...and now the conclusion to "Dirty Words," part 1.
Word of Caution: Please take my following words with a spoonful of sarcasm.
3. Immigrant / Illegal Immigrant
Ever since illegal immigration became a hot-button issue (right around September 11th), our nation has gone from focusing on how "those Muslim terrorists" got into our great nation to diverting their attention to all the illegal crossing of the Mexican border. It still perplexes me that a lot of Americans consider this issue to be in crisis mode. I think the mass media exaggerating a lot and leading us to believe that all of these illegals are crossing the border and stealing jobs from our dear blue collar workers. Oh, wait, don't most people from Ohio believe that NAFTA is the ruining their economy. I don't think we should be so quick to blame Mexico for all of our problems just yet. There is plenty of room for policy reform. Coincidentally, I am also prepping for a class debate tomorrow over multinational corporations and the "race to the bottom." Just Google "race to the bottom" + NAFTA for some fun!
Now, back to the issue at hand. Ever since immigration became this big problem, we went back to the good-old American pastime of hating foreigners/people different from you. Never mind the fact that many Americans trace their ancestry to other European nations. It's different this time around because once all those previous immigrants assimilated. Plus, once they got over the language differences and mostly suppressed their former identities**, they all realized they were White (and Christian) so they shouldn't hate each other too much.
This time around these immigrants don't want to assimilate. They want to speak their native language and (maybe, some broken) English. They want to exhaust all these social service programs such as welfare and section 8 housing but not actually contribute to society in a productive manner. And some of them don't even want to bother with the formal, red-tape ridden process of naturalization. So instead of applying for a resident alien card (aka green card), they "cross the border" and come steal our jobs. It's as simple as that.
I read somewhere (probably CNN) that only 56% of illegal immigration occurs through the Mexican border. So, where does the other 44% occur? Well, from deduction, it would have to be through airports, by boat and the Canadian border. By the way, we should care more about that Canadian border more since some of those terrorists crossed it before they blew some of our building up on Sept. 11th. Instead of getting our panties up in a bunch over putting a ridiculous fence across the Mexican border, we should worry about other issues. Why are these men, women, and children from risking their lives to illegally enter the United States? What socioeconomic, environmental and political issues are plaguing their home nations? What can we as American citizens do to improve our relations with Latin America? How can we secure our borders without making us intolerant to those different from us? Those are the real questions we should be asking ourselves.
Oh, and I do take offense to people linking the words "immigrant" and "illegal" to Latinos. As a Latina woman, I can attest to the fact that immigration is an important issue to our people in this election cycle, but it is NOT the only thing we care about. And we don't particularly enjoy being considered a voting block either. There are 20 countries that make up Latin America (21 if you include Spain). How could it be possible that Latinos are going to vote the same? Just because we speak variants of the same Spanish language does not mean we feel the same about certain political issues. To assume that all Latinos are the same is equal to suggesting that all English-speaking are a voting block, too.
It is ignorant to hate others simply because they are of different national origin than you. You cannot pick where in the world you are born, just as you cannot choose what color your skin is or what gender you are born into. It is also ignorant to assume that all Latinos are illegal immigrants. Many came here legally. Many Latinos are also second and third-generation Americans. Many of those also can't speak Spanish. But what links all of us is our love for our shared sense of culture and past. Of course, Americans have their own hilarious culture, too. I think it is a testament to how great this nation is that so many people from around the world would risk everything just to live here. Go America!
That concludes this discussion on "Dirty Words". Did I leave any good, juicy ones out?
Leave a comment.
-Jade, The Intern
**well, you know that isn't true...especially with Italian-Americans and Irish-Americans. On a side note, Happy Saint Patrick's Day! :)