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Dan Lawlor: Anti-Immigrant Mindset is Uncalled For

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


There is a virulent anti-immigrant mindset among some people in wealthy countries around the world. Oddly, sadly, strangely, this anti-immigration feeling is matched with rising economic insecurity. As traditional job opportunities disappear, people often blame immigrants - legal and illegal - for working the system, taking jobs, or undermining the "real" community (often composed of second or third generation immigrants). I say this is strange because the collapsed economies were more often than not caused by native-born politicians and native-born graduates of big deal business schools.

In Greece, the economic collapse, caused by a mix of poor finances and massive debt payments, has resulted in growing political chaos and rioting. Political diversity has reached a polarizing level - the opposite of Rhode Island - resulting in extreme tensions between Communists, Socialists, Centrists, Liberals, Nationalists, and Neo-Fascists. Immigrants have been beaten and murdered in the name of safe streets, everyday Greeks have seen living standards decline and crime increase, riot police and protesters have violently clashed, and political mistrust is deep. One commentator mentioned a sense that many Greeks feel "abandoned" by the political system, and are turning to extreme solutions on the left and right.

In Italy, far right Italian political parties have denounced ALL forms of immigration, legal and illegal, and mainstream right wing parties have acted against gypsies and criticized gay rights. Some Northern Italian politicians have even proposed dividing Italy in half - the urban North, and the agricultural South.

In France, anti-gypsy deportations programs were established and criticized. Especially since the urban riots of 2005, immigration and acceptance has been a hot topic in the French Republic. Former French President Sarkozy made his career in part by acting tough against perceived social chaos. Yet, his failure to connect with French voters and assure them he was more than a tough guy, along with the sour economy, lead him to be rejected at the polls.

In Japan, strong anti-immigrant laws apply even to asylum seekers.

In Norway, a violent extremist, with a deep seated anti-liberal, anti-Muslim, anti-multiculturalism passion, killed dozens of teenagers and adults in an attempt to halt "traitors" to European Culture.

In US, similar to Italy, the anti-immigration tendency tends to be anti-illegal immigration, but that at times it can overlap with anti-Latino, or anti-Asian sentiments. This ranges from college level tensions to murders. For instance, at Tufts in 2009 there was a violent altercation after a drunk, underage freshman called members of the Korean Student Association slurred names, shouted they should "Go Back to China," and "I'm going to kill you all." Latino-Americans, notably Juan Varela and Raul and Brisenia Flores, have been killed in Western States by deranged white supremacists who thought they were killing illegal immigrants.

Locally, groups against illegal immigration are nonviolent and supportive and encouraging of legal immigration. Yet, you can be for legal immigration, strict enforcement, nonviolence, and still be unclassy. I recall at a 4th of July Parade in Gloucester people marching around in Martian outfits with signs reading "Illegal Aliens." That's de-humanizing. The Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement website also states, "Many of us still don’t want to accept that America is facing huge and imminent threats, among which are the Occupy movement, Radical Islam, and the outrageous Agenda 21, a global master plan from the United Nations."

Individual violent extremists exist in these parts as well, against minorities and immigrants. In Springfield, some young white lunatics burnt down a black-majority church after Obama's 2008 election, to be rebuilt only this past Fall. In Worcester, recently, a fascist praising lunatic, also known as a pathetic Rhode Island born student at Assumption College, cheered the "atrocious but necessary" Norwegian Murderer for his assault on "cultural Marxism and Islamization."

Paranoia is wide, and in pockets run very deep. The very real economic and cultural frustrations that people feel - from here to Japan- can warp into attacks on immigrants (legal and illegal). We can disagree on policy, and how to respond to illegal immigration. Yet, people are people.

At present, as politicians in Washington grandstand that illegal immigrants and green card applicants who have experienced domestic abuse should not feel able to report crimes to the police without fear of deportation, we've reached absurd levels of cold-heartedness. Don't believe me? See some of the debates around the renewal of the act to prevent violence against women.

We should not have our politicians echoing the paranoia of Northern Italian right-wingers and French anti-gypsy proponents. Economic trauma is real, but we can't embrace cures worse than the disease.


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okay.. so you are for illegal immigration... lets eliminate passports, work visas, border patrol, etc and lets also eliminate that thing called citizenship...

anybody who wants in to the usa can cross the border and have full access to all of the benefits that those of us already have.education, health benefits, voting rights,everything.

do you agree this is what you are wishing for?

and will this make the usa a better place to live?

what do you think your health care system will be?
what will be th enational language?

what about an education system?

i assuem those would all improve.

for the record, i have no problem with LEGAL immigration...

Comment #1 by jon paycheck on 2012 05 22

Nice job Dan of incorporating law abiding, non-hateful, anti-illegal alien folks into the crazies that burn churches. I'm forever amazed by those that are for law breakers.

Comment #2 by Dave Barry on 2012 05 22

If we were an anarchist country without borders, this argument would be worth having. But we're not. If we want to end up like Somalia with mass lawlessness and chaos and pirates ruling the waters, lets just keep pretending that this isn't a real problem.

Comment #3 by Russ Hryzan on 2012 05 22

I have to say, I think you’ve lost your mind. Really.

This state has turned into an absolute cesspool. Virtually each and every politician state wide has his or her personal agenda. If there is a way for them to get a kick back from a special interest group of any kind, they will do so. They will, bend, break or change the laws to allow this to happen. Allowing illegal immigration is a way for the party in power (the democrats) to remain in power.

The people throughout the state that actually read, watch and listen to the news and follow what is actually happening, are few and far between. The few that pay attention are the ones you hear screaming about wanting changes in our politics, in our politicians, and policies. If there are laws in place, we want them enforced. If there is something seriously wrong, we want it changed. If our property values are plummeting and our taxes are sky rocketing, we want that reversed. If our politicians are not ethical, we want them punished. If our leaders aren’t leading, we want them out of office. Quite frankly, it’s the uninformed voters who keep electing the same politicians and the same party to office, year after year after year.

Simply put Dan, ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION is ILLEGAL. This law was in place. It is not being enforced. Why in the hell do we have legislature and law enforcement, if they aren’t going to do what the citizens put them in office to do, or protect their citizens. PROPER border patrol is NOT being enforced.
Why? Because it benefits the sitting political party.
Why are we screaming against illegal immigration? Not because of the jobs. That has nothing to do with it. The jobs they have (for the most part) are jobs that US citizens don’t want. We’re screaming because they are costing us money, in the form of welfare, medical, tuition, housing, food, utility.
I work for a living and have NEVER collected a penny from the government. I pay more in taxes in a single year, than most Rhode Islanders earn in a year. I’m sick and tired of paying more and more, having my property value decrease.
I can currently live in Florida, have a house 3 times the size I have now, earn just as much as I do now, and pay 10% of the overall taxes that I currently pay in RI.
Maybe you have no problem with that, but I certainly do.
I take great offense to this article, and it totally irritates me to think that anyone would think any different.

Comment #4 by pearl fanch on 2012 05 22

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