Lunaya Pravda

01 May 2006

Thoughts on immigration protests

Later today, traffic in downtown Seattle is expected to be snarled beyond belief due to the second immigration protest in three weeks. And I'm extraordinarily angry about it.

First, as my political leanings go (somewhere between libertarian minarchist and anarcho-capitalist), I support their cause. On fundamental levels, I'm opposed to restrictions on movement and limits on the rights of individuals to enter consensual contracts with each other, including contracts involving employment and wages. And I truly believe that federal and state minimum wage requirements have roped the U.S. into the precarious position it currently holds.

But not a single one of these protests serves to inconvenience or punish government for its meddling, overbearing position. The biggest burdens of these protests are born by the private citizens and business owners. Businesses must scramble to adequately staff their operations. Workers, legal and illegal alike, face commutes that take hours longer than normal because of streets closed to traffic. And the taxpayers foot the bill for the traffic revisions, police presence, damage to public property, and other incidentals.

Unlike the bus boycotts of the 60s civil rights movement, these rallies strike at the heart of private enterprise, inclusively punishing those who support the rights of undocumented workers and even provide them with jobs. Government doesn't suffer because government isn't heavily staffed by undocumented workers in the first place. Government doesn't care about 15,000 screaming protesters throwing a tantrum on its doorstep and the ensuing traffic problems. Government doesn't have to scramble to meet staffing needs.

If the objective is a strong show of support numerically speaking, then rallying in a place capable of accommodating thousands is far more appropriate, and far less likely to raise the ire of those who are otherwise supportive of the motivation for protest.

The war protesters typically reserve their actions for the weekend, when more people can attend and less harm is done. It's too bad the immigration protest organizers can't grasp the same concept - making nice with the neighbors. And if any actions are to be successful, they must strike at the organization that benefits the most from illegal immigration - the government.

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