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Thread: Two views of ˜illegal' immigrants

  1. #1
    Two views of ˜illegal' immigrants

    Deep chasm between opposing views creates an emotional response


    Francisco Ramirez, who originally entered the United States illegally years ago but who now has a green card, dines with Jose Angel Fuentes at Ramirez's home in Herndon, Va.


    Jahi ****wendiu / The Washington Post

    WASHINGTON - To many illegal immigrants, sneaking into the United States is at worst a minor violation -- a breach of the rules so small, and so necessary, as to be beyond even mild reproach.

    To many Americans, the act of entering the United States without permission taints every aspect of an illegal immigrant's existence in the country. It points to a disregard for the law, suggests that the government has abdicated responsibility for borders and fuels outrage.

    The chasm between the views has created an emotional response to one of the newest hot-button words in the political lexicon: illegal.

    Those opposed to illegal immigration insist on using the term instead of the more anodyne "undocumented immigrant" as a litmus test of a person's commitment to restoring control of the borders and order in the interior.

    A slur
    Among immigrants, the word has become a slur.

    "To call us illegal is to call us criminals," said Salvadoran-born Maria Isabel Rivas, 28, who trekked across the Arizona desert seven years ago to join her husband in Herndon. "But how can this be a crime? Our only crime is to come here and work like burros."

    Rivas, a hotel maid who obtained a temporary work permit granted to Salvadorans after an earthquake, said she considers herself law-abiding. When she set out for the United States, she said, "Honestly, I didn't even think about the idea that I was breaking the laws of this country."

    Rivas said she was preoccupied with the troubles that prompted her to leave El Salvador: the young daughter and son whom she could afford to feed only rice and beans; the one-room adobe hut they seemed destined to share with other relatives if Rivas remained.

    If there had been a realistic way to enter the United States legally, she would have tried. But without professional skills or relatives in the country who could sponsor her, she said, "I had no choice."

    'Against human liberty'
    Francisco Ramirez, 39, a friend of Rivas's who took the same route into the United States nine years before she did, said the casualness with which he and many of his countrymen violate U.S. immigration laws might be rooted in their experiences during the civil war that ravaged El Salvador during the 1980s and early 1990s.

    "The laws at the time there were against human liberty," said Ramirez, a construction worker who was granted political asylum in the United States and lives in Herndon. "The government imprisoned me for attending a peaceful demonstration. . . . I learned that, in general, you have to respect the law, of course, but that when there are laws that are inhumane, it's more complicated. . . . So I think that if you are dying of hunger, it's okay to cross the border."

    But like many illegal immigrants, Ramirez cites reasons for entering illegally that include situations that were not matters of life or death -- for instance, to be reunited with a parent or child.

    "That is also in the category of a basic necessity," said Ramirez, who was separated from his son for more than a decade. "The pain is inexplicable. And it's not good for the child to be without his mother or father for so long."

    So total is the lack of stigma that many undocumented immigrants feel about sneaking in that even pop culture figures such as Cesar Millan, a dog trainer for celebrities and star of the cable show "Dog Whisperer," make no apologies for their history.

    "I am not ashamed to say it: I came to the United States illegally," wrote Millan, who left Mexico not to escape starvation but to pursue stardom, in his best-selling book "Cesar's Way." For "the poor and working class of Mexico, there is no other way to come to America except illegally. It's impossible," he wrote.

    That attitude infuriates Norman Hammer, a Virginia real estate lawyer.

    "People can't choose which law they want to abide by and which ones they don't," Hammer said. "It destroys the fabric of this country."

    Hammer, who had an office in Herndon for most of the past 25 years, said he recognizes that there might not be enough legal workers to support the nation's economy. He said he is not opposed to increasing entrance quotas, but he does object to offering the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants a path to legalization.

    "What message does it send? It's like, 'Oh, you broke the law? Well, we'll forgive you.' You can't do that. It's black and white," he said. "This might sound cruel and inhumane, but they have no rights here. They've just got no right to be here."

    Growing support for legal immigrants
    Polls suggest that Americans support legal immigrants. According to a recent ABC News poll, 26 percent of those surveyed said legal immigrants hurt the country, compared with 54 percent who said that illegal immigrants do.

    But in several polls, when asked what worries them most about illegal immigrants, the majority of respondents cited concerns that could also be applied to millions of poor legal Latin American immigrants in the United States: that they use more in services than they pay in taxes, that they take jobs from legal residents and that they don't share American culture and values.

    So why the emphasis on illegal immigrants?

