Posts Tagged ‘Peter King’

Immigrants did not cause the Economic Crisis, but they can help us rebuild

December 14, 2008

The Anti-Defamation League recently published a thoughtful article warning all of us to be careful in assigning blame to any one group of people (Nathan, Martin. Houston Chronicle)  The ADL’s article focused on Susan Carroll’s Houston Chronicle series which highlighted problems in our criminal system.  While study after study like that of Harvard Sociology Professor Robert Sampson has shown that recent immigrants are far less likely to commit crimes (45% less likely than 3rd generation Americans in his study), xenophobic rhetoric abounds on blogs, comments, and media posts concerning immigrants.

What’s more alarming, yet inextricably linked to such polarizing rhetoric of hate and “otherness,” are the increasing hate crimes against Latinos and other immigrant groups. The Houston Chronicle article highlighted FBI statistics that show from 2005-2007 hate crimes against Latinos grew from 475 to 595.  Indeed, several high-profile hate crimes against immigrants have occurred in New York City alone, that emblematic heart of the American melting pot.  Ecuadorean brothers Jose and Romel Sucuzhanay were brutally beaten in Bushwick, Brooklyn, on Sunday, December 7, by three men shouting obsenities which were “ugly, anti-gay and anti-Latino” (McFadden, Robert. New York Times).  On November 7 in Patchogue, NY, seven teenagers fatally stabbed 37-year-old Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorean returning from his late shift (Finn, Robin. New York Times).

And so, as the economy continues its downspin and people, unable to wreak justice on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, scan the nation for a proper scapegoat, preferrably one without a voice and lacking human rights.  It is this nativism fueled by the economic crisis which propels hate speech and hate crimes, as well as xenophobic legislation like New IDEA (Immigrant Deduction Enforcement Act), an attempt to massively expand the role of the IRS in aiding the Department of Homeland Security to crack down not on employers but primarily on unauthorized immigrants. Iowa Congressman Steven King, seemingly unfazed by the destruction the Postville ICE raid has caused his own small-town constituents, touts this bill he introduced as a means of wresting jobs from the immigrants holding 7 million jobs (as per the PEW Hispanic Research Center) and distributing them to the 9.5 million jobless Americans. While his Robin-Hood techniques may sound appealing in a time of economic depression, we cannot forget that immigrants are people too; this is not merely redistributing wealth or opportunity – this is redistributing people.

As we head into the New Year, looking back on our mistakes of 2008 and crafting new resolutions to see us through 2009, blame-shifting will help none of us.  No, we must turn from this simple scapegoating and look at real solutions which can help us all rather than profiting some at the expense of the most vulnerable (isn’t this the sort of predatory business model that caused the economic crisis in the first place?).  Immigrants didn’t cause the economic crisis, but they can sure help us rebuild.  Why? Because they are us and we are them; we are all in this thing together.

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Nativist Fears Subsiding: 9/11 and the LPGA

September 7, 2008

A week after announcing its proposed policy to require golfers to pass an oral English test, the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) officially rescinded this past Saturday, September 6. Since first proclaimed, the English-only requirement slated for 2009 drew criticism from many civil rights groups such as the Asian Pacific American Legal Center and lawmakers like California State Senator Leeland Yee. Yee planned to explore legal options to oppose the policy, stating that it would have violated workplace discrimination laws. Yee also pointed out that the stipulation could also affect blind or hearing-impaired athletes.

This proposed nativist requirement follows a year which saw two of the 145 international players on the tour win this year’s Majors. Lorena Ochoa of Mexico and Yani Tseng of Taiwan both impressed the world of golf with their performance on the women’s circuit this year.

The LPGA justified its new proposal by stating that several sponsors had voiced concern because they could not communicate with golfers during and after the tournament. Although the Tour withdrew its proposal to suspend players who did not demonstrate proficiency in English, it still hopes to strongly encourage English fluency among its athletes through the use of tutors and computer software. (http://washingtontimes.com/news/2008/sep/06/lpga-scraps-its-english-policy/)

Also this week, extralegal immigrant families who lost a family member on 9/11 were granted temporary legal status by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Friday, Sept. 5. The wives, husbands and children of the victims had been able to receive payments from the Victim Compensation Fund, but they were fearful to invest or share their stories because of their immigration status.

Last year two Congressmen from New York, Peter King (Rep) and Carolyn Maloney (Dem) introduced a bill to expedite the process toward permanent residency for these family