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Anti-Latino Hate Holds Up Immigration Reform As New Year Begins. By Roger Algase

Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.

Update, December 26, 5:45 am:

Three years ago, on December 6, 2010, two Latino leaders in Sonoma County, California, Laura Gonzales and David Rosas, wrote an opinion piece in the Press Democrat, a local newspaper, which is more relevant than ever to the stalled immigration reform issue today. It is well worth reading.

The article has the title: Latino leaders call for end of race-baiting

It was also signed by 20 other Latino leaders in Sonoma County. The link is:

The authors write:

"As community leaders, we refuse to remain silent while our people are stigmatized and dehumanized. 'Illegal immigrants" has become a code word for Latinos in California, and our nation. That many Latinos feel the same way as we do is witnessed in our voting patterns.

They continue:

"Recent polls by the Pew Hispanic Center and a Democracia USA survey found that three out of four Latinos have a bad impression of the GOP. mostly because of its hard stand against immigration policy and its support of Proposition 187...

Most Latinos believe that the differentiation between 'legal' and 'illegal' simply serves to mask prejudice against Latinos and is a cover to fan the flames of ethnic intolerance.

They conclude:

"As a nation of immigrants, the ancestors of immigrants, both documented and undocumented, none of us should stand by quietly while self-serving groups, candidates or political parties pound their hateful drums. The time has come to condemn race baiting campaign tactics and to support comprehensive national immigration reform that provides a pathway to citizenship."

Three years after the above was written, the shrill voices of anti-Latino hate are still fueling the movement to kill immigration reform and pursue the fantasy of deporting 11 million immigrants.

The remarks quoted below by immigration "analyst", Stephen Steinlight of the fiercely anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies, would make even an anti-Latino race-baiter such as Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) look like a moderate by comparison.

While it may be doubtful whether Steve King even takes his own comments about DREAMERS being "drug mules" seriously, there is nothing to laugh at in the pretentious, more academic sounding venom spewed out by Steinlight, as quoted in the following December 24 Washington Times column.

The following is my original post, which appeared on the morning of Christmas day:

As America celebrates the Christmas spirit of mutual love and good will among all people, the far right wing voices of hate against Latino immigrants are not taking any time off for the holiday. The latest example is a December 24 column by Joseph Collo in Washington Times Communities called This Christmas, the GOP Has a Big Problem With America's Hispanic Vote.

When I first saw the link to this column in the December 24 issue of Immigration Daily, I assumed that the article would be about the past and anticipated future electoral consequences for the Republicans of its three decades of anti-immigrant policies, including, most recently, the House leadership's blocking reform in 2013. This would have been in line with my own "blogging" in the same Immigration Daily issue.

However, when I read the Washington Times article, it turned out to be just another right wing extremist rant against Latinos.

The gist of Collo's column is that supporting immigration reform (which he refers to by the racist code word "amnesty") will not help the GOP win over Latino voters, because they are supposedly hostile to the Republicans for other reasons, including being anti-capitalist and anti-American.

Collo, (who claims to be the "conscience of a realist", even though both conscience and reality are conspicuous by their absence from his column), quotes Stephen Steinlight, of the notoriously immigrant-hating and misleadingly named Center for Immigration Studies, as follows concerning Republican support for legalization and immigration reform:

"GOP support for these positions doesn't cause Hispanics to vote Republican. The largest amnesty took place under President Reagan, yet Hispanics gave his successor, George H. W. Bush, only 30 per cent of their vote. Despite strong support for amnesty, neither George W. Bush nor John McCain came close to carrying the Hispanic vote."

This CIS "scholar" continues as follows, as quoted in the above article:

"Republicans seem incapable of learning that immigration isn't decisive. Hispanic hostility to the GOP reflects an unbridgeable divide over economic policy and the role of government. Hispanics are anti-capitalist and want a bigger government dispensing larger entitlement."

But Steinlight is not content merely to stigmatize Latinos as "takers" who only want government handouts. He also, in effect calls them anti-American for allegedly refusing to assimilate:

"The scale of Hispanic immigration has created a second Mexican nation within the US. A high percentage spends their lives within a cultural ghetto, a Hispanic archipelago that stretches nationwide, impeding assimilation, most reside in Mexican neighborhoods in informal apartheid."

