Zimzo replies: You are reprising Virginia's darkest days

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The pro-illegal commenter who inspired so much debate over the past week (see here, here, here, and here), after all the discussion, still has a pretty low opinion of the people who oppose illegal immigration.

Thanks for educating me, Joe. All of this just confirms what I feared. I spend a lot of time defending the South and often point out that the reaction to the Chicago Freedom Movement, which fought discriminatory housing practices in the Chicago area, was in many ways more hostile than in the South. Martin Luther King Jr. said after their famous march there in 1966 said that he had "never seen as much hatred and hostility on the part of so many people." And now in this month that we celebrate the 39th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, I see that the two most important issues to certain Virginians are to keep gay people from marrying their partners and keep Latinos from moving into their neighborhoods. Extraordinary....

Click the link below to read the rest of Zimzo's message and my reply.

It's especially amazing that you put up links to these sites apparently thinking that they had somehow proved your point. First of all, I didn't see anything about 20 people living in a house. But what I did read astounded me. The Manassas city council passed a law defining what constitutes a family! Gee, conservatives are always saying how they want to keep government out of our affairs and act like they have the monopoly on family values:

"The amendment, adopted Dec. 5, defines a family as “two or more persons related to the second degree of collateral consanguinity” plus one non-related person, despite the home’s legal occupancy limit. In many cases, the head of household’s aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews would not be considered family, and, thus, make it illegal for them to reside in the home."

Amazing. One of the complaints I always hear from Latinos about American culture is how we don't seem to be as close to our families as they are. In Latino culture it is typical to live with ones grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins etc. Now Manassas has gone ahead and made this against the law! I'm stupefied.

And it is clear that this law has one purpose. It is clearly directed at Latinos in an attempt to drive them out of your neighborhoods. Then I read about how complaints against "overcrowding" are up. Again most of these "complaints" are against Latinos. I guess you are doing a good job of stoking the "flames of discontent." You may want to reach back into not-too-distant Virginia history for some other examples of how to harass and drive people out of your neighborhoods.

But maybe you guys have already gone too far. One Republican seems to be having second thoughts: "Supervisor Stephen J. Snow (R-Dulles) seemed a little hesitant about the surveillance. 'I’m wondering if we really want to spy on citizens.'"

Since most of this discussion seems to be about Latinos, here are a few statistics about the Latino population: the Latino population of Fairfax County is about 12%, which is less than the national average of 14%. The reason Fairfax County may be having problems with overcrowding is that its population has grown by 25% since 1990 according to the Census Bureau. And, yes, the Latino population grew from about 50,000 to about 100,000 out of one million. Maybe half of them are illegal. I hardly see how this constitutes the emergency you make it out to be. Of course, lost in this discussion is this interesting fact: "Almost 40 percent of Northern Virginia’s foreign born have college degrees; one in six has an advanced degree." I guess they're not only after jobs Americans won't do but also after jobs Americans aren't smart enough to do.

Northern Virginia has undergone extraordinary growth in the last few decades. During that time the disparity in incomes has also grown. But typically for conservatives you would rather scapegoat a group that doesn't have a very strong constituency. Instead of building more affordable housing, putting some limits on sprawl, dealing with the problem of those who don't have health insurance, improving the schools, etc., you seem to find it easier to blame The Other, even if that means passing draconian laws that seem to defy your professed conservative principles.

1) About the links in this post: You were contending that residential overcrowding was a myth; I posted these news and government links simply to establish it's no myth. The rest of the posts here should do a great deal more to confirm the specifics.

2) You might read some of the subsequent posts on this topic (i.e. parts two, three, and four).

3) But you know what? I'm going to assume you have read what Amy and Nathan wrote, as well as all the other news in our Immigration Category, and you've decided all of these local people who say there is such a thing as residential overcrowding and community problems resulting from illegal aliens are lying. Correct me if I'm wrong.

4) "You may want to reach back into not-too-distant Virginia history for some other examples of how to harass and drive people out of your neighborhoods."

You are pretty clearly of the opinion that those who oppose illegal immigrants in Northern Virginia are yahoos, rednecks, bigots.

Let me clarify something for you: I'm not writing from some hollow in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I'm in Northern Virginia, in the DC Metropolitan area. I don't eat possum and I don't know how to make squirrel gravy.

You seem to believe we have a problem with living in a multi-ethnic community. Here's some news: The DC area has been multi-ethnic for as long as I've been here, which is going on 35 years. In the 1970s we had a massive influx of people from, among other countries, El Salvador and Iran. Since then, in my time here, DC has become broadly multi-ethnic. Take the area from Sterling, Virginia to Laurel, Maryland, and you are probably looking at the most culturally diverse geographical segment of the country. I've traveled a great deal around the U.S. and I've never been anywhere with anything like the ethnic diversity of Washington D.C. It's been this way my entire life. So I've lived most of my life in the most multi-ethnic place I've ever experienced. And I'm not moving to North Dakota; I'm staying here. I LIKE DC.

