We must stop the negative immigration rage!

e pluribus unumLatino immigrants generally come to the U.S. driven by a strong desire to provide a better life for their family. Their drive is not that different from the motivating factors that impelled the ancestors of almost everyone in this country. The strength of the immigrants’ spirit helps them combat what amounts to insurmountable odds against them. Immigrants are faced with an incredible emotional turmoil that stems from being separated from their family, friends, culture, and heritage. This separation anxiety is always difficult, and it is often hard to understand by those who have not experienced it first hand. Immigrants endure the turmoil and forge ahead in pursuit of the American Dream. For new American immigrants the anxiety feelings are compounded by the fact that the immigration laws in the U.S. no longer have an open door policy. And even when Latinos come in with a legal immigration status, they still have to endure the overwhelming negative social pressure that surrounds the subject of immigration in the 21st Century.

The pursuit of happiness and a new life in the United States has defined this country since its inception. Seeking the so called American Dream is what being American is all about. Immigration defines our American culture. It has shaped the American way of life and has created the unique diversity that is so highly cherished in the United States. Even our country’s motto, “e pluribus unum” (Out of many, one) symbolizes the importance we place in coming together from different places to form one country. Yet; immigration is no longer popular with many Americans; and the thought of people coming to the U.S. “illegally” infuriates the masses.

Latinos are often attacked just because they are perceived as criminals from an immigration standpoint. Never before in this country have immigrants who lacked the appropriate immigration documentation been commonly referred to as “illegals.” The strong feelings harbored against “illegal aliens” (a truly horrendous term) have become so pervasive that some people who are otherwise very inclusive and welcoming towards others become quickly enraged when I bring up the subject of immigration. The rage is not always rational; in fact, most of what infuriates people (like the so-called negative effect on the U.S. economy) is simply not true (see an earlier post here). But I’m not trying to generate more hate mail on this subject (I get enough of that); my intention is to show how all of the negativity surrounding immigration is really counterproductive and ends up hurting us all.

Yesterday I was driving and almost got into an accident. I became very enraged at a driver who was clearly doing something illegal. I was livid! But my thoughts against this person were irrational; in retrospect I realize that he was only trying to circumvent a truck that was blocking the intersection. If I knew the person driving that car I would not have even gotten upset. Car rage happens because it is easy to disconnect from the person driving the other car. I find that when I make eye contact with another driver they are more likely to be nice and become human again. Why am I talking about this? Because car rage creates a very serious problem on the roads; and I feel that the illegal immigration rage is often just as irrational and is creating a very serious problem in our society.

It is easy for people to believe the negative buzz regarding immigration and become enraged; but like it is with car rage, I find that people react very differently when they personally know an undocumented immigrant or family. It is easy to support immediate deportation and harsh laws against undocumented immigrants when you are not connected to them; in fact, it is easy to think of them as criminals. But it is much more difficult to do so when it affects someone who you personally know and/or care about. In my work I interview many undocumented Latinos and have heard many immigration horror stories. Try explaining to a child why their parents were taken away from him because they were here illegally. In a recent interview, a U.S. born Latino teenager with a severe medical condition told me about how his mother had to go back to Colombia. In tears he said: “I had to stay because I would die in Colombia… my mother is not a criminal, she was just trying to be here for me.” I can fill the pages of many books with similar stories. As a country we need to realize that these immigrants are no different in their motivation to be here as any other prior immigration group. If we are able to see past the immigration rage we will realize that these people are not “criminals” at all; they are hard working families trying to become American like all other immigrants did.

The negativity towards immigration, be it warranted or not, is not good for our country. It fuels segregation, racism, prejudice, and discrimination. It affects everyone and does nothing to resolve the issues at hand. Like it is with car rage, we need to take a moment to make eye contact and become human again.

20 comments on “We must stop the negative immigration rage!

