Bored at a party? No problem. Just casually mention immigration and you’re certain to generate a stir.
I daresay the topic of immigration policies and how to deal with undocumented people inside our borders ranks near the top of the list of polarizing topics here in the United States. As I noted last month, our own state’s chief executive is hellbent on ensuring that undocumented immigrants in our slowly dwindling state will be left out in the cold, unsheltered and without food and basic needs, in order for the state to save what seems to me a pretty insignificant amount of money.
And recently on the other side of the country, over a hundred angry protestors in Murrieta, California, were so opposed to undocumented immigrants that they blocked federal authorities from bussing them into their area for processing (since judges in Texas were overwhelmed by too many cases already).
In Murrieta, we saw an ugly side of America come out, as the mere idea of the presence of these immigrants sent people to do and say such hateful things it seemed they viewed them as subhuman. Imagine what would have happened if they were being sent for resettlement instead of just processing for likely deportation.
How ironic that this happened the same week we celebrated Independence Day. The birth of our nation—which, by the way, was founded on stolen land and built on the backs of stolen people.
Our collective conscience refuses to think seriously about our own hateful legacy and its lasting impact. Instead, we hold to the comforting myth that “our” ancestors came here rightfully and legally and therefore all others must do the same thing. We ignore the unpleasant reality that many who seek refuge in this country today are fleeing situations unthinkable by our First World standards—or quite likely unthinkable to previous waves of white immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Not to mention the fact these most recent immigrants are fleeing places made horrific in large part by our own flawed foreign and domestic policies, including the so-called War on Drugs.
How bad are these situations in places like Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras that people are fleeing to cross our borders (tens of thousands of them unaccompanied minors)? Well, just for starters, Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world. These people aren’t off on an adventure to make money. They’re looking for a place to make a basic living and not constantly fear murder, rape, torture, and the like.
One thing I can’t help but notice amid all the hate tossed around about these people crossing the borders…well, this group is kind of dark-skinned compared to past US immigrants. Also can’t help but notice that many of the most virulent protesters are white. So it’s not much of a leap to say that unchecked xenophobia and racism are at the root of some of the current immigration debates. It’s not about right or wrong; it’s about us vs. them. And when our melanin-rich president requests more money to try to stem the tide of immigrants, congressional Republicans balk, even though some of them were talking about pouring money into building a wall between the US and Mexico not that long ago.