IN RESPONSE TO AUNT B.’S POST ABOUT IMMIGRATION
(said post is here)
The more I read this argument that focuses on ‘illegal immigrants’ having invalidated their humanity here for having broken the law by just entering the country, the more I feel that the argument is just a carefully constructed cop-out. I understand why it has so much resonance, though.
Aunt B., I think this is about more than just physical safety. That is the bogeyman that gets trumped up in these arguments, and your observation of the typically light penalty for the ‘crime’ of entering this country off the books is proof that the issue is something other than physical security.
The immigration phenomenon is an integral component of a complex continuum of social and economic factors upon which we all have an impact (‘illegal’ immigrants and citizens alike). We as U.S. citizens are collectively reaping the most benefits from this continuum. The migrants are generally at the lean end of it.
The devil’s in the details, though. There is massive financial inequity within our republic, and that inequity creates feelings of insecurity for many if not most of us. Instead of confronting that inequity– indeed at the global as well as the national level– many of us seem content to pick on those who are even more vulnerable than ourselves.
I think there is something mentally and morally sick about this approach: we are willing to demonize or marginalize someone with next to nothing who’s willing to go through the effort and risk of travelling thousands of miles into unwelcome territory in order to work hard for a slightly better life while, on the other hand, we glorify and protect the privilege of those whose monumental excess is usually built and maintained at our own expense (and that of the migrants).
That we support this approach with an arbitrary, capricious, unjust, and often inhumane mechanism of laws and enforcement makes it even worse. (If you don’t think these mechanisms are unjust and inhumane by nature, then look at this and this.)
So, yes, I agree with you, Aunt B., that this is largely about people looking for scapegoats for their anger and frustration. But it is not for something so forgiveable as concern for their immediate physical security.
In the autumn of Imperial America we are a nation of spoiled, easily frightened brats who are unwilling to invest sufficient mental and moral energy into addressing the complex problems with which we are faced. We want our cheap gas and our cheap food, dammit, and in the end we really don’t care how many foreign brown people have to have their homes leveled, their families torn apart, and their lives forfeit in order for us to get our fix. God help anyone who suggests that our ‘way of life’ is the core of the problem.