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Sunday Song Lyric:
A few weeks back I tried to find a good immigration-related song lyric, and proposed "Illegal Alien" by Genesis. Since then, I've picked up The White Stripes new album, Icky Thump. Immigration is still in the news, and the album's title track is a great song with topically appropriate lyrics, including the following:
White Americans, what?
Nothing better to do?
Why don't you kick yourself out
You're an immigrant too.

Who's using who?
What should we do?
Well, you can't be a pimp
And a prostitute too

Icky thump
Handcuffed to a bunk
Robbed blind
Looked around
And there was nobody else

Left alone
I hit myself with a stone
Went home and learned how
To clean up after myself.
The video is available on the band's website, and YouTube has several live performances of the song, including this one from Conan O'Brien. The duo is touring for the next several months, and I highly recommend catching a show.
TLB (mail) (www):
Truly some "heavyweight" lyrics, as the kids say. However, allow me to suggest this song, with a highly appropriate singer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ywnl3gYvBCc

As for the first line of the lyrics, it's not just "white Americans" who oppose illegal immigration; two months before the vote, a majority of Hispanics supported CA's Prop187, and (IIRC) 44% of Hispanics voted for AZ's similar Prop200. And, of course, the idea that because one's ancestors were immigrants one can't then oppose illegal or even legal immigration leads to an interesting question: when exactly would enough be enough?

Of course, you need to actually think that through, and I don't think the White Stripes have.
6.24.2007 4:32pm
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
The vast majority of people in this country descended from legal immigrants, the comparison isn't valid.

Mexico vigorously polices its Southern border - why is the US magically the bad guy for wanting to do the same?
6.24.2007 5:09pm
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
Forgot to add my usual disclaimer when discussing immigration - I'm not racist, xenophobic, ethnosupremicist, etc.
6.24.2007 5:11pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
How about Randy Newman's 'Sail Away'?
6.24.2007 5:19pm
Ben P (mail):

The vast majority of people in this country descended from legal immigrants, the comparison isn't valid


The vast majority descended from legal immigrants at a time when all you had to do to be legal was show up and give the nice man at Ellis island your name. And if he couldn't understand it, you got a new one.

Ok, technically after 1882 you couldn't be Chinese, and after about the turn of the century there were some laws prohibting anarchists and people with TB from coming in, but it wasn't until 1917 and then 1924 that immigration actually was limited in any significant way.


In any case, I would argue, contrary to the song lyrics, that it is in fact possible to be a pimp and a prostitute at the same time. At least as long as madam is included in the definition of pimp.
6.24.2007 6:20pm
Smokey:

American Psikhushka:

Forgot to add my usual disclaimer when discussing immigration - I'm not racist, xenophobic, ethnosupremicist, etc.

See what the libtards have done to this country? There isn't even a presumption of innocence any more.
6.24.2007 6:30pm
Pale Jewel:
Though you aren't actually asking for recommendations...

"Deportee" as sung by Billy Bragg (I don't think this got mentioned in the comments the first time...):

The crops are all in and the peaches are rotting
The oranges are stuck in their creosote dumps
They’re flying ’em back to that Mexico border
To pay all their wages to wade back again

In contrast, Smokey's use of the word "libtard" made me think of something - I came across "So Long,Texas - Hello, Mexico!" by Johnny Tex and The Texicans. Its lyrics are designed to provoke...

So long, Texas! Hello, Mexico
I'm gonna swim the Rio Grande
At El Paso
I'm leavin' tonight
I ain't gonna pack
I'm only takin' the clothes on my back
I'll drive a rattletrap car
With no liability
I'll demand equal rights
Though I'm there illegally
I'll protest in the streets
'Til they finally grant 'em
Sing English words
To their national anthem
6.24.2007 6:54pm
Teddy sings! (mail) (www):
TLB here, with my entry in the song competition at the link.

Ben P says: "The vast majority descended from legal immigrants at a time when all you had to do to be legal was show up and give the nice man at Ellis island your name."

It was quite a bit more complicated. The steamship companies were charged if someone they brought over was rejected, meaning that they did pre-screening. And, of course, unlike today's self-service system those arriving were checked whether they would become a public charge and for diseases. And, of course, today's welfare system didn't exist then.
6.24.2007 6:55pm
Ben P (mail):

It was quite a bit more complicated.


