Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Garden of Images: History Repeats Itself in Anti-immigrant Hysteria

The photo above pictures a moment in the  round-up of immigrants in America 100 years ago. The suspicious 'outsiders' are white-skinned people from southern and eastern Europe -- Italians, Jews, Poles, Russians, Greeks, Serbs, Ukrainians, Lithuanians. The mass round-up of immigrants took place during the period of political hysteria of targeting and removing the devils who live and conspire among us known as the Red Scare of 1919-20. Our government was convinced for that two-year period that 'radical' foreigners were plotting a revolution to turn the US into a Communist state such as Soviet Russia.

The second photo is a contemporary image of an ICE officer taking part in a roundup of "undocumented immigrants" today. The victims are likely Latinos or people from the Middle East. It's great to see that American democracy has made such progress over the last century, so that we don't keep making the mistake of blaming our problems on 'outsiders' who don't really belong here. 
        This photo was taken as immigration agents took a handcuffed father away in a black car last Friday (March 3). He was driving his 13-year-old daughter to school when macho, black-clad agents "unleashed" by the liar in the White House seized him. According to KABC-TV in Los Angeles:
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents pulled Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez’s vehicle over Tuesday about a half mile from a school where the undocumented immigrant from Mexico had just dropped off one of his daughters.
The dad, 48, was driving daughter Fatima Avelica to another school in the northeast Los Angeles neighborhood of Highland Park when ICE stopped them. Left behind in the car with her mother, Fatima wept inconsolably as she captured video of her father’s detention. Rosary beads hung from the rearview mirror. A palm-frond cross rested on the dashboard.

I'm sure we're all feeling safer now that Fatima's father will be detained and deported. A man who works for a living, drives his daughter to school, and decks his car with rosary beads and palms is clearly a threat to America-First. 
         America First, btw, was an organization that cozied up with Hitler and tried to keep America out of World War II. Of course the current ignoramus occupying the White House knows nothing of history. Neither, unfortunately, do those who voted for him.
         Some reality checks
         Immigrants contribute to the American economy and help it grow, rather than taking from it. They do the jobs we don't want. If you want to compete with them for office cleaning, house-cleaning, fruit-picking, McDonald's- serfing jobs they spend long hours on every week to sustain themselves, go ahead. Americans vote for charlatans who promise them 'good jobs,' not the ones that are out there. If more of us were willing to work for minimum wage -- and we're not -- maybe we would all get behind raising it. 
         Reality check number two. Studies show immigrant are far less likely to commit crimes than native-born citizens. Makes sense. Why would people who have risked everything to come here risk getting sent back to the hell-holes they worked so hard to escape?
          Number three. Immigrants pay substantial taxes, paying out to the government more than they receive back. Undocumented immigrants in particular pay more taxes than they receive from public programs because they are not eligible for government services, including major programs such as social security, medicare and food stamps. They do not receive tax refunds because they do not file returns. 
         Life is hard without documents.That is why many of the undocumented acquire false Social Security cards -- many employers require a Social Security number to hire them. Ironically, using a false number is the "crime" that gives ICE the excuse to arrest and deport them since now they are 'breaking the law' by trying to work and live like the rest of us. Think about this: yes, they arrived her without documents, but now they are trying to play by all the rules. 
          So, final thought, wouldn't it be easier -- not to mention more humane -- to give them the Social Security card, put them on the books, license them to drive, etc., and harness the abilities and energy they have already demonstrated to help America grow as a prosperous and just society?