Pirates, Puritans and U.S. Immigration (La Jornada, Mexico)
Is there something so unjust about the way the U.S. benefits from undocumented immigrants, and at the same time demonizes them mercilessly, that the average American should be red-faced embarrassed? Writing for Mexico’s La Jornada, Dr. Jorge Durand of the University of Guadalajara’S Department for the Study of Social Movements, lays out the hypocrisy and inherent inhumanity of how illegal immigrants are treated in the United States.
Day after day, the press, radio, and above all, television, in this quintessential nation of immigrants, have managed to turn the majority into furious anti-immigrants. The rest have learned to shut up. The Republicans claim they are “true conservatives,” but no liberal dares say that he’s a liberal and proud of it.
The result has been the polarization on the issue of immigration among the U.S. public, as many believe that what is said on TV must be true. The Manichean position goes so far as to deny an obvious reality: no one complains about having cheap lettuce in the supermarket, but the majority considers those who pick it to be illegal invaders.
On this topic, Nobel laureate John Steinbeck, originally from Salinas, California and author of The Winter of Our Discontent, wrote that U.S. culture is torn between the spirit of the pirate and the Puritan soul. That is how the nation was forged, with a dual morality that allows one to take advantage of cheap labor, while simultaneously condemning it as illegal.
There are immigrants who have, for more than 20 years, been honestly living and working in the United States. But one car accident, one broken taillight or one intransigent police officer empowered by legal agreements with ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] can throw away an entire life. No matter that they have three children who are U.S. citizens, nor that the family is fundamental to society. The immigrant has sinned, he is illegal. One can exploit him, but not forgive him.
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