News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Monday, August 6, 2007

Border security is a smokescreen for prejudice

According to the New York Times, state legislatures have considered 1,404 immigration measures in 2007 and enacted 170 of them. Supporters of these bills invoke the need for border security, especially in a post-9/11 world. However, when one examines the implementation of most of this legislation, a different agenda emerges.

Fact is, most of these laws go after employers, landlords, and business owners who deal with undocumented workers. There is no attempt to identify potential terrorists in any of these laws. Along with these crackdowns come vaguely supported claims of “lawlessness” and the invariable cry that Hispanics do not want to assimilate. So the “security” rationale very quickly vanishes, replaced by unvarnished prejudice.

If any of the hyper-patriots proposing these laws bothered to read their own history, they’d realize we are falling into the same old habits that have plagued this nation of immigrants since its inception. Sadly, the pattern of bigotry these laws represent is one American tradition we should outgrow and hurl into the scrapheap of history.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez