The Lowe Down

Category: Immigration (17)

Chan Lowe: Immigration


While I’m away from the blog, I thought I’d run some cartoons from five years ago. It’s always surprising and instructive to see what was dominating our interest in those days, and how little some issues change.

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Chan Lowe: Herman Cain's immigration solution


Now Herman Cain is saying that his applause line about putting up an electrified fence across the border was a joke, and that America needs to get a sense of humor. It may well be that Cain’s highly selective audience of Republican primary voters found the idea of setting a fatal trap for potential illegal aliens a real knee-slapper, but in this age of cell phone videos and social media, a remark made to an amen corner is also a remark made to the world…just ask President George “Macaca” Allen.

Continue reading "Chan Lowe: Herman Cain's immigration solution" »

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Chan Lowe: Latinos get shafted


If you’re a Latino in this country, you or someone you know or love may well have an immigration problem. Unless, of course, you’re a Cuban-American.

The official Republican view of Latino migrants is xenophobic and borders on racist. Since Latinos often don’t speak our language all that well when they first arrive, and they don’t resemble the people who disembarked from the Mayflower, it's easy for GOP pols to demonize them as the dreaded “other,” terrifying the local folks with talk that our culture is being overrun by furriners while simultaneously reaching out for political contributions.

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Chan Lowe: Republican anti-voter fraud laws


There must be some centrally located underground room where Republican governors and pols from Republican-majority state legislatures met to lay out a coordinated national strategy. Otherwise, why would so many states simultaneously try to pass anti-immigrant laws, union-busting laws⎯and most egregious of all⎯voter suppression laws?

Republican chief executives and supermajorities have willfully misinterpreted the economic “mandate” they were given last November and instead are using it to cram through cherished agenda items that they were never elected to promote.

If you really want to know the difference between a liberal and a conservative, it is glaringly apparent in this so-called anti-voter fraud legislation that is being foisted upon us in so many states, including my own.

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Reject Corner!!!...Not


Just when I think I've seen everything in 27 years of dealing with editors at this paper, I am freshly astounded.

In response to the story about Alabama's newly-enacted anti-illegal immigrant law, which is even more draconian than Arizona's, I submitted the above cartoon as a sketch to my opinion page editor, Antonio Fins. Tony responded by saying, "It seems flat. What about something having to do with a New Yorker and his accent?" Naturally, I bridled at this, since it wasn't my idea. Working at cross-purposes with my initial response was that I respect Tony as a second set of eyes (this is what editors are for). I always understand my work because I'm the one who thought it up. If it doesn't hit home with him, it could mean that it is, in fact, less than effective.

I sent him an explanation, which was that Alabamans are known for having one of the highest obesity rates in the nation, and I wanted to turn the tables on them so that our readers could better understand how visual profiling, as a technique, is bigoted and hurtful.

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Chan Lowe: Obama strokes the Latino community


If I were a Latino, me estaría herviendo la sangre (my blood would be boiling) right about now.

El Presidente came down to El Paso on a campaign sweep, paying lip service to the notion of immigration reform, but he was really laying it out to the Latino community this way: “Vote Democratic, because we’ll only show you benign neglect, whereas the Republicans really have it in for you.”

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Chan Lowe: Death of the DREAM act


You have to wonder what kind of poison is coursing through Republicans’ minds right now for them to torpedo the DREAM act.

This is a hugely important issue to the fastest growing demographic in the nation, so it makes absolutely no long-term political sense for the GOP to brand themselves for years to come—if not forever—as anti-Latino.

In the short term, if they want to display their xenophobic bona fides to their base, what’s the point of doing it right after the election? Two years from now, everyone will have forgotten about the death of DREAM except the Latino community.

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Chan Lowe: The failed "invisible" border fence


If the idea of a high-tech “invisible” border fence was to keep furriners off the property on the cheap and to do so without prompting embarrassing comparisons to the Berlin Wall, it appears to have failed on both counts.

The fifty-three-mile-long boondoggle did, however, manage to funnel practically a billion dollars into the hands of contractors like the Boeing Corporation, so not everybody went away unhappy.

It seems the electronic surveillance equipment is unable to differentiate between trespassing aliens and ordinary ground clutter.

