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Thursday, Feb 12, 2009, 9:03 pm

Immigration Policy Must Inspire Allegiance, Not Anger

By Nezua

George W. Bush told the world that the US was targeted for 9/11 because "we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world." And as President Obama said in his inaugural address:
The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.
On this week's Immigration Wire, we examine approaches to immigration that do nothing to synchronize real-life America with the America in songs and storybooks. Law ought to match ideal. If Law means anything at all, it is because it is a symbol of Truth. And if these eloquent words spoken by two Presidents attempt to declare the true United States of America, then why are our government's actions causing children to suddenly alter their life plans in ways that position them as adversaries? (video via RaceWire):
Not that becoming an attorney dedicated to helping the unprotected isn't a good career plan. But as we see from the video, this child's choice is born from anger at witnessed injustice. This should not be our legacy. People are migrating North, and then South again. Just as those who live South of the Rio Grand/Rio Bravo do from season to season. How many who blame the immigrant community for so many of our troubles realize that (at least of the Mexican/Guatemalan/Latin American migrants) they wouldn't put down roots if the border weren't so militarized? A nation that wishes to be The Land of the Free does not place fences above families, their property or their traditions.
As President Barack Obama champions change in Washington, D.C., Eloisa Tamez waits to see whether an 18-foot steel and concrete wall will be built in her backyard. The Department of Homeland Security has already taken Tamez to court in an effort to condemn a piece of property, a mile inland from the Rio Grande, that has been in her family since the 18th century. —The Texas Observer, Back to the Wall, Feb. 6
Beacons shine. Beacons don't cheat numbers and target the vulnerable to justify their own budgets and existence.
Bloated federal funding and political pressure pushed a U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement program to meet arrest quotas rather than focus on rounding up criminal fugitives and addressing national security threats, says a damning new report on the controversial agency. —Colorado Independent, ICE fugitive unit inflating arrests with non-criminal immigrants , Feb. 10
And extending opportunity to every willing heart looks nothing like this:
Just as the Department of Homeland Security announces a review of the program that unleashed [Sheriff Joe Arpaio's] police department on non-criminal immigrants, he pulls this stunt. Marching chained immigrants awaiting trial through the public square on their way to a tent city prison is a new low, even for him. —New America Media, Sheriff Joe Arpaio Marches Immigrants Through Public Square, Feb. 10
These kinds of treatment are not just or necessary. What would be the motivation for a person in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's position to do such things? According to Truthdig this lawman has "became well known for making inmates wear pink underwear, housing them in tents and feeding them green-colored food." As New America Media reported almost two years ago, Beacons of Liberty do not devastate families to pressure lawmakers to enact programs which are, in essence, modern day slavery. A nation that wishes to inspire allegiance does not scapegoat or hunt the least protected members of its populace, as has happened to the immigrant community, and by extension to the Latino community, as well.
"Local police making Latinos and immigrants feel unwelcome in reporting crimes, local politicians speaking out against Latinos and immigrants contribute to the increased level of violence against Latinos and immigrants," Foster Maer, a senior attorney at Latino Justice who filed a civil rights complaint against the Suffolk, Long Island police in November of 2008. —ipsnews.net, Immigrants Scapegoated as Economy Teeters, January 26
And who can argue against being humane to children who are wandering the world on their own, trying to find health and happiness?
Each year, tens of thousands of such children cross the border without papers and without their parents. They are caught up in our immigration system and too often mistreated, denied basic rights and expected to take on responsibilities well beyond their years. —The Progressive, Unaccompanied immigrant children deserve protection, February 4
Current approaches to migrants and their families do not inspire others to look at the United States with admiration or respect. These actions alienate millions of people and engender an accumulating pool of pain amongst people who only want what the "American Dream" ideally offers all of us. It seems like common sense. But it will take many voices and energies to shift this trend. We cannot place all our expectation and hope for change at the feet of Barack Obama and go about our lives. Nor can we blame Republicans alone for the arc that we've taken in regards to human rights and the abuse of immigrants.
Those who blame the recent Republican administration for the mess in the detention centers should be reminded that these laws were passed in 1996 and signed into law by President Clinton, who was desperately trying to court conservative voters after the Democratic congressional losses in 1994. The law doubled the number of immigrants in detention; the number grew swiftly after the Bush administration moved against immigrants after Sept. 11, 2001. —Truthdig, Obama’s Immigration Conundrum, February 7
But the time that George W. Bush brought to life—the era of Fear of Other—ought to be attacked with vigor. We must tear away the veil of xenophobia with an equal passion. One fueled by love and positivity; with a freedom that knows no boundary, and an inclusiveness that only makes us stronger.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration. Visit Immigration.NewsLadder.net for a complete list of articles on immigration, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy and health issues, check out Economy.NewsLadder.net and Healthcare.NewsLadder.net. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and was created by NewsLadder.
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