Of course, no anti-immigrant hate remarks would be complete without expressing support for the openly racist 1924 immigration law which sought to cut off immigration by Jews, Italians, Eastern Europeans, Middle Easterners. and other non-Anglo-Saxon groups, who were considered to be racially inferior according to the prejudices of that time. (Most Asian immigrants were already barred by specific legislation against them enacted previously).

Steinlight is no exception:

"Another factor is the continuous nature of Hispanic immigration. The Great Waves stopped in 1924, giving immigrants 40 years to assimilate."

And in a concluding outburst of bigotry, Steinlight says the following about Latinos:

"Since assimilation is surrender to dominant culture supremacism, they've worked to destroy what promoted it. 'Americanization' classes are unthinkable; public schools no longer teach civics; American history is articulated as an apologia for alleged crimes. They've also banished the normative pluralism that taught immigrants to take pride in their roots but understand that a broader sense of patriotic belonging must be paramount."

It is ironic, that in his career as a supporter of tolerance toward America's Jewish community, Steinlight has strongly condemned xenophobia and nativist racism.

But immigrant-haters tend to have short memories. Steinlight, in his vile anti-Latino attacks dressed up in pseudo-academic language, seems to have forgotten that the canards of alleged refusal (or inability) to assimilate and lack of American patriotism have been used against every immigrant group, from the Irish and Chinese in the 19th Century, to Jews, Italians, Eastern Europeans and Asians in the 20th, and most recently, Latinos, Muslims and all immigrants of color in the 21st.

And, despite his commendable work in connection with the Holocaust memorial (according to his biography on the CIS website), Steinlight seems to have forgotten how anti-semitism during the 1930's led to thousands, if not millions, of Jews being denied refuge in the US from Nazi persecution. Many who were turned away from America died in Nazi concentration camps.

The 1924 immigration law which Steinlight now praises belongs without any question to the history of American anti-semitism, as well as hatred of many other "undesirable" and persecuted ethnic groups.

Nor is the resistance to demographic change which Steinlight has expressed in his other writings a service to America's Jewish community, which owes its existence to and has always stood for the fundamental American values of tolerance and racial equality.

While the overwhelming majority of Americans condemn the use of hate against immigrants and support reform, including legalization for 11 million people who are in the US without status, we must not forget that the biggest obstacles to immigration reform are prejudice against and negative stereotypes about Latinos and other minorities, including African-Americans, and not any rational economic or social considerations.

In this sense, anti-immigrant hate groups and their fellow-travelers may be doing the rest of us a service by reminding us of the real reason why immigration reform is being held up in the Tea Party-controlled House of Representatives, as we celebrate the Christmas season and prepare to enter the New Year. FELIZ NAVIDAD!

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Updated 12-26-2013 at 08:35 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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  1. Jack2's Avatar
    "the racist code word 'amnesty'"

    There is nothing racial in the definition of the word or even connotations of race. The complaint usually made by those who condone violation of immigration law is that the term is inaccurate due to there being conditions to legalization under CIR. But according to legal encyclopedias that I've seen, amnesty can be conditioned. Thus, "amnesty" is a fairly reasonable term to use in an immigration context especially considering that amnesty definitions often make reference to it being extended to whole classes of people (as opposed to individual pardons) and for political reasons. That sounds a lot like CIR, does it not?

    But because "amnesty" is not the most positive sounding compared to the open border lobby's favored euphemisms, e.g., "earned citizenship", they go nuts and only want their biased terms used. It is a common tactic of those who don't believe in immigration law or its enforcement to racialize in order to distract from the fact that legalization under CIR is a reward for illegality. No one can dispute that so they inject race with the hopes that people who are uncomfortable with rewarding illegality will not say anything. I tend to use "mass legalization" in lieu of "amnesty" because some people tend not to hear anything else you say once they see that word. Do you consider "mass legalization" a racial code term too? If not, why is "amnesty" racist, but "mass legalization" not?
  2. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    I agree that the word "amnesty" is not inherently racist. Everything depends on context.

