Illegal immigration isn't necessarily good for Latino Americans, and many of us don't always welcome it. Why would we ask for the clock on our U.S. assimilation be set back to zero as new, hungry people come searching for work — often for our
jobs, ironically. Even Cesar Chavez had his period of opposition to the undocumented
. There's not much in it for us.
At the same time, we see clearly the inherent, anti-Latino racism in the anti-illegal immigrant movement:
Illegal immigrants come in all flavors. We happen to know more who are Asian and European than who are Mexican. Really. But rarely do they draw the kind of send-them-back fervor accorded to brown people.
So, yes, those of us with South-of-the-border blood tend to get defensive when overwhelmingly white protesters target the undocumented from Latin America, particularly when they're innocent, defenseless children.
They are our cousins, indeed, and you insult us when you claim they bring disease
and ruin our economy.
That's typical of the lie-dependent fervor that has overtaken the far right in America. To close the door on any rational discussion about illegal immigration, the immigrants must be demonized. The Nazi regime perhaps did this best with its dehumanization of the Jewish people. "The Jews are aliens in Germany," read one school text
of the 1930s. Sound familiar?
Do you blame American-born Latinos for being wary of this anti-illegal immigrant hate? So our ethnic brethren allegedly bring disease, are inherently illicit beings, mooch off our public resources and cause our economy to tank? And people wonder why the right-side political movement is in a demographic bind?
The truth is, of course, that the undocumented have infused the American economy with productivity
and enlivened depressed communities with their commerce. Anyone who has seen the evolution of parts of Los Angeles into solidly immigrant neighborhoods can attest to their new-found vibrancy. L.A. in the early 1990s was no boomtown.
Studies have also found that illegal immigrants have provided a net benefit
to taxpayers. That's certainly debatable and, like we said, we want to encourage straight-up honesty here. But some folks on both sides get the facts so twisted that they create an unnavigable chasm.
Some of the people who showed up in Murrieta to block the delivery of Central American children to a federal facility that has been there for years had some pretty outrageous claims. Let's have a look at some of their protest signs and media quotes:
We're pleading here for straight talk on both sides of the illegal immigration debate, so we'll start this party with some brutal honesty: