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Immigration problem source: U.S. side of border

By Victoria Advocate
June 8, 2010 at 1:08 a.m.

VENEGAS

This is in response to Walter Rosenbrock's letter to the editor on June 1 regarding, "racial profiling."

I have grown weary of the misinformed bigotry that clearly ails our community, judging by the letters to the editor filled with so much racism.

Personally, I am more convinced than ever of the basic decency and common humanity of those being demonized by some groups as criminals and undesirables for the simple fact that they "look different."

The situation in Arizona accentuates very clearly that these people who are being demonized are real people who are struggling for dignity, survival and respect.

In spite of the right-wing and tea partiers' allegations about losing jobs, and drains on social services, immigrants actually contribute to the economy of our country, and in our region, in particular, not to mention how many of these people have enriched us culturally and in many other areas of our society - case in point, the two young ladies who just graduated from Bloomington High School as Valedictorian and Salutatorian, and Pauline Negrete, fourth-grader from Edna, who won third-round in the National Spelling Bee contest - all of them Hispanics.

Diana Gonzalez came to the United States with her parents looking for a better life, like so many others have, whether they are Hispanics or any other group. Studies have shown that crime rates among immigrants are actually on par with or even lower than national averages, in spite of all the claims of the holier-than-thou crowd who has tried to create fear for their own political and racist purposes.

Right-wingers are experts at this fear-mongering. Added to the targeting of immigrants, now ethnic studies programs and even teachers with accents have been singled out, mobilizing other misinformed bigots to activism. Racial profiling has been the reality of daily life not only in Arizona, but in other areas of our country.

As a Hispanic Jew, I have experienced this in Alabama, Chicago, Florida and yes, Texas. And I happen to be a U.S. citizen! But because of my "accent" or because my physical appearance happens to be "different," I have experienced ridicule and harassment by people who, because they happen to be "white," feel that they have the privilege to be here, while others who look "different" don't.

We need to remember that many of our immigrant ancestors, including those of Mr. Rosenbrock's, came to this country fleeing from oppression and economic hardships, only desiring a better life for their children. When they arrived in the United States, they too experienced discrimination and were constrained to work in only certain menial jobs. However, they also enjoyed certain advantages because of the color of their skin, which allowed them to blend in and avoid the kind of persecutions that are so evident when it comes to immigrants from Mexico or Central America.

It has been reported that migrant women in U.S. custody in Arizona have been shackled during childbirth, and some have suffered broken arms, dislocated jaws, intimidation and other vulgarities. U.N. experts have expressed that a pattern of legislative activity hostile to ethnic minorities and immigrants has been established, which will allow police (who have now become border patrol agents), to target individuals on the basis of their perceived ethnic origin.

This, at minimum, violates our due process rights. That they all came here legally or not is not the question. When people are desperate, they will do whatever they need to do to feed their families. It was a survival situation then when Mr. Rosenbrock's German ancestors came here, and it is a survival situation now.

We do not have an "illegal immigration problem." We have an illegal hiring problem. When corrupt people who hire these immigrants illegally, taking advantage of them and paying them miserable wages are given the fines they deserve, the problem will be solved, and Mr. Rosenbrock and others like him can sit back and enjoy their comfortable lives.

Raphael Venegas resides in Victoria and is a retired professor of Spanish literature from The Victoria College.

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