There is a common theme that runs through the rhetoric from Hispanic support groups, and that is the expectation, and even demand, that someone else will take responsibility for the situation in which illegal immigrants find themselves. People violate laws that do not suit them when they enter this country illegally and then demand the right of protection under laws that they choose. This attitude has now been expanded to the interpretation of scripture and church doctrine [“La Rasa Republicans,” Dec. 30, 2010, City Weekly].
A lawsuit brought by a Hispanic group against the recent Arizona law was thrown out of federal court because it had no “legal standing,” meaning it did not meet the legal requirements to be admitted in federal court.
“La Rasa” is a phrase that is used to refer to “the people,” a concept used around the world and currently very visible in the unrest in North Africa and the Middle East. “We the people …” are the opening words in the U.S. Constitution. We are all in this together. To select any one group as deserving special attention is to deny the broader reality. According to the United Nations, there are currently 240 million people around the world on the move as immigrants.
The problem is not here but outside our borders. Mexico, for example, is a failed state, dependent on remittances and various forms of aid from the United States to sustain itself, and there is serious talk of the need for military intervention to stabilize the country.
In 2009, the most recent year for which I could find statistics, more than 1 million people became naturalized U.S. citizens, so there is a system there that works. The Department of Homeland Security deported 392,000 illegals in 2010, which is more than 1,000 people a day, a significant achievement. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, an estimated 350,000 babies were born to illegal immigrants in 2010, which raises questions of costs versus benefits.
There is a temporary-worker program in place that could be made much more workable if governments would cooperate, especially given the ease of today’s communications. A proposal forwarded several years ago for a tamper-proof national ID card was shot down, but the idea deserves another look. A better monitoring of people working in this country would save a great deal of grief for all concerned.
The United States has been an example of a people able to govern themselves with a system of laws, however flawed the system might be. Maintaining our rights and responsibilities is the challenge.