Undocumented workers did not cause the recession.
Nor did they burst the housing bubble.
And the numbers of undocumented immigrants are going down, even as anti-immigrant sentiment is going up.
This makes no sense, and it amounts to scapegoating of the worst kind.
A new study conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center found that the influx of unauthorized immigrants was about two-thirds smaller from March 2007 to March 2009 than it was from March 2000 to March 2005. This was the sharpest decrease in two decades.
But that hasn’t stopped politicians from blaming the nation’s woes on these immigrants, or enacting punitive laws that will do nothing to bring back the 10 million jobs lost because the bankers on Wall Street destroyed the economy.
In Arizona, Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law SB 1070, which compels law enforcement to stop and arrest suspected undocumented aliens. It is already having a nasty effect. According to a poll from the Arizona Republic, 48 percent of respondents said Latinos are more likely to be discriminated against than they were six months ago.
The anti-immigrant sentiment sweeping through America has resulted in an increase in hate group activity and hate crimes against Latinos, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. This racial scapegoating in the U.S. is distracting people from the real problems, including a full-scale gang war in Mexico fueled by Americans’ appetite for drugs. The carnage has claimed 28,000 lives in Mexico since December 2006.
To its credit, the Obama administration has taken steps to make drugs more of a public health issue than a criminal justice issue, with a combined strategy of prevention, treatment and law enforcement. But the White House must do much more in the area of immigration reform, including a comprehensive policy to tackle the problem.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency expects to deport 400,000 people this year, 10 percent more than 2008 under President Bush, and 25 percent more than in 2007. Deportation only serves to separate American children from their parents, and that benefits no one.
We need to stop the arrests and mass deportation of the undocumented. The criminalization of the Latino community is not the way.
A much better way would be to decriminalize drugs to take the profit away from the Mexican drug lords, pass comprehensive immigration reform, keep families together and give people a path to citizenship.
We should be a generous nation, not a punitive one.
David A. Love is a writer based in Philadelphia, and the executive editor of BlackCommentator.com. His blog is davidalove.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can read more pieces from The Progressive Media Project by clicking here.