Sunday, October 19, 2014

Why are conservatives so angry over immigration?

The United States faced a humanitarian crisis this past summer. There was a sudden increase in the number of immigrants from Central America attempting to cross into the United States. Many of these individuals were women and children. Few, if any, possessed immigration documentation to allow them to enter the United States.
Because of this unexpected surge in immigrants attempting to cross the border without proper documentation, federal authorities decided to take them to processing centers. Some of the centers in Texas did not have enough room, so the government decided to take the immigrants to a U.S. Customs facility in Murrieta, Calif (population: 103,466, located in southwestern Riverside County). 
The buses that carried about 140 immigrants failed to reach their destination because protestors physically blocked roads, forcing buses to go elsewhere.
Protest is patriotic. It’s our constitutional right to speak up and out. We should speak up when we believe the government is doing something wrong.
But when you have folks screaming “Go back home!” and chanting “U-S-A!” at the top of their lungs while fiercely waving American flags, it just looks racist. It’s awful. It’s terrifying. You can hear so much anger and arrogance in their voices.  Illegal immigration is surely an issue, but resolving it requires a civilized dialogue between all stakeholders. I’m not an illegal immigrant, and I already feel unwelcome when I see and hear these protestors. 
These residents were upset because they perceived that federal authorities were “dumping” these children and women in their community. That’s an understandable concern, but it seriously mischaracterizes what’s actually happening. No one is being “dumped” in anyone’s neighborhoods. The border patrol station that was supposed to house these immigrants is located on 25774 Madison Avenue, Murrietta, Calif. Look this up on Google Maps, and take a look at the satellite view. It’s in the middle of nowhere. It’s surrounded by undeveloped land and some industrial structures. Most of the residents live away from this facility, which is blocked off by Interstate 15. These immigrants are not going to be wandering through anyone's neighborhoods--they are secure behind the bars of a federal law enforcement facility. 
So what do we do about illegal immigration? The United States has 11 million immigrants who lack proper immigration documentation. A couple of months before this incident, the Orange County Register, a newspaper serving a pretty conservative county, published an opinion piece that took a realistic and constructive approach to this issue. The author made logical arguments that made sense. Nevertheless, the comments erupted with remarks that resembled those of the protestors in Murietta.
One commenter said,
LOVE to read the Register's idiot readers blow up about this subject again and again. Wake up and smell the tacos, loser
Another commenter said,
Why are US Citizens who are worse off than the Illegals being so generous with support for Illegals and Immigration Reform? BECAUSE THEY AIN'T PAYING FOR IT!!! THEIR KIDS AND GRANDKIDS WILL PAY INTEREST ON THAT BORROWED MONEY ALL THEIR LIVES!!
Finally, another commenter said,
YEAH, let's get real - ENFORCE OUR LAWS - CLOSE OUR BORDERS - SEND EVERY ILLEGAL HOME - they broke our laws and have no right to be in our sovereign country – . . .
The answer is for government to start SLAMMING THE HORRIBLE COUNTRIES THAT TREAT THEIR PEOPLE SO TERRIBLY THEY HAVE TO LEAVE - yes, THOSE leftist socialist rotten countries just like the one DemoRATS want to make here
So there you have it. Angry conservatives against immigrants without proper documentation.


Ahva said...

I agree with you that the issue of illegal immigration has no easy answer. I read the Orange County Register article you referenced in your post and agree that it takes a practical approach to this issue, and, like you, I was upset by the comments I read. Many of the commenters vehemently argued (through use of inflammatory language, all-caps, and exclamation points) that illegal immigrants should not be legalized because they entered the country by breaking US law. While I have no doubt that the law-breaking aspect is part of the argument against immigration (and a valid part, at that), I have to wonder whether this is really at the core of the anti-immigrant movement. My sense is that many anti-immigration folk put forth the "why-should-we-reward-law-breakers" argument because it sounds the most credible and least racist, and masks any phobia of the "other" that I suspect drives many impassioned comments and protests against immigration. I don't mean to oversimplify the issue by calling anti-immigration folk racist -- that's not the message I am trying to convey. And I concede that there are valid arguments as to why legalizing illegal immigrants could be problematic -- for one, it's unfair to the persons and families who have been waiting to enter the US through the proper legal procedures. But given our conversation in class lately about "others" and how they are often ill-received in conservative parts of rural America, I think it is important to honestly discuss -- as your post attempts to do, Charlie -- why conservatives are so angry over immigration.

Damon Alimouri said...

I like this article. It's well written. I enjoyed your exposé of the stark contradictions in the so-called protestors' arguments.

However, I would ask what has led these people to vehemently oppose refugees.

I submit that these people espouse these sentiments because they're afraid. To a great extent, they're afraid of the very foundation of their way of life slipping from under them--both economically and culturally.

Politicians and pundits have cast Latin immigrant's as the culprits for this decay.

In actuality, Latin immigrants are not the culprits.

It's the very people who have constructed these false allegations who are the actual culprits.

Desi Fairly said...
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Desi Fairly said...
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Desi Fairly said...

I am passionately pro-immigrant and I will hopefully spend my professional life defending people against deportation. With that said, I also feel very sympathetic towards the protestors in Murrieta. True that the detention facility is in an out of the way location, but most of those non-citizen children and their families will be released into the local community, with instructions to return at a latter point in time for a merits hearing. During that time, they will need food and shelter. I can understand the community's concern- it's the story of resource availability that has caused so many wars throughout history. I think the real villain in this tragedy are some of the foreign policies (and lack thereof) that the US and Canada have with Latin America. There is a reason that El Salvador is plagued with gangs that were originally formed in the US; there is a reason why there is a lack of jobs internationally. Those reasons have very little to do with individuals, yet it is the individual (either the non-citizen or the anti-immigrant protestor) that are pictured as the problem.

Moona said...

I agree with Desi’s point, that it is understandable why some of the community members might be upset about the influx of people burdening their resources. However, I also find the rhetoric surrounding much of this anti-immigration, or perhaps more specifically anti-illegal immigration, thought quite interesting. I tend to agree with Ahva that although many stress the fact that these immigrants have entered the country illegally, when pressed many also point out the fact that these immigrants are primarily Latin American. This makes it clear that at least part of the opposition has to do with stereotypes and perceptions of Latinos as lazy, lawbreakers and unable to assimilate or become American. However, as we see a different story in “AbUSed: The Postville Raid” where these immigrants become a part of the fabric of the community. Although originally I had believed that they would be less accepted in a small, rural town, however, as this film shows the community rallies around these immigrants as part of their own. After watching this film, it seems that it might be easier to eliminate differences and hostility in rural towns, because it allows for the community members to get to know and understand the immigrants and see that they are not so different after all. And that seems to be exactly what happened in Postville.

Kate Hanley said...

It seems difficult for the Mayor of Murrieta to argue that this protest was about the "broken system" instead of people, considering that part of the protest seemed to directly tell specific people to "go back home". Not impossible, but difficult.

Protests that target a (non public) person or group of people worry be, but that's because they seem less like protests and more like mob justice. This protest looks like it's blurring the line between protest and mob justice to me, and I think that's part of why I find it disconcerting.

As an aside, I wish more online newspapers and the like reconsidered their comment policies. It's possible that the tone of comments -- reasoned discussion vs attacks -- can change how a reader reads an article.

Current comment policies seem to be more for clickthroughs and compensation than actually caring about what everyone is saying.