Immigration Debate is Racist
The “American dream” has pulled many foreigners into the United States mainly due to the expected opportunities in work, education, and health among other social services. This has led to many immigrants thronging to enter the US to improve their lives and access the much fathomed opportunities and better lives. This has increased illegal immigration to a level where it has become government’s and civilian’s concern to control the bulging immigrants every year mostly originating from the Latin American countries like Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (ProCon, 2014). Due to the poor status of the immigrants and their socioeconomic status, majority of the US citizens have adopted different stand on the issue. A heated debate has been dubbed as racist by pro-immigrants while the others, so called anti-immigrants, call it a problem of assimilation. As Fuentes argues, the controversial debate about the Mexico immigrants in the US is more of racist calls and not about the assimilation problem as Samuel Huntington puts it. The anti-immigration debates are racist, and the focus on assimilation problem is a scapegoat as Fuentes declared.
When anti-immigration activists say that today’s immigrants are not assimilating to the culture of the US as fast as required, they forget that the US has had dynamic culture with diverse cultures and values that have been practiced over the years. They further claim that many immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries like Mexico live in “ethnic ghettos” thus they have no exposure to learn English and understand the culture of the United States. The anti-immigrants` focus on immigrants has shifted from “Americanization” and “assimilation” to “multiculturalism” and “diversity” hence they are creating divergent cultures. The reason why the immigrants live in the enclaves or ghettos is due to complex factors like discrimination, lack of job opportunities, and poor housing (Jones, 2014). The immigrants who were viewed as white like Jews or Irish left the enclaves, but the others were left there exposing great margin of racism. Assimilation is an imprecise concept that can be defined differently. Some have argued that assimilation is the “American identity”, others view it as “Protestant ethic,” “self-reliant, morally upright and hardworking” hence the concept cannot be squarely applied to an individual and judge them of not having been assimilated. This will lead to hatred or hate speech based on racism (Jones, 2014).
Assimilation is subjective to an individual viewpoint, for instance, “American identity” can be defined by the color where non-whites have to be scrutinized critically to ensure that they are not terrorists or drug smugglers. This has happened after the September 11 attacks where people of another color have been viewed differently. The call for assimilation, therefore, implies those that cannot meet the expectations of the anti-immigrants face discrimination, mostly racism (Calabresi, 2006). Anti-immigrants have also opined that the US has changed in providing new immigrants with several social services that have discouraged them from working hard to support themselves and becoming productive US citizens. The anti-immigrants view the immigrants as consuming their services without paying for them. This happens when they are new and jobless as they seek for job opportunities (Nagarajan, 2013). Most of them work hard to own houses, property, and invest contributing to the GDP of the USA.
In summary, anti-immigrants activists argue basing their cases on racial and discriminative basis. An immigrants’ advocacy group defines assimilation as being able to accept the values of equality as directed by the law, following due processes and contributing economically while maintaining the ethnic identity (Political Research Associates, 2002). Assimilation is, therefore, not the major cause of the anti-immigrants crusade and debate, but their discriminatory and racism culture against the people of color, especially the Mexicans.
Calabresi, M. (2006, May 17). Is Racism Fueling the Immigration Debate? Retrieved December 14, 2014, from http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1195250,00.html
Jones, O. (2014, November 20). What everyday racism tells us about the immigration debate. Retrieved December 14, 2014, from http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/20/everyday-racism-immigration debate-bigotry-ukip
Nagarajan, C. (2013, September 20). How politicians and the media made us hate immigrants. Retrieved December 14, 2014, from https://www.opendemocracy.net/transformation/chitra-nagarajan/how-politicians-and-media-made-us-hate-immigrants
Political Research Associates. (2002). Welcome to the Online Archive of the Old PublicEye.Org Website. Retrieved December 14, 2014, from http://www.publiceye.org/ark/immigrants/CulturalDiv.html
ProCon.org. (2014). Demographics of Immigrants in the United States Illegally – Illegal Immigration Solutions - ProCon.org. Retrieved December 14, 2014, from http://immigration.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000845