Helots (Metis) and Immigrants: Response to Cruz

Ted Cruz let slip his plans for illegal immigrants in the 1/28/16 debate:, according to his short amendment (138 words, I think he said) anyone who entered the nation illegally, no matter the reason, could get “legal status,” after passing through many tests, but could never earn citizenship.

A life-long handicap simply because they came through US borders without the proper papers and procedures? Even if they were fleeing inhuman conditions wherever they came from.

What does this mean?

In Sparta and ancient Athens, “foreigners” were a large part of the population, and an important part of the economy: they were helots  or metis, not slaves, but not really free, because they had no rights. They were easily exploited and abused.

What Ted Cruz was proposing was the creation of just such a class. So, unlike the Donald, he won’t ship all 11 or 12 million illegal immigrants “back to” anywhere. He’ll just create an easily exploitable class of never-citizens, doomed to work for others in demeaning, low-paying positions.

If one followed Cruz’s logic, these helots would also lose a lot of other rights, not all at once, but piecemeal: after all, if they can never vote, even their protests won’t mean much. If a President Cruz didn’t move to eliminate the minimum wage, rather than raise it, he’d certainly propose a significantly lower minimum for the helots. Maybe, he’d even try to make them ineligible for membership in unions or political groups.

Further, helots would populate the lower rungs of society, probably commit a disproportionate share of crime, and would “take away” good jobs, by their own vulnerability to exploitation. They would lower the bar. The new helots would be a legally defined underclass, convenient for keeping other working Americans from successfully demanding higher wages, or better working conditions.

The new helots would also be a large, restive class, vulnerable to groups like Daesh aiming to take advantage of their discontent. Cruz could be creating a rejectionist “fifth column,” inside the fearful, authoritarian, billionaire-dominated United States.

The Republican re-made nation would no longer be a haven for the displaced, oppressed and desperate.

Ironically, while Republicans, excepting Jeb, excoriate paths to citizenship or amnesty, more illegal entrants are going home than are entering the country.

The angry, punitive approach to immigration appears to be the general Republican position, despite the presence of at least three primary Presidential candidates, who are first generation Americans: Trump, Cruz and Rubio.

Their theme seems to be: I’m here, dammit, so close the door!

After sitting on this for a day, I realized I’d left something out.

The obvious, almost primary, reason for general Republican animus towards immigrants: they’re afraid (with good reason) that more immigrant citizens means more Democrats, especially in places they control right now, like Texas. So Cruz’s “legal status” becomes a way to seem reasonable and humane, but is also about political control for the next generation.

Or maintaining white dominance.

Leave a Reply