I have known undocumented foreigners and would not affect scorn towards them in place of the affection I feel. Many willingly close their eyes to a felt warmth, feigning instead a suppose-to bitterness. What is needed is to drop the cosmetic anger and deal with the problems generated by this trickle invasion. Anger only distracts from our, true warrant, sifting through the litany of half truths about us as a people.
Those states bordering Mexico are on the front line of a national struggle and sealing that border is a must step in any reconciliation between Americans and foreigners residing here beyond any law of entry.
It is difficult to accept that some Americans grasp on tightly to similarities between Arizona’s immigration law and earlier discriminatory state laws, while remaining oblivious to the many hardships foisted upon Arizonans who live on that particular migration route. Is exaggerating this law into an act of racial bigotry any less offensive than bigotry itself? Is justice kept blindfolded to personal differences still justice when blindfolded to actions that set up a legitimate context.
This defamation of the American character needs to be addressed up front, whether or not it is spread by those who first deceive themselves. For me, whenever the specter of racism is pointed at someone as a convenience, that is for other issues, it is pointed randomly in the context of race; hence, at convenient racists everywhere; hence, at me.
The members of some races or faiths tend to be caught up in particular problems thrust upon them or of their own making: Tay-Sachs disease (Jews), Sickle-cell anemia (aboriginal Africans), manipulating others through the terror of Jihad (Muslims), and sneaking out of Mexico into the United States (Hispanics). No one should be faulted for noticing any of these general connections, but it is an intrusive way to find the terrorist needle in the haystack that is Islam or any needle that has snuck across the Rio Grand into the Hispanic haystack residing there.
Still, other Hispanics in Arizona identify so strongly with undocumented foreigners that from time to time they naturally imagine themselves to be one with that circumstance. An Arizona, law-enforcement official requesting papers of such a straw would be as much an opportunity to express solidarity as an intrusion.
For those offended by having been profiled toward uncovering any illicit behavior:
Rule #1: If you are approached through a profile, then be as enraged at those of your own people who daily confirm that profile’s effectiveness, as you are at the profiler who merely notices.
Rule #2: If you have at other times taken a secret delight in the illicit act being profiled, then measure your rant of solidarity with inner gratitude towards the profiler supplying you with a stage.
Although greed is usually linked to material wealth, I include here a parallel form of it, progenial greed: an excessive desire to acquire or possess progeny regardless of any impact the quest has upon oneself or others. Far more of those dying in the Mexican drug war are Americans than is commonly recognized. For many, their mothers had delivered them shortly after sneaking across the Rio Grand (progenial greed).
“Grown-up” and bilingual, some chose to thank themselves, not their neighbors, becoming mules and dealers of illicit drugs (wealth greed). Once killed in Mexico, their passports were snatched (wealth greed) as documents for the undocumented, and their bodies left unrecognized as the “Americans” that they had become. Had I said this about a Mexican and not a Mexican-American drug mule, no one would have considered my remark racist. Being concerned for 111 million, unmet Mexicans 24/7 is going to wear you out, and exploiting the racial divide does need token gringos.
When the Constitution was written, there were no illegal immigrants; but exclusion by not having survived the journey was formidable. Purposefully delivering one’s progeny into citizenship would have been overly dangerous, unnecessary, and by virtue of the time needed to recognize pregnancy, to plan and to take the journey, rarely even possible. Better transportation and obstetrics offered a loophole in our Constitution: citizenship by virtue of the staying power of both child and mother.
Today we are helpless against this because many of us look back at a Constitutional Convention, expecting its comfort-blanket judgement to survive the two centuries plus of context shift, while our own judgment has trouble with a two decade shift. Clearly it is the duty of the courts to recognize those shifts and, in such cases only, allow judgment a greater initiative.
