Undocumented: the Paranoia of Monsieur B


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“Federal and local authorities rounded up Mexican immigrants and their families at dance halls, markets, hospitals, theaters and parks, loading them onto vans and trains that dumped them on Mexican soil.…  A team of Immigration and Naturalization Service agents armed with guns and batons sealed off the small public park and herded 400 terrified men and women into waiting vans.”

These deportations took place during a time of economic depression, in the 1930s here in California [1].  Calls for a similar type of deportation, this time of the estimated at least 11 million of people residing in the U.S. without authorization, are persistently being made by people such as a frequent commenter of the Voice of Orange County (VOC) website.

His latest and refined claims are that unauthorized immigration is a significant reason that many Americans are having a difficult time finding work.  Jobs in the California economy in construction, manufacturing, hospitality, landscaping, maintenance, etc. are stolen by what he calls an invading force of foreign undocumented people. Our quality life is further deteriorated by overloading our educational, healthcare and jail systems, bringing blight to our neighborhoods, costing taxpayers billions of dollars. He considers undocumented the enemy (which is a softer term in comparison to his original characterization: domestic terrorists). Immigrants should have stayed in their countries to change the conditions forcing to emigrate. Anybody arguing that unauthorized immigration adds value to the economy is unpatriotic. His solution is to deport all undocumented people.[2]

These extreme anti-undocumented immigrant views are neither original nor new. They are part of a nationwide effort by groups, some of them overt racists, blaming immigrants for many of the country’s problems [3]. They are unwilling to consider the complexity of the causes and solutions to the immigration issue: among them, the exclusionary economic and political systems of the regions generating emigration, the history of the USA foreign policy,  the fluctuations of the US economy and the demand for labor.

Recent immigrants came over here not only  because of  the bad  conditions of their countries but also lured by the American Dream.  Others emigrated to escape genocide as in Guatemala, or civil wars as in Central America a few years ago. The ones who stayed  and fought to change their countries were considered subversive, radicals, and many brutally repressed. Some of them succeeded in being elected to lead their nations, as former guerrillas in Uruguay, El Salvador, Brazil.  Climate change may be the  cause of future immigration as extreme drought conditions  or the rise of the sea level could  force people to emigrate.

The impact of immigration on the average worker has been analyzed by the American Federation of Labor, and its conclusions debunk some of the myths of the anti-immigrant groups[4], such as that anti-immigrant politicians have the best interests of the American worker in mind. There is a correlation between hard economic times and anti-immigrant attitudes. The concentration of wealth and power, and the excessive income inequality [5], are one of the major, if not the major, reasons affecting  jobs and wages.

The immigration problem is not only confined to the USA. In France, the anti-immigrant forces got a significant parliamentary representation. The legitimate questions on immigration are not seriously discussed when it is framed in incendiary terms. It is irresponsible to advocate the deportation of millions of people as it will create an even major economic and humanitarian crisis. Comprehensive immigration reform is the sensible solution.

Footnotes Links:

1)http://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-raymond-rodriguez-20130707-story.html
2) http://www.voiceofoc.org/healthy_communities/health_news/article_22f2d070-f0f6-11e3-bc54-001a4bcf887a.html
3) http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2001/spring/blood-on-the-border/anti-immigration-
4) http://www.aflcio.org/content/download/3138/31512/immigration_myths_facts.pdf
5) http://robertreich.org/post/9789891366


About Ricardo Toro

Chilean native and Anaheim resident for several decades, who just recently got drawn into the great fray!