Mexico+Drugs+Immigration=Rampant Hypocrisy

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SB1070 became reality more due to momentum gained from the out-of-control drug violence in Mexico than from anything else.

The demagogues that walk our midst stridently–and effectively–melded drugs and immigrants into one, concrete issue, thus convincing the Arizona public that drastic measures had to be taken. And drastic measures do need to be put into place, but not on “illegal immigration”.

The World’s Illicit Drug Consumption

According to the United Nations World Drug Report of 2010, from 2002 to ’08,  about 7 million individuals in the United States, 12 and older, have consumed illicit drugs per year, or 14 percent of the targeted population studied.

In Europe in 2009, the rate of use varies from 2.7 per 1000 persons in Greece, to 9 persons per 1000 in the UK.

The statistics on drug use in the developing world are not nearly as reliable as those of developed countries, but I will cite to the World Report to illuminate the difference in use of specified illicit drugs between developed and developing nations.

In 2008, the users of cocaine in the United States was estimated to be 2.6% of the population aged 15-64. In Mexico, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela, the estimate was .4 %, .5%, .8%, and .6%, respectively. The more wealthy Latin American countries–Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile, had rates similar to that of the U.S.: 2.6%, 1.4%, and 2.4 %, respectively.

The statistics on other types of drugs, such as opiates and amphetamines, have similarly disproportionate percentages of users between the United States and Europe compared to developing nations.

Our Own Fault

The responsibility for the violence that has enveloped the border region of Mexico and the U.S. is mostly attributable to the people of the United States who consume the illicit drugs. The production and transportation of those illicit drugs is what has, at the root, caused the violence.

The Mexican people, for example, are not the primary consumers of illicit drugs; the number of Mexican users is dwarfed by that of U.S.C. users. In the face of this compelling evidence, those who bear the brunt of the violence in the form of heinous rhetoric and accompanying legislation –undocumented immigrants–are not those responsible for it.

Where is the outrage at the conviction  of a U.S.C. for  possession of cocaine, of heroin, of even marijuana? There is none.  Instead, the “illegal lawbreakers”, who happen to not have put anyone’s lives at risk, are put to the sword. Scapegoats are used for a reason: its easy. But in that ease, real harm, real crimes of humanity, swell in numbers.

Sb1070 was and is one of those crimes of humanity that has showed the a disturbing lack of any foresight in the minds of our people when facing a challenge.

The Reverberation

The harm of SB1070 was not curtailed by a Federal Court’s injunction of it: Florida, Utah, and Virginia are now trying to mimick the “attrition through enforcement” mantra that SB1070 shrieked with unabashed pride.

These states, notably, do not sit on the border with an out-of-control Mexico to the south, but the drug users’, and ultimately our leaders,  are just as responsible for whatever harm arises from the anti-immigrant legislation.

In a bipartisan effort, the senate, led by Charles Schumer, passed a $600 million measure to bolster border security. Schumer stated: “With this bill’s passage today, we have clearly shown we are serious about securing our nation’s borders.”

Only, if Schumer and the Senate were to not be disingenuous, they would have stated something like this:

“This bill will not secure our border; ultimately, the border will only be secure if we overhaul our policy on drug use, such as legalizing marijuana and decriminalizing the use of other illicit drugs.

Likewise, the border will not be secure unless we comprehensively address the root causes of instability of Mexico, Central America, and South America, which includes legislation that increases the amount of people that can migrate to the United States legally, and legislation that alleviates the poverty which arises from our potentially disadvantageous economic relations with Latin American countries.”

A miracle would be necessary for something like the above to come out of a U.S. politician’s mouth. Simply put, our politicians know their demographics; they know that they can get away without putting forth a good-faith effort at governance. We, the people, cannot stomach a multi-layered, complex, understanding of the world. That does not absolve our politicians of the responsibility for what occurs because of this malfeasance.

As of this date, the consequences of this malfeasance–in the form of SB1070 and copycat legislation–are the electoral tool du jour. Real, live, people–mostly those who are brown, undocumented, or both, encounter real harm, ranging from an unjustified stop by the police at the minimum, to death at the maximum, and many levels of injustice in between.(think Marcelo Lucero, and many other victims of hate crimes).

And that’s just the legally recognized harms. Deportation of unauthorized immigrants is not considered to be harm by the law. But it is nonetheless harm, especially given that because of the disproportionate focus on how bad illegal immigrants harm, their deportation is proportionally unjust. Try this one: any person convicted of using cocaine should be charged as an accessory to whatever crime was committed in connection with the production and transportation of that cocaine.

Nothing Is Solved

We are hypocrites. We cannot condemn a crime with such ferocity and concurrently ignore the root cause(s) of that crime. But we do. Arizona did so on a grand scale, since it claimed that “attrition through enforcement” would somehow affect the “drug problem”, which is impossible because it is a tactic exclusively in the realm of immigration and devoid of any relation to the consumption of illicit drugs.

Now, the false premise of Arizona’s law has been forgotten; the anger and steam that Sb1070 produced may be enough for it to survive on its merits alone as an immigration measure in several other States. It is, ultimately, a multi-layered, nauseating amalgamation of hypocrisy, and we are all responsible for it.

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