Monday, April 14, 2008

Pondering the tone of the immigration debate…

I’m late to the topic of immigrant rights and a bitch is trying to catch up. Oh, I’ve written about immigration reform and the misuse of immigration as a wedge issue in American politics, but a bitch is still studying this shit.

What I do know is that the debate around immigration has been and continues to be bigoted as hell.


It has, y’all. The tone offends me and I don't even claim an immigrant history.

I attended the Immigration in the U.S.: The Women's Rights Crisis Feminists Aren't Talking About panel at WAM! and was inspired to write a piece for RH Reality Check that went up today. Missouri is on the brink of passing legislation that claims to address illegal immigration, but it is drenched in anti-immigrant bullshit that has no place in the discussion.

Ruben Navarrette Jr. has a Commentary up at on this topic. Oh, and read the comments...some of them are beyond ig'nant.

I live in St. Louis city and one of the things I love about my home is how culturally diverse it is. Community and culture existed before the French planted a flag along the Mississippi and the River City has since become home to Italian, Irish, German, Bosnia, Chinese, Caribbean and immigrants from African countries and the Middle East. When I walk down South Grand, I see and hear diversity and it feels good.

But America has long struggled and failed to address immigration with decency and respect. Just as communities and groups defended and supported Irish Need Not Apply signs, we now have people playing their Bigot Card on the topic of immigration.

It is easy to point out how the nastiness of the anti-immigrant immigration debate hurts immigrant communities and immigrants.

But the cold hard reality is that it hurts all of us as it reveals the ugly face of bigotry beneath the mask of tolerance this nation slaps on before greeting the world.


Anyhoo, this reminds me of a conversation I had with a Navajo woman while visiting New Mexico and drooling over handmade jewelry. She told me that while she was visiting Utah someone yelled out of their car for her to go back where she came from. She laughed and said if people went back to where their people came from, Navajo visiting Utah would have one of the quickest moves.



Melissa McEwan said...

She laughed and said if people went back to where their people came from, Navajo visiting Utah would have one of the quickest moves.

LOL ... sob.

Anonymous said...

When will the ignorance cease?

mikeinportc said...

She laughed and said if people went back to where their people came from, Navajo visiting Utah would have one of the quickest moves.

Yep lol/sad . It is fun to pull rank. The Onondagas, my peeps, in part, came south ~1400. The first of my European ancestors were on the Mayflower, the next batch PA Quakers. I look like the little Dutch boy, +25yrs, so don't get the comments, but my uncle and some of my cousins look the part. When somebody goes into the "Send 'em all back......" mode , I ask when they're going to start packing. :)

Funny how some of the places with the fewest immigrants have their knickers in the biggest twist , and complain the loudest. Here, even in small town NY ( 21% of the state is foreign born) it's no big deal . When I was born, 50% of this county was foreign born .NYC is 58%, last I knew. So far, the world hasn't come to an end . The only "crisis" was that '06 was an election year . I wonder how many of the immigration hysteriacs' ancestors would be legal under today's rules .

It came out during the SSI privitization "debate", that illegal immigrants are mostly getting by on fake SS #s, so are paying in ~ $7B/yr (yes "B"!)They'll likely never collect on that. They are paying taxes . I wonder if they'd pay as much if they were legal. The politicians making most of the noise think nothing of giving billions (trillions?) in tax breaks to their campaign contributors , but obsess over what somebody making less than minimum wage pays .

What to do ? Got me . Maybe "nothing" is best . Just keep playing the game, as it is now ?
Shortly after this all started (again) I saw two articles about what the situation actually is . One by Paul Krugman, suggested that those recently arrived (illegally) were a slight additional cost, but over their lifetime , are a net benefit . If their children are counted, it's a big benefit .

The other, was from a RW think tank-er ( Brookings Institute ?), who had set out to prove how bad it is. He came to the opposite conclusion . In fact, due to his historical analysis, advocated open borders . He found that people stayed for shorter periods, as the economy dictated , because they weren't afraid that they'd never be able to come back.

*stepping off soapbox now* ;)

Anonymous said...

Appreciation and a plug from a longtime lurker...

Thank you for bringing attention and your take on this topic. I work in STL on South Grand with a lot of immigrants, so the pending legislation really hits home. I suggest checking out and/or coming to some of the agency's events. In the meantime, always get something out your posts...

Enough for now, I'll go back to lurking...

Anonymous said...

Re: the Native American thing: I just thought, while reading your blog post, how funny it would be to set up one of those photo quiz sites where people have to guess the ethnicity of the person in the photo. I've seen one with pics of Asian folks and failed miserably at guessing. I want to see one for Native Americans and Latinos, and then make all the anti-immigration assholes take it.

Bosnie-Herzegowina said...

Great work. Hold on.

Greetings from Germany

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