I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest most of the people here who are opposed to illegal immigration feel the same way. Attitudes about cultural diversity have absolutely nothing to do with it.

5) "Of course, lost in this discussion is this interesting fact: 'Almost 40 percent of Northern Virginia’s foreign born have college degrees; one in six has an advanced degree.' I guess they're not only after jobs Americans won't do but also after jobs Americans aren't smart enough to do."

You just hammered a nail into your own misguided argument. A huge number of foreign-born people obviously live here LEGALLY as functioning members of society. We are not advocating against them in any way. It's the larger numbers of people here illegally, who are undermining wages, who constitute the problem.

6) And bro', let me tell you something: Think about what you are trying to accomplish. Are you here to win debating points against me? That's not such a great idea because, in the big picture, I'm a straw man. I had nothing to do with the overthrow of the Herndon government. I never even heard of Help Save Herndon until February. Defeat me in a debate and, in the real world, you've accomplished exactly bupkiss. Meanwhile, there is a grassroots revolution going on here about which I'm merely a reporter. The revolution is the thing that's going to spread - for goodness sakes, it sure won't be the reputation of Joe B.

So, when you say something like "jobs Americans aren't smart enough to do," which makes no sense at all, you're going to really piss some people off - a LOT more than you are going to wound Joe B. (In fact, I'm already over it). We're not exactly Instapundit, but we do have a lot of readers active in Northern Virginia politics. And it's a totally disingenuous thing to say. Of course, you know that, because you clearly are no fool. So depending on what you want to accomplish, you might want to reconsider the rhetorical approach.

If you want to have in impact in Northern Virginia, don't focus on out-debating me. That's the low-hanging fruit.

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zimzo said:

Let me just clarify a few things. First of all, I grew up in Northern Virginia (which I am sure is no surprise to you). One thing I have learned living elsewhere is that there are plenty of places in this country that are more racist than the South and that one doesn't have to be a possum-hunting, squirrel-stewing redneck to be one. In fact, in many ways, because the South was forced to confront its racist past it is more progressive than many northern states and places in Europe when it comes to race.

That is why I find this new nativist movement so disturbing. That is why it chills me that otherwise very nice middle-class people are trafficking in ethnic stereotypes and devoting so much energy to hounding people of a different ethnic group by siccing investigators on them, passing laws that target their definition of family, peering at them through binoculars, writing down license plates and proposing even more draconian measures aimed specifically at them. It further distresses me that this is done at a time when the real problems of this country, deeper problems, like the lack of affordable housing, the increasing disparity of income, the outsourcing of jobs, the deterioration of our education system, the failure of our government to provide real security, the collapse of our credibility in the international arena, etc., are ignored and the two most important issues to some people seem to be gay marriage and immigration. Instead of taking care of the real problems in this coutry we are scapegoating two vulnerable populations. And this week the U.S. Senate is debating flag-burning. To borrow a phrase from Nathan Muller, a man who apparently has a lot of time and energy that could perhaps be better focused, "Wake up, America!"

And no Joe, this isn't all about you, But when I see someone as intelligent as yourself drinking this Kool-Aid, it pains me deeply.

Sophrosyne said:

Wow, somehow I missed most of this unfolding narrative, thanks Joe for brining it above the fold.

I'll never understand how some seemingly rational folks can call a movement to enforce the LAW (and I assume everyone agrees we SHOULD have immigration laws as we are in the middle of a global War on Terror) a "nativist movement" or "trafficking in ethnic stereotypes."

This has NOTHING to do with race or ethnicity and everything to do with enforcing our laws and not rewarding illegal behavior.

I think our Great Senator George Allen said it best:

"Legal immigration has been and is the lifeblood of our nation. My own mother followed the process and emigrated to the U.S. from Tunisia after World War II. I have the greatest respect for the ingenuity, discipline and determination that so many of our newest citizens show in their work and lives."

"But illegal immigration is not only unfair to the thousands of men and women who waited their turn and worked hard to come to America, but is also a threat to our nation and state socially and economically”

"I support the strict enforcement of our immigration laws and hope that legislators in Virginia and my colleagues in Congress will join me in supporting laws to make illegal immigration more difficult and unappealing."

jeez man, when do you sleep...I need to down more kool aid - er, COFFEE - and make a bunch of phone calls before I can jump back in here today...

Hey Soph, the "when do you sleep" remark was for Zimzo, not you.

Thanks for the great Allen quote. Yes, I guess it's time to start rolling on that front. So many causes, so little time...

