Each year when I was teaching we would spend about six weeks teaching history of Hispanic Americans. We would hit the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, La Raza, some geography. It was not my shinning point in the year as I knew little, and had very little understanding of Hispanic Americans in general. It was hard for me to place it all in context for my kids who were largely African American and Caucasian. But when it came to illegal immigration, which often boiled down to people from Mexico and Central and South America, it seems everyone had an opinion. Mainly informed by the current stances on left and right. In looking at the latest debates, I am afraid I have learned little more than ever about who this group of people is, and how to understand their history and for many a current plight.
Reform or a problem? In our country we have a rich history of problems. Some continue today with the solutions seeming to be anything but. On the left with have “Immigration Reform.” Now this is not really the left, its just the groups that the Republican demonize as the left. The organization: Reform Immigration for America, is seeking to connect “people from communities across the country who are ready to work together towards achieving the 279 votes needed to win just and humane comprehensive immigration reform legislation.”1
The Reformers want to create “A rational and humane approach to the undocumented population.”
This is a scary statement. As a human the one way you know you wanted to be treated better than: humane. Humane is for pets. Humane is for creatures who we feel may be smart enough to know we are eating their young, and we want to kill them in a way that looks less violent, and we can all feel less guilty about.
Immigrants in this country, illegal or otherwise come here for work. America is a nation who is a slave to her corporate masters. Working= Rights to Americans. And as Americans we are STARVING for people to meet our labor needs. Immigration should be as hard as passing a background test and keeping a job for six months. That’s more than millions of natural born twenty somethings can say.
The reformers go too far in their reform. They create a massive system to replace an outmoded one, and they are replacing it with one that starts with a premise that is less than humane.
We don’t have to look very far to see the fear that is producing a more radical response to what the right deems a “problem.” Take a look at this clip from Congressman Bilbray who recently made such a claim on Hardball. that undocumented immigrants can be identified by their clothing, “right down to their shoes.” The comparison to past crimes against race is not hard to make here. The laws in Arizona seem to follow a path of fear and over reaction.(See if you can follow his lead and spot an illegal by their shoes!)
The Arizona law that would “benefit” from a strict shoe policy is ” the broadest and strictest immigration measure in generations, would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally.”2
The states Governor has likened illegal immigration to a “terrorist attack”. She is the poster child for conservative forces who would lead us to believe that this is an issue of national security. They seek to solve the problem by creating a massive bureaucratic initiative that will involve large groups of law enforcement in the harassing of large groups of people, the construction of barricades, the increase in border security, all along with an ever increasing dose of fear mongering.
It seems to me that both sides of the debate are developing similar calls. Large bureaucratic systems which make it difficult for incoming citizens, or transitory workers to become documented, coupled with verbiage that encourages them to remain underground.
1. from Reform Immigration for America [Online]Available from http://reformimmigrationforamerica.org/blog/about/ May 10, 2010.
2. Archibald, Randal C. “Arizona Enacts” Stringent Law on Immigration.” [Online] Available from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/24/us/politics/24immig.html . May 10, 2010.