Immigration

Fight the Bad Fight

Sometimes, people just don’t know when to quit. For example, the town of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, recently discovered that “after spending eight years and half a million dollars fighting in the federal courts,” it can’t become its own tiny version of the INS.

Hazleton had passed ordinances that penalized anyone who employed or rented housing to undocumented immigrants. However, the U.S. Supreme Court said the laws “were unconstitutional and could never be enforced.”

constitution-with-void-stamp

So now, Hazleton’s leaders don’t have “the will to try again — even if a new law could be crafted that would pass constitutional muster.” So that was a lot of wasted time, money, and effort, all in the service of pissing off the Latino newcomers to “what long had been a Caucasian town.”

But of course, “these days…the town is more diverse,” and residents “are realizing that the Hispanic community has to have a voice.” As such, Hazeltonites (Hazletonians?) are more likely to say, “My bad” and just go about their business ‑– after wasting that aforementioned half million bucks and most of a decade. “Oops,” doesn’t quite cover it.

In this way, Hazleton’s experiences mirror the United States as a whole. Americans are saying they no longer want to crucify every undocumented person and slander Latinos nonstop. In fact, a recent poll “indicates that many Americans have shifted their priorities when it comes to immigration reform.”

According to the Gallup survey, “44% of those surveyed say it’s extremely important for the United States to develop a plan to deal with the large number of undocumented immigrants.” That’s just higher than the 43% who say the top priority should be “beefing up border security to halt the flow of undocumented workers into the country.”

This is part of a trend, in which “Americans of all partisan orientations have come to view border security as less important,” while support for a path to citizenship has remained consistent or increased. And some polls indicate that a majority of Americans believe the government’s main focus “should be legalizing the status of the undocumented rather than border security.”

We’ve spent a lot of time and money trying to kick out people who just turn around and come back, rather than trying to help them to make amends and become part of the culture. Maybe we’re learning that there is a better way.

 


Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Program

So once upon a time, and by that I mean just a few months ago, it looked like comprehensive immigration reform was going to happen, and soon. After all, you had Democrats fresh off an election triumph. And Republicans had finally caught on that you don’t repeatedly insult the fastest-growing demographic in America (Latinos) and expect to win.

But then government shutdowns and botched healthcare websites and Ted Cruz all happened. And now we have reached the point where people are asking, “Hey, whatever happened to that whole immigration reform thingy?”

girl-shrugging

The answer is that all that forward momentum was “no match for the absurd illogic of today’s Washington, where political imperatives, voter preferences, and even the desires of moneyed interests are powerless to move House Republicans off a default stance of ‘no.’”

So there you have it. I’m glad we spent all that time and energy on something so very, very doomed.

 


Animal Kingdom

By now you’ve heard GOP Rep. Steve King (a longtime friend of the Hispanic community) insist that “among young undocumented immigrants in the United States, ‘for everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who’” are essentially drug mules.

laughing mule

 

King, “an Iowa conservative who has come under fire for comments about immigrants before,” has stood by his remarks, insisting that he has “seen it with my eyes and watched the data and video that support what I say.”

I think we would all like to see the video that shows 100 Latino drug mules ganging up on one Hispanic valedictorian. That would indeed be persuasive to the immigration debate.

But all these references to mules have me thinking about another anti-immigration zealot who was obsessed with animals. I’m taking about Cordelia Scaife May, an heiress who, “before her death in 2005, devoted much of her wealth to … curbing immigration, both legal and illegal.”

Scaife May “never knew poverty,” unlike so many of the immigrants she despised. Ultimately, she became a crazy recluse and alcoholic. She also was obsessed with birds.

blue bird

 

Her millions continue to fund right-wing anti-immigrant groups to this day. So here we have a rich person who never worked a day in her life. She was a virulent xenophobe and racist who held her fellow humans in contempt simply because they were born in another country. But she had a soft spot for the little birdies.

And who can argue with those priorities?

Basically, some conservatives don’t think of Hispanics as animals. They think of Hispanics as less than animals.


Well, That Was Easy

When two-thirds of the US Senate is in favor of a bill, one might assume that it’s a pretty popular measure.

bill law

So when the Senate passed an immigration reform bill by a lopsided vote of 68 to 32, it indicated that nothing could be simpler than coming up with a way for undocumented people to gain a pathway to citizenship.

But of course, the US House (home of the crazies) is already talking about passing its own version of the bill. I assume that one will require new citizens to recite the Declaration of Independence, name all the presidents in order, and get a US flag tattooed on their foreheads while singing the Star-Spangled Banner (taking care to hit all the high notes).

As such, it is not time to celebrate just yet. The hard part is yet to come.

 


Exploitation, Melodrama, and More

My cousin (Cousin #6)  is one of the more than 83,000 immigrants who have become citizens since the September 11 attacks by embracing “a wartime edict to entice immigrants to join the military in exchange for rapid naturalization.”

The program has its critics. Some claim allowing non-citizens to enlist in the military “injects the armed forces with an increased security risk” and is “just like the Roman Empire, not to get too melodramatic about it.”

melodrama_7456

Yes, the last thing we want in any discussion about immigration is melodrama. After all, the debate has been nothing but calm, logical, and respectful to this point.

To continue reading this post, please click here.

 


Delayed Reaction

The only question is what took so long.

Today, President Obama announced that the US government will no longer hunt down young people to deport, giving America a watered-down, de facto version of the Dream Act.