Amy H. said:

Immigration Raid Nets Dozens at Dulles Airport
Jun 14th - 1:29pm
Neal Augenstein, WTOP Radio


Web Link:http://www.wtopnews.com/?nid=25&sid=820942

An immigration raid at Dulles International Airport resulted in 55 arrests on Wednesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement says.
The people were doing contract work at a construction site, inside a secure area, where they would potentially have access to runways and airplanes.
ICE agents made their move as the workers were being bused to the site, checking work and immigration papers.
The agency says one of the workers had an airport security badge, that grants unescorted access to the airport tarmac.
ICE says allowing unauthorized workers into sensitive sites puts the nation's infranstructure at risk.
Most of the people arrested will be flown an ICE detention facility in El Paso, Texas to begin removal proceedings.
Officials say this operation and others like it aim to guard infrastructure. The agency says it's important to make sure people who work at airports are in the United States legally.
Investigation into the workers' immigration status has been going on for a while, leading up to the raid.
The arrests did not affect flights or travel to and from the airport.
(Copyright 2006 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

stay puft marshmallow man said:


what you have is a reactionary movement, not a revolutionary one.

and once again, the idea that immigrants drive down wages is probably not true, according to:

the US Department of Labor:


The Hudson Institution:


At worst, the impact of immigration on wages has been found to be minuscule (compared to the impact of the weak economy):



even FOX News couldn't dig up a strong relation between immigration and reduced wages:


Based on what I see in my own community, immigrants don't appear to effect wages. I guess it could be different in different areas, but based on the ambiguity surrounding the issue, I don't think we can build a solid argument around the idea that immigration leads to reductions in wages.

This is a lot of good discussion and I'm not ignoring it, but I just got roped into ANOTHER little local duty which is going to keep me out of commission for the evening. Back as soon as I can!

kevin said:

But also the question of whether it is possible to be anti-"illegals" and also anti-"hate"? And is that what the touted solution (by Bush) in theory, is attempting to achieve?

Though I think the language alone is provocative and emotional, that is, the language being used here (as well as in the discourse coming out of this issue, which, in case you haven't noticed, existed prior to being yanked into the spotlight but was not so fiercely reported on, had not become such a part of our current hot topic lexicon, etc, until quite recently, mind you. A dip through the archives of this blog itself will make that quite evident). Hard to not get emotional about "hate" and things "illegal". And if the intended use of that language is to provoke and incite I would say that it serves/served its purpose and those using it for that purpose can pat themselves on the back. If it was not intended to provoke or incite I would say there is/was a gross error.

And it's hard not to be reactionary when thus incited and provoked. . .at the hands of those defining the discourse.

Zimzo -

The license plates the Minutemen are documenting are those of the employers who are breaking the law.

I don't know what the average citizen can be expected to do about income disparity and lack of low-cost housing...

And the movements to define marriage as being between on man and one woman, and to oppose illegal immigration, are two different ones. I have my feet a little in both, but most people I know don't at all. I have no idea what the HSH people think about same-sex marriage or the Iraq War. I DO know a number of them are extremely disenchanted with may of the Republican leaders, President Bush included.

Stay Puft -

Locally people have seen the effects on wages. Contracting and much blue collar work have seen wages plummet. Thank you for coming up with all the links, though, I know that takes time. I will read them.

Kevin -

Stay Puft's observation about "reactionary" vs "revolutionary" is interesting. I hadn't thought much about that. But I think the news item Amy submitted tells the part of the story of why the issue is emotional: People are seeing their community change for the worse.

As to why immigration wasn't addressed here much before February: It was not on my radar. We had a NOVA TownHall meeting with the Help Save Herndon people and it really opened my eyes, so I started paying attention to the topic.

Herndon, for whatever reason, became an anchor point for illegal migrants before Loudoun County did.

zimzo said:

You write: "I don't know what the average citizen can be expected to do about income disparity and lack of low-cost housing..."

That's an astonishing confession, Joe. So the reason you are going after the symptom rather than the cause, the reason you are targeting a powerless group of people is that you feel powerless yourself to do anything about the real problems your community faces.

Meanwhile, Republicans that you put in office, largely because of their demagoguing on issues like gay marrage, terrorism and immigration continue to make the problem worse. One of the reasons for the increasing gaps in income disparity are the tax cuts pushed through by Republicans. This has resulted massive National debt, which you will pay for in higher interest rates and squeezed credit and cuts in government programs. But I guess that isn't as sexy as immigrants and gays.

And here's a little example of what your elected Republican represenatatives are uo to when it comes to affordable housing, which I bet slipped under your radar:


Affordable housing is a huge problem in Northern Virginia so what do your Republican elected representatives do? They propose a law that would result in less affordable housing to protect bulders who no doubt made large contributions to their campaigns.

But you just keep picking on immigrants and gays while you are getting screwed by the politicians demagoguing on these issues to distract you. It's a lot easier.

