We’ve commented previously on the HP about states introducing unconstitutional voting restriction laws, nominally meant to stop voter fraud (which has never been proven as chronic or widespread), but really meant to target and deport immigrants. These include requiring voters to have a government-issued photo ID at the polls. Now the Times is reporting laws being passed in Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina that basically create a police state in which anyone who “looks foreign” and can’t produce ID can be arrested and, if an immigrant—even a legal one—deported.
According to the editorial, these laws include removing illegal immigrants working under the table, reporting students who are immigrants or even American-born children of immigrants. Why target Americans who have immigrant relatives? Because other laws make it illegal to give an undocumented immigrant a ride in your car. By making native-born citizens afraid of immigrants and their native-born American children, these laws create a clear criminal class of immigrants and their friends and relatives.
To what end? I think the author puts it well: “It has long been clear that America is suffering for lack of a well-functioning immigration system that better protects workers and families, promotes lawfulness at the border and in the workplace, and gives hardworking people a path to legality. Congress’s inaction has let the states run amok with their own destructive ideas. Supporters insist they are only trying to enforce the law. But trying to catch and deport 11 million people is lunacy. The damage to this country — its citizens and its laws — is enormous.”
Trying to find illegal immigrants by terrorizing everyone in the U.S. is not only impractical and guaranteed to fail, it’s un-American. And since the people usually behind these laws say they must protect the American way from immigrants, you would think they would be the most resistant to passing any un-American laws. But the authors and promoters of these laws are the most un-American of people, and so hardly fit to decide who is a threat to our nation.
The U.S. has gone through many cycles of immigrant fear. In the 1850s it was the dirty Irish ruining the country. In the 1890s it was the hideous Chinese. In the 1920s it was the barbaric eastern Europeans. Now it is the lawless Mexicans (and all Latin Americans) who will destroy our country for the sheer fun of it. To reiterate a statement from our earlier post “Illegal Immigration must be stopped!”, the U.S. has made it harder to enter this country legally and get a green card or citizenship than ever before in its history, and that is the only reason why we have so many illegal immigrants today:
“If we reverted to our earlier, extremely simple requirements for entering the country and becoming a citizen, we would not have illegal immigrants. If we choose not to go back to the earlier requirements, we have to explain why. The usual explanation is that if we made it as simple now as it once was to enter this country and become a citizen, the U.S. would be “flooded” with “waves” of Latin Americans, poor and non-English-speaking, ruining the country. Which is exactly the argument that has always been made against immigrants, be they Irish, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, etc. Each group is going to destroy the country and American culture and society. It never seems to happen.
But it might happen now, with Latin American immigrants, not because they will destroy the country but because those in the U.S. who are so afraid of them will rip the country apart trying to keep them out. Taking the long view, I can say there’s hope that that won’t happen. But it will take a good fight to get all Americans to realize that the key to this nation’s success has always been the open-door policy.
Immigration will always be with us—thank goodness! The only informed position on the challenges it poses is a historically informed position.”
It was true before, and it’s still true now.