  1. Jim Loretta on said:

    Hi Ricardo:
    unfortunately,discrimination continues to happen in “The Land of The Free”! I have heard loads of stories by undocumented persons myself. As a Mexican born of Italian/Irish descendants, I don’t “look like” a Mexican (I have been told almost daily and by the way what does a Mexican look like?), consequently, there have been times when many white Americans have made disparaging remarks toward Hispanics/Latinos in my presence and are surprised when I either correct them or challenge them on their position. When Giovanni Laratta, my paternal grandfather immigrated from Calabria, Italy and got off at Ellis Island, he was sent to the West Virginia coal mines because that is where WOPS (WithOut PaperS)were sent. Talk about discrimination. I rememebr seeing a wage scale sign that had Whites 15 cents, Negroes 10 cents and WOPS 5 cents! By the way, my Dad’s last name was later changed to Loretta by Sr.Loretta his 3rd grade teacher in Clarksburg, West Virginia. My father was sent to Mexico early on in his career and loved the country so much that he became a Mexican. When he made his decision to become a Mexican it was because of the respect and love he received from a people who are honest hard-working people. I can remember him telling me about how discrimination really brings out the worse in society. Ricardo, I fight the fight all the time! Saludos, Jim

  2. BK Ealim on said:

    Ricardo,
    Have you noticed that the outrage toward “illegal immigration” always seems to be tied directly to “Latino immigration?” Do we have any idea how many Brits, Canadians, Scandinavians, Asians, etc. are in this country illegally? No, and no one seems to care. Latinos are now the stereotype of illegal immigration. Unless, we “tell it all” I believe Latinos will always be the focal point. Think about it, when we talk about securing our borders we talk about Mexico. However, during these Winter Olympics I have heard the term X thousand miles of friendly borders.

    So, as I, an African American, look at this, it continues to look like a way to divide those who should come together. Look at the “dry foot rule” that applies to Cubans, but not to Haitians. There is no logic in the “one-ups-manship” played with who is most oppressed, or who is coming for political reasons rather than a way to improve ones life. How does one distinguish one from the other?

    We all fight our fight on some level. However, do not let the media breakdown kinships that were once the norm. If you sit idly by and allow discrimination of any type, it has been shown time and time again that you may be next.

  3. Marcus Turner on said:

    I absolutely agree! I am surprised at how few understand why so many risk so much to come to the United States.

  4. Dennis on said:

    The operative word here is “ILLEGAL.” Most people have no problem with immigrants who come here through the proper channels. For some reason, Mexican immigrants think they should be able to circumvent the legal immigration process. If I were a Mexican immigrant trying to get here legally, I’d be highly upset with my own people.

    Also, I find it infuriating that many of these same ILLEGAL immigrants who “just want to work” bring with them the same disdain for black people that they have in Mexico, yet they come here and complain about discrimination. It’s still the 1950s for black people in Mexico, so don’t talk to me about “discrimination” when you get to the U.S.

    Mexico has a VERY strict immigration policy, yet whenever the U.S. even hints at enforcing the laws already on the books, illegal immigrants and their advocates start howling about “Mexican bashing.” I can guarantee if I got caught sneaking across the Mexican border from Guatemala they’d kick my ass right out of the country. Why should it be any different with the U.S.?

  5. Ricardo A. López on said:

    Dennis, as yous said on your comment on another post (see #31 here), the US government “supports” the illegal immigration; so how illegal is it? And while you are right that the issue is with those entering illegally, the fury does not discriminate. I often quote Paul Rodriguez line from an old HBO comedy special where he responds to someone telling him to go back to where he came from by saying “you mean El Paso?” :-)

  6. Dennis on said:

    It’s illegal because there are actual laws that have been passed against it. I like how you conveniently sidestepped the question as to why Mexico can strictly enforce their immigration laws and require that a person living there speaks Spanish, but Americans are derided as racist and “anti-Mexican” when we advocate the same. You know good and well that I couldn’t go to Mexico and demand everything in my native language.

  7. Ricardo A. López on said:

    Dennis, I did not sidestepped the question; I said on your other post that it was a good point. To be honest, however, I am not at all familiar with Mexican immigration laws… but I can definitely see what you mean about coming across as a double standard if they are really that tough on their side. I do appreciate your point of view; thanks for posting.

