Los Illegales

        With the Supreme Court hearing arguments this week on Arizona’s SB 1070, and a flagging economy sparking hatred of “others” which sporadically flares up across the land, it seems timely to examine the (now) national issue of illegal immigration.

There are currently 10.8 million illegals in the U.S. but – good news, Nativists! – this number has decreased by a million since 2008.[1]  Seems that The Recession and nutcases like Governor Jan Brewer of AZ have driven scores back to Mexico, engaging in what Romney charmingly calls “self-deportation.”    The loathsome Arizona law enables police to try to determine immigration status during a “lawful stop, detention or arrest when there is reasonable suspicion that the individual is an illegal immigrant.”[2]  Does that reasonable suspicion translate to driver has brown skin?  You bet your KKK hood it does!

What’s more, illegals are required to carry papers at all times in a desert version of the National Identity Card which most Americans hated, and shunned, even post-9/11.  Oh yeah – you’re also not  supposed to stand in a parking lot and “gesture or nod” that you’re available for work.  Take that, Home Depot!

In my native state of California, there are 2.6 million illegals.  If you listen to the haters, they are taking American jobs, callously using free social services, not paying taxes, blah blah.  Yet here’s the actual truth:  “L.A. County Economy Would Shrink by More Than $100 Billion If All Illegal Immigrants Were Deported, Says UCLA Report.”[3]  If Romney’s wet dream comes true, and all L.A. illegals go bye-bye, that translates to a 21.9% decrease in employment, and a loss of 1.3 million jobs.  However, in a brave new utopian world, where illegals have amnesty, 211,000 jobs would be added and tax revenues would increase by $1.9 billion. [4]  Also, Mittens, did it ever occur to you that the cost of deporting 11 million people would be approximately $144 billion?[5]  That could fund a whole ‘nother half-war!

California has not been immune from the madness, with the passage – and repeal, due to its unconstitutionality – of noxious Prop 187 in the 90’s.  This would have deprived illegals from using public health care and schools.  That was a pretty good idea:  we could foment an underclass where epidemics spread unchecked (guess what, 1%? – viruses don’t recognize class) and illiteracy among kids could be worse than it is under LAUSD.

But let’s take a hard look at the tired refrain:  “’They’ are taking our jobs.”  They are, if your job is maid, gardener, cook, nanny, bus boy, construction, doorman, or migrant farm worker.  Farmers have stated often that if illegals are banned from their fields, they won’t be able to harvest, resulting in higher consumer prices for people like you and me.  And Americans don’t wish to put on that straw hat and work for substandard wages — they’ve made that perfectly clear.

Let’s put our focus on Los Angeles, a city composed of immigrants.  Take away all Latinos, and life as we know it will come to a squealing halt.  No more cheap domestic labor for mansions and middle-class homes.  No more immaculate leaf-blown lawns.  No more patient caregivers to babysit Johnny and Suzie while Mom goes off to work, or, in the Romney paradigm, to a day spa.  L.A. is like a Third World country, with a distinct underclass that enables everyone else to feel like Madonna.   A reporter for the L.A.Times said it best in Paradise Lost: California’s Experience, America’s Future:  “This town runs on brown wheels.”  You better believe it.  And if those wheels are removed, a la the film A Day Without A Mexican, you’ll find Tom Cruise doing his own laundry and Ah-nuld cooking his lunch.  Unthinkable!

Amazingly, one of the few entities to have displayed compassion for the plight of illegals is the Catholic Church.  Our Lady Queen of Angels is exemplary, openly building a sanctuary to house those on the verge of deportation (they must have American children and a good work record).  The L.A. Cardinal and priests have put themselves on the line for speaking out – and doing something – where illegals are concerned.  “”Millions of people here are good citizens and workers who pay taxes and own homes,” says Father Richard Estrada.[6]

Even so, there are still barriers beyond the border which haunt the children of illegals.  Happily, Gov. Brown just passed the CA “Dream Act,” which entitles those without papers to qualify for scholarships and to pay in-state tuition.  But the heartbreak is that many college graduates who were brought to the U.S. illegally end up with the same low-skill jobs as their parents. [7]  Many of these kids find out they’re illegal when they first apply for college or a  job.  Those who excel – according to the Horatio Alger dictum  – who get good grades and acceptance at four-year schools, find that without a social security number, they are condemned to a life of cleaning houses.  This is truly a tragedy which (one hopes) a Democratic Administration will address.

There are so many reasons for granting amnesty to those who’ve been in the U.S. for decades.  It enables them to be paid a living wage and avoid exploitation from unscrupulous employers; it prevents the travesty of deporting parents whose children are U.S. citizens – will we be deporting Americans now?  (We kill them without trial if they’re a terrorist — that much is clear).  We enable millions of hard-working people to come into the light and get off the black market cash payroll.

