There is a great article posted on Alternet today, exploring the author’s heritage as the grandson of “illegal” immigrant grandfathers. Steven Wishnia winds his way through his families history as working immigrants in the early 1900’s and ties his own past into the current anti-immigrant fervor that is sweeping the nation.
My family history belies the central beliefs of that anti-immigrant movement: the argument that “our ancestors all came here legally”; the racist attitudes that immigrants are alien scum; and the idea that immigrants, especially illegal ones, drive down wages. Both my grandfathers became union activists, part of the movement that ushered in the greatest period of working-class prosperity in the history of the industrialized world.
Wishnia also delves into the idea of immigration raids as union-busting strategies – an idea that I posted on earlier this month. He exposes that the fear of deportation drives immigrants away from unionizing, which in turn can drive down wages. His approach is interesting because he is pushing for just and humane immigration reform from a labor rights and union perspective.
The article is pretty lengthy, but it is definitely worth the read…