It makes one pine for an old-fashioned, inexpensive, low-tech solution—like the heart-stirring vision of Black Jack Pershing and George Patton galloping across the border at the head of a column of YOO-nited States Cavalry. You can bet your government-issue horse blanket they were able to differentiate between Pancho Villa’s band of desperadoes and ordinary ground clutter.

The romance of the American West aside, many of us would prefer a “real” fence along the entire border. The problem is that, while providing the visceral satisfaction of catching would-be border-violators in the act of scaling it like cockroaches trying to get out of a bathtub, it’s a budget-buster and doesn’t work all that much better than the “virtual” one, anyway.

Maybe the better solution would be to put into effect an incorruptible guest-worker ID program, and to place heavy penalties on businesses that employ illegals under the table.

In other words, eliminate the incentive.

Nah… “Fix the danged fence!” makes for a much better sound bite in campaign ads… right, Sen. McCain?

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Chan Lowe: Cuba lays off half a million workers


Welcome to the real world, Paisanos.

The appeal and the promise of the Communist Paradise was that everybody worked, no matter how menial or meaningless the job. Everybody got paid: Doctors, who spent years in training, made the same salaries as doormen. In the classless society, all citizens pulled the wagon together for the common welfare.

The only thing missing was incentive—a proportionate reward for initiative, creativity, and hard work. Oops…how do you account for laggards in Marxist theory, particularly when everyone is encouraged to lag?

The destitute central government may be laying off half a million Cubans, but fortunately it is rich in ideas. According to the AP, the newly unemployed can form cooperatives! Raise rabbits! Make bricks! Paint buildings! It’s a new model for a new century.

If you ask me, the only sure-fire Cuban business plan is a co-op that builds rafts equipped with compasses pointing toward Florida. Fortunately for the Cubans, the U.S. still considers them political, not economic, refugees⎯and we will welcome them with open arms to the Land of Opportunity, as we always have, no questions asked.

The Cuban government has said that salaries ought to be adjusted upward for those remaining employees who work hard and whose product is critical to the economy, although the current situation makes that unlikely. Those who lose their jobs will just have to sink or swim.

Sounds a lot like life here in the bastion of free enterprise these days. Our Cuban friends might want to think long and hard before taking that northbound cruise. There isn’t much of a market for rabbit meat up here.

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Chan Lowe: A dangerous strategy for Republicans


According to the latest news stories, Republican Party strategists are beginning to caution their candidates not to pile on the mosque issue, and Muslims in general, too heavily. It could backfire.

Grover Norquist, a member of the GOP brain trust, happens to be married to a Muslim, and he is one of those urging restraint. In fact, he says Muslim-bashing is a loser in the long run, and he’s right. To know a member of a group personally is to humanize that group.

This is one of the theories as to why Americans have become more accepting of gays, and why each year it’s a heavier lift to get people riled up against them as a campaign issue. As gays have come out into the mainstream, more and more people realize they have one in their family, one whom they love and who hasn’t sprouted horns. Why shouldn’t they have equal rights?

One thing Americans don’t like is watching somebody get bullied, just because of who they are. It might give some people a thrill at first, but after a while the revulsion sets in.

The Republican Party, while it may gain a temporary advantage for the coming election, runs a risk of crossing that fine line and starting to look like it’s simply beating up on people who don’t happen to be white, straight and Christian.

A suggestion: Dump the crazies and go back to being the Republican Party you used to be, decades ago: socially moderate, fiscally conservative. It’s probably too late for that, but if you really want to capture the all-important American Independent Middle, it’s more of a winner than the line you’re pushing right now.

Better for the country, too.

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Chan Lowe: Changing the Fourteenth Amendment


So is the U.S. Constitution a living document, written and designed to be flexible enough to be interpreted through the prism of the times—thereby remaining current⎯or is it a strict set of iron rules that we must use to psychoanalyze the minds of the Founding Fathers and divine their intent; a screed frozen in the mindset of the Eighteenth Century?

The tension between these views will persist for as long as the republic lasts, and is at the core of philosophical fights over Supreme Court Justice nominations.

Anyway, it’s easy to be a strict constructionist as long as you agree with the particular fragment under discussion. This Fourteenth Amendment battle is a case in point. It’s part of the Constitution. There’s a process to change it, but once you start fiddling with one thing, what’s to keep people from messin’ with the rest?

