Thursday, February 17, 2011

Misunderstood Call to Close U.S. Borders Leads to Bookstore Chain Bankruptcy

SAN NARCISO, Calif. -- Immigration control and border security, particularly between the United States and Mexico, have been issues of heated debate for decades. However, it was during the administration of George W. Bush that the topic took on new life with various propositions to increase security, which included vigilante groups patrolling the areas, consideration of a fence along the southern part of the country, and Arizona’s controversial immigration law, recently instituted under Governor Jan Brewer.

Unfortunately, Brewer’s attempts to curb illegal immigration -- combined with DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano’s enhanced counter-terrorism tactics and the Republican Party’s incessant calls to close the borders -- have produced unintended consequences. As a result of a gross misunderstanding, a bankruptcy judge today approved the closure of 200 Borders bookstores across the nation.

Arizona’s SB1070
Arizona’s SB1070, aimed at ending illegal immigration, is criticized as a racially charged, overly austere measure that offers no real assurance of immigration reform, while promoting ethnic tension. Governor Brewer is now preparing to defend the law before the Supreme Court, where it will likely be contested.

The law allows police to question and arrest people without warrant if “reasonable suspicion” about their immigration status exists. It’s widely considered the toughest crackdown on illegal immigration in the country, and critics argue that it legalizes racial profiling and discrimination.

But Governor Brewer says that SB1070 is not merely a jumping off point, but the start of more severe reforms to come. With the support of numerous Republican congresspeople, Brewer’s exhortation to “close down the borders” has become a rallying cry for countless conservatives.

Sadly, the messaging became woefully confused through a series of failed marketing initiatives, which led angry Americans to believe that closing the borders meant liquidating the assets of Border’s Group, one of the country’s largest booksellers.

Border’s Bankruptcy
Judge Arthur J. Gonzalez signed off on Borders’ store-closing plans, which are expected to be completed by the end of April. Liquidation sales may begin this weekend, Borders’ representatives said.

Borders filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Wednesday morning in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Southern District of New York. The company secured $505 million in bankruptcy filing from GE Capital, which will help it continue to operate during the proceedings.

“I honestly have no idea what happened,” said Mitchell Sewellsdowney, a financial spokesperson for Borders Group. “Things were going great. Stores were packed, e-books were moving, but then we began to see protesters gathering at hundreds of our locations. They were waving signs like ‘Illegal Immigrants Can’t Read English, Why Should They Be Selling Our Books?’ and ‘Mexicans Landscape Your Stores, Not Run Them’ and ‘Are You Replacing Starbucks with Taco Bell?’”

By the time politicians clarified that the borders in question referred to the geographical divisions between the United States and Mexico, Tea Party supporters and neo-conservatives had already mobilized to stop business at Borders stores.

“People don’t want to scab picket lines,” Sewellsdowney continued, “especially when crazy, gun-toting Tea Baggers are the ones waving the signs. No one wants a repeat of the Arizona shootings outside a bookstore. In the end, there’s nothing we can do about it. The protests were very effective, and we’re hemorrhaging $2 million a week at over 200 locations. I don’t know if we can salvage this. We may close another 75 to 136 stores, depending on how the bankruptcy case unfolds.”

While the majority of the protesters refused to comment on their actions, it is widely believed that they had trouble understanding the nature of the border control issue.

One somewhat apologetic protester noted, “I can’t read through all them complicated bills and communist ‘New York Times’ manifestos. So when I heard Glenn Beck yelling at me to close down borders, I took action. I’d have more regrets for my part in shutting down a free market capitalist enterprise in the U.S., but then these people are selling smut, liberal propaganda, and religious books from Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and Christ knows who else. I’d feel a hell of lot worse if Borders only sold Christian bibles. So, I’m not sure this is much of a loss anyway.”