I have read and heard the most amazing nonsense about the immigration issue lately. Some of it comes from otherwise sane people I respect. Once again I’m reminded of the power of xenophobia, nativism, and bigotry.
- I have no problem with legal immigration. But these people are breaking the law! We shouldn’t reward law-breaking! The law needs to be enforced and they have no business saying otherwise. I’m not a bigot, though! We just have to enforce those LAWS.
The laws as they currently stand are unjust, unworkable, unenforceable, and unrealistic. First of all, Mexico is a very poor country and this is not an accident. We made them poor. We stole their land by force many times. We steal their water. We control their economy and their political leadership with money and force to prevent them from competing with our industries. We practice mercantile economic policies on them just the way the British did to us in the 18th century. This makes the border a sharp line between rich and poor.
People on the poor side of that line can feed their families and survive if they get across the line, and the people on the rich side of the line are more than willing to employ them at a discounted rate. Look at yourself and ask: would you break another country’s immigration law to feed your family? Or would you say “no, kids, we’re not going to eat regularly because it would be wrong to break this other country’s immigration law, even though they stole our land and our wealth.” That was easy, wasn’t it?
We have a necessarily porous border and a huge demand for unskilled labor. Allowing Mexican guest workers across is in the best interest of almost everybody. The only reason that immigration is restricted is that white Americans fear Spanish-speaking brown people. That is not enough of a reason to keep this laughable pretense going.
The only people I think have a legitimate reason to oppose a guest worker program are low-skilled American citizen workers. A two-tiered wage system or just an influx of workers is a disaster for them, and I do not know how to solve that problem. Interestingly I hear almost nothing from them in the mainstream news, probably because it’s not okay to discuss unions, the plight of American low-skilled labor, etc. in the current phalangist political environment.
People who talk like this apparently believe that the LAWS were handed down by Moses, are just, and must not be changed, and that agitation to change said laws that includes civil disobedience is a priori wicked and criminal. If you’ll open a history book, you’ll find that in the 1950s and 1960s American citizens who were being oppressed on the basis of their ethnicity staged marches, demonstrations, and acts of civil disobedience in violation of law that resulted in a gigantic change in our laws for the better. Those people broke the law and marched proudly into jail and today you and I are the better for it.
If the speed limit was 25 miles per hour everywhere and people had to crawl along or risk a ticket, you’d want that law changed. And if ten thousand people got on the road one morning and all drove 35 miles per hour to prove the point, I bet you’d applaud. The laws are only as good as we decide they are. This law stinks; don’t hide behind it.
- I can’t stand those people waving Mexican flags and singing and talking in Spanish. If they want to be American they should wave American flags and sing and talk in English! Otherwise they should go back to Mexico! Why, I couldn’t just go down to Mexico and act that way, why should they think they can do that here?
My great++ grandfather arrived in this country in 1750 as an indentured laborer before it was a country. He didn’t speak the language, but he worked free of his bond and fought in the Revolution. He was German and died a German with citizenship in a new country. On the other side, my relatives arrived in the 1890s also from Germany and spoke German up through the 1920s. They were farmers and owned a store and were pillars of the community. They were very German their whole lives.
Every day I see people with Swedish or Irish or Brazilian or a hundred other nationalities’ badges on their cars. We celebrate days for ethnicities: Columbus Day, St. Patrick’s Day. The flags of foreign countries are waved and foreign languages are spoken and everyone has a great time participating in other Americans’ heritage. These celebrations, many of which occur in cities with a large population from some particular place, are a bland everyday reality here that hardly anyone questions. Your schoolkid comes home and tells you she learned how to make Swedish pancakes today or that people from Scotland eat haggis on Robbie Burns day but they just read a poem at school. This is not a threat.
If people from Mexico wave their flag and march down your street singing and talking in Spanish, deal with it. When I lived in France, our French neighbors invited us over for a Fourth of July dinner. When I lived in Italy, the cool kids were wearing American flag t-shirts that summer. It’s not a big deal, folks. This country has no official language, and anyone can use any language they want for any damn thing they please. If you get lost in some parts of Nevada and Utah the people you hail for directions will know only Basque. Guess what? That’s their right, citizens or not.
If you have a distaste for Mexican people or the Mexican flag or the Spanish language, keep it to yourself. They’re here, and they’re here to work and to share society with you just like the Irish, the Italians, the Russian Jews, the Basques, the Koreans, and us German-American mutts. They’re doing it to survive just the way you would, and their polite and well-organized demonstrations lately have said exactly what I would say if I were in their shoes: We’re here, we’re not going away, and we want to be good neighbors. Don’t call us criminals for doing what you’d do yourself.