Thursday, June 3, 2010

Persecuting Immigrants. Give Peace a chance!

Persecuting Immigrants. Give peace a Chance.

Undocumented immigration creates real problems.

There are millions upon million desperately poor people in Latin America. Will they all come to the US sooner or later?

Undocumented workers make very little money. If US employers can get the work done by workers paid  a lot less than minimum wage, that will have a negative effect of on the wages of American low wage workers and reduce their employment possibilities.

Workers, whether undocumented or legal, pay taxes. But the people who earn desperately little pay very low taxes. Iif their children, especially the American born children, go to school, get free lunches or other services, that tends to cost more than these parents put in when they pay taxes.

Undocumented workers are in the country illegally. We need to enforce the laws we have.

But a lot of the heated discussion about immigration does not stem from an attempt to face and resolve these and other problems. It originates instead in hysterical xenophobia. This is proved by the following hair raising quotes:

Consider the great increase in hepatitis A and B, drug resistant tuberculosis, and leprosy. Think about this the next time you go out to eat at a restaurant that hires illegals that sweat into your soup!”

State Rep. John Kavanagh [An Arizona legislator ], a co-sponsor of the [Arizona anti-immigrant] law, said of illegal immigrants, "They bring a lot of crime with them."

One of the clinching arguments for Arizona’s tough new law aimed at illegal immigration has been the perception in that state that crime has been rising, and that undocumented workers are largely to blame. Yet the Journal reports that the incidence of violent crime in Phoenix last year plunged 16.6 percent compared to 2008, a rate of decline that was three times the national average.”

People who fear immigrants believe that undocumented immigrants are diseased and will pass their diseases on to US citizens. They are criminals, a threat to all citizens. Folks believe that even though the Arizona crime rate has gone down more than the national average.

This is crazy, right? The actual differences between us and the people perceived as different is not as important as what differences people “see”--that is, actually, imagine.

We need to notice that this is a world-wide phenomenon. Anti-immigrant parties have gained in several European Countries. The President of France, Sarkozy, has been in a big sweat for several years about women wearing head scarves. It is “un-French” he thinks.

Let us also remember what white Americans used to believe about all African-Americans. Or how during World War II we interned all Japanese-Americans, even if their sons were serving in the US Army, because we did not trust their loyalty to the US.

There are currently 30,000 non citizens in the US military. Some of them after fighting bravely in Vietnam, the Gulf War, or Iraq, come back to the US and get into trouble, as happens to a significant number of combat veterans. Non-citizen vets are deported to the country of origin while their friends and family are all in the US..

These are some cases of xenophobia. All nations, all historical periods, seem to be affected by it. It clearly plays a role in the current immigration debate.

For those of us who are hoping and working for a more peaceful world, this should be a matter of grave concern. As long as nations will again and again succumb to fear of the perceived stranger, there is no hope for world peace. There is not even hope for peace at home.

Think about that the next time you hold hands with a stranger singing “Give Peace a Chance.” The first step towards world-peace is to overcome this blind fear of people whom we regard as different and whom we believe without any evidence to be a threat to our security.

Many people think that xenophobia will always be with us. “Its human nature, “ they say. But it is of course not human nature because not all of us are xenophobic. One can overcome the tendency to fear that shadowy stranger.

But how will humanity rid itself of this scourge? We would be better served by leaders who devoted resources to studying this question instead of pandering to these fear as our politicians are doing today.