  8. Dennis on said:

    Mexico’s Glass House: http://www.c4ads.org/files/waller_csp_apr2006_mexico.pdf

  9. Ricardo A. López on said:

    Very interesting Dennis; an excellent article that backs up your position. You peaked my interest in learning more about Mexican immigration laws. On the subject of my article, however, I do feel strongly that we need to watch ourselves to make sure that differences of opinion regarding immigration do not result in misplaced anger against individuals just because they happen to be Mexican. Unfortunately, the fury surrounding immigration is fueling prejudice and discrimination against all Hispanics, regardless of their immigration status. You and I can debate the issue and even disagree but not turn it into hatred; yet there are so many out there who do take it to a personal level. Doing so, of course, is not at all helpful.

  10. Dennis on said:

    Ricardo,

    I fully and wholeheartedly agree with you concerning the hatred issue. One cannot grow up in Southern California as I have and not become fascinated with Latino culture. My views come strictly from a sense of fairness and respect. This is an issue of what is legal and what is not; unfortunately, one side has completely removed the very word “illegal” from the argument, and before you know it, people legitimately against illegal immigration are unfairly branded as racist when nothing could be further from the truth.

    Right-wing fear mongering fueled by Fux News (I purposely spelled it that way) is no better, as they create scapegoats for the problem, when companies who knowingly hire people who are not here through the proper channels continue to exacerbate the problem.

  11. Val on said:

    Immigration reform isn’t likely pass until after 2012; millions of people will continue to walk across the border each year. After the 2010 Midterms it is likely there will be 84-100 new Republican Congressmen almost all from between the Sierras and the Mississippi River. There will be a backlash against CA because immigration reform is tied up with other issues like deficit spending, mandates, the economy, social security, and CA will find far fewer fed dollars for Medical, education, and social welfare programs poor immigrants need, and CA needs. When immigration reform does pass, it will probably be harsh. Everyone should want the border secured and closed now. Once it is closed, for a year or two, it will be much easier to argue and get generous amnesty for undocumented people now in the US.

  12. Constance Mason on said:

    The problem is that there is unfortunately a large proportion of Latino illegal immigrants that do come to our country with criminal intentions and statistics show this. There are milions in jails and prisons, and receiving social services, and free healthcare, etc. Also, are economy is in a recession, yet who has most of the jobs? Yes, there are many that come here for better lives (This line grows old after awhile), but in reality a lot of the illegal immigration are tied to criminal activity (Think Arizona, LA, etc), thus the extreme crime issues and other social issues that continue to overwhelm our country, we have to set bounderies. We can only take so much. We cannot be doormats and be taken advantage of. We have done that for years, and now we are realizing our mistakes. This is why the Arizona laws, and the other laws are coming about. Too much is too much and the immigration problem is being a problem that needs to be addressed with a firm hand. Illegal immigrants have taken advantage of this wishy washy policy. We need to build strong fences and welcome in immigrants with firm requirements like other countries. We have been taken advantage of for too long. That is why so many Americans are angry. Good fences make good neighbors. We cannot take care of all of you.

  13. Ricardo A. López on said:

    Constance, thanks for posting. I do understand the attitudes regarding crime; there is indeed a lot of crime surrounding border activity- mostly due to drugs- and something needs to be done about that. I must point out, however, that in the land of capitalism the activity is being fueled by the demand coming from our country. But putting that aside, it is not true that a large proportion of these Latino immigrants come here with criminal intentions. In fact, the vast majority are indeed seeking the American dream. What statistics are you referring to? If you are talking about the correlation of Latino geographies and crime propensity; that has a lot more to do with the lower socio-economic level of new Hispanic immigrants. Crime always correlate with lower socio-economic status regardless of ethnicity.

    I do like your quote “good fences make good neighbors.” :-)

  14. Jesse007 on said:

    Interesting points of view. A lot of scapegoating is taking place in Amereica right now. But the funny question is who would have the worst time in Arizona, JLo or Penelope Cruz? http://bit.ly/AgreeOrDisagree And would ity be due to race or attractiveness?

  15. John David on said:

    I am curious to know how Americans would feel if Canadians were living in Mexican conditions and started immigrating southward…

  16. JeannieBaldwin21 on said:

    Houses are expensive and not everybody can buy it. But, loans are invented to help people in such hard situations.