One could argue that Obama was just playing politics. Yes, his approval rating is sky high with Latinos, but there is a general lack of enthusiasm for his policies, probably brought on by the fact that he has deported more people than any other president. So perhaps today’s speech was about getting Hispanics enthused to vote for the guy again.

But I fail to see what is wrong with that. Apparently, the GOP riling up bigots to hate Latinos is just “appealing to the base.” However, Obama trying to earn Hispanic votes is “pandering.” It’s an interesting dichotomy.

The point is that today’s announcement  is a positive step that will have a direct impact on the lives of those young people who did not knowingly break the law, and who have great potential to contribute to America.

Yes, it took awhile, but at least it’s a start.


Imm & Imm

My mother came to America from El Salvador. My paternal grandparents came from Europe. All emigrated legally, which is the essence of the American experience – huddled masses yearning to be free, and all that.

However, in the eyes of many Americans, my mother and grandparents were selfish and immoral. After all, whenever a debate starts up about immigration, it’s just a matter of time before someone says, “They need to stay and fix their own countries instead of coming here.”

The implication is that people have an ethical obligation to remain in their homelands rather than try to improve their own lives. Of course, none of the Americans saying this have ancestors who took that advice. As soon as Ireland ran a little low on potatoes, for example, lots of people said, “See ya,” rather than stick around for the sake of rescuing Belfast.

To continue reading this post, please click here.

 


The Slow Fade

The New York Times recently reported on a small rural town where longtime residents complain about “young Mexican men working construction and driving down wages, the children of laborers flooding crowded schools…and strip clubs springing up on roads that used to be dark and quiet.”

Is the town in Wisconsin, Kansas, Alabama, or even (shudder) Arizona? No, it is “a precolonial Mexican village outside Oaxaca City, filling up with fellow Mexicans.”

It seems that the urge to hate immigrants — even of the same nationality — is universal.

To continue reading this post, please click here.


A Fair Question

Like all Americans, nothing makes me happier than arguing about emotionally loaded, extremely volatile political issues that have no clear solutions. Yes, that’s why I write about immigration so much.

However, I now realized that I haven’t been fair. I’ve simply assumed that racism — directed toward Latinos — is a primary motivating factor in the debate. But is this true?

To continue reading this post, please click here.


All Aboard

So I was at Union Station here in Los Angeles, waiting to board the Amtrak (more in a future post on what happened once I got on the train). Suddenly I noticed a commotion, and I saw people scurrying around. I checked my twitter feed, which confirmed that ICE was raiding the station.

They were looking for undocumented immigrants, who (if they subscribed to the same twitter feeds as me) already knew to leave the station.

I have no idea how many people ICE nabbed, but I imagine it wasn’t too successful of an operation. I mean, everybody — bored travelers, American citizens, legal residents, little kids, day laborers, you name it — knew what was going on. Let’s just say that the element of surprise was lacking.

But the heavy-handed raid got me thinking. I haven’t written about illegal immigration in some time, which is a relief to me because it’s such an overwhelming, frustrating topic. But it also means that I’ve missed commenting on some truly odd stories.

For example, there was John McCain’s claim that illegal immigrants had set fires in Arizona that were burning out of control. In related news, they apparently also stole his remote control.

And just remember, this guy was almost president.

Perhaps even the residents of Arizona have had enough of the immigrant bashing. After all, they recently recalled the architect of SB 1070. Upon hearing the news, I’m sure the guy muttered, “And after all I’ve done for the nutjobs of this state…”

Meanwhile, in another forward-thinking area of the country, Alabama, the nation’s most repressive anti-immigration law was going into effect. It will, of course, be the subject of myriad lawsuits. But long before the courts make a decision, it’s quite possible that the residents of Alabama will realize that they made a grievous mistake.

For proof of that, they can look to their good friends in Georgia, which also passed tough legislation against undocumented workers. However, now that state doesn’t have enough workers to bring its crops in. Yes, that’s right — U.S. citizens have not stepped in to fill the workers gap, and Georgia farmers are in a tizzy.

Why, it’s enough to make even Georgia Republicans rethink the wisdom of bashing the undocumented.

The continuing crusade against illegal immigration makes even less sense when we find out that U.S. Border Patrol agents, far from being overwhelmed by the dreaded Brown Invasion, are more likely to be pummeled into submission by a more vicious force: sheer tedium. It appears that “agents on the U.S.-Mexico border these days have to deal with a more mundane occupational reality: the boredom of guarding a frontier where illegal crossings have dipped to record low levels.”

Of course, I’m sure if they get too bored, the agents can always snag a little girl (even if she is a U.S. citizen) and kick her out of the country. Or they could take lessons from one our favorite individuals, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and just handcuff legal residents and citizens at will.

Speaking of Sherriff Joe, I’m just as excited as you to know that he has a new underwear line coming out. No, I’m not kidding. You can purchase of pair of pink boxers emblazoned with the phrase “Go Joe!” or even better, “Vamos Jose!”

I’m sure I speak for all the guys out there when I say that it’s not creepy at all to think of Sherriff Joe every time you put on your underwear — nope.

And nothing makes more of a slamming fashion statement than random phrases advocating a xenophobic political position, which I’m sure will impress any ladies who are fortunate enough to see their men strip down to bright pink intimate apparel that has a man’s name splayed across it.

It sounds perfect for a first date. As always, thanks, Sherriff Joe!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a train to catch.


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