Monday, April 30, 2012

Immigration debate at the SCOTUS

The Arizona law currently under review at the Supreme Court has brought illegal immigration back to the front of American discourse. I have a question: when we speak of immigration, why are we mainly talking about just hispanics?  Surely we all know that people from Mexico, Central, and South America aren't the only people who are in the US illegally, but folks from those countries seems to be the face of illegal immigration in this country.  I'm bringing this up because a mom at one of my favorite mom-centered advise sites,, posed the following question:
Seems like every time there is proposed legistlation to require someone to provide proof of citizenship, whether it be to vote, attend school, or because they got pulled for a traffic violation, people get really up in arms and defensive. What is the contoversy here? Why shouldn't you have to prove you are a citizen of the U.S.? In other countries, are there stringent requirements to prove citizenship?

There were A LOT of responses.  I find that what other people have to say sometimes far eclipses what I could write about a given topic. There were some people who commented about having understanding/empathy for people fleeing repressive governments and decrepit economic infrastructures:  

You can bet your last dollar, I would take my son and flee to another country that was safe if our country was recruiting child soldiers, in famine, insert several dozen other absolutely terrible and dangerous things. And NO I would not stay where I was and just let him be killed if I couldn't get there legally. MAMABEAR isn't an american thing. It's a MOTHER thing. Mothers protect their children, and they don't care, in general, if they'll have to work crappy jobs and live under the radar to save their children's lives. They make the sacrifice, and they run. ((Very, very, very few illegal immigrants come from first world countries with no danger to themselves. That's why ICE doesn't really care how "awful" your situation is.. because almost everyone's situation is awful.)) If I WOULD DO THE EXACT SAME THING FOR THE SAME REASONS it would be pretty hypocritical of me to be upset about it.

Others spoke about the unfairness the Arizona law would produce due to who would be likely to get stopped.  Basically, in their minds it would be all about racial profiling, like Apartheid South Africa.  Those who looked Mexican would be in danger of being stopped just because of how they looked, and those who don't look that way wouldn't have to deal with such intrusion.

Comment 1: I agree when it comes to voting or attending school, but getting pulled over opens up a whole can of worms that can infringe on people's rights. I'm a blond haired white woman, I don't think I'd ever be asked to prove my citizenship. My husband is a hispanic male, I think he'd be asked a lot. Is it fair that my husband be asked? Some may say it shouldn't bother him since he's legal and was born here, but don't you think it would bother you to have to constantly prove something based on your skin color? Growing up in school and in the work place, I always felt the need to prove how smart I was because I'm a blond, I couldn't imagine having to prove that I'm not a criminal based on my skin color.  
Comment 2: I am up in the air on it, but only because Arizona DOES have a terrible problem. For most states, I'd say, "Hell no" do I think we should have to prove our US citizenship if/when we are pulled over. "Ihre Papiere, bitte!"eta: there is a big difference between "illegal immigration is okay" and "I don't want to have to present proof of citizenship if I am pulled over, or out walking, or at the grocery store..." To me (and I vote Republican or further to the Right), that is just burdensome.
Many people felt like that hispanics, (again the only people who are illegals in many people's minds. In NYC a lot of Eastern Asians from China, Korea, and Japan may not speak a lot of english either, and nobody seems to have a big problem with it) have not embraced being a "full American" because they have not learned the language or tried to "fit in".

Look, my Grandfather came into this country via Ellis Island. Heck, all of our forefathers, if we are not native American Indian, came into this country as immigrants. The difference that I see between my grandfather and today's illegal immigrants is that my grandfather learned a new language, adopted a new culture, and even changed his name to be more "American". He embraced this country and became a citizen to show his appreciation for becoming a part of the country. 
This is not what I see in many of the illegal immigrants in my area. There is no embracing of this country, no attempt to become a citizen, and in many cases, no desire to become one.  

Not only do illegals not properly assimilate, they use up valuable resources like education and health care, without consequence.  They get spots in head start and in-state tuitions for universities that take away from deserving legal citizens' spaces. Also, illegals don't abide by visa laws and stay well beyond their time and those who did come in the right way are given a hard time. (I think this comment is especially telling because who are the people that use au pairs? I'm just saying)