    "It's easier for people psychologically to talk about the illegality, because there's a good deal of ambivalence on immigration among all Americans," said Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington think tank that advocates for limits on all immigration. "The thing that's easiest to address is the illegality, so that's to some extent what you're seeing."

    Take Joseph Walker, 61, of Woodbridge. He is among hundreds of Prince William County residents who e-mailed county supervisors in support of anti-illegal-immigration measures recently adopted there. Walker, a public relations consultant, said his main objection to illegal immigration is "the law-breaking aspect of it." But he also said he became concerned when he noticed Central Americans congregating in shopping areas in Northern Virginia.

    "There are places in Woodbridge where you can go and not hear a single word of English being spoken, and that's very troubling to me, because it shows a lack of integration in the process. . . . Sometimes it's difficult even to be understood by the store clerks."

    Linked to residency status?
    Walker said he thinks immigrants' lack of assimilation might be linked to their residency status.

    "Let's face it. It's not, by and large, doctors and lawyers who are sneaking across the border," he said. "I think when people are sneaking across the border, it seems they are more prone to stay in their own enclaves and in houses with multiple families and any number of people and to create a Latino subculture."

    Walker said he can't know for sure how many immigrants who don't speak English are in the country illegally.

    "They could have every right to be here," he said, adding that his support for the supervisors' resolution had no basis in ethnic or racial prejudice.

    "The rationale was to identify people who are causing trouble who are in the country illegally," he said. "I have no problem with people who came here legally. . . . I don't have anything against multiculturalism. Everyone comes from somewhere."

    Walker said he sympathizes with illegal immigrants. "They're coming here for a better life, and you can't blame people for doing that," he said. "At the same time, they are breaking the law, and I don't consider it akin to a traffic violation. I would consider it breaking and entering. . . . It is a crime to enter this country illegally, and everything else they do is a furtherance of that crime."

  2. #2
    Two views of ˜illegal' immigrants

    Deep chasm between opposing views creates an emotional response


    Francisco Ramirez, who originally entered the United States illegally years ago but who now has a green card, dines with Jose Angel Fuentes at Ramirez's home in Herndon, Va.


    Jahi ****wendiu / The Washington Post

    WASHINGTON - To many illegal immigrants, sneaking into the United States is at worst a minor violation -- a breach of the rules so small, and so necessary, as to be beyond even mild reproach.

    To many Americans, the act of entering the United States without permission taints every aspect of an illegal immigrant's existence in the country. It points to a disregard for the law, suggests that the government has abdicated responsibility for borders and fuels outrage.

    The chasm between the views has created an emotional response to one of the newest hot-button words in the political lexicon: illegal.

    Those opposed to illegal immigration insist on using the term instead of the more anodyne "undocumented immigrant" as a litmus test of a person's commitment to restoring control of the borders and order in the interior.

    A slur
    Among immigrants, the word has become a slur.

    "To call us illegal is to call us criminals," said Salvadoran-born Maria Isabel Rivas, 28, who trekked across the Arizona desert seven years ago to join her husband in Herndon. "But how can this be a crime? Our only crime is to come here and work like burros."

    Rivas, a hotel maid who obtained a temporary work permit granted to Salvadorans after an earthquake, said she considers herself law-abiding. When she set out for the United States, she said, "Honestly, I didn't even think about the idea that I was breaking the laws of this country."

    Rivas said she was preoccupied with the troubles that prompted her to leave El Salvador: the young daughter and son whom she could afford to feed only rice and beans; the one-room adobe hut they seemed destined to share with other relatives if Rivas remained.

    If there had been a realistic way to enter the United States legally, she would have tried. But without professional skills or relatives in the country who could sponsor her, she said, "I had no choice."

    'Against human liberty'
    Francisco Ramirez, 39, a friend of Rivas's who took the same route into the United States nine years before she did, said the casualness with which he and many of his countrymen violate U.S. immigration laws might be rooted in their experiences during the civil war that ravaged El Salvador during the 1980s and early 1990s.

    "The laws at the time there were against human liberty," said Ramirez, a construction worker who was granted political asylum in the United States and lives in Herndon. "The government imprisoned me for attending a peaceful demonstration. . . . I learned that, in general, you have to respect the law, of course, but that when there are laws that are inhumane, it's more complicated. . . . So I think that if you are dying of hunger, it's okay to cross the border."

    But like many illegal immigrants, Ramirez cites reasons for entering illegally that include situations that were not matters of life or death -- for instance, to be reunited with a parent or child.

    "That is also in the category of a basic necessity," said Ramirez, who was separated from his son for more than a decade. "The pain is inexplicable. And it's not good for the child to be without his mother or father for so long."

