Myths and More Myths

I got an e-mail today from the Southern Poverty Law Center.  Below is the meat of the e-mail.  Note that every statement of fact is well documented.

The fear of foreigners, the belief that refugees and immigrants are dangerous, the desire to keep them out — none of these things are new. But as our Teaching Tolerance project wrote this week in an updated post, these fears are often based on misinformation and lies.

It’s a myth, for example, that immigrants don’t want to learn English. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 56% of first-generation immigrants speak English “well” or “very well,” and the demand for English instruction actually far outstrips supply.

It’s a myth that immigrants are violent or criminal. According to a new report by The Sentencing Project, immigrants commit crimes at lower rates than native-born citizens. Higher levels of immigration may even have contributed to the historic drop in crime rates, researchers say.

In the run-up to both Muslim bans, perhaps the most widely circulated myth has been that refugees are not screened before entering the country, that banning them will keep the U.S. safe from terror.

But we know that refugees undergo more rigorous screenings than any other individuals the government allows in the U.S., and we know that no deaths in the U.S. have been attributed to people from the countries covered by either executive order in the last 30 years.

All of these myths, however far-fetched, are based on the same dangerous falsehood: that immigrants and refugees are somehow not like us. That they’re not students in search of an education. That they’re not families trying to make ends meet. That as “somebody else’s babies,” they don’t belong here.

Some of my own thoughts:  We Homo sapiens have been moving, migrating, traveling, wandering, fleeing since we became Homo sapiens.  Migration and movement are among the most fundamental currents in human history.  Migration has never been stopped in spite of numerous attempts to do so.  Migration will never be stopped.  The Romans tried.  The Chinese tried.  We Americans have tried in the past.  These attempts have never been successful.  It looks like we’re about to embark on an expensive, foolish, futile attempt to do so.  An attempt doomed from the start to failure.

Why not tear down the walls? (Didn’t a Republican president say something like this?)  ACCEPT immigrants and allow them to become a productive part of our society instead of condemning them to be outcasts on the peripheries.

 

Well, I’m not an immigrant, but all of my grandparents were.  All Americans can make a similar statement.  Even Native American ancestors came from Siberia.

 

An Illegal Alien Crisis?

Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle ClassI am once again going to be quoting extensively from Dog-Whistle Politics.  This is a book to read if you want information to counter the cant and hypocrisy spewed forth by today’s conservatives and Tea Partiers.

Something that came as a surprise to me is “that ‘illegal’ is a misnomer: crossing into or remaining in the United States without proper authorization is not a crime, but rather a civil matter.”  A Supreme Court ruling stated that “as a general rule, it is not a crime for a removable alien to remain present in the United States.”

Lopez goes on to write:

On the more fundamental question of assimilation, scholars recognize that today’s immigrants from Latin America (and also Asia), no different from the generations of European immigrants before them, are “being successfully incorporated into American society”; indeed, studies find “great continuities between the experiences of earlier European immigrants and current, predominantly non-European immigrants.”  Moreover, the notion that crossing the border without authorization generates a pervasive disdain for the  law is demonstrably false.  Research shows that undocumented immigrants from Latin America commit far fewer [emphasis mine] depredations, not far more, than citizens.  Evidence shows too that undocumented immigrants are far less likely than others to use expensive social services, including hospital emergency rooms.  Indeed, unauthorized immigrants pay considerable more in taxes – typically through payroll withholding – than they receive in social services.

If illegal immigration is actually not a big problem (or not a problem at all), why all the furor stirred up by the right?

. . . the “illegal alien” rhetoric is highly popular with racial demagogues.  Stressing illegality provides a way to seed racial fears without directly referencing race. . . . By constantly drumming on the crises posed by “illegals”, the right fuels a racial frenzy but can deny its intention to do any such thing.

This illegal-alien demagoguery started back as least as early as the time of (guess who?) the god-king Ronald Reagan.

In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan had warned that migrant workers from Mexico, as well as war refugees from Central America, constituted a potentially traitorous group in the nation’s midst [did Reagan actually believe this?]  To many this suggestions seemed farcical.

Get the book and read it.  We progressives and liberals need to fight back.

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