Comment 1: I think it is truly sad when a Spanish speaking child can take up an English speaking child's place in a place like Head Start. They want the other child to have the advantage since they are not around English speaking people at all and need to be exposed to it....tell the parents they are living in a foreign country and they need to learn the language. If I lived in any foreign country they would expect me to know enough of the language to get by in the market or to find work.illegal immigration is not ok ! lets say you have three million illegals here, working, how many LESS jobs does that make for the people here LEGALLY ?? lets see, THREE MILLION !! lets say, along with those three million here illegally working you have an extra ten million dependents, guess how many can get welfare,food stamps etc. etc. without documentation and without a waiting period..ALL OF THEM. nowhere else on planet earth can illegals get a sweet deal like they can get here !! its time to rethink this problem, the constitution was NOT written in spanish !  
Comment 2: I'm not going to convince you because I think it's not right to come here illegally. Our ex-au pair slipped in pretending to be an au pair and a student. She did such a horrible job that we fired her but she went to stay with friends vs going home. I have no illusions that she did leave when her visa was up or that she really enrolled in school like she was supposed to…. 
Comment 3: There are legal ways for people to come here to work, and coming here illegally is an insult to everyone who has gone the legal route. I have a few friends who have come from India and have become US citizens, and now that they are here, they'd like the door closed behind them. Their words, not mine. The biggest problem is the way those who hire illegal workers are not punished enough so that they won't do it again….Business wants cheap labor. 

There are economic arguments….I thought the "slave labor" argument interesting:

My view is more pragmatic. There are many, many, many jobs currently being done by immigrants, most of whom could be here illegally. These jobs include dishwashers at restaurants, field workers on farms, gardeners, nannies, maids - basically the jobs we don't want to pay minimum wage for, as a society, and kids who were born and raised here don't want to grow up and do. So the question (to me, anyway) is: Are you willing to pay 25% more for everything you eat? (That's an arbitrary number, the actual number could be higher or lower - but just for the sake of discussion...) Are you willing to pay twice as much for child care? If not, then I wonder why we are so gung-ho on rounding up immigrants and shipping them back to wherever they came from. Realistically, although they're frequently demonized in the media, immigrants probably cost us as much as they save us. Financially speaking, they're as necessary to us in our economy as slave labor was in the pre-Civil War South.
There are the "If it doesn't apply to you then why are you worried" arguments…(this one really makes me think most Americans don't have a clue how privilege works in the country and what you get simply because you look a certain way):

I don't know why everyone is so up in arms either. Personally, I don't think there is anything wrong with asking someone to prove they are here legally. We have to prove we are licensed to drive and that we are insured so why not that we actually belong here!Pretty much I believe it's the illegal immigrants and their families that are so up in arms over it. We don't care what means the cops use to bust drug dealers, pedophiles, murderers, rapists, etc. We literally have no 4th Amendment rights anymore. Why should immigration be any different? If you are here legally, you shouldn't be bothered; in fact, you should be happy because the fewer illegal immigrants, the lower the expenditures of the state are. You know, illegal immigrants will be the only segment of our population not required to have health insurance if the health insurance reform bill passes. You and I, legal, tax-paying citizens will be sanctioned financially if we don't have health insurance, but the illegals will not and they will continue to be able to use our emergency rooms for health care and you and I will continue to pay for it. Now, how is that right?I say, send them all back where they belong and let them apply to be here legally and then subject them to the same requirements as the rest of us!
There's always someone who has to bring this up…sigh:

I agree but the president dosn't want you to have to prove it cause he wont prove it himself!!!!!!! There are some many people that are here illegaly that it makes it hard for the ones that are here legaly. And so many of them can get govenment aid but those of us who were born here can't get help we need because most is going to them.
Finally, one last commenter expresses kind of where I stand on the matter. This mom made a most poetic statement which reminds what we as a country all-too-easily forget. Being born in America is a privilege regardless of what station in life you are born into.  Being on welfare in the US is hella hard, but having literally nothing in another country (you know which one's I'm talking about) is a whole lot harder.  This is not an easy, simple, black (or brown the way everyone wants to put it) and white issue. This is a human issue with many complex variables. For example, Illegals do use up public resources, but they also pay a lot of taxes to purchase goods and services.  We are going to have to find common sense solutions, presuming our government and populace can still do that…. 

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" 

Sound familiar? All who wish to come should be welcome. We have a long history of opposing immigration. We didn't want the Italians, the Poles or the Germans. We sent Jews back to Germany to be gassed rather than accept them. We killed the indigenous people to whom this land belonged before us. Up until very recently, we did not accept organized gang rape as a valid reason to seek political asylum - we sent women and children back to their countries to be raped and raped and raped and killed.
We are lucky and privileged to be citizens of this country. I say I have no right to deny this to any human being who wants to come, work hard and contribute. Like my grandparents. Like my husband's great grandparents. And I suspect, like yours.

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