I can see it now: Since the Founding Fathers had flintlock muskets in mind at the time they wrote the Second Amendment, maybe it should only cover the right to bear a single-shot rifle that you painstakingly load from the muzzle, and that won’t work when it’s raining. No automatic weapons of any kind. Or, conversely, if you should manage to get your hands on a tactical nuclear weapon, who's to say you can't bear it if you want to?

Freedom of religion? Maybe the government should only be allowed to butt in and restrict it if we’re talking about building a Muslim mosque somewhere. In fact, a lot of people last week already thought that’s what it meant.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Not if you’re gay and want to get married. Besides, that isn’t even in the Constitution, although many Americans don’t know that.

I could go on and on.

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Chan Lowe: The Arizona immigration law


Like gay marriage and gun control, cooler heads will not prevail on the issue of immigration reform until the last vote and the last campaign dollar have been squeezed out of the base, which is to say, never.

Both sides are guilty of demagoguery, which is nothing new. In a perfect world, we would bring out an enormous sieve, strain it through the American populace to collect all the illegal aliens, and ship each of them back to his country of origin.

At the same time, we would build a crenellated Great Wall of America across our southern border, with embrasures every dozen feet or so, that would afford a clear field of fire for the crossbowmen to keep the barbarian hordes at bay.

Of course, we’d all have to eat off paper plates because no dishes would get washed, and we’d need machetes just to get through our front lawns. Fruit and vegetables? An ounce of Beluga caviar would be cheaper than a chicken Caesar salad.

While it might offend the moral sticklers if a way were found to legalize (some would say, “reward”) those already here, it’s probably the only realistic solution in the long run. But reason is trumped by emotion when it comes to getting people to pull out their checkbooks.

Besides, if the pragmatic solution were ever achieved, we wouldn't be able to scream about the civil rights of the downtrodden being violated any more. Nobody would benefit from that, except the workers and their families who live furtively in a perpetual twilight legal state.

When you look at it that way, why would any politician want to settle?

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Chan Lowe: Tea Party Racist?

teaparty.gifThere are many good-hearted people in the Tea Party, I’m sure, who have been swept up in the enthusiasm of a cause that articulates the frustrations that have been building within them for years.

The very nature of their movement--amorphous, absent any hierarchy, lacking a clearly defined manifesto, welcoming to all disgruntled newcomers—is the source of its spontaneity, its inspiration, and what makes it so exhilarating to be a part of.

It’s also the Tea Party’s Achilles’ heel. Without rules, structure or coherent leadership, what is a legitimate representation of political sentiment can easily be infiltrated and hijacked by those with a darker agenda.

Racism—tragically--will always be tangled in the warp and weft of the American fabric. It’s the legacy of a past we’d just as soon forget, but are shackled to forever. It lurks just beneath the surface of our national discourse like a crouching beast.

We see examples of it every day right here at our newspaper’s website. The Internet, with its attendant anonymity, has given voice to those whom nobody ever bothered to listen to before, and they exercise their vocal cords with a vengeance. Even comments to our weather site, of all places, can easily degenerate into racist rants if we don’t keep an eye on them.

So the Tea Party may have a racist component, as the NAACP claims, but that does not mean that all of its adherents ought to be tarred as racists.

It’s equally unrealistic to ask the Tea Party to condemn racism within its ranks. It isn’t organized that way. Who is going to write the resolution? Who will disseminate it? Who will sign it?

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Chan Lowe: Immigration reform

mariachi.gifThe Spanish expression for “to patronize” is, “tratar a alguien con condescendencia.

Now, when President Obama just happens to give a speech in favor of immigration reform, and its intended audience knows he knows there’s nothing he can really do about it--given this Congress and the current public mood--it doesn’t matter if he’s treating them with condescencia or not; that’s they way they’re going to read it.

It doesn’t help that the speech came just as the polls show that Obama’s support with Latino voters is slipping a few months before the November election, when all Democratic hands are on deck to minimize the inevitable losses.

People get ticked off when they think they’re being taken for fools. It’s an affront to their dignidad. They went along on this ride the first time around, and now they’re being asked to get back up on the bronc after it already threw them into the mud and rode off into the sunset without them.

The political calculus in the White House is that Latinos aren’t going to suddenly vote Republican; the principles of that party are inimical to Latino self-interest. But they are worried they’ll stay home on election day out of disgust with the way they and their issues have been kicked to the back of the line. Hence, bring out the old silver tongue and woo them once more.