Just as there are millionaires who gained their enormous wealth in exchange for formidable benefits to society, there are large families whose generosity emerges also from the accomplishments of sons and daughters. The Rio Grande has become an escape valve to the pressure of decades of what: a pride that was oblivious to overcrowding, and by that had taken on a non-specific undercurrent of progenial greed. Although crowding and limited resources have imposed a decline in their native fertility rate, no such compulsion is upon those making it state side; nor for Mexican census takers, whose out-of-sight out-of-mind census treats them as though they had died.
Arizona has its racism in both directions. To claim that it is a major influence on the Arizona law or drug trafficking is to place it way out of its depth. Has racism influenced immigration policy at the national level, or was that policy an awkward attempt to avoid being inundated by immigrants from countries bursting their population capacities?
When a profiler goes beyond investigation to a blanket racial contempt or hatred, he or she has become a bigot; but when a crusader exploits a racial divide by elevating one issue into a lie of ubiquitous contempt, two are infected by a subtle, ingratiating bigotry: one buying into the lie about others’ motives, and one buying into the lie’s contempt as it regards them self. Of course, technically this latter case isn’t racial bigotry, because in spite of legal forms offering the choice, Hispanic, there is no non-Hispanic race upon which to vent one’s frustration. To me, this is more of an opportunistic bigotry which is what most bigotry has always been.
How do those who were old enough to know non-family, fellow Mexicans feel about them as they look back, after having crossed the Rio Grand? If they didn’t like some of them, can’t I dislike those same for the very same reasons without being “bigoted?” If they feel contempt for those still awaiting immigration or work visas, can’t I feel an even greater warmth towards those who didn’t cut in line without being “bigoted” in my having brought too much attention to those so filled with their own contempt?
All of us (however we arrived here) need to be more conscientious as to whether we are scrutinizing bigotry, being manipulated by a specter-of-the-day, race-of-the-day bigotry or, seeking comfort in politically supportive numbers, by conveniently noticing bigots. That is; let’s move on.
The Slur or the Blur:
Being from Massachusetts, I have had more personal contact with Brazilians and will compare those contexts from which they and Mexicans come. Ignoring such differences, many of my remarks could only be taken as racial slurs; they are not.
Brazilians, coming here, didn’t live along cocaine’s corruptive trail through Central America, nor under an administration like that of Guanajuato which has criminalized both abortion and miscarriage. The first Americans met were customs agents not criminals sneaking them across; so whom do they take as indicative of what it is to be an American.
Besides ICE, the value of the Brazilian real (currency) encourages them to repatriate and they are doing so. From my experience most came to earn funds that would either support relatives back home or become the basis for a successful business there. Brazil’s birthrate is more comparable to ours; in general they seek neither refuge from crowding nor a place to raise a family.
Alternatively the Rio Grande is an escape valve to the pressure of decades of misguided pride in enormous families. Mexico’s birthrate is comparable to India’s, but the 300,000 emigrating each year to the USA are treated much like deaths in determining Mexico’s population growth. For each
increase in population by four, one dies, so to speak, that same year in America.
Whatever pressure there may be from crowding or limited resources, no
such compulsion is upon those making it state side (possibly progenial greed).
To avoid deportation local, undocumented Brazilians usually stay out of trouble and drive even more cautiously than we do, but across the country homicide and DUI manslaughter committed by illegal immigrants are inordinate to their numbers.
A guess for why my local experience differs from the national is that:
Brazilians come here with no a sense of our being indebted to them nor shame in being poor. Our forefathers and even not so fore fathers did not deprive theirs of anything and, in their homeland, there is a greater willingness of the wealthy to live but a stone’s throw from the poor.
I believe that in the U.S.A. it is not poverty that sets one to stealing bread money or in time to stilling a life; it is the disstatusfaction beheld in one’s poverty; and unfortunately for some Mexican immigrants that poverty began long before they could have contributed to it: in fact, long before they were born.
Those illegal immigrants who during their stay fulfill their dreams lawlessly abandon far better dreams: their own and those of resident compatriots suffering guilt by an association with them.
