The Editorials of E. Desiderius

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Immigration Debate: Nativist Hysteria and Election-Year Politicking

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Despite the American national debt reaching a staggering 9 trillion USD, despite an ever-failing war effort, a disastrous Medicare bill, a lack of any sort of domestic policy agenda and despite a massive proclaimed global war on terror, the issue being debated by Congress right now is: Immigration Reform.

Now, the Republicans in Congress frame immigration reform as a national security issue. It is not. If they were serious about national security, they’d have tackled securing chemical plants and railway lines, as well as countless other small security loopholes. Never mind a realistic alternative energy plan, to wean us of our need for foreign oil. Never mind serious (not halfhearted) negotiations and diplomatic action against both Iran and North Korea about their respective nuclear programs. Rather, their proposals mostly focus on securing the southern border with Mexico, and don’t address the three-times-as-large, much less patrolled Canadian border. After all, the idea to build a wall is along the Mexican border Rather, proposals like the wall, massive deportation, or even using armed predator drones to patrol the borders, are cheap scare tactics, to score points with the ever-so-slightly xenophobic right-wing (see: Minuteman Project). Meanwhile, President Bush can come out softy against hard-line immigration reform, to avoid completely driving the Hispanic vote away from the Republican Party.

Granted, better security at the borders (both of them) and documenting illegal immigrants cannot be a bad thing. But the bill produced by the House of Representatives is punitive in the worst way. Much has already been made about how it would make it a federal crime to offer an immigrant so much as a meal, as well making it a felony to be in the United States illegally. Meanwhile, the Senate bill is far more reasonable, yet still stinks of the same sort of hasty recklessness. Illegal immigration is certainly not a new issue. The Republicans have had six years to address it, and the Democrats had eight before them. Why the issue must be rammed through Congress in the next few weeks is a mystery? President Bush called for a civil immigration debate, which in general, it has been. However, the point remains that the legislation is haphazardly constructed

This author does not oppose meaningful immigration reform. But that reform should not and must not be rooted in backhanded xenophobia, nor should it come about because the Republican Party wants to bolster its chances at re-election and fire up its base. This author fully recognizes the political forces at work, as well as the political realities, but America has always been a promise land for people across the Globe. An immigrant reform bill should not punish desperate economic refugees seeking honest employment and a chance at the American dream, nor should it punish Good Samaritans who aid the most desperate among them. Meanwhile, the much more sensible Senate bill will most likely be killed, because opponents have painted the word “amnesty” into it, hoping to render it “politically toxic” as the New York Times described [1].

-E. Desiderius

Relevant Articles
[1] New York Times – Its not Amnesty

Posted by George Gordon | Wednesday, March 29, 2006 | E-mail this post

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