Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Latino Immigration- Pro and Anti websites

This week I will look and one pro and one anti-Latino immigration website. What I thought was interesting about this task was the fact that it was really easy to find an anti-Latino immigration website but quite hard to find a pro-Latino immigration website. Does this show that popular opinion is against immigration of Hispanic peoples (especially Mexico)?

I will start off by looking at the pro-Latino immigration website: http://www.hispanic8.com. This website is written by Jon Garrido, who as a Hispanic himself is very pro-immigration for Latino peoples. The website has lots of news, articles and links about Latin Americans but I will focus on an article titled ‘The Great Immigration Panic’ from 2008.

The article overall gives an impression that America has no right to deny Latinos entry to become citizens. At the start it says: ‘A nation of immigrants is holding another nation of immigrants in bondage, exploiting its labor while ignoring its suffering, condemning its lawlessness while sealing off a path to living lawfully. The evidence is all around that something pragmatic and welcoming at the American core has been eclipsed, or is slipping away’. This emphasizes the fact that America is a nation of immigrants so Latinos are the same as any other ethnicity/race therefore it is unjust that they are allowed to suffer. This idea is also demonstrated from the image they use (above): it shows the Statue of Liberty, which would welcome immigrants who were about enter through Ellis Island, this is striking because Mexicans cross through the border, not overseas therefore it’s almost like they were never wanted in the first place; they don’t have the same (symbolic) journey as other immigrant groups. The fact that it mentions how America is making it impossible for them to be legal immigrants further demonstrates how they feel unwanted and victimised. The article argues that every time this country has singled out a group of newly arrived immigrants for unjust punishment, the shame has echoed through history. Think of the Chinese and Irish, Catholics and Americans of Japanese ancestry. Children someday will study the Great Immigration Panic of the early 2000s, which harmed countless lives, wasted billions of dollars and mocked the nation’s most deeply held values’. This suggests that, despite the unfair treatment, eventually Latin Americans will fit in with the rest of America just like other minority groups have done in the past; therefore there should be no panic that their immigration will change America.

Most of the article talks about how poorly they are treated. One example used is that of a raid at a meatpacking plant in Iowa, where hundreds of workers ended up in prison. It says that, ‘Civil-rights lawyers complained, futilely, that workers had been steamrolled into giving up their rights, treated more as a presumptive criminal gang than as potentially exploited workers who deserved a fair hearing. The company that harnessed their desperation, like so many others, has faced no charges’. This shows that the majority of companies face no punishment for hiring illegal immigrants and highlights the fact that businesses are benefiting from cheap labour which, in turn, helps the economy. Therefore, it suggests that Latin American workers benefit our country, doing the jobs that Americans don’t want to do, therefore they deserve to immigrate here and they shouldn’t be treated with such disrespect. As well as this, it mentions poor medical care and general poor standards of living. The article implies that little effective actions are being done to remedy this and unless the nation realises that ‘illegality is not an identity; it is a status that can be mended by making reparations and resuming a lawful life’ then the issue will never be resolved.

The anti-Latino immigration website I chose was http://www.wesupportamerica.org/. This is the website for an organisation called We Support America: Advocates for Immigration Reform in Oregon and the United States of America. The very name suggests that they allowing Latin immigration is going against America; however, unlike the pro website, it doesn’t consider the fact that America is an immigrant nation. The website comprises of news, videos and links to other anti-Latino immigration organisations. I will focus on the homepage and the section called ‘Our View’.

The first notable thing on the homepage is quotes from speeches of Hispanic leaders like ‘You old white people it is your duty to die’ (the quote in large, bold on the website). This is supposed to lead the viewer into feeling threatened by the idea that Latin Americans are going to take over America. Other quotes reference the fact that Mexicans are regaining the land they lost in the Texan War of Independence 1835-6 and the Mexican-American War 146-8 and the increasing fertility rates. This reminds me of the statistic which was discussed in the lecture: by approximately 2050 ‘whites’ will be in the minority, thus making America a country of many minorities and no majority. These quotes are followed up by a mention of the February 15th 1998 US vs. Mexico soccer match in LA Coliseum when the majority of the crowd were Mexicans who ‘booed during the National Anthem and U.S. flags were held upside down. As the match progressed, supporters of the U.S. team were insulted, pelted with projectiles, punched and spat upon. Beer and trash were thrown at the U.S. players before and after the match’. This implies that if Mexicans did take over America that the welfare of ‘proper’ American citizens is at risk. It also says ‘When I was young, I remember hearing about the immigrants that came through Ellis Island. They wanted to learn English. They wanted to breath free. They wanted to become Americans’. This connotes that they don’t wish to be assimilated but that they will strip America of its identity, unlike immigrants beforehand.

Much of the focus of their argument is that they are draining the system whilst taking opportunities from Americans. It says, ‘Not only are they Stealing jobs from US Citizens (and Legal Aliens) they are Draining our social services, Flooding our schools, Over crowding our housing and medical services, Abusing our government lands, Smuggling illegal drugs, Overburdening our court systems, Befouling our parks, Terrorizing our Children, Ripping off our identities, Spawning violent gang members, Demanding free interpreters, Over taxing our law enforcement and emergency services, Making a mockery of our tax laws, Turning our streets and highways into unholy blood baths and more’. This quote seems extremely over the top, making it sound like America is a horrific, uninhabitable place and will keep going downhill as more and more Latin immigrants arrive; suggesting that we should feel threatened by Mexican/Latino presence.

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