On Rational Discourse

04.28.10 | 4 Comments

I’ll admit that I’m disappointed in the “discourse” related to Arizona’s new law related to illegal immigrants. Here are a few recent examples:

[This is the result of allowing] racists into positions of power.


I had hoped that our Governor and law-makers would listen to their consciences and not be swayed by the voices of bigotry and racism. With the Governor’s signing of SB 1070, it seems that for now the advocates of fear and hatred have won over those of charity and love.

I’ve seen variations on this commentary repeated several times by many different people. It’s disappointing because it almost completely precludes the option for dialog. Once the “racisim card” is played, it means listening is over and a judgement has already been passed. There can be no national dialog on immigration reform when the first words are name-calling and demonization. However, if we lived in a society that favored rational discourse, I would pose the following questions.

Is there value in having national borders and controlling who belongs within one’s borders? Are borders an outdated concept, or do they still serve a useful purpose?

If the federal government decided to completely open our borders and stop all attempts to regulate who or what enters our country, what would be the outcome? And what would be the outcome of that? Follow the chain two more steps, then repeat the exercise with two other initial outcomes.

Assume that the Arizona law is NOT institutionalized racism and that it is an attempt to solve a problem. What do you perceive to be the problem, and what would be better solutions?

If race and immigration are inexorably linked, is there any way to talk about controlling immigration without appearing to be race biased? Or does immigration control automatically mean racism?

You probably know where I fall on the issue, and if you want to call me a racist then there’s nothing I can do to budge you from that mental sloth. Sure, I’m part Hispanic and sure I enrolled my eldest child in my school district’s dual-language program so that 80-90% of his instruction would be in Spanish, but those are just inconvenient details. Let the name-calling resume.

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Comment by Jason
2010-04-28 13:50:14

You are the least racist person I know. I'm all for legal, controlled immigration. With our current situation, there is no telling what is coming across the boarder. Ask anyone who is for open boarders if they lock their house. They will quickly say that "that's different". A country can't have sovereignty without secured boarders.

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Comment by Brendan
2010-04-28 21:51:42

The bill's 17 pages, and there are only 2 paragraphs that I have any disagreement with (the ones that let cops make a judgment call to turn a traffic violation into an arrestable offense based on what boils down to a gut reaction). I'm entirely in favor of immigrants coming into the country and becoming citizens. I grew up in Southern California and at least half of the people I interacted on a daily basis with were middle-class (assuming) legal citizens just like I was. I celebrated Cinco de Mayo as enjoyably as St. Patrick's Day. But I also worked in a school district where a large portion of the student population was made of illegal aliens and everyone suffered because of it (I was in student demographics responsible for sending accurate student information to the state like birthdates and social security numbers, it was a freaking nightmare).

Increasing the penalties for human trafficking, documentation fraud, hiring illegal immigrants, etc are all entirely acceptable, and that's what the vast majority of the bill talks about. I don't believe at all that non-Americans should be allowed access to our social services (outside of what visas/green cards/temporary legal citizenship allows of course). How does that even make sense? I don't want Canadians leeching off us either; there's no racism involved.

I think everytime anyone applies for a job they should be subjected to a pass/fail background check for citizenship. I think anytime someone applies for any kind of social service, enrolls their kids in a public school, or even applies for a library card the same background check should be made. No pass, no play. On the same note, employers should be audited to ensure that records of their employees citizenship are accurate, and that the penalties for falsifying or ignoring those records are crippling. There have to be penalties for anyone who makes being an illegal immigrant appealing.

I want everyone in this country who intends on making America their home to be an American. Everyone who wants to can go through the naturalization process, I'm totally cool with that. Part of that though, says that once they've become an American they don't get treated like they might be a criminal just because of their skin color or accent. They should be protected from becoming alienated, which a portion of this bill not only fails to do, but outright permits.

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Comment by Prest0
2010-04-29 14:28:04

Brendan, thank you for the reasoned, civil response. You make a good point, and I think most everyone would agree that we don't want anyone to be harrassed because of the color of their skin. I'm not exactly sure which portion of the bill you're referring to, but if it has to do with the law officer's discretion in identifying potential violators I think that's probably similar to the INS's discretion now.

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Comment by Ed Wetterman
2010-05-17 09:35:12


Actually, the law requires a photo id (such as a driver's liscense) or it may become an arrestable offense to determine legal status. I am required to carry a driver's license….most people are. I don't think that's asking too much.

AND, I am for a very liberal worker's permit to allow good, hardworking people into our country for jobs, taxing those incomes, and helping to pay for the benefits they get here. I think the work of Coyotes is horrible (as happened a few years ago when over 20 died of heat exhaustian in an 18 wheeler).

I'm so disappointed with both the big parties on this and every other issue. To paraphrase Franklin: If both sides dig in their heals, and do not attempt a common discourse, than NO GOOD THING can be passed or made for the nation.


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