How not to debate undocumented immigration

If you didn’t know, I’m Mexican.

I’m the daughter of immigrants. My grandfathers were both part of the Bracero Program. My family came here like many other immigrant families to work. Now, my parents and grandparents are all naturalized citizens. They vote, are active in their communities, pay taxes and do all that good stuff. Whether they emigrated with or without the necessary documentation or overstayed a visa is irrelevant to me.

I’ve stayed away from blogging about the Minutemen in Arizona and the dumb controversy over a billboard primarily because I don’t have the time to contribute to the discussion. The issue of undocumented immigration is so complex, that it would take me a long time to write about how immigrants contribute to the economy, why they emigrate, the trials they face trying to cross, how the militarization of the border has contributed to the deaths of many men and women, how difficult it is to change your immigration status, and the challenges children and teens face as they seek an education.

I can’t be quiet anymore. Would you be quiet if you read such a comment?

Youíre a retard. The minutemen are doing an excellent job. Like we need another wetback making their way into the country only to drain LAís system even more, closing down hospitals and committing crimes. Heck, why donít we just open up the entire border and let them all in. Who needs separate countries anyway?

With such comments, it makes me wonder if some people are opposed to undocumented immigration because they are fundamentally opposed to breaking the law or if it comes out of racist beliefs against Mexicans and Central Americans.

I don’t really care if you’re upset about the status of immigration in this country. People from all sides of the debate know that something is wrong. Yet, as I mentioned earlier, the issue is incredibly complex.

If you want to intelligently debate the issue and find solutions, don’t start by calling people wetbacks.

18 thoughts on “How not to debate undocumented immigration”

  1. I was going to post about how surprised I was that that billboard wasn’t more controversial. Guess I should be reading more LA blogs!

    Unfortunately, as most of us know, that sort of the thing is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to stupidity about immigration and race. I always wonder why those kind of people live in LA. It’s a giant, multi-racial melting pot. If you only want to hang out with white people, shouldn’t you be living in Omaha or Dayton?

  2. Dear Wetback,

    More than half of LA’s jail population consists of illegal immigrants. They don’t all come here to work and contribute, so suck on that little factoid.

  3. If you want to intelligently debate the issue and find solutions, don’t start by calling people wetbacks. Amen Cindy!

  4. sally is stooo-pi~d… what a pointless comment!
    Here come the angry entitled white people.

  5. Wait a sec – if more than half of LA’s jail population consists of illegal immigrants, wouldn’t they just deport them? Isn’t that cheaper?

    I guess factoid means its a fact that’s wrong.

  6. Sally:
    Please provide your references for your “factoids”. As a doctoral student at UCLA in sociology, this topic is near and dear to my heart since it is my dissertation topic. In my literature review alone, I have over 30 studies that negate statements that you made. I anxiously await for your rebuttal.

  7. The problem is very complicated – but it also requires looking at ‘the bigger picture’ – statistics are easy to manipulate, and it’s much, much easier for folks to point fingers and call names than it is for them to actually educate themselves about a complex and sometimes confusing economic issue.

    The other thing that I love to point out when folks start immigrant bashing is that the vast majority of the population of the US are immigrants – we wouldn’t be the country we are today without it.

    Don’t let the hateful comments get you down. Consider the source.


  8. The best solution to the ‘problem’ of illegal immigration would be to increase the number of legal immigrants from all countries that can come into the United States. In 1990, the Congress pushed down the number allowed to come into the United States-since then illegal immigration has gone up. (The number should be pushed up at least to 1990 levels) If those who are concerned about the negative ramifications of illegal immigration (questionably it might cause lower wages since those immigrants are outside the wage protections afforded to lower workers and employers hire and exploit the undocumented documented workers may not get hired as well as the tax issue) are really concerned about those negative economic ramifications providing avenues for legal immigration would help do it. Similarly the penalty on employers who exploit those who cannot get documents should be increased-as well as an additional penalty imposed if they do not pay the minimum wage to the undocumented (back wages should be paid). This would create opportunites for legal immigration to the United States without putting one’s life into your hands by paying a smuggler without causing the ramifications which happen when it is outside the protection framework. In addition, the success of the AFL-CIO of Los Angeles County under the directorship of the late Miguel Contreras in organizing immigrants and strengthing the power of labor has to be spread nationwide-all workers, both the new immigrants and those whose parents, grandparents or great grand parents were immigrants will benefit from greater unionization so that those who come to pursue the American Dream achieve opportunity.

