Xenophobia


Back to Allentown, PA: The Morning Call calls out Mayor Barletta, noting that Pennsylvania has nowhere near the problem with illegal immigrants as other states.

The article [in State Legislatures] contained data about the extent of immigration — both legal and illegal — throughout the nation. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, Pennsylvania was one of the states with the largest growth in legal immigrants between 2000 and 2005. The state’s immigrant population increased nearly 47 percent in that period, from 364,000 to 534,000. In a state of 12.4 million, that means there’s one legal immigrant for every 23 Pennsylvanians. When it comes to illegal immigrants, according the Department of Homeland Security, Pennsylvania doesn’t even rank in the top 10 states which account for about 8 million of the estimated 11 million illegal aliens.

Obviously, the writer does not want to say that illegal immigrants are not found in Pennsylvania. The state, however, has a much smaller percentage of illegal immigrants; short-falls in resources cannot be attributed solely to them. It’s more likely that some border states, like New Mexico and Arizona, with much smaller populations would have more legitimate gripes. Moreover, if a smaller influx of new people causes such short-falls, what is wrong with Pennsylvania’s (and even Allentown’s) public services?

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One (among many) of the problems I have with Minutemen-like movements is that their claim the enforce American law just covers for breaking the law.  Not just passive watchers over the landscape with binoculars and cellphones in hand, they come with guns, prepared to confront and threaten those who dare cross the border.  The NY Times looks at one of these vigilantes, Roger Barnett, and the effort to bring him to justice.

Immigrant rights groups have filed lawsuits, accusing him of harassing and unlawfully imprisoning people he has confronted on his ranch near Douglas. One suit pending in federal court accuses him, his wife and his brother of pointing guns at 16 illegal immigrants they intercepted, threatening them with dogs and kicking one woman in the group.

Another suit, accusing Mr. Barnett of threatening two Mexican-American hunters and three young children with an assault rifle and insulting them with racial epithets, ended Wednesday night in Bisbee with a jury awarding the hunters $98,750 in damages. …
A few years ago, however, the Border Action Network and its allied groups began collecting testimony from illegal immigrants and others who had had confrontations with Mr. Barnett.

They included the hunters, who sued Mr. Barnett for unlawful detention, emotional distress and other claims, and sought at least $200,000. Ronald Morales; his father, Arturo; Ronald Morales’s two daughters, ages 9 and 11; and an 11-year-old friend said Mr. Barnett, his brother Donald and his wife, Barbara, confronted them Oct. 30, 2004.

Ronald Morales testified that Mr. Barnett used expletives and ethnically derogatory remarks as he sought to kick them off state-owned property he leases. Then, Mr. Morales said, Mr. Barnett pulled an AR-15 assault rifle from his truck and pointed it at them as they drove off, traumatizing the girls.

Barnett’s own mentality betrays  any recourse to claim to act in the name of the law:

For your children, for our future, that’s why we need to stop them.  If we don’t step in for your children, I don’t know who is expected to step in.

For our children–this has overtones of eugenics and racial science.  He is claiming that illegal immigration will create an inheritable problem.  It is a problem that, as he sees it, is worth controvening law, even morality, in order to stop.

I love Family Guy.

Power of the Purse: Some immigrants in the US are attempting a “remittance boycott” to force the Mexican government to change is approach to Oaxaca. If successful, will immigrants become a voice for reform in their former country?

“Our voice is our money! Stop the repression!” Written on Spanish-language fliers distributed in downtown Los Angeles, the slogans urged Mexicans working in the United States to stop sending money home for three days to protest the Mexican government’s crackdown on dissenters in the southern state of Oaxaca.

If money talks, the Saturday-to-Monday boycott has the potential to speak volumes. Workers in the U.S. who are from Latin America send their relatives back home an average of $300 a month, or about 10 percent of their incomes, according to an October study by the Inter-American Development Bank.

(more…)

A few things struck me about the 60 Minutes‘ piece on Lou Barletta (the mayor of Hazelton, PA) and his anti-immigrant legislation. First, and most obviously, he is unconcerned that the laws asks employers and landlords to become vigilantes, taking the law into their hands to achieve his crusade. Two, he is unconcerned that his legislation has produced a backlash against all immigrants, not just illegal immigrants (thus it can rightly be called anti-immigrant). Not only are businesses that serve the Spanish-speaking community closing up, they are being threatened to do so. When asked if his legislation undermined all immigrants regardless of origin, he only professed the righteousness of anti-immigration policy. He is perfectly comfortable with legal immigrants being harmed.

The third thing that I noted was that formula: if they are here illegally, they have no right to be here. One of Hazelton’s citizens said this in an interview in a cafe. Is her logic, so simple, shared by so many, really valid?

If I drive illegally, do I have no right to drive? If I drink illegally, do I have no right to drink? If I have sex illegally, do I have no right to sex? None of those questions has a direct answer. Most traffic violations are either overlooked, or receive light penalies. In extreme cases, a driver’s license can be revoked. Drinking underage does not suspend one’s right to drink after age 21. And in many cases, laws against sodomy–aimed at homosexuals–were allowed to lapse into oblivion, unenforced, even if they remained on the books.

Doing X illegally does not preclude one from continuing to, or doing so in the future. Indeed, there is a whole list of legislation that is enforced unevenly, at best. Many such laws are misdemeanors, not felonies. And immigrating to the US illegally is not a felony.