    In the immigration reform context, "amnesty" is used almost excludively by people who hate and despise Latinos and people of color, and who do not want such people in the United States. The immigrant-haters know what they mean when they use this word.

    The rest of us should take them at face value.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
  3. Lynn Atherton Bloxham's Avatar
    Excellent article. This article covered the political as well as the historical background. Those who are so certain that additional immigrants will harm the economic situation need to broaden their reading to studies with which they think they disagree and see the hard facts. I am so disgusted with CIS for their pseudo research and sloppy statistical analysis. There are far more reputable research groups whose studies show no harm and actual benefits.

    As a Libertarian I could care less whether the Republicans gain some votes or not. However the narrow interests of many Democrats is pretty obvious also, particularly since they were negative toward immigrants for many years previously. There are many Democrats who still believe that immigrants take their jobs and lower wages.

    One cannot be a proponent of a market directed economy and individual liberty and support top down central planning on the movement of people, hiring of labor and the movement of goods and capital. The only moral position is to support the right of every individual to improve his lot in life. Freedom of Movement is the only ethical and consistent position to take.
  4. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    i want to thank Lynn Atherton Bloxham for her thoughtful and enlightened comment. Perhaps one area where liberals and conservatives can both agree in supporting freedom of movement is by recognizing it not only as a basic economic right, but also a basic human right.

    However, as with any basic right, there have to be reasonable limits. Even the strongest supporter of free speech will admit that there is no right to yell "fire" in a crowded theater. In the same way, one can be a supporter of free movement and immigrant rights without inviting the entire world to move to America with no restrictions.

    The question is not whether there should be limits on immigration, but what those limits should be, and how they can be enforced fairly and without turning the immigration system into just another vehicle for hate, persecution and discrimination against minorities, which is what most immigration opponents are trying to use the system for now.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
  5. Jack2's Avatar
    "the differentiation between 'legal' and 'illegal' simply serves to mask prejudice against Latinos and is a cover to fan the flames of ethnic intolerance."

    That is insulting. Children are taught from an early age to the follow rules of their parents and teachers. At some point they learn that society has rules known as law and that it is wrong to break them. They learn civics lessons that rule of law is fundamental to our system of government. If members of a society have zero respect for law, obviously that is a big problem. But if you think that immigration law should not be violated with impunity, you must be prejudiced against Latinos. Come on.
  6. Jack2's Avatar
    "The question is not whether there should be limits on immigration, but what those limits should be, and how they can be enforced fairly"

    The problem is that too many activists are against every existing or proposed enforcement scheme. Whatever it is, they will cite some issue but have no interest in addressing that issue--just scrap the whole program. When this happens over and over it comes off as simply bad faith--they just don't want to prevent illegal immigration or have any accountability to such law. They should just come clean about being for unlimited immigration but know that position is not popular. Thus, the deceptive excuses. Everyone should favor a "fair" enforcement process, but to some the only thing fair is a particular result--that virtually every alien always just be allowed to stay.
  7. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Once immigration opponents stop using the term "illegal immigrant" or "illegal alien" as a synonym for "Latino immigrant" or "non-white immigrant", it may be possible to have a constructive discussion between both sides about immigration reform.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
  8. Lynn Atherton Bloxham's Avatar
    An important element that the Immigration Attorneys to whom I have spoken have enlightened me so much is the total unworkable mess that now exists in the immigration system. Even if one wants the government to supervise immigration (I do not) but even if I concede there will be a transition period, the current situation is not even remotely workable.

    When I began reading and studying immigration law as a lay person, I was unprepared for the inefficiency, contradictory, non specific and arbitrary changes the regulations hold. It is simply a bureaucratic mess. Of course we have attorneys to try to untangle the mess but many have confessed it is an almost impossible situation.

    Probably more people need to realize the enormous revisions and reforms that desperately need to be made.
    To close: I think if I hear in a debate one more time, "I am only against illegal immigrants. They need to go back and get in line like my Grandpa did" I may just scream!
  9. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Lynn, this is right on point. If only all of us immigration attorneys, as well as immigration officials, judges, and, above all, the politicians who actually make the laws at all levels of government understood the immigration system as well as you do, America would be in much better shape. Thank you.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
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