    So total is the lack of stigma that many undocumented immigrants feel about sneaking in that even pop culture figures such as Cesar Millan, a dog trainer for celebrities and star of the cable show "Dog Whisperer," make no apologies for their history.

    "I am not ashamed to say it: I came to the United States illegally," wrote Millan, who left Mexico not to escape starvation but to pursue stardom, in his best-selling book "Cesar's Way." For "the poor and working class of Mexico, there is no other way to come to America except illegally. It's impossible," he wrote.

    That attitude infuriates Norman Hammer, a Virginia real estate lawyer.

    "People can't choose which law they want to abide by and which ones they don't," Hammer said. "It destroys the fabric of this country."

    Hammer, who had an office in Herndon for most of the past 25 years, said he recognizes that there might not be enough legal workers to support the nation's economy. He said he is not opposed to increasing entrance quotas, but he does object to offering the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants a path to legalization.

    "What message does it send? It's like, 'Oh, you broke the law? Well, we'll forgive you.' You can't do that. It's black and white," he said. "This might sound cruel and inhumane, but they have no rights here. They've just got no right to be here."

    Growing support for legal immigrants
    Polls suggest that Americans support legal immigrants. According to a recent ABC News poll, 26 percent of those surveyed said legal immigrants hurt the country, compared with 54 percent who said that illegal immigrants do.

    But in several polls, when asked what worries them most about illegal immigrants, the majority of respondents cited concerns that could also be applied to millions of poor legal Latin American immigrants in the United States: that they use more in services than they pay in taxes, that they take jobs from legal residents and that they don't share American culture and values.

    So why the emphasis on illegal immigrants?

    "It's easier for people psychologically to talk about the illegality, because there's a good deal of ambivalence on immigration among all Americans," said Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington think tank that advocates for limits on all immigration. "The thing that's easiest to address is the illegality, so that's to some extent what you're seeing."

    Take Joseph Walker, 61, of Woodbridge. He is among hundreds of Prince William County residents who e-mailed county supervisors in support of anti-illegal-immigration measures recently adopted there. Walker, a public relations consultant, said his main objection to illegal immigration is "the law-breaking aspect of it." But he also said he became concerned when he noticed Central Americans congregating in shopping areas in Northern Virginia.

    "There are places in Woodbridge where you can go and not hear a single word of English being spoken, and that's very troubling to me, because it shows a lack of integration in the process. . . . Sometimes it's difficult even to be understood by the store clerks."

    Linked to residency status?
    Walker said he thinks immigrants' lack of assimilation might be linked to their residency status.

    "Let's face it. It's not, by and large, doctors and lawyers who are sneaking across the border," he said. "I think when people are sneaking across the border, it seems they are more prone to stay in their own enclaves and in houses with multiple families and any number of people and to create a Latino subculture."

    Walker said he can't know for sure how many immigrants who don't speak English are in the country illegally.

    "They could have every right to be here," he said, adding that his support for the supervisors' resolution had no basis in ethnic or racial prejudice.

    "The rationale was to identify people who are causing trouble who are in the country illegally," he said. "I have no problem with people who came here legally. . . . I don't have anything against multiculturalism. Everyone comes from somewhere."

    Walker said he sympathizes with illegal immigrants. "They're coming here for a better life, and you can't blame people for doing that," he said. "At the same time, they are breaking the law, and I don't consider it akin to a traffic violation. I would consider it breaking and entering. . . . It is a crime to enter this country illegally, and everything else they do is a furtherance of that crime."

  3. #3
    A little politics and history with a local twist

    Published: January 10, 2008 12:00 am

    Daily News of Newburyport

    With all the ugly rhetoric about immigration in this country right now, especially among the Republican presidential candidates, I can't help but think racism and xenophobia are driving the debate every bit as much as concerns about the law are. Illegal immigration is a major problem. No one disputes that. But some of the language and images being used in the debate have much more to do with fueling people's fears and bigotries for political gain than they do coming up with reasonable and practical solutions to the problem. Congressman Tom Tancredo's presidential campaign ad portraying an obviously Latino immigrant as a suicide bomber with a backpack was but one example of that ugly truth.

    When one looks at the issue of immigration through an historical prism, as opposed to the ugly political prism many are looking through today, it becomes clear immigration has always been a t***** issue in the United States. In a way, it is reflective of our deeply flawed human nature. People already established in the United States feel threatened by newcomers who, for example, are often willing to work for less money and make fewer other demands on employers. It doesn't matter whether those newcomers are today's Latino immigrants or the late 19th century immigrants from southern and central Europe, many Americans see and saw such people as threats to the status quo and established order.

