The single most important public policy issue for Latinos of all nationalities is immigration reform. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) which used to be called Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) — they are colloquially both referred to as La Migra whether they are “enforcers” or “servants” — there are 11 million undocumented individuals in the United States. Of course, they admit when questioned, this is not an accurate count because it is based on some very old apprehension numbers. In fact, no agency, public or private, even knows how many undocumented people are in the United States.
Latino Decisions, the foremost Latino pollsters in the United States, have determined through both statewide and national sampling that immigration reform policy is the most important issue to Latinos from every nationality. Even the Puerto Ricans who are naturally born United States citizens and don’t need to worry about La Migra invading their homes feel immigration policy is the most important issue of the day. The Puerto Ricans understand one important thing: when the government or some anti-immigrant spokesperson begins talking about immigration they are not talking about any one group, they are talking about all Latinos and Spanish speakers.
When Tea Partiers and ultra-conservative extremists talk about “border security” and “voter fraud” as first and foremost in the world of immigration reform, they are talking about building a fence along the southern border of the United States — not the northern. They are talking about enforcing English as an official language policy in all states. And they are talking about eliminating bilingual and Latino studies programs — not French, German, Arabic or Chinese. They are talking about discriminating against Latinos.
The problem is that anti-immigrant racism “bleeds over” to all Latinos, regardless of nationality and citizenship status. After all, we do all look alike, speak with a strange accent, believe in a religion that’s headquartered outside of the United States, eat very different food and dance provocatively. In short, the undocumented immigrant bashing on the part of ideological extremists is simply a way for these narrow-brained xenophobes to express their racist hatred of Latinos generally.
In Texas, Arizona, Georgia, and all other states where there is anti-immigrant legislation pending or has passed it reflects the “officializing” of racism — state governments actually codifying racism. Racism has been, or will become, openly institutionalized so that every state agency will now be allowed to profile individuals on the street, in the work place, in schools, in every public venue and almost in every walk of life.
If some Latinos feel that I am being overly suspicious or paranoid, then I invite them to leave their home without an ID card and try and get a job, using Spanish only, as a construction worker, dish washer, gardener, housekeeper, police officer, firefighter, academic, public servant or anything else. If you look like a Latino, act like a Latino, and don’t have an ID card you will not get work and you may be turned over to ICE. If you are apprehended I hope they give you a choice of which country to be deported to, or else you’ll end up in a country where you don’t speak the native language or understand the customs, and will not be able to find your way out. Although you may be able to talk your way out of this situation and eventually find your way back to the United States, you will still have to stay outside our borders or in one of our luxurious detention centers pending a decision on your case. So, if ICE gives you a choice because you can’t prove citizenship choose Argentina, the food is good, the land is romantic and if you need to be exiled I could think of worse places.
Anyway, compañeros y compañeras, listen more carefully to the various political candidates, listen carefully to their immigration rhetoric because underlying what they are saying is a perception of Latinos as being less equal than whites, as carrying diseases, as unwilling to conform to American cultural and language standards, as being aliens in a land where we were born and raised, and where many have served and paid the ultimate sacrifice to insure that these racists enjoy the right of free speech.
[Screenshots By TYT Network]
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