Let’s Stop Blaming Immigrants

mccain kyl briefing

Senators McCain and Kyl being briefed (Photo: Tom Tingle/AP)

The scapegoating of immigrants must stop.

Whether it’s Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., blaming the wildfires in the Southwest on immigrants coming across the border or whether it’s the state of Alabama passing the harshest anti-immigrant law in the country, it’s clear that brown-skinned immigrants have become the targets of the day.

We’ve moved from the era of Jim Crow – with legalized, racial segregation against blacks – to the era of what I call Juan Crow, with legalized, racial discrimination against Latinos.

McCain said there was “substantial evidence that some of these fires have been caused by people who have crossed our border illegally.” But he didn’t provide that evidence, and police have not arrested anyone yet, so his comment was reckless and irresponsible.

McCain’s remark is in keeping with the xenophobic legislation that has become law in such states as Arizona, Georgia, Indiana and Utah.

And now Alabama has topped them all after Gov. Robert Bentley signed HB 56 into law on June 9.

That law invites racial profiling against Latinos, both permanent residents and citizens, since the law requires that police officers inquire into the citizenship status of an individual (most likely brown-skinned) if the officers have “reasonable suspicion” that the person is not here legally.

In addition to making police officers immigration agents, HB 56 also transforms teachers into immigration agents by requiring them to check the citizenship status of all K-12 children. Landlords also will be conscripted as immigration agents, since the law makes them legally liable for renting to someone without proper citizenship documentation.

Under the new Alabama law, a U.S. citizen can be arrested for “harboring” an undocumented immigrant by simply having someone without legal status in his or her home for a family gathering. In addition, an elderly person can easily run afoul of the law by hiring a day laborer on the corner to help with moving furniture or performing yard work, since the law prohibits any employment of undocumented immigrants in the state.

This law, like the ones in other states, runs counter to the Christian principles of “love thy neighbor” and “treat others as you wish to be treated.” While it’s understandable that most Americans are feeling frustrated and frightened in this Great Recession, it’s not acceptable for many of them to scapegoat the most vulnerable in this country: undocumented immigrants.

Alvaro HuertaThese individuals come to this country to work hard and make an honest living for themselves and families, like the previous millions of Europeans that settled in this country during time of war and economic upheaval in their own homelands.

Just as the era of Jim Crow came to be known as a moral failing on the part of those who constructed it and benefited from it, so too will this era of Juan Crow.

Alvaro Huerta

Originally written for The Progressive, this essay is syndicated nationwide via McClatchy-Tribune (MCT).

About Alvaro Huerta

Alvaro Huerta, Ph.D., is a UCLA Visiting Scholar at the Chicano Studies Research Center. He is the author of “Reframing the Latino Immigration Debate: Towards a Humanistic Paradigm,” published by San Diego State University Press (2013).

Comments

  1. Annette says:

    These individuals come to this country to work hard and make an honest living for themselves and families..

    Baloney!

    Illegal aliens can (and do) access social services without ever paying taxes. Just because some of them do pay some taxes doesn’t mean that millions of illegal aliens aren’t stealing our resources. What’s honest and hardworking about taking public resources away from American taxpayers, at the expense of those taxpayers’ own children?

    If a woman sneaks across the border (or even comes here on a legal visit) and has a baby, the US citizens can be saddled with the cost of the childbirth, and that “instant citizen” is entitled to all of our social programs that we pay for with taxes, including welfare, federal Section 8 housing, Medicaid, Medicare, ObamaCare, social security disability and more. If the parents decide to stick their kids with another family, public tax money in the form of foster care payments can go to the illegal immigrant’s relatives, even if the mom and dad are still living with their kid! When their kids are 18, they get priority acceptance at American universities, and can even get FREE college!

    There are many other ways that illegal aliens cost American taxpayers much more money than they pay in taxes. Hispanic illegal immigrants can (and do) demand that their kids be educated in Spanish instead of English, and the kids can even get free college thanks to American taxpayers.

    Illegal aliens can get all this for their kids, even if they’ve never paid a dime into the system. But people like Alvaro Huerta keep pushing for amnesty so that illegal immigrants can permanently degrade our standard of living by reducing wages for working and middle class Americans. Huerta wants Americans to look the other way so more and more people can break into our country and have babies here. Then we’re all supposed to feel sorry for them and the DREAM Act (their Dream, our nightmare) that gives them amnesty for bumping American citizens out of university classrooms. We pay the bill for illegal aliens, while corporations rake in the profits from cheap labor.

    What big companies are you supporting, Mr. Huerta?

  2. Nicely done! Avoid entirely the reality of 12-20MM illegal immigrants in this nation – during a time of recession and un- and underemployment reaching 20% levels. Recently, a report was published showing that the burden on CA taxpayers for supporting illegal immigrants has now risen to $25B per year. That is 1/4 of a Trillion dollars every decade that taxpayers in CA must cough up to support people who are here illegally. I want to provide for my family too and that tax burden is unconscionable.

    The grass roots movement isn’t anti-immigrant – most American citizens welcome newcomers to this country with open arms when those people come legally and wish to become Americans – the movement is anti ILLEGAL immigrant. There is a difference and those who pretend there isn’t are simply lying for a political agenda. Shame on you and your fellow travelers.

  3. Gene Rossel says:

    Tell those mothers to get in line like everyone else. I am a VETERAN AND an american born citizen and I had to get in line for my two adopted Spanish kids (from Spain and not south of the border) and I had to leave one behind in Spain because of American laws. Tell everyone else you need to get in line just like I did and everything else is just plain crap. Why should anyone, particular in large numbers, be given preference. I can assure you that in my military experience if I had violated others foreign borders like they are doing I would have been put in prison. We need to obey our laws and to hell with Obama’s drive to get votes for the next election in 2012. I am tired of all this political maneuvering for votes. Spain has a saying “Spain for the Spanish” and I think the same should be here also.

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