  17. Trisha West on said:

    I live in Florida. We use to have people come down from Canada in the winter. We called them snow birds. They bought winter homes or rented homes all winter long. Most of them I knew are gone. They speak English and a form of French. With the strong Spanish language take over here and culture changing so fast. Many stopped coming. Driven away by loss of an American feel they came to Florida for. I came up with I miss living in the USA and miss hearing English. From them. Some told me if they wanted to go to a Spanish speaking country/state/town … They would have went to another country. Canadians all but stopped coming down here.I have seen a change in who comes over to our mainly, Florida the tourist state and now calling it Florida the rudest state. People from some other country’s are no longer feeling safe or welcome here. Because of langue and culture. People are not coming together there forming lines and pushing away anyone who is different.

    We are coming to a point here where being to American is looked down on. Speaking English and voting for a democrat. Or being an independent. Way to American.

    The base to this is, you must speak Spanish or you have lost your heritage. Your forgetting who you are. But how about becoming who you could be. Why is it so bad becoming an Americana when you live in United States of America. You or your family came here of there own free will, how about that, heritage? How hard it was and why they came. Why come here and become an American if you don’t want to speak the language, or embrace what it means to be an American. Why are people starting to… call your own people out for speaking English. I don’t get Racism. But this looks a lot like it to me. I am hoping and praying this stops growing and people learn… but history can and will repeat its self if we let it…

  18. Elena Guillen on said:

    “Una mentira dicha muchas veces se vuelve una verdad”, and the truth is that the negative immigration rage is not an issue happening for no reason. It is like that because latinamerican do not behave well!
    I am from Venezuela, and recently moved from Florida to Georgia. I could not stand Florida anymore, because is not America anymore. When we come to the US to pursue the American Dream, we don’t do it because we pretend to bring the Latino mindset and just use it and adapt it to the US land. We do it because there is something wrong about our economical and political system and thus idionsicracy that is simply not right; otherwise, we would be pursuing our own american dream in our native Countries, dont you think? Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia or whatever country we came from.
    As far as I know, America was well founded and is the Country it is because of Christian values, and hardwork.I don’t remember reading but about quakers, pilgrims, and amish… Everybody standed for the same opportunities, and all the immigrants that came fom Europe respected the law, and had the conviction of making this place a better place to live. I don’t even talk about indian masacre and that stuff, because then it will be another topic here…
    Today, we hardly care about Christian values; immigrants come here pretending to much, and wanting americans to adapt to them. Why?????
    Why if this is not my country should I come here and ruin everything they have buildt in so many years.(Thats like going to a wedding, were no one invited you, and pretend to be welcomed and served Arepas, Empanadas and Enchiladas) America is simple, and is has different immigration laws, and ways to be legally in. But WE latinos: “VIVOS” with big “EGOS” we want to do it our way in this Country, go against the law and ruin everything.
    I’m sure that Asians,Italians, Greeks and Scandinavians are not pretending to make americans speak swedish, Chinese, Italian and so forth, as far as I know all of these people speak English or try!! Go to do your nails and you will see. So why should we be pretending them to do it??? Let’s think about it. Did we leave our Countries to live the American dream and keep building an exemplar nation? or did we come here to change this country and make it become like Latinoamerica??? If we want that then we have to go back there!!

  19. It is amazing the myths people believe about immigration of the (increasingly) distant past, and along with it the myths about the “founding” of the US. To assert that the immigrants (say) of the 19th century didn’t cause all sorts of upheaval is just an indication that one has not studied very deeply about US history. I won’t attempt to give a history lesson here, but off the top of my head I would suggest reading up about the Irish draft riots of the mid-19th century, or perhaps the Anarchist terrorism primarily of Italian immigrants of the early 20th century.

    In the interest of transparency I will admit to being a 1st generation Irish American. I will also admit to living for the past 15 years in Southern California where I have to say that I have found the Mexican-American immigrant poplulation to overwhelmingly be as nice and hardworking a selection of people I have ever encountered in my 50+ years.

  20. Why are there so many Americans against Latino immigration?

    @Terri on June 13, 2010 at 12:16 am said:…..

    Simply put you gave a good reason NOT to allow ILLEGAL immigrants with your analogy of white ‘illegal’ immigrants doing to Native American Indians ‘

    Actually I use that same analogy many times in the past in my fight against ‘amnesty’ for criminals who violate US laws then demand special privileges

    Whites did to Native Indians what ILLEGAL Immigrant Mexicans are doing to the USA.