Under what laws?

It wasn't until 1891 when the federal government even assumed control over immigration, and the 1903 was the first time inspectors were dispatched to other countries to pre-screen immigrants. But immigration was still essentially wide open except for certain limited classes, criminals, mentally ill and those likely to become "public charges."

It wasn't until 1917 and 1924 that broad based caps were put on immigration.

I would guess that the clear majority of present day americans's ancestors immigrated prior to 1924.


I'm not saying we should have open immigration, nor am I saying that there are not potential economic and social problems caused by immmigration, not to mention the security problems of having open borders. But, like in many other issues, I dislike extreme positions. In this particular case, I think Bush's plan is a perfectly reasonable compromise solution, and I see no good consequences coming from it's being continuously derailed by those who take a much stronger and in my opinion ultimately impractical nativist position.
6.24.2007 7:23pm
liberty (mail) (www):

Well, you can't be a pimp
And a prostitute too


Actually, by definition (sort of) any prostitute that doesn't have a pimp is both a pimp (his/her own) and a prostitute.

Some might say that a country that is selling itself out is doing that...

(just so you know: I am all for immigration -- but I am not all for open insecure borders right now, given the 9/11 attacks and so forth)
6.24.2007 7:40pm
glangston (mail):
I disagree about a previous post on this song. It might have mythologic tones but more importantly it was a version of immigration without laws.

Lyrics for: Immigrant Song

Ah, ah,
We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.
The hammer of the gods
Will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying:
Valhalla, I am coming!
On we sweep with threshing oar,
Our only goal will be the western shore.
Ah, ah,
We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.
How soft your fields so green,
Can whisper tales of gore,
Of how we calmed the tides of war.
We are your overlords.
On we sweep with threshing oar,
Our only goal will be the western shore.
So now you'd better stop and rebuild all your ruins,
For peace and trust can win the day
Despite of all your losing.
6.24.2007 7:43pm
glangston (mail):
A pimp and prostitute both?

Sounds like the self-employed consultant or maybe the expert witness.
6.24.2007 7:45pm
Ben P (mail):

self-employed consultant

Or "Street Entrepreneur"

Need I bring up the debate on the Pimp Tax?
6.24.2007 8:16pm
GarrettJ (mail):
My favorite song on immigration: "Pluto" a 1999 song by the now defunct rap-rock group 2 Skinnee J's, a song which uses the solar system (and the debate about Pluto's place as a real planet) as a metaphor the immigration debate.

With depravity I break laws of gravity
Blast past the atmosphere to the last frontier
I go boldly through space and time
The sky's the limit but they're limiting the sky
I break orbit by habit
I ignite satellites and leave rings round the planets
A flying ace like that beagle
Nevertheless this alien remains illegal
'Cause their discovery don’t cover me
The immigrant's been left in the cold to grow old and disintegrate
Discriminate against the distant and disclaim this
'Cause their small minds can't see past Uranus
But I shun their rays
'Cause stun's just a phase
And my odyssey runs in two-thousand and one ways
And I can see clearly now like Hubble
Shoved off the shuttle here's my rebuttal

It's a planet.

Who do you represent?
I represent the smallest planet
Attorney in this tourney versus those who tried to ban it
If you don't agree go see interplanet Janet
Cause sun is star like Pluto is planet
So lend me all ears and let me state my case
about all the types of satellites we must embrace
Cause like my parents' great grandparents - this planet is an immigrant,
to deport it’s an offense
It's an upstanding member of the solar system
Apply the laws of Earth and make it a victim
Of Proposition 187
If Pluto spawns a moon, it will apply to the heavens.
I'll damn you like Judas of Iscariot
If you demote this mote remote to affiliate
It's like taking ET's custody from Elliot
Support your Lilliput, 'cause simply put

Pluto is a planet

Do it for the children
(If not for yourselves)
Pluto is a planet
6.24.2007 9:02pm
compa:
Here are two of the most popular current Spanish songs on immigration, for a different perspective. First, Guatemalan rocker Ricardo Arjona's quite eloquent ballad. (Mojado also just means "wet" and he plays with this meaning in the song). Think of Arjona as the Latin Springsteen.

