WASHINGTON (NNPA) - If you are really angry about immigration …then you should be asking questions about US foreign policy.
In the aftermath of the extremely racist Arizona anti-immigrant legislation—SB 1070—and the fact that opinion polls seem to indicate that a majority of the public supports this obliteration of basic human rights, it is worth asking a few tough questions. Let's start with these:
1. Was the financial collapse in the fall of 2008 caused by immigrants—documented or otherwise?
2. Has the decline of the US auto industry, and the corresponding loss of thousands of jobs, been the result of immigrants?
3. Has the U.S. lost its shipbuilding industry due to immigrants?
4. Is there any recession (or depression) on record that can be attributed to immigrants?
If you cannot demonstrate that immigration has had anything to do with the declining economy and its impact on working people, then you need to look for other culprits.
What is happening in Arizona is a travesty. Playing on fears, a racist piece of legislation was passed that allegedly addresses a problem that has been proven to be on the decline. That's right, undocumented immigration is declining. Yet the legislation that was passed was playing to the fears largely of White Americans who are watching the demographics of the USA change. In that sense the Arizona legislation that aims to go after anyone appearing to be an "illegal alien" is not so much aimed at undocumented immigrants but is aimed at Chicanos and Native Americans as populations, and also aimed at stirring up right-wing fears among Whites, driving them to the Republican Party.
Contemporary immigration has resulted from several critical factors. One has to do with the legacy of colonialism and Western domination of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, which deformed the societies and economies of these regions. A second has to do with wars, many of which are directly related to the active interference of outside powers, particularly the USA and Europe. A third has to do with the growing environmental crisis, including but not limited to global warming, wherein lands are becoming deserts, on the one hand, and being submerged under water, on the other hand.
Putting this all together, the immigration that we are witnessing is not the result of people coming with the intent to steal "our" jobs but is the result of desperation. Playing on this desperation are unscrupulous employers who seek vulnerable and inexpensive labor.
Putting up walls or massive raids on immigrant communities does not come close to addressing the real challenge. People are moving to the USA, Western Europe and Canada not because they want to, but because they have to. Insofar as they are unable to have real self-determination because their economies have been dominated and/or destroyed by Western countries or to the extent to which their lands have been devastated by wars financed by the West, millions move.
This is the discussion that must take place, including within Black America. Too many African Americans find themselves seduced by anti-immigrant bias in large part because of the desperation of our own condition. As we have watched our own jobs disappear and seen ruthless employers utilize immigrant labor, it is not surprising that there are resentments that emerge. That, however, does not justify such feelings.
Arizona's anti-immigrant legislation is the logical outcome of deep-seated racism combined with a refusal to acknowledge the implications of US economic and political actions on the rest of the world, particularly toward Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. In other words, for those who believe—rightly or wrongly—that immigration is out of control and is somehow a threat, they should not look south of the border but should look into the US mirror…and be prepared for the shock of their lives.
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum, and the co-author of "Solidarity Divided." He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.