Another Side to Race and Immigration

24 05 2008

I found this article that certainly reflects what I have been seeing in the news lately:

Black Commentator, Commentary, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Posted: Jul 29, 2007

Editor’s Note: U.S. immigration policies affect Irish and European immigrants as well as those from South and Central America, Africa and Asia. But it’s the Latino face that has become the poster child for promoting anti-immigrant platforms.

It really hit me in the 1980s while living in Boston. At that time the southern Irish economy was a complete mess. People were the greatest export from Ireland, and a lot of them were coming to the USA. At the same time, immigration from Haiti and the Dominican Republic was increasing, and into Boston these three groups came.

Documented or undocumented all three groups found themselves looking for work and housing. As a struggle for the rights of immigrants and against discrimination emerged, Haitians and Dominicans began to coalesce, but the Irish were a bit stand-offish. Immigrant rights activists were at first perplexed until they uncovered that the Irish were being encouraged by Irish American politicians to keep themselves separate from other immigrant groups because it was likely that a ‘special’ deal could be cut for them.

To put it another way, the Irish were being trained to become and accept becoming white.

The public face of immigration in the USA is not a rainbow; it is brown. Don’t get me wrong. People from Asia, Africa, Europe AND Latin America are migrating to the USA, among other places. Yet in the popular media the portrayal of the immigrant is usually that of a Latino. Periodically one sees the face of an Asian or African. Rarely, unless one is discussing the Russian mafia, does the European face of immigration come to be unveiled.

When you see the news report that they have apprehended undocumented or illegal immigrants during the ICE raids, look at the people they show, and then check the different nationalities that are included in those detained. They only show the ‘brown people’. Pay close attention the next time, who is in the pictures, who is being loaded onto the bus, and how many people of other racial groups are also being detained but are not being showed. Look at the pictures and footage on the news when the subject of immigration, legal or illegal, comes up, who do they show?

This deserves exploring. If one goes to New York City, for instance, one will find that East European immigrants have made significant in-roads in the construction industry as both documented and undocumented workers. In fact, much of the work that has been carried out to rid buildings of deadly asbestos has been carried out by East European and Latino immigrants. Yet, East European immigrants seem to be almost invisible.

Were there to be a serious discussion of immigration in the USA, it would have to address why there is a differential in treatment between East European and Latino immigrants in the public mind and in reality. There would need to be a discussion as to who is and who is not threatening the jobs of non-immigrants—if anyone. There would need to be a discussion as to why nearly 200,000,000 people have been in the process of migrating to places outside of their homelands and what that says about contemporary capitalism.

Yet those who scapegoat the Latino want no such discussion. As long as the face of immigration — documented and undocumented — is an ‘evil’ Latino, we are absorbed in a madness out of which there is no escape and for which there are no answers.

BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a labor and international writer and activist, and the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum.

For the full article go here

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7 responses

24 05 2008
dcbarton

the face of illegal aliens is latino for 2 reasons 1. the vast majority of illegal aliens in this country right now are latino, 2. the latinos are “in your face” illegal aliens, they insist on getting out in the public eye and on recieving benifits they don’t deserve. Nobody that I know of objects to immigrants(those that go through the proper channels and get the proper documentation), but most of this country objects to illeagal aliens. What that says about us is that we believe in the rule of law and knowing who is coming here and why

24 05 2008
zeezil

Following the law, abiding by the law and supporting the law is “work” that illegal aliens just won’t do. Two different groups have emerged in America today due to the effect of illegal immigration, those who have to obey the law (citizens) and those who don’t (illegal aliens).

Legalizing an illegal alien’s presence in America by rewarding their illegal behavior through amnesty is not the way to build a good system of law and order. It only invites more criminal activity and more avoidance of our laws.
We tried ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ in 1986. We gave amnesty to 3 million illegal aliens in exchange for the government promising to secure the borders, conduct workplace enforcement and enforce immigration law. It didn’t work because the government lied and did nothing other than process the amnesty paperwork. Due to that folly, we now have 20 Million or more illegal aliens here demanding amnesty. Don’t you think it is far beyond time that we engage in Comprehensive Immigration ENFORCEMENT rather than Comprehensive Immigration Reform?

Get on the phone, fax and e-mail your Senators and Representatives and DEMAND that they engage in Comprehensive Immigration Enforcement, not reform that awards amnesty.

24 05 2008
zeezil

I find it completely ludicrous that some Hispanics and their supporter’s claim that enforcement of our immigration laws (and those of us that support that enforcement) are racist, xenophobic and anit-hispanic. This has no basis in fact, since illegal immigrants are comprised of many nationalities. It is true, though, that 75-80% of illegal immigrants are Hispanic, which is due largely to Latin America’s proximity to our borders. If these Hispanics that cry racism because the vast majority of Americans are against ALL illegal immigration want to feel “less persecuted”, stop invading our country. By doing so you will have removed yourselves from the equation and issue.

However, you will still see the vast majority of Americans against ALL illegal immigration, with no regard to race, culture or ethnicity.

27 05 2008
mrsblack

I read some of the comments and I love how everyone tries to justify the fact that people are being treated cruelly here in America. Why is it that the Mexican is the only illegal people that are being HUNTED and showcased on every news channel? When will we crack down on all the others Irish, Russian, African, and so many others illegals?
If anyone has a right to be here, it would be the people of Mexico who were pushed off their land to accommodate the rest of us other immigrants. LOL Karma! Spain comes and “finds” a world not lost, Europeans come and then original peoples are moved to corners and land that suck (sorry Native American Indians) then when they want to come back people Bitch!
We make room for everyone here in the USA everyone gets a chance at a better life. Papers or not, people deserve to be treated with respect and if there are jobs here that no one else wants to do, then someone needs to do them. Why not a Mexican person with a family who needs to eat? Would you let a green card or laws stop you from feeding your family? Well thank the US that you aren’t in that situation, but there are people on this planet that do not have the luxury to be US.

Mrs. Black

30 05 2008
dcbarton

Immigration policy applies to people of all nations, not just Mexicans. Mexicans get the press because they are the ones who come in the greatest numbers, over 70% of illegal aliens are Mexican. They aren’t really coming “back”. The Mexican people who were here when we came have always been here, and are still here now. They are called Americans. As far as letting green cards or laws stop you from feeding your families, not everyone who comes here comes illiegaly. Most people who come here, respect and obey our immigration laws. I don’t know of anyone in this country that objects to people coming here legally, we only object to those who sneak in. Another good point would be “hypocrisy”, look at how Mexico handles illegals that come across their southern border, then consider how they expevt us to handle them when they come here.

3 06 2008
unpredictably

Unpredictably says : I absolutely agree with this !

20 06 2008
Lightish

Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

cheers, Lightish!

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