He packed a pair of shirts, a sombrero
His vocation of being an adventurer
Six pieces of advice, seven photos, a thousand memories

He packed his desire to remain
His desire of transforming himself
Of becoming the man he dreamed of being but hasn’t yet achieved

He said goodbye with a frown disguised as a smile
And he begged his God crucified at his alter that
He take care of his family and he perforated the border any way he could

CHORUS
If the moon gently slides through all borders
Without any permission, why, precisely doe the Mojado
Have to prove with visas that he isn’t from Neptune?

The Mojado wants to dry himself
The Mojado is mojado (wet)
Because of the tears his nostalgia makes him shed
The Mojado, the indocumentado, carries the burden
That the legal would never carry and isn’t obligated to

Lacking a piece of paper has made him into
A fugitive and he isn’t from here because
His name doesn’t appear in any archives
And he’s not from there because he left

Mojado, you see the lie in your truth
You knows sadness and anxiety
Of seeing a freeway and dreaming
Of the path that leads back to your home

Mojado, wet from crying so much, knowing that in some place
A kiss has been waiting since the day that you left.

If the universal visa is granted on the day we are born
And expires upon our death, why do they chase you Mojado
If the consulate of the heavens have already given you permission?

And for something more in tune with the tone of the current debate, here's Mexican anarchist punk rock band Molotov's bilingual "Frijolero." To be fair, Molotov attacks and insults the Mexican political class and Church in a like manner. The song is worth a listen for the use of Spanish and English accents (a parody of Bush, I'm sure). Think of Molotov as the Mexico City Eminem or Sex Pistols.

Yo ya estoy hasta la madre
de que me pongan sombrero
escucha entonces cuando digo
no me llames frijolero.

[I’v had it up to here
When you stereotype me with a sombrero
Listen to me when I say
Don’t call me beaner]

Y aunque exista algún respeto
y no metamos las narices
nunca inflamos la moneda
haciendo guerra a otros países.

[And although some respect exists
And we don’t want to interfere
We don’t inflate our currency
In order to make war against other countries]

Te pagamos con petróleo
e intereses nuestra deuda
mientras tanto no sabemos
quien se queda con la feria.

[We pay our debt with our petroleum
And our interests
While we don’t know who ends up
With the party]

Aunque nos hagan la fama
de que somos vendedores
de la droga que sembramos
ustedes son consumidores.

[Although we’re famous for
Being the sellers
Of the drug we plant
You are the consumers]

Don't call me gringo,
You fuckin beaner
stay on your side
of that goddamn river
don't call me gringo,
You beaner.

No me digas beaner,
Mr. Puñetero
Te sacaré un susto
por racista y culero.
No me llames frijolero,
Pinche gringo puñetero.

[Don’t call me beaner
Mr. Asshole
I’ll frighten you for
Being a racist asshole
Don’t call me beaner
Fuckin’ gringo asshole]

Now I wish I had a dime
for every single time
I've gotten stared down
For being in the wrong side of town.
And a rich man I'd be
if I had that kind of chips
lately I wanna smack the mouths
of these racists.

Podrás imaginarte desde afuera,
ser un Mexicano cruzando la frontera,
pensando en tu familia mientras que pasas,
dejando todo lo que conoces atrás.
Si tuvieras tú que esquivar las balas
de unos cuantos gringos rancheros
Las seguirás diciendo good for nothing wetback?
si tuvieras tú que empezar de cero.

[Can you imagine being on the outside
As a Mexican crossing the border
Thinking of your family while you cross
Leaving everything you know behind.
If it were you who had to dodge bullets
Of some gringo ranchers
Would you continue to say “Good for nothing wetback”
If you had to start from zero?]

Now why don't you look down
to where your feet is planted
That U.S. soil that makes you take shit for granted
If not for Santa Ana, just to let you know
That where your feet are planted would be Mexico (pronounced the gringo way)
Correcto!
6.24.2007 10:11pm
Kovarsky (mail):
there is this internet application where you input all of this biographical data and it spits out who your indie rock girlfriend is.

meg white is my indie rock girlfriend.
6.24.2007 11:35pm
Teddy the K will rock your world (mail) (www):
Ben P: this site implies that such rules as I described above were in place from the 1890s to 1924, or at least the Boards were: tinyurl.com/2pgnrd If you have more information on when exactly steampship companies were charged or not, please post it.

