I’d be lying if I said I trust either Democrats or Republicans on the issue of immigration. I trust immigrants because they are my neighbors, they are my students, they are my clients, they are my peers, they are my friends. And they tend to work hard and yet be maligned, mistreated, marginalized, caught in the undertow of oppressive and misleading immigration policies. But if I’ve found one thing to be true in the corridors of politics, it’s this: If you sign a pledge with racist anti-immigrant groups like Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), you don’t deserve to be in a position of power. Fortunately, it seems that several Americans have agreed as the majority of anti-immigrant Republicans who’ve signed a “no amnesty for immigrants” FAIR pledge lost their primaries during the last two weeks to Republicans who did not sign.
You may remember the White Nativist group FAIR from its roles in such nasty racist laws as Arizona’s unconstitutional SB1070. Perhaps you remember it for trying to repeal the birthright provision of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.
Historic hate group watchdog Southern Poverty Law Center has an entire page on FAIR and several for its leaders and associates, many of whom are directly tied to White Supremacist hate groups. SPLC notes that though FAIR has a respectable veneer which allows them to speak and lobby on immigration issues in front of Congress:
FAIR leaders have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists and have made many racist statements. Its advertisements have been rejected because of racist content. FAIR’s founder, John Tanton, has expressed his wish that America remain a majority-white population: a goal to be achieved, presumably, by limiting the number of nonwhites who enter the country.
FAIR also has had as its councilor Kris Kobach, the author of SB1070 and the architect of Mitt Romney’s “self-deport” immigration policy. Kobach has written or advised several state and city laws criminalizing and targeting immigrants – laws meant to stretch sovereignty of the state over the federal government at the expense of undocumented citizens and migrants.
Do we need to remind these politicians of the risks that immigrants take coming to this country, particularly if they come in through the south? People leave Mexico and other native lands for important reasons – they risk much to come here often to find a very hostile land. For example, in Arizona, migrants cross the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation to enter the cities and mainstream US for work and transport. Tohono O’odham is a desert region of more than 4,000 square miles, so if travelers aren’t hydrated, they could easily die. Merciful people leave up watering stations throughout, only to find those stations destroyed by anti-immigrant sociopaths. In the period of just between August 2011 to April 2012, 88 migrants died in that area.
This doesn’t count the struggles of living in fear of deportation – which keeps crime victimization high in immigrant communities as few want to talk. I know people who stayed home due to stress and lack of a goal until President Obama got on the air to talk about reasonable changes in immigration policies. Then they went back to school and to work. Isn’t that a good thing? Isn’t that what this country keeps asking of its own people? Just because a person isn’t documented does not mean he or she does not act as a citizen, particularly when the desire is there – particularly when they’ve lived here for five, ten, fifteen, twenty, forty years. The only memories some undocumented people have are here in the United States. This is home. To hold up workers and students under threat of detainment and deportation is to lose productivity and to shutter lives in fear. I refuse to see how either Democrats or Republicans can get behind that. I cannot see how this is the good of America.
But FAIR seems to think this necessary. In one of the questions on their pledge, they link the needs of guest workers with rising youth unemployment and welfare rolls (neither of which have anything to do with immigrants “takin’ ar jobz“). They demand that signers work toward denying immigrants any foothold in the land of immigrants.
So it’s a good thing that 21 out of 23 pledge signers in a race with a non-signer lost to the non-signer. Though we should never confuse correlation with causation, a 90+% success rate indicates good things. It shows that maybe there is some hope in the Republican party after all – maybe even in humanity. And perhaps that only the most desperate can be so cruel.
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