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

Friday, August 17, 2007

Who is more macho on immigration?

Although polls show most Americans favor some sort of guest worker program, the Republican Party has been hijacked by the nativist fringe and the party’s leading candidates are shoving each other aside trying to become their champion. Just this week, Mitt Romney and Rudolph Giuliani exchanged volleys over their records on immigration. In the past, both had shown a sensible openness in dealing with the issue. Now, however, they are battling over who is more macho in his determination to deport the brown invaders. In the meantime, John McCain admitted he is getting death threats for his continued support of a reasonable solution to the immigration issue.

In pandering to the nativists, the Republicans reveal their own ignorance—and they will likely pay for it at the polls. Leslie Sanchez, author of Los Republicanos. Why Hispanics and Republicans Need Each Other believes many Hispanics share Republican values. The author admits, however, that the GOP’s racist elements will continue to drive away a sympathetic constituency. “It is no surprise that suspicions and prejudices develop when Republicans treat Hispanics not as brothers, but as illegitimate children of America,” says Sanchez in her book.

Immigration threatens to push aside Iraq as the nation’s most contentious issue. But it’s not because of its real importance. After all, who is really suffering here? No, this debate is about a small group of insecure Americans who feel threatened at the arrival of people who do not look and talk like them. The apoplectic fury of this “Un-silent Minority” threatens to poison the nation's political well with its thinly-veiled bigotry.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez