As the rhetoric of the presidential debate intensifies toward the final phase of running two less desirable candidates against one other in November, immigrants are once again becoming scapegoats. A sound long-term immigration policy that reunites families of naturalized citizens and attracts and empowers skilled technocrats, scientists, artists, and entrepreneurs to the US is indeed meritorious. Nonetheless, a set of strange bed fellows including the neoconservative President aspirant and the media circus trample over the constitution and equal opportunity for all, and trump immigration as consisting entirely of “illegal” Latinos crossing the southern border to take away jobs from hard-working ordinary Americans. Unless our nation can stand tall against such blanket rhetoric from a presidential candidate who calls Mexicans “murderers and rapists” and implies that all Muslims are “terrorists,” our historical values of justice, due process, habeas corpus, civil discourse and the rule of law are irrevocably damaged, and as a result, the very fabric of our nation and worldwide leadership role are seriously undermined.
Those self-serving pundits who beat their chests about undocumented workers taking low wage jobs they themselves would never take, would be unhappy paying twice as much for a head of lettuce, or for an American pie, or for the maintenance of their perfectly landscaped lawn. In addition, the hysteria this anti-immigration rhetoric perpetrates undermines employment, equal opportunities and career advancement for the legally naturalized Americans or even their US born children; some naturalized Americans even feel their safety and security at work or at home are jeopardized. Several million legal immigrants, having escaped religious and socio-political persecutions in their native region, have arrived in the US with substantial education or major capital (brain and wealth drains) to exchange for equal opportunities. The serious debate among this latter cohort nowadays is where to emigrate again, should Neocons take office. One could ask that if all Americans, hypothetically speaking, were to reapply for citizenship through the current most stringent requirements, how many would in reality qualify?
US leadership and competitiveness has historically been anchored on its immigration policy and active engagement worldwide. Hence, the notion of muddying the lines between legal and illegal immigrants is detrimental, not only to the plights and aspirations of millions of immigrants families, but also more importantly to the overall integrity and health of our nation. Most immigrants, whether documented or not, are not a threat to America: their crime rate and reliance on government subsidies is negligible when compared to US born Americans, whilst their educational and income levels are twice those of the national average. What is even more distressing is the millions who cheer for the fallacious demagogueries pontificated by the lowest [intellectual] denomination candidate. The republican front runner has taken issue with comments from Stephen Hawkins, or any other comments he has not liked.
As the US must continue to remain a robust immigrant nation, it is imperative that the government makes every conceivable effort to uphold the laws for equal opportunity and to safeguard the rights of all citizens, including the tax paying and voting legal immigrants who currently comprise nearly 15% of the population but collectively contribute several trillion dollars annually towards the US economy.
The author emigrated to the US in the late 70s and became naturalized in the late 80s. A college graduate in Iran, he has since served as university professor in New York.
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This post was written by David Rahni