the anti-immigrant sentiment

Brent Finnegan -- February 14th, 2007

An article in today’s DNR about the impact of illegal immigration cites stats from FAIR, a well known anti-immigrant political action group. Of course FAIR is going to say that undocumented immigrants are ruining the country. That’s what FAIR does.

This sort of thinking is pervasive in the Valley, parts of NoVa, and in the General Assembly. Of this GA session in Richmond, Del. Donald McEachin said:         

I have seen numerous bills that seem to target people because of their country of origin, their “foreign” appearance or the language they speak. House Bill 1970, for example, allows police to stop people on “reasonable suspicion.” I fear that profiling will be the clear result of this bill and that we will be able to add “driving while brown” or “driving while speaking a language other than English” to our list of concerns.

The sad thing is that each generation of voters and representatives seems to forget that anti-immigrant sentiment is usually looked back upon by future generations as being stupid or racist. In the 20s it was anti-Italian and Asian, and before that, anti-Irish, and before that, anti-German… Anti-immigrant sentiment is directed at a different people group every few decades.

Harrisonburg is a city of immigrants: German, Irish, Scots-Irish, Latino and Russian (among many others). Main Street used to be called Irish Street. Liberty Street used to be called German Street. The name was changed around the time of WWI, so as to sound more patriotic (freedom fries, anyone?).

As the DNR article says, Chris Saxman’s bill to study the impact of undocumented immigrants passed the House (note that Saxman uses “undocumented” while Gilbert uses “illegal”). While I don’t see anything particularly objectionable about the bill, I have to wonder if they will incorporate “facts” from organizations like FAIR. If and when this passes the Senate, where will these facts be coming from? As Gxeremio has written here before, “let’s make sure that what they get is factual, and that the decisions they make based on those “facts” are humane, reasonable, and have a positive impact on our community.”

-finnegan

5 Responses to “the anti-immigrant sentiment”

  1. Gxeremio says:

    Wow, I’m flattered that you quoted me, finnegan.
    The article makes it seem that the study will look only at the “impact” of undocumented immigrants on sectors where they are more likely to cost money than to contribute – health care, law enforcement, and education. To make this study more reasonable, here are some other things they should consider:
    1. What is the “impact” of the average citizen on these 3 sectors?
    2. What is the contribution of the undocumented population to the tax base, the Social Security system, and consumer spending in the state?
    3. How does this compare to average citizens’ contribution?
    4. What percentage of the undocumented community gets into legal trouble?
    5. What percentage of the undocumented community has any other options for health care besides emergency room visits which are most costly?

    They may just find, like Prince William County did, that the benefits outweigh the costs.
    And that’s just the tangible benefits, not including intangible benefits like providing opportunity, bringing the most motivated people in the world to the US, keeping the population at a strong growth rate, and spreading American values to a new generation of people.

  2. Larsen says:

    The bill that really sticks in my craw is Jackson Miller’s HB2937 which, if passed, will put the onus on our overworked nonprofits and charities to determine if those they are serving are undocumented or not. If they do end up serving undocumented needy folks, then they’ll have their state funding cut off.

    http://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2007/hb2937/

  3. cook says:

    finnegan, you’re right about FAIR. Referencing FAIR for objective facts about immigration is like citing NARAL on abortion. It will be interesting to see the results of Saxman’s study, but on an issue this broad you can make the numbers say whatever you want them to say. For starters, the beginning number – the number of undocumented immigrants in virginia – is a guess. Who are they? We don’t know. Where are they working? We don’t know. What do they contribute? We don’t know. Any study will have to guess at these figures, and the guesses will govern the outcome of the study.

  4. doubletree dan says:

    Recently large demonstrations have taken place across the country protesting the fact that Congress is finally addressing the issue of illegal immigration.

    Certain people are angry that the US might protect its own borders, might make it harder to sneak into this country and, once here, to stay indefinitely.

    Let me see if I correctly understand the thinking behind these protests.

    Let’s say I break into your house.

    Let’s say that when you discover me in your house, you insist that I leave. But I say, “I’ve made all the beds and washed the dishes and did the laundry and swept the floors.

    I’ve done all the things you don’t like to do.

    I’m hard-working and honest (except for when I broke into your house).
    According to the protesters:

    * You are required to let me stay in your house

    * You are required to add me to your family’s insurance plan.

    * You are required to educate my kids.

    * You are required to provide other benefits to me and to my family.

    * (My husband will do all of your yard work because he is also hard-working and honest, except for that breaking in part).

    * If you try to call the police or force me out, I will call my friends who will picket your house carrying signs that proclaim my RIGHT to be there.

    * It’s only fair, after all, because you have a nicer house than I
    do, and I’m just trying to better myself.

    * I’m a hard-working and honest, person, except for well, you know, I did break into your house. And what a deal it is for me!!!

    * I live in your house, contributing only a fraction of the cost of my keep, and there is nothing you can do about it without being accused of cold, uncaring, selfish, prejudiced, and bigoted behavior.

    * Oh yeah, I DEMAND that you to learn MY LANGUAGE so you can communicate with me.

    * Why can’t people see how ridiculous this is? Only in America . If you agree, pass it on (in English). Share it if you see the value of it.

    * If not blow it off……… along with your future Social Security funds, and a lot of other things.

  5. David Troyer says:

    Only in America? You’re exactly right!

    It is estimated that 700,000 iraqi refugees have entered syria since the U.S. showed up. Good thing the syrians will deal with ’em so we don’t have to let them into our house.

    I bet the DNR would be ecstatic to use this as a guest editorial column.

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