard? Answer: DeSantis wouldn’t dare take on the the Cuban-American political juggernaut in Florida, essential for him to remain governor.

In Texas, Abbott’s political theater also includes the recent deployment of a phalanx of Texas State trooper vehicles along the border, supposedly to stem the flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America. Chalk that up as another pointless and cowardly antic.

Theater on the banks of the Rio Grande.

Doesn’t Abbott realize that Texas has severe labor shortages? In our last trip to San Antonio, we spotted one McDonald’s restaurant offering jobs for $19 an hour, among ubiquitous help wanted signs all over the city. And surely Abbott must know that certain economic sectors in Texas—construction, landscaping, and farming come to mind—rely almost exclusively on undocumented Mexican immigrants.

If Abbott seriously wants to round up illegal immigrants, why doesn’t he instead send Texas State police officers to practically any construction site in the state, beginning with the booming capital of Austin? Answer: He wouldn’t chance the alarum and political fallout from the Texas housing construction industry, which would be banging at Abbott’s door if it no longer could rely on a steady stream of pliable Mexican immigrants to do the shoveling and ditch-digging.

Immigration viewed from south of the border

Stew and I have lived in Mexico for about 17 years, most of them in our ranch in the campo, where the back-and-forth of undocumented immigration—“going north” or “going to the other side,” as we hear around here—plays out every day, in real time.

I can confidently say that during our 13 years at the ranch I have not run across one able-bodied Mexican male in his twenties, thirties and even forties, who hasn’t gone to the U.S. to work, sometimes for two or three years straight, once if not two or three times. It’s almost as natural as receiving one’s first communion.

Unlike the Mexican rapists, drug traffickers and other racist tropes Trump invoked when he announced his 2015 campaign for president, all the departing or returning immigrants I’ve run into made that arduous decision simply to work and send money home to their families.

“Coyotes” or “polleros” midwife this “push/pull” immigration system as de facto travel agents who will take you to a waiting employer in Texas, or sometimes Oklahoma or Louisiana, for a fee from $6,000 to $10,000 dollars. American employers frequently will advance the money to the new workers, to be discounted from their pay over several weeks.

Jobs are waiting, paying as much as $17-19 dollars an hour, as long as you’re ready to do roofing or other grueling work in the 100-plus-degree Texas summers, or its equally disagreeable winters, that not many natives want to do.

And of course, the same “travel agents” will bring you back when you are ready to come home.

What “pushes” workers north is the dismal labor market for the large underclass of Mexicans with only grammar school education, if that. And what in turn “pulls” them north is the need for brute labor not many people north of the border are willing to perform.

I’m not sure what the labor market is like in booming Florida, but it’s likely to be as tight as it is in Texas. Recently, I heard that the state is licensing 6,000 new drivers licenses daily.

So the question is, why don’t Abbott and DeSantis—or their role model Trump—work toward a system for bringing in immigrants out of the shadows to do work those two states need? Or for that matter, work in the packing houses of Iowa or Wisconsin?

If you view this as essentially a free-market equation, of supply and demand of workers back and forth across the border, it argues for a system of regulated migration that could be simpatico to conservatives and liberals alike.  

Businesses, employers and state economies would benefit. Migrants would save having to pay coyotes, and avoid the dangerous trips north. Texas and Florida taxpayers also would save the cost of leasing planes and buses to shuttle unwitting immigrants thousands of miles away, for no other purpose than for politicians to score political points.

19 thoughts on “Craven stunts over immigration

  1. Jim Karela

    Bravo, Al ! I don’t think I’ve ever heard this insanity spotlighted so clearly. If only our country would just snap out of our fixation on fighting each other.


  2. Governors Abbot and DeSantis have their hands tied, because immigration is a federal matter. They are powerless when it comes to ICE and changing immigration laws.

    It’s the federal government who sanctions employers for hiring illegal immigrants. It’s the federal government who hands out permission to work and live in the U.S. Not the state government.

    You certainly have run across many able-bodied Mexican males in their twenties, thirties, and even forties who have not gone to the U.S. to work. How about the doctors who’ve treated you, educators, small business owners, lawyers, and other educated folks? Or don’t they count?


    1. Jen: Of course it’s the federal government that officially in charge of immigration. But Abbott and DeSantis’s ploys are unproductive and mean-spirited, meant to pander to the anti-immigrant sentiments among some Republicans rather than find solutions.

      Ah for the old days when John McCain and Ted Kennedy worked together to craft bipartisan immigration reform, which unfortunately didn’t go anywhere.

      The immigrants who are going to the U.S. without papers belong to a large underclass of uneducated young men—two of Felix’s siblings are illiterate and I know of many others who are too—whose only hope of making some economic headway is to go to the U.S. Sure, I’ve dealt with many Mexican doctors, restaurant owners and so on, but those folks, members of a growing middle class, don’t need to go anywhere to survive.

