African Americans must be bewildered by the current political dance to woo “the Hispanic vote.” Mitt Romney, in particular, has been tiptoeing through the landmines of his party’s need to court Latinos and his hard-edged primary appeal to its right wing, which wants no mercy on the undocumented. Blacks aren’t getting half the attention, even though they were brought here legally, the slave trade being big business in those days. Packed like sardines in the hulls of ships, many did not survive the harsh journey.
Yet one thing has not changed: through the smokescreen of morality, the issue is economics. Former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour said it clearly: “I believe America is in a global battle for capital. If you are a worker who has been here for any length of time, we have to have a path, not to citizenship, but a secure knowledge that they will be able to work.”
It’s not citizenship we care about; it’s cheap labor.
I lived in an area where thousands of Latinos have come in search of work for years. Their stories are harrowing, as they were victimized at every turn, from the “coyotes” who brought them across the border to the employers who ill-used them to their neighbors who resented them.
Yes, their arrival brought increases in crime (they were usually the victims) and poverty. But the diversity they brought to a narrow community, their work ethic, the color of their culture and the steadfastness of their courage have made the area a better place for all who live there.