    Whites eliminated their cultures, their languages, their history and pretty much everything about them, while taking their land and making them into 4th class citizens who live in prison camps called ‘reservations’

    Most schools now teach about Mexican culture, Spanish language, ignoring the same studies for Chinese, Russian, Irish and hundreds of other nationalities who make up the American Culture and population

    Are there any schools that teach any Native American languages? Only on reservations.

    Are there any schools that teach Spanish?
    every one of them do!

    How often do you ever see any Native Americans? Never

    How often do you see ILLEGAL immigrants from Mexico? hundreds of times each day. They are everywhere.

    Dis white immigrants want to embrace the Native Culture or customs when they came here ? NO!

    Do ILLEGAL Mexicans want to embrace the US Culture when they come here? NO! In fact last July 4th as we celebrated the US Liberation from England and flags flew all over the state and country, in the Latino areas near me that I must drive through daily, I saw only Mexican flags waving in defiance of the country they invaded with NO DESIRE to become a part of

    as JFK said “Ask NOT what your country can do for you! Ask what YOU can do for YOUR COUNTRY!”

    All I see are welfare cheats, criminals and invaders who do not want to be Americans. They want to be Mexicans living off untaxed incomes while collecting welfare .

    You want acceptance? Try doing something for the country you invaded, Get off welfare. Join the military, serve this country as I did and EARN the right to be here, instead of bitching and complaining and acting as if you are better or more important that other immigrants who wait in line for the privileged of coming to America.

    I have nothing against any Latinos except those who come here demanding rights they do not have, never tried earning and came here only by committing a serious criminal act. Unfortunately those are the current majority.

    You are no better than Chinese, Russian, German, Swiss, Nigerian, Arab or any other nationality people who go through the immigration process and wait years to come here LEGALLY!

    It’s your constant demands for automatic citizenship and your idiotic preaching as in the lame 1 sided fairy tale crying and whining in this story that piss off most Americans.

    Simply put I am tired of hearing you complaining while sucking up benefits paid for by MY TAX DOLLARS while I suffer a greatly reduced quality of life from paying the cost of your ILLEGAL invasion of my country.

    Instead of coming here as a polite intruder who wants to be accepted and wants to be an American, your people come here hand out demanding things you did NOTHING to deserve while costing American taxpayers billions a year in welfare, medical and other costs while you life fat and free. It’s your arrogant attitudes and constant demands that make Americans hate you!

    How would you you like it if I snuck into your home looking for a better life and you felt bad for me so helped me out and allowed me to stay, Then I brought a woman to live with me eating more of your food, using more electricity and taking up more space? Then we have a kid, then another and another each one adding to your grocery bill? Each hospital bill for prenatal,delivery and post natal care paid by you? You not footing the bills for school, clothing and all other costs one all while I work part time and contribute NOTHING to your expenses? Pretty soon my family will grow to the point we force you out of your own home .

    That’s you and your friends pal

    That’s why so many people like me went from acceptance to total disdain for ILLEGAL LATINO immigrants. There has never been anything like the attitudes of entitlement from any other group of people from any other country as there is from the ILLEGAL immigrant Latino’s.

    If you stop demanding and try to be a good neighbor and try to not cost the LEGAL immigrants and CITIZENS their hard earned pay you would be more welcome , but truthfully your people have generally acted like demanding spoiled little brats and it will take a lot of effort and reform by LATINO’S to ever be accepted by CITIZENS again as you once were.

    If you don’t like what I said , it’s only because the truth hurts doesn’t it..

    By the way one of my best friends in the US Army was Saul, a Mexican, who along with his beautiful wife Angie learned English, went to San Diego legally where he enlisted in the US Army for 4 years in a program that after completing his enlistment and getting an Honorable Discharge was given Citizenship for himself and his wife. I welcomed Saul as a good friend because he demanded nothing, instead he sacrificed and served and fought in Vietnam for his new country, Saul earned the right to come to this country LEGALLY and had a desire to be an American not like most Latino’s in the past 20 years who demand everything and give nothing

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