      Thank you for commenting, and I hope the sismo in Michoacán didn’t get to you and your dog.


      1. Primeria, secundaria, y prepa abierta programs are all over the place in this country, even online, and they are free. Today, more than ever before, there is no reason for a Mexican to remain illiterate.

        The borders are inundated with migrants. It’s not sustainable. Now, here’s what I propose to set up as a means of handling the tide of humanity crossing over.

        1. Residency permits will be granted to those who agree to relocate in underpopulated areas, places like North Dakota, rural Iowa, Indiana, Montana, Wyoming, Mississippi, rust belt and ghost towns. They’ll have to live in those areas for a minimum of ten years, but of course, they can vacation elsewhere for no more than one or two weeks a year. Some will head straight back to where they came from, but there are more than a few who will create communities wherever the land, even if it is in Bumfuck, Kentuck, reinvigorating the area, creating their own jobs, setting up small businesses and making those areas flourish again. Sure, at the end of that ten years, some will head to the Bright Lights, Big City, but many will stay.
        2. They will learn English, at least at the 5th grade level.
        3. They will learn enough civics to pass the U.S. citizenship test.
        4. Mandatory military service or some kind of public service. It could be the National Guard, it could be creating and cleaning up parks, but it will be a universal form of giving back and learning the culture.
        5. And finally, they will be on the citizenship track. If they want to stay, remaining a resident alien is no longer an option.

        You know, it wasn’t that long ago, only back in the last years of the last century, when I crossed over the Rio Bravo for good, that Mexico required that those moving to this country present the results of a health exam.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You know, the immigration system you propose is effectively in place although in an ad-hoc basis. You venture into the American hinterlands, way yonder in Iowa, the Dakotas, Minnesota, Louisiana and other Bumfuck-like places and you find Mexicans there working horrible jobs like packing houses, that require wielding razor-sharp knives and getting covered with blood and pig or cattle excrement ten minutes after they clock in. And there are Mexicans picking apples in Michigan or produce in southern Illinois. (Wyoming and Montana, I don’t know, I don’t think those are places are suitable for human habitation.)
          What you need to do, once you get appointed as head of U.S. immigration, is to recognize these labor and economic realities and create a system to accommodate them instead of treating immigrants, particularly Mexicans, like vermin.
          It’s my observation around here that Mexicans and other immigrants from Latin America really just want to raise some money to build a ranchito down here for their family. But many of them are stuck in the U.S. precisely by the system that shuns them, afraid that if they leave they might not be able get back in. If there were an above-board system that facilitated round-trips or temporary stays, I think hundreds of thousands of them would be returning to Mexico. The whole situation is crazy. It’s perverse and counter-intuitive.
          Another personal observation is that the school system in most of the Mexican campo is not much better than baby-sitting. I once asked Felix’s 10-year-old daughter to write her name and she could barely do it (though she spends hours fiddling with their phones). The writing skills of Felix and his wife are borderline illiterate; I don’t think either one could get hired by Pemex to pump gas.

          How’s the seismic situation in Morelia? We never have sismos here. Sometimes I wish we did if nothing else to wake up tour senescent expat population.


        2. Dee Tillotson

          You have to understand that the Florida and Texas governors are committing criminal acts; what they have been doing is trafficking in humans and kidnapping. Now, let’s see if the US Attorney General will press charges against them. Already, investigations have indicated where the planes, people, carrying out the crimes have originated from and are now trying to follow the paper trail back to the respective governors.

          I look at history when it comes to Mexican citizens; they pay little heed to their own president and government. After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the US became part of WWII, the then Mexican president declared his country was neutral in the conflict (however, when a U-boat was trolling their coasts, Mexico certainly didn’t mind calling us to take care of it.). Well, to get to the point, Mexican men stopped what they were doing and swarmed over the border to the US and joined our military services and went through training for the US; they could have cared less what Mexico’s president said about neutrality. In my personal opinion, that sacrifice makes Mexican citizens honorary US citizens. The immigration predicament has more to do with those coming out of Central America and South America.