As for Bush's plan, the original version was the perfect definition of an "extreme position": he wanted a massive H1B program for every type of job, and his assistant specifically mentioned teachers, nurses and high-tech workers: youtube.com/watch?v=9GQM-4q099A

I'm sure there have been even more anti- and un-American plans, but those generally involved espionage and treason.

The current Bush/Senate plan will result in large amounts of legal and continued illegal immigration, giving more political power to racial power groups, crooked businesses, and the Mexican government. It will reward those crooked businesses and the crooked politicians who take their money. Doesn't sound too "moderate" to me.
6.25.2007 12:09am
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
Ben P-

The vast majority descended from legal immigrants at a time when all you had to do to be legal was show up and give the nice man at Ellis island your name. And if he couldn't understand it, you got a new one.

Ok, technically after 1882 you couldn't be Chinese, and after about the turn of the century there were some laws prohibting anarchists and people with TB from coming in, but it wasn't until 1917 and then 1924 that immigration actually was limited in any significant way.


True, it was very easy to get into the US when a lot of the ancestors of today's citizens immigrated here. That is true for a lot of countries at various times - usually when a country was first formed, looking to increase its population, looking for certain skills, etc.

But today nearly all countries have some kind of enforced immigration policy if there is any kind of coherent government. Including Mexico. So the question of why the US is magically the bad guy here is still a valid one.
6.25.2007 3:56am
David Friedman (mail) (www):
The song I remember is sung (and perhaps written?) by Buffy Sainte-Marie, and contains the lines "Welcome, welcome, Immigrante/To my country welcome home."
6.25.2007 5:25am
Spartacus (www):
If not for Santa Ana, just to let you know
That where your feet are planted would be Mexico


Yeah, and then where would all of us impoverished Mexicans living in present day Texas, California, etc., run to? Further north, I guess, to the (truncated) U.S.A.

Interested related question would be, when the U.S. defeated Mex. in the Mex.-Amer. war, how did they decide where to draw the border--they could have annexed the whole thing.
6.25.2007 10:39am
Stan C (mail):
I'd never heard the White Stripes before, and now having made it about halfway through the Conan O'Brien video, I hope never to hear them again. Truly hideous, though I suppose the childish lyrics alone should have been a sufficient warning.
6.25.2007 10:48am
WHOI Jacket:
and would Mexico have been better off if we had annexed the whole thing?
6.25.2007 10:51am
Spartacus (www):
and would Mexico have been better off if we had annexed the whole thing?

Good question. It sure seems like the parts we did annex are generally better off than the ones we didn't. Yes, some Mexican landowners lost title to their land after the annexation, but I am speaking generally. If you look at the kleptocracy that Mexicans have lived under for the last 100+ years, the corruption, lack of rule of law; it seems they would be better as a 51st state. However, the question remains whether we could have affected change in interior Mexico on such a grand scale, or if rather, as is the fear of many on one side of the immigrtqation debate today, whether Mexico becoming a state would not have fundamentally changed the U.S. and made it worse for us, rather than better for them.
6.25.2007 10:58am
Xanthippas (mail) (www):
Of course, you need to actually think that through, and I don't think the White Stripes have.

You can always find someone who is offended by the erudite statements of musicians.
6.25.2007 12:33pm
Goober (mail):
Blasphemy, Adler! I speak of course of the omission of The Clash's "Go Straight to Hell, Boy." A finer song (at least somewhat) about immigration is not to be found.
6.25.2007 9:44pm
JNS405:
Ugh, I immensely dislike the White Stripes, as any good Detroiter is entitled to do.

My favorite immigration related song is one penned by my husband and his co-worker. However, the lyrics are offensive, so I'll pass on posting those.
6.25.2007 11:20pm
pedro (mail):

My favorite immigration related song is one penned by my husband and his co-worker. However, the lyrics are offensive, so I'll pass on posting those.


Nice to know your husband and coworker have something offensive to say about us immigrants.
6.26.2007 8:25am