I am entangled by two images of the Southwest and can no more separate myself from them than them from each other. One is of early Conestoga settlers building the region towards what it has become and the other of their descendants working hand in hand with migrant workers to finish the job. By virtue of sweat and hardship, a thread of Mexican ownership now runs through the orchards and cleaned office buildings of the Southwest. That thread offers nothing more tangible than pride in what had been accomplished, pride not very different from an early Conestoga pride.
Is their ownership of still more substance? In the seventeen years leading up to 1853, the United States acquired or took from Mexico the lands of the Southwest. Would such land have been taken from Mexico without Santa Anna’s dictatorial Seven Laws?
Each person on Earth has benefited from the preservation of the territorial integrity of all nations that had through history focused on the well-being of those living within their boundaries. For instance, Mexicans benefited when our country kept theirs from becoming a prefecture in Japan’s Land of the Setting Sun.
We Americans benefited when the people of Mexico tossed out, with our albeit late Monroe Doctrine support, their new monarchs, Emperor Maximiliano and Empress Carlota. That monarchy had hoped to impose benevolent leadership upon the people of Mexico, as had her brother, King Leopold II, hoped for the Congo and Queen Victoria for Africa. Ironically Leopold became one of the most ruthless persons in human history, and Victoria abandoned the sparkle of magnanimity in her late husband Albert’s eyes for one of imperialism in her own.
I imply no general rule, but Maximiliano’s brother, Emperor Franz Joseph, did not venture into other peoples lands and, as rulers go, he was one of the finest. Where might Carlota have tugged Maximiliano? With the help of arms from the U.S., Mexicans under Juarez cut that Gordian Knot, and we neither need nor get to know.
Securing America’s Borders:
The Boeing border-security initiative tried to do too much. The major cost came from computer recognition of people crossing the cameras’ views and the consequent triggering of more refined human observations. Preliminary results were discouraging.
I propose that the thousands of images be made view-able online for access by registered monitors. Place a bounty on each recognition leading to an apprehension, and even better when such were a confirmed drug dealers or terrorist. At some point the presence (not whereabouts) of illegal immigrants must be documented, in anticipation of a revised immigration policy, supported by a national ID card.
Would this altered border-security initiative and such a card threaten our privacy?
- Upon whom else might such monitoring cameras end up focusing? But for warrants based on an established right to privacy, such border cameras and any publicly monitored offshoots would not watch particular persons but rather public space into whose purview people may or may not enter.
- To whom might a person’s confidential information be revealed? In my earlier article, A Tale of Three Databases, I propose a national, ID-card information system that appears to meet the challenges of safeguarding the privacy of personal information.
With insecure borders, there can be no amnesty. Such a message would inexcusably seduce on a grand scale those participating in and of benefit to their own social, economic and political systems. The following alternative vision would in its entirety be more effective and more caring, but must wait for us to address the riddling of the American character with a convenient racism:
- All illegal immigrants hoping to take part should informally certify their presence in the United States before a certain date. Sooner would be better than later. In their country’s recent presidential election, thousands of Brazilians came to my home town (an open community) in Massachusetts to vote. Fantastically this attained certification both of presence here and of continued connection with Brazil. Those leaving by that date would be allowed to apply for visit or work visas after a given period: far less than the current ten years but enough to allow for the essential sealing of borders.
- Those leaving later would enjoy the same visa amnesty but with a waiting period prolonged by double the time of their over stay.
- All of returning visitors would be better monitored and, with a now clean record and proper re-entry, able to pursue citizenship on a par with those who honored our immigration laws. The Canadian, immigrant work program could form the basis of such a standard of appropriateness, but only for an America whose borders are as secure as are Canada’s.
If a century from now found the descendants of those, who liberated this nation or immigrated legally to it, to have been overwhelmed by a far different extraction that had predominately snuck in or over snuck a visa, then democracy and America would surely have let each other down in a way that couldn’t possibly be missed by its deterrents. Decades of those who abandon their own country’s vote would have simply blended in, displacing our own with theirs; and those Americans who had grasped at an earlier, out-of-context, open-door policy would have by then bestowed on posterity a poster revealing, too late for subject-America, democratic shortcomings.