  3. srgomez

    60 Minutes had a hit piece on Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, but failed to disclose these facts:
    Ronald Dion DeSantis was born on September 14, 1978, in Jacksonville, Florida, the son of Karen (née Rogers) and Ronald DeSantis. He is of Italian descent. His family moved to Orlando, Florida, before relocating to Dunedin, Florida when he was six years old. In 1991, he was a member of the Little League team from Dunedin National that made it to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Dunedin High School in 1997, DeSantis attended Yale University. He was captain of Yale’s varsity baseball team and joined the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. On the Yale baseball team, DeSantis was an outfielder; as a senior in 2001, he had the team’s best batting average at .336. He graduated from Yale in 2001 with a B.A. magna cum laude in history. He then spent a year as a history teacher at the Darlington School. DeSantis then attended Harvard Law School, graduating in 2005 with a Juris Doctor cum laude. DeSantis received his Reserve Naval officer’s commission and assignment to the Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG) in 2004 at the US Naval Reserve Center in Dallas Texas, while still a student at Harvard Law School. He completed Naval Justice School in 2005. Later that year, he received orders to the JAG Trial Service Office Command South East at Naval Station Mayport, Florida, as a prosecutor. In 2006, he was promoted from lieutenant junior grade, to lieutenant. He worked for the commander of Joint Task Force-Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO), working directly with detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Joint Detention Facility. In 2007, DeSantis reported to the Naval Special Warfare Command Group in Coronado, California, where he was assigned to SEAL Team One and deployed to Iraq with the troop surge as the Legal Advisor to the SEAL Commander, Special Operations Task Force-West in Fallujah. DeSantis returned to the U.S. in April 2008, at which time he was reassigned to the Naval Region Southeast Legal Service. The U.S. Department of Justice appointed him to serve as an Assistant U.S. Attorney at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Florida. DeSantis was assigned as a trial defense counsel until his honorable discharge from active duty in February 2010. He concurrently accepted a reserve commission as a Lieutenant Commander in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps of the US Navy Reserve. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Iraq Campaign Medal. He represented Florida’s 6th Congressional District in the US House of Representatives from 2013 to 2018.
    Obviously, with these qualifications, he is NOT qualified to be a Democrat, or serve in a senior political position in our nation’s capital when one considers and compares the credentials of Pelosi, Schumer, Harris or Biden. He has kept Florida free of the grip of a tyrannical federal government while our State of Florida still prospers, which is why more people have moved to Florida than any other state for the last couple years. So, for anyone who criticizes him, I have a request of you. Can you please post your education and service to our country in a resume so we can compare and put your opinion in perspective? THIS, my fellow Americans is the greatest Governor in our nation! I hope 2028 we find him in the White House…right after VP to Trump in 2024. (Thanks Angel Richardson)


    1. Dee Tillotson

      So if anyone should know if he has committed a crime in human trafficking and kidnapping, he would know and it would, therefore, be an intentional act. Can’t plead ignorance of his criminality.


      1. What exactly is criminal about giving a willing person a free ride to another state? And if it’s a crime to do so with illegal immigrants, you should know that the Administration is doing the exact same thing, except they do it late at night and try hard to avoid any publicity. Are we being governed by a criminal administration in your view?


        Kim G


  4. Every country has the right to protect its borders and to determine who can and who can’t cross those borders. There’s a valid debate to be had, to develop practical solutions and mitigations. Turning the issue into one of hate, resentment and bigotry however, is a disgusting, morally bankrupt, dangerous thing to do.

    But most of all, such politics is more often than not self defeating. The debate ceases to be about immigration and turns into a battle between decency and the worst types of populism. Any chance of cooperation breaks down. Little gets done.

    But before any of us accuse Trump 2020 voters of giving a thumbs up to bigotry, it is important for us to remember that things have moved on since then. Most of them seem to be fairly enthusiastically supporting fascism now, instead…


  5. Every time rational minds seem to be getting the upper hand in the area of immigration—see Angela Merkel’s decision to admit one million Middle Eastern refugees to Germany a few years ago—xenophobia and bigotry raises its ugly head—see Orban in Hungary and the neo-fascist woman leading in the upcoming elections in Italy. Or the party that recently won in Sweden.

    Sometimes it’s tough to remain optimistic, but I can’t think of an alternative. To do otherwise is to let the loonies take over the asylum.


    1. I think that’s a little too far over the edge, though liberal purists would argue that immigration, like trade, should be left up to market forces. And there is something to be said for that. When the job market in the U.S. turns sour, immigration from Mexico also decreases, and vice versa


  6. srgomez

    We already have open borders! Try to sneak into Canada or Mexico and see what happens to you.

    Along with an open border, we have hundreds of migrants dead in the river, the desert, and semi-trailers. Top that off with over a hundred thousand fentanyl deaths primarily young people. Did you know any of these people? I did. Can you imagine the grief their families have to endure? Do you care?

    What about the girls and women who are assaulted and raped on the trip North?
    These people are only collateral damage, sacrificed for the “greater good”

    The cartels are making billions and the politicians of both countries celebrate their good fortune ensuring their permanent control. With 2 million plus new voters, the left will rule forever.

    Freedom of speech is gone. Say the “wrong” thing and you’re fired and canceled. Welcome to our brave new world.

    This will not end well.


