Monday, December 3, 2007

The "Brown Menace"

I need someone to help me understand why the issue of illegal immigration is being framed singularly as an Hispanic related issue. I was listening to NPR a bit ago, and this very issue was the subject of the report. One gentleman in Georgia pointed out that (and I am paraphrasing from my memory) that any Hispanic owned business that lost money and customers was fine with him, because that would mean that the illegals weren't being helped.

What is with this "brown menace" mentality? I am so tired of people looking at the issue of illegal immigration through a "South of the border" lens. It's ridiculous when one thinks about the fact that Hispanic American communities date back to the 15th and 16th centuries in the Americas. It's even more ridiculous, because Hispanic are not the only group represented among illegal immigrants. Though one cannot determine that from the reporting that we have been subjected to over the years.

It's interesting that we find history repeating itself to a degree. As the masses from Southern and Eastern Europe did the Ellis Island thing, there were nativisits who worried about the "muddying" of the American populace. They were Catholic, Eastern Orthodox or Jewish. They spoke different languages, and they seemed not too interested in assimilating (though, of course, this was far from the truth). The Klan even came back into dominance at the close of the massive period of immigration, in part to express their disdain for the appearance of some many Catholics and Jews.

Perhaps some of the most vociferous spokesmen and women are the descendents of these earlier despised masses. I know that there is a growing number of African Americans who are beginning to trumpet this issue. Perhaps that is the key to black-white relations in the United States, a collective disdain for the "brown menace" (and the gay agenda).

I recognize that we need to work on securing our borders, and not just in the states along the Mexican border. No one talks about building a fence along the much larger, and less monitored border with Canada. Frankly, I think that someone who really wanted to do harm to the U.S. populace would be looking to enter the country from Canada.

I also recognize that we are not going to deport the millions of people who are here illegally (and lets not forget that that those illegal immigrants represent almost every inhabited continent on the planet, not just the collective "Mexicans"). I think that, for once, the POTUS was being thoughtful in his effort to develop a guest worker program that led to a road to citizenship. I also think that until something like that comes to pass, then we should consider fining the organizations that knowingly hire illegal immigrants; we are still talking about illegal immigrants.

What I think needs to be made particularly clear is that this issue is neither simple nor without land mines. Too many of those who are quick to prod the hornet's nest don't have realistic solutions to the problem, and they don't seem to be looking for any. Immigration, legal, illegal and forced, helped to make this country the dynamic and ever changing place it is. We can never forget that, but we do need to forget making this purely an issue about the "brown menace." That's played.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Free! Absolutely love you buddy, but I think you're a bit off on the idea that someone wanting to hurt the US would enter from Canada. The last guy who tried (1999) was quickly apprehended. Easier to infiltrate from the south - much more established routes for smuggling. If you check, even most of the Chinese smuggled in come up through Mexico as it is easier to get from China to Mexico than from China to Canada as Canada has a much stricked visa policy. Biggie as I can't figure out the identity stuff!