That's an astonishing use of the word 'astonishing,' Zimzo.

According to you, the answer is to provide an immense number of really cheap apartments for those here illegally. Granted that would solve the overcrowding problem in residential areas.

I imagine such apartments would be snapped up by people not here illegally, though, because expensive housing is a problem for everyone.

The large number of illegal migrant workers would still rank right up there with the "real problems" our community faces.

zimzo said:

Joe, I'm a afraid you're missing the point either willfully or because you're tired so let me lay it out more clearly:

1) Northern Virginia is experiencing a period of rapid growth.

2) This rapid growth has resulted in an increased need for labor that has outstripped the available labor force.

3) Illegal immigrants have migrated to the area and filled shortages in the labor force.

4) Economic growth has also resulted in shortages in affordable housing. Real estate speculation has made this problem worse.

5) The lack of affordable housing has put pressure on the community, causing overcrowding, higher numbers of people per dwelling, homelessness, etc.

6) The increasing visibility of illegal immigrants has caused otherwise good and well-meaning people to blame and scapegoat them for the problems that rapid growth and the lack of affordable housing have caused.

7) Instead of addressing the housing problems in Northern Virginia, certain politicians are actually making the problem worse by making it less likely that affordable housing will be built. To distract people from real problems in the economy they demagogue on the issue of illegal immigration. So you have the situation where Republican legislators fulminate about illegal immigration on the one hand and then cut deals with their campaign contributors to make the problem of affordable housing even worse--for everybody.

8) By appealing to people's emotions and fears real, pragmatic solutions to the problems of a rapidly expanding but unregulated labor market like the Herndon Day Center are shut down. Because deporting 11 million or more people is impossible, granting "amnesty" to illegal immigrants who are already here, is the only practical solution to bringing this underground economy above ground but this also becomes difficult in such an atmosphere. A "wall" for example will not do one thing to fix this problem.

10) Instead of attacking the real problems that affect our country all this energy is being focussed on the symptoms. This even leads people who claim they want less government to cede more power to the government, to the point where they are going to people's homes and determining whether people meet the government definition of a family.

9) So you have a situation where practical solutions are impossible. In frustration people attack the most vulnerable victims of the situation--illegal immigrants. Even if all the illegal immigrants were deported immediately, Northern Virginia would still have a shortage of affordable housing, the health care system would still be strained by the large number of uninsured, the education system would still be underfunded and overcrowded and on top of that there would be a labor shortage because in fact unemployment is low in Northern Virginia and these immigrants are filling jobs not necessarily that Americans won't do but for which Americans are not available.

So if you wonder why I am "astonished" it's because I don't understand how otherwise intelligent people could put so much energy into efforts that victimize one vulnerable segment of the population and do nothing whatsoever to confront the fundamental problems that truly threaten us.

Thanks for laying out the argument like this. It makes it much easier to identify where we actually disagree.

I have to finish some stuff at work, but as food for thought here's this:

re #2 & 3: One of the key issues for HSH (and key recruiting argument) is displacement of blue collar workers and the destruction of the contracting profession by shady operators and illegal migrants who have drastically lowered the wage base.

This is no myth, like I said it's the #1 thing that turned HSH into a political force, according to the founder.

re#4: This is an issue in itself and not simply about "economic growth." It's about zoning restrictions and "smart growth" in the Dulles area. This could be a post - no this could be an entire BLOG - on this topic alone.

re#6: "Visibility" I guess is correct, in the sense property values have tanked in areas where the block busting has occurred. Areas - neighborhoods, rows of houses - that used to look nice now look crappy. 4-bedroom houses are converted to 12-bedroom houses. To want this to end or keep it from happening on one's own street is "scapegoating"?

That sounds like ivory tower talk, friend. Zoning rules exist for a reason and they've been in place for many years.

Look, you're arguments are well thought out but you're missing some facts. Lack of affordable housing cannot be reduced to mean Republicans in the state goverment. And even if it could, it's a different issue. If you're going to sit up there and say "You people have no right to want to make changes in your community" that's fine. It does not have much bearing on the local situation, however. You're not here, you don't know what is happening here, and you're trying to argue on political or ideological grounds that don't even come into play.

I'm a conservative, this Web site is basically conservative, but the immigration issue can't be defined according to the same kind of breakdown.

It's a pragmatic attitude. People are saying:

1) There are laws against hiring people and paying them under the table just so you don't have to pay taxes and benefits. What's more, the people are here illegally and will work for half of what I get paid. This has messed up my carpentry/contracting/drywall-hanging profession, so I want the law enforced.

2) There are zoning rules against X number of people living in a house, rules established to ensure quality of life in the community. I want the rules enforced.

I will read your other points again and get back into them later in the day.

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