  7. Hola Al,

    You realize that the Biden Regime is doing exactly what DeSantis and Abbot have been doing right? Flying and bussing illegal immigrants to other parts of the country from Texas? Only the Regime does it by night and tries its best to hide the fact. Why is it so evil for DeSantis to send folks to self-declared sanctuary cities? Those places have gone to the trouble to officially proclaim that they are sanctuaries. Why is denying sanctuary to these desperate border-crossers something bad?

    Second, you talk about the $19 per hour at McDonald’s like it was something bad. Isn’t the Left, broadly speaking, in favor of “living wages?” I’d view it as a good thing that formerly crap jobs are actually paying some real coin. Your point seems to undercut one of the Left’s cherished positions. (And one that’s inconsistent with uncontrolled borders.) Is this what you really meant?

    Jenn points out the fact that state officials cannot enforce immigration law. I was going to say the same thing, but she beat me to the punch. But you talk about DeSantis and Abbott proposing solutions. Well, we HAD a solution. Under Trump’s policies, we had the lowest level of immigration in decades. Trump basically solved the problem, and had he built the wall, the problem would be forever under control. Yet the Biden Regime deliberately undid all that Trump established to solve the problem, including suing to over turn “Wait in Mexico,” and other programs that Trump had instituted. In your opening salvo you admit that this massive, illegal flow over the border is a problem. But it was a formerly solved problem. Neither DeSantis nor Abbott need to re-solve it, and in any case, they don’t have the authority. Only the president and congress can solve this problem. Again. If they choose to.

    I thought the Martha’s Vinyard stunt (because that’s what it was) was one of the most effective political moves of the last few years. DeSantis brought a lot of focus onto the problem, the hypocrisy of the folks on the left talking about “solutions,” yet made it clear that they don’t want solutions. Meanwhile, we’ve got big-city mayors in Chicago, New York, DC, and other places publicly stating that it’s a problem.

    Look, legal immigration is one thing. Legal immigrants bring their own funds, make their own plans, and generally are ready to live in the USA when they arrive. Most have families and/or jobs. They’re set. The illegal border crossers typically arrive penniless, don’t speak English, and have substandard educations. I’d be surprised if many of them could pass an American GED exam, even if given in Spanish. And as you point out above, they reduce living standards for lower-class Americans.

    Why are you so sympathetic to the illegals? We can all agree that the legal immigration system could be improved. But the illegal situation has little benefit for America. And recognizing this isn’t some racist, fascist plot; it’s reality.


    Kim G
    Roma Sur, CDMX
    Where I wish some of those guys who want jobs would help fix my house.


  8. The overwhelming majority of the people the US flies from the border to elsewhere in the country are unaccompanied children, awaiting some permanent resolution of their status, most often by being sponsored by foster homes or relatives. This policy has been in place since the Obama administration. There is nothing new, covert or sinister about it.

    It is hardly comparable or equivalent to the DeSantis’ cynical stunt, which was designed to embarrass or shame the Biden administration supposedly for its failed immigration policies, and hardly a good-faith effort to help out immigrants. DeSantis explicitly said so at a press conference.

    You seem to toss asylum seekers into one big pot of “illegals.” If you have filed a claim for asylum and are waiting for it to be accepted or resolved, by definition, you are definitely legal though not a permanent resident.

    When I came from Cuba, I didn’t have an entry visa and on my passport I was designated as a “parolee” until, about a year later if I recall, I applied and received my permanent immigration visa. Likewise about four years ago my cousin Waldo, his wife and two children crossed the border at Laredo without papers and applied for asylum. They remained on parole for about 18 months, working and going to school in Las Vegas, until their claim of asylum was resolved. All the while, they were all legal.

    My point about the $19 an hour jobs at McDonald’s was that it reflected severe labor shortages that argued for a temporary worker program. I don’t understand your rant about “the Left” in that paragraph.

    The reduction in immigration during the Trump years was real, but it’s good to keep in mind that about a half-million of the reductions were in legal immigration, a trend decried by the business sector, such as Forbes (“a capitalist tool”) because it deprived businesses of much needed talent. Do a head count of geniuses in Silicon Valley and the tech sector, and many of them (Elon Musk!) are first-generation immigrants.

    Trump’s jihad against immigrants—from Mexico, Muslim countries and other “shithole” countries—was racist and xenophobic, not a part of grand or good-faith revamp of U.S. immigration policies which remain broken.

    In keeping with the lingo of the right-wing nutso-sphere, where you apparently dig up your many of your “facts,” you keep referring to the Biden “Regime.” If that suggests you believe the last election was stolen, all I can say, is “Oy vey!”

    By the way, may I refer you to the FactCheck.Org, Scopes and Politifact sites, to verify some of your facts.



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