    Despite current revisionist history to the contrary, illegal immigration, not just immigration itself, has been an issue in this country before as well. The derogatory acronym WOP that was once used to describe Italian immigrants actually stood for "Without Papers."

    Many people today seem to have forgotten that this country was founded on the premise that it was a place for all those seeking a better life for themselves and their families. As Frederick Douglass, the black abolitionist once said, America is " ... an asylum for liberty for all mankind." He called America a "composite nation" made up of myriad ethnic and racial groups who are all Americans. So firmly did he believe that, he began to advocate forcefully for the rights of Chinese and other Asian immigrants after the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. Taking such a principled stance, like fighting against slavery, was very controversial and often dangerous.

    Although the sanitized history many American students are taught generally does not dwell on the darker side of our nation's past, the truth is slavery itself was looked upon by many, even in the allegedly anti-slavery north, as a necessary institution because many believed freed black slaves would never be able to assimilate into white society. Many early northern abolitionists, including Newburyport's own William Lloyd Garrison, believed slavery was a sin and should be ended but that the freed slaves should be repatriated to Africa or the Caribbean. Garrison later came to reject that policy and advocated for the full inclusion of blacks in America's political, economic, and cultural life.

    But that subtle racism among many white, Northern abolitionists caused great strains with their black abolitionist brethren. It actualy resulted in Garrison and Frederick Douglass having such a violent disagreement over how to push the movement forward that they never spoke to one another after that disagreement, although Douglass did attend Garrison's funeral.

    In the middle of the 19th century it was the issue of slavery that polarized and divided the nation. Today, with the help of some dishonorable and self-serving politicians, it is the issue of immigration, and illegal immigration specifically, that is dividing the nation. There is no denying something must be done about illegal immigration. But the use of scare tactics, the exploitation of bigotry, promotion of xenophobia and assorted other nasty tactics on the part of politicians more interested in power than they are principle is something all decent Amercans should loudly denounce.

    As Frederick Douglass said, we are a "composite nation" and whether the xenophobes and nativists like it or not, in this new global economy, we are only going to become more of a "composite nation." It is inevitable. The challenge is for America to not only be a "composite nation" but to remember, as Douglass also said, that America is " ... an asylum for liberty for all mankind." The Republican candidates for president are failing miserably in that regard.

  4. #4
    Someone12
    Guest
    Sorry Proud,but I am not impressed with the actions of these sleazebags....they claim to justify their lack of respect for OUR laws based on the krappy situation in THEIR country...as if that gives them a license to jump our borders or lie to our immigration judges about their alleged 'persecution'-- in my opinion, 98% of aslyum seekers are nothing more than semi-skilled liars....and this is evidenced by these clowns and their cavalier attitude towards law and order...one cannot just obey the laws one agrees with....if one does not agree with a law (or laws) then pursue your disagreement via our established channels...our representatives instead of taking matters into one's own hand....sorry, but Americans who believe in America and Americans FIRST are not xenophobic racists, but rather true patriots....something these scam artists will never be ... under any circumstance.

  5. #5
    Someone12
    Guest
    Does a bank robber get to avoid prosecution by claiming that it is 'unfair' that we have laws against armed robbery? Do burglars get off scott free by claiming any laws that are in place to protect life and property are merely an annoyance? No....therefore, this empty claim that jumping our borders is somehow justified for a variety of silly, stupid and downright irresponsible reasons is nothing more than an attempt for these cheats to rationalize their own irresponsible behavior....these lowlifes will never truly love America for everything this country is....these cheats are just in it for the money....and the freebies that they can (or might) scam for their equally irresponsible relatives...

  6. #6
    Someone12
    Guest
    Here's a thought....how about this idea? Each and every illegal or overstayer who claims they 'love America' and everything it stands for...MUST, before ever obtaining a green card or work visa, MUST spend FIVE years in our active military....NO exceptions for age, gender, number of brats, etc....you can't do this? Then you don't really 'love America' and you are gone.

  7. #7
    Why instead of crying like a little girl get your rear end up and apply for the ICE or do something important where you become patriotic instead of whining.

  8. #8
    But I bet you don't have the courage to do anything like that for your so called country

  9. #9
    You know what... you are just a joke little girl that I can almost guarantee you that have not even a bit of intelligence nor huevos to do any of that so thats why you are here setting the fire on line cuz you know if you would do it face to face on the outside world you would have your butt kicked in the matter on one second

  10. #10
    so that really tells me that you like to jackmeoffnow oh ok now I know

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