Monday, April 03, 2006

Republicans Use Immigrants Nationality To Divide America


American Hispanics of every creed are up in arms over the immigrant bill recently toned down by House Republican. Huge protests in Los Angeles, Denver and Phoenix featured angry, yet composed Latinos exercising democracy at its fullest. The tenor and sheer number of protesters most likely accomplished the goal of halting the proposed legislation that would have made illegal immigrants instantly felons and those who aid them the same.

Their calm anger in the streets of the West showed that the power of the people is still alive, but is it our society with which the vigor over this subject emanated?

The number of Mexican tricolores, El Salvadoran and Guatemalan flags to name of few was conspicuous. Assuredly, there were a great number American flags waving through the streets, but the amount foreign banners makes one wonder whether the impetus of this protests came from a deep well of yearning to be American, a direct assault on Latino-Americans of every stripe or, more worrisome, the look of a wholly separate sect of America.

The sight of so many Mexican flags is not on its face aggressive to what many would say is the essence of American patriotism. It does, though divide on a simple level the populace of Americans who already view the swarm of immigrants flowing into thier country as slowly chewing away at society. The perception that Latinos do not readily assimilate into America primarily by means of language and custom rankles many. To see on television, the waving of foreign flags only perpetuates that false stigma.

The true tragedy of this proposed bill is that touches a nerve with Americans who believe in the concept of helping the poor and weak amongst us. It's why the Archbishop of Los Angeles directly challenged Washington and could be accused of flaming the rancor to the extreme we saw in the last week.

At its heart, this is not about foreign pride as the banners would contend, but about the Republican Party turning its back on its burgeoning Latino majority during an election year for the white zealots of its far right. The push-pull of illegal immigration by conservatives has been played before. No business-minded conservative will privately denounce the value of cheap and disposable illegal workers. The rhetoric belies this notion because like the abortion, Republicans will use these issues to repeatedly divide voters. Just as Republicans would be up a creek, if abortion was, indeed, illegal, so too would they be if they didn't have illegal immigrants to kick around, both financially in the form of low wages and long hours, but in demonizing them with bills like the one presented by Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona.

It should be remembered that the last time this immigration ploy was exercised in the 1994 California gubernatorial race, Republican Pete Wilson won re-election, but the same shame and anger that the Latino population felt has reverberated to this day. The California Republican Party is in shambles. In the next 12 years, only the moderate-leaning conservative Arnold Schwarzenegger has held a high office in California.

1 comment:

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