If you don’t think that illegals are hard-working, you haven’t been to Los Angeles.  I see men sweating in 100 degree heat, lifting enormous boxes and doing back-breaking work; maids getting down on hands and knees to scrub a kitchen floor; valets running like Olympic sprinters so they can return your Lexus to you.

I’m not condoning lawlessness, but the illegals aren’t criminals.  They’re people who’ve come from a poor, corrupt country to better their circumstances, not unlike my forbearers, or yours.  And even if your great-great-great-great Uncle Winslow came over on The Mayflower, you are still not a native.  To quote Jack White of The White Stripes:  “White Americans, what? Nothin’ better to do? Why don’t you kick yourself out, you’re an immigrant too?”[8]  Listen up, Arizona.


The President of Los Angeles

The Dictator

Last night, I heard this phrase on NPR, “The President Of Los Angeles.”  Of course, it was succeeded by something innocuous like “. . .Chamber Orchestra,” but it did get me to thinking.  What if I were elected President of this town of nearly 7 million? (I am reluctantly counting Orange County).  If I were King Of the Forest, what changes could I enact to improve the lot of the poor, help the burgeoning immigrant community, and generally torture the rich?  Firstly, my Administration would demand the following:

  1. Revoke Prop 13.  This has turned California from The Golden State into The State That Was.  Sorry homeowners (I was one of you once, prior to the Great Recession), but somebody’s got to pay for our crumbling roads, embarrassingly bad schools, neo-fascist police force, and simple amenities like libraries.  Go ahead, cry on your kitchen table.  I eat standing up, in my 450 square foot studio.
  2. Force the 1% of our town to visit a poor neighborhood every  month.  Use the Red Line to transport Hollywood starlets to Watts, and the inhabitants of Beverly Hills and Brentwood to East L.A. and the North Valley.  Think of it like Pol Pot’s “political re-education program,” but no one is actually killed.  Instead, give those who spend their days having plastic surgery a glimpse of how Real People live.  Who knows, maybe they’ll buy a tamale or visit Food 4 Less.
  3. Immediately impound the 8 million Mercedes and Beamers on the road, sell them, and in their stead set up actual public transportation.  With routes that go from the Westside to the Valley; and one that traverses Beverly Hills (!!) on its way to the beach.  While this is in process, hand out bicycles to the rich so that they can get around.  They’ll lose weight without spending a fortune and thank us for keeping them in shape!
  4. Have the LAPD focus on pulling over white drivers for at least a one-month period.  In fact, they can even pull over themselves.
  5. Have everyone who works at a studio take on a real job for a couple of weeks.  They might come to the realization that if a TV show doesn’t make airtime, the planets will not collide.
  6. Have a Clique Relocation Program.  For example, surfers become gang members for a day, and ganstas get to be Valley Girls. Gardeners live in the houses whose lawns they trim, and housekeepers make studio heads clean up after themselves.  Koreans can pretend to be African-Americans, then  arrest themselves for shoplifting.
  7. Learn how it feels to be Armenian and go to Glendale for a day!  After a couple of kabobs and anoush, you’ll almost be a Kardashian!  (Don’t forget to make a sex tape!!)
  8. Sub-divide the houses on Sunset Boulevard and create more public housing.  Take the stars’ enclaves in Malibu and turn them into rehab centers.
  9. Speaking of Malibu:  everyone must get out.  No one should live in a place that has regular fires, mudslides, floods, and earthquakes.  Barbra, we’re doing it for your own good!
  10. All non-natives must return to whence they came.  That will leave me, Paula Abdul, Debbie Reynolds (she was Miss Burbank), Drew Barrymore, Corey Feldman and Shia Labeouf.  We will all collaborate on a big-screen version of The Flying Nun.  Since Sally Field was born in Pasadena, we may grant her a temporary visa.

So that’s how things would stack out if I were President of L.A.  I will confiscate Mel Gibson’s mansion and use it as my Presidential Palace.  Mr. T. and The Rock will serve as my personal bodyguards.  Wolfgang Puck will man the kitchen, and Mel, as part of his Human Rehabilitation Program, will be my driver.

I’ll try to keep things low-key and ban The Secret Service.  If I want to have a blowout, I’ll invite the GSA and we can party with sushi from Katsu-ya.   And oh yeah, my VP will be Heidi Fleiss.  She’s the quintessential L.A. gal and a damned good businesswoman!  Forget what I said about the Secret Service.  They can come round the Palace any time.