It’s hard to keep up with the myriad ways in which our leadership is determined to help us shoot off our feet, but one of the most disturbing and potentially dangerous ones is the complete insanity dominating current immigration policy. In fact, ‘policy’ is an overly generous choice of words—what we have is vengeful Mexican-bashing parading as a novel idea.
The topic is close to my heart as I myself was an immigrant for over 20 years and understand something of the difficulties of adjusting to a foreign culture even when one has access to all the legal niceties and can earn more money than the average local resident, as was my case. First, let’s dispatch the b.s. about the lawfulness or lack of same that colors this whole discussion, e.g., the placards held by red-faced nativists at anti-Mexican rallies with phrases like, ‘What are part of illegal don’t you understand?’
What could be more reasonable than asking people to conform to the laws? Well, nothing much if it weren’t so glaringly selective. This complaint would hold a tad more weight if there were any comparable interest among these red-faced nativists in adherence to the rule of the rest of the laws in our increasingly arbitrary society. Instead, the masses, led by the celebrated gumballs in Don’t Tread on Me costumes, have distinguished themselves by virtually begging the state to abuse its powers and ignore legality. We permit it to snoop into every corner of our lives, read our library records, attach tracking devices to our cars, build databases on dissidents, encourage members of suspect groups to commit crimes so that they can be targeted, and generally conspire against anyone who dares to make trouble—all in the sacred name of Keeping Us Safe. (Not to mention, of course, torturing detainees.) When the hispano-baiters start objecting to the dismantling of the First, Fourth and Eighth Amendments, I’ll be interested in their opinions about immigration law.
Which is not to say that our borders should be thrown open willy-nilly or that laws governing who should come live here should not exist. Sensible management of immigrant flows is required and advisable—exactly what will not be occurring. Instead, we have punishment of the most vulnerable as in the latest ignoble act by the state of Alabama in denying schooling to Mexican children whose papers are not in order. No longer able to condemn black kids to permanent illiteracy, the noble fathers of Dixie can now exercise their eclipsed white supremacy with brown ones. This sign shown at the top of this post says it all. When Alabama needed cheap construction and chicken-farm workers, the holy statutes meant nothing; now that they’re expendable, the message is: We will make your lives hell.
While the local demagogues drive Hispanic residents further into the economic and social underground, no one seems to be paying much attention to the rise on our extensive southern border of a terrifying class of professional death-worshipers whose activities will soon spill over into the 50 states and no doubt already have. The activities and twisted beliefs of Mexican drug gangs are surely among the most frightening phenomena of our age. They play by no known rules and seem to delight in cruelty as a pastime. What can we say about an outfit that rolls the heads of its victims up to the front doors of elementary schools?
When I worked in the southern states for a Hispanic organization, I had the opportunity to speak to police officials and even a chief or two about the pressures on them to combine police work with the pursuit of immigration violators by doing things like demanding residency papers on traffic stops. These cops generally hated it, and the more astute ones openly opposed the mixing of duties because it converted them into the immigrant communities’ enemy.
A democratic society requires a sympathetic populace ready to lend a hand, cooperate and provide useful information—which raises the question of how much we are committed to maintaining one. Just wait until the drug gangs dig in deeply enough to be obvious, and the alarmed residents desperately want their local precincts to gather solid intelligence on their activities. Who among the badgered and terrified Mexicans, many of whose children are U.S. citizens, will volunteer for that?