Words are nice, but action is all that counts at this point. The word in Spanish for “word” is “palabra.” Interestingly, there's a cognate to that in English: “palaver.”

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Chan Lowe: The Arizona law in Florida?

cuban.gifThere’s talk here in the Sunshine State about adopting a “show-me-your-papers” law like they have in Arizona.

So far, the loudest voice is coming from a Republican candidate for governor who is trying to squeeze out front-runner Bill McCollum by playing to the conservative peanut gallery of likely primary voters.

It is doubtful that Florida will embrace the idea of such a law with the same passion as Arizonans…or even the rest of the country, as polls seem to show.

Unlike Arizona, much of Florida’s population (particularly South Florida’s) is no longer trying to hang onto the myth of a “real America,” one where Anglos rule by divine right and folks speak English without accents. By weight of sheer numbers, Latin immigrants to Florida—both legal and illegal—have forged a culture with the indigenous Anglos that redefines what “Americanness” is.

Of course, there are some Anglos, particularly recent arrivals, whose comfort levels are lower than those of us who have been here a while and learned to appreciate the richness of the stew rather than fear its spicy bite.

These folks will always lend a willing ear to opportunistic politicians who would twist xenophobic urges to their own purposes.

The fact is that we should be pressuring Congress to tighten our borders, rather than passing constitutionally doubtful laws that treat our neighbors as though they were subhumans.

Besides, as a lot of Florida politicians—even those from North Florida--know, Florida Hispanics, once motivated, can be a fearsome voting bloc. And they detest this law.

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Chan Lowe: Why fear big government?

samx.gifWhat are you Tea Partiers worried about?

Crisis after crisis, the one common denominator that keeps popping up is that some government regulatory or enforcement body was incompetent, asleep at the switch, or incestuously intermingled with the industry it was meant to oversee.

When Washington displays this kind of ineptitude regarding the fat, easy targets, how can it possibly get its act together enough to intrude upon and control the lives of its individual citizens?

Congress can pass⎯and President Obama can sign⎯all the “socialistic” and “Nazi” laws they want to, but when the black helicopters land in your back yard and they beat down your door, it sounds like all you have to do is provide some booze, broads, and a few lines of coke, and they’ll be putty in your hands.

If it’s the SEC that concerns you, then simply tune your laptop to some hot Internet porn. That ought to keep ’em distracted for a while.

As for protecting our borders, local law enforcement in places like Arizona will be so busy mistakenly rounding up suspiciously ethnic-looking American citizens that the real illegals will slip through to Colorado, Kansas and Minnesota faster than a personal injury lawyer can file a false arrest lawsuit. If you aren’t brown and don’t have a Mexican accent, they won’t be interested in you.

So chill.

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Chan Lowe: Immigration policy

nachos.gifA nation is within its rights to preserve the integrity of its borders in the face of intruders. A people are entitled to preserve their culture, their language, and especially to prosper from the fruit of their labors without a tide of uninvited foreigners coming in and, through sheer force of numbers, overwhelming the existing populace.

Just ask the Indians.

Because our nation either lacks the means or the political will to make our borders truly impermeable, the job of weeding out the unwanted has been left to individual states, like Arizona. In desperation, these states are more likely to look to their self-interest than to observe the niceties of the Bill of Rights.

Maybe from a fed-up Arizonan’s point of view, their new, draconian laws make sense. From a distance, they look inhumane, demeaning, xenophobic, racist and actually kind of scary to anyone who values the rights and protections guaranteed to us under the Constitution.

Chances are that in their zeal to rid their state of illegal aliens, Arizona law enforcement authorities will unintentionally sweep a number of innocent American citizens into their dragnet.

Unlike Europeans, Americans are not in the habit of carrying national identity papers around with them proving their citizenship. What will happen under this new regime is that “probable cause” will be applied to those who happen to look, for example, like their Mexican ancestors.

Those of, say, Danish extraction are more likely to be bypassed.

One’s looks are not a sound foundation upon which to base laws. As a nation founded on principles, we can do better.

Cartoonist's note: This being Take Your Child To Work Day, I had the assistance of two delightful young ladies, Krista and Baylee, in the drawing of today's pictorial offering.

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About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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