Immigration's Rotten Borough Dynamic...
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[Helpful VDARE note: "Rotten Boroughs" were districts returning members to the British House of Commons, prior to the democratic Great Reform Act of 1833, despite having few or even no inhabitants. As a practical matter, they were in the gift of local magnates.  Well, guess what…]

Fred Siegel has an excellent book on ethnic politics in American cities - The Future Once Happened Here: New York, D.C., L.A., and the Fate of America's Big Cities

He points out that in Los Angeles, where between 40 and 50 percent of the population is foreign born,  the small percentage of the population who are actually citizens control the vote.

This means that while a recent immigrant from El Salvador would like to send his children to a school where they can learn English, he doesn't get a vote. A Mexican-American schoolteacher would like to keep her bilingual education job, which will actually have the effect of keeping the Salvadorean's children in poverty.

But the schoolteacher will be able to send her kids to private school.

[P. 147, hardback]

Most Latino pols in L.A. are classic ethnic operatives - with a twist.  What's different is most represent "rotten boroughs," districts where, because of recent immigration and the youth of the average Latino, the percentage of voters in the total population is tiny. This means that the real voting base is that small fraction of the population already eligible to vote and sometimes directly dependant on government employment programs.  In practice this means that Latino-elected officials, like county commissioner Gloria Molina and City Councilman Richard Alarcon, support the failed bilingual education programs for the same patronage reasons they oppose charter school reform. Their support is based on getting their group's cut of the local government and social service jobs.

February 23, 2001

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