  9. Yes, the immigration issue IS a complicated one… this past week I covered the Cinco de Mayo festival here in LA for an internet news show. What surprised me were the Army recruiters recruiting people for the Army at what’s supposed to be a festive celebration (Much like St. Patrick’s Day, Chinese New Year, etc). I posted some of what I saw here:

    Like it or not, the vitality and “push” of this country has always depended on immigrants. Immigrants keep the apathetic on their toes. Immigrants possess that “risk” gene that IS American. Immigrants are one of the first to die for this country.

    So please, if we ARE going to have an intelligent discussion, name-calling has no place in it. Thanks.

  10. You know what the funniest thing is? These people organizing the minutemen movement and those who call us wetbacks (I’m latino and still just a legal resident) whom by my calcualtions are white, they are descendents from immigrants as well.

    Whether or not they choose to recognize this little fact, it is the truth. Their ancestors came here and were the first ones to “drain” the system by doing whatever they pleased at the expense of no one. AND, their ancestors also severed in Mexico in half by taking the southwestern states all to themselves.

    So, just because the few illegal immigrants you hear about totally ruin it for you. Just think about this…you wouldn’t be here if your ancestors hadn’t immigrated.

  11. Ancestors have nothing to do with it. We have a system in place now that should be followed. I don’t mind anyone of any race wanting to come here and I say please do come, IF you’re willing to do it legally.

  12. hmmm… u think todd is white?
    no doubt immigration is a complicated issue.
    it’s a mix of law, economics, fear, racism, & sticks in asses (& it’s often hard to separate… the issues).
    somebody always says something like “as long as it’s done legally then i support it.” i have to question these people’s patriotism & understanding of society.
    the thing is it’s not purely a legal matter. saying “well, as long as its legal” is a way to feel like a patriotic, law abiding citizen (it’s also a good way to hide any racism). but in fact, reducing human issues to a black and white code by blindly appealing to the law (especially now) is foolish. u might as well say that u don’t give a flying f*ck. this isn’t an episode of Cops.

  13. Todd, ancestors have nothing to do with it?

    How do you think you’re here if not for them? Had they not immigrated you would’ve been born in Europe!

    And another thing, don’t pull the legal dilemma. Sure, when your ancestors immigrated here there weren’t any laws, but it’s still the same principle. Come to a new land that you know nothing about and settle down. But they did one better, they claimed it as their own.

  14. Some of us prefer to live in the here and now, Dan.

    And to JSP, what does my race have to do with it? I don’t care if they are from Mexico or Canada or Belgium, it applies across the board.

    But then again, you can easily see which side wants to play the race card.

  15. Race has always had something to do with immigration. Someone, troll or not, called me a wetback. I didn’t bring up race he/she did. I hate how it’s so easy for some people to act like immigration (documented or undocumented) is totally divorced from race. There are plenty examples of how race has factored into immigration legislation and policy throughout history, which does inform what is happening today.

  16. ur race, as an individual, doesn’t matter. but your opinion (at least the one given here) & race do fit a larger pattern (as far as my experience tells me).
    1. the as-long-as-it’s-legally comment
    2. here & now comment
    3. playing the race card comment
    (sorry, i don’t mean to pick on you or anything but i believe these comments are indicative of a larger problem/hinderance to this issue which is culture – as in shared knowledge set)
    these 3 comments allow a person to be completely insulated from the issue (based on law, time, and race). what i think:
    1. as everyone knows law != right or moral or a solution, & history has shown this.
    2. here & now is not separate from the past and future. and treating it like it is is irresponsible
    3. sigh~… yeah, ok. what CINDYM said. (for the record, none of these are directed towards todd personally. i’ve heard those sentiments many times before)
    there’s a lot of differences in the way we even frame the various components of the immigration issue.

  17. 5000!, about half of Dayton’s population is Black. No malice intended, just wanted to dispell another lily-white stereotype.

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