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Color and immigration

April 6, 2006

Americans are deeply divided over the subject of immigration and this fact is brought clearly into view by the current debate in Congress.

The proposed immigration bill has folks on both sides of the aisle in Congress polarized on this issue. Liberals are no more than conservatives on immigration policy. Latinos, Asians and the descendents of recent immigrants, among both Democrats and Republicans, tend to oppose the bill that would set harsh penalties for illegal immigrants and those who aid them.

And the amount of 'assistance' to these immigrants that qualifies as illegal has many worried.

Labor unions and a substantial segment of the African American community, with the exception of recent immigrants from the Caribbean and Africa, are more sympathetic to the bill among traditional liberals.

Also, conservatives and liberals whose business interests depend on immigrants as low-paid workers tend to oppose the harsher aspects of the proposed legislation.

America has long depended on immigrant labor, and too long illegalized these workers who carry the load that most Americans are unwilling to bear.

Historically, America has favored immigration from Europe and Canada while erecting a color barrier to other nations and particularly to Latin America and the Caribbean to the South.

Most people today know that illegal workers are not only tolerated, but they are essential to the efficient functioning of the economy. I call them illegal simply because the U.S. has refused to grant them legal status.

One can nitpick all day about legality or the 'rule of law,' but in reality that's just a lot of hot air. The slaves who escaped bondage using the underground railroad technically were breaking the law.

When you look below the surface, the hypocrisy involved is obvious. The country uses these people for their labor in no small way and then treats them as criminals, saving on the costs of citizenship benefits in the process.

A favorable side effect of the congressional debate comes from the massive mobilization that brought hundreds of thousands of people into the streets in protest. These are people or the descendents of people who have spilled their blood, sweat and tears into this soil, many who simply wanted to survive or succeed.

In many nations today we see this same phenomenon of 'demographic wars.' People who look at population statistics and projections and create 'doomsday' scenarios with a crunch of the data. Humanity may be justified in fearing this demographic hysteria. It allows the imagination to go wild.

People flow from one region to another based on need and circumstance. They have done this since the beginning of time. There is no humane means of stopping this natural phenomenon unless you address the root cause. In this specific situation, the immigrant is simply carried by the winds of fortune, by the vacuum created after centuries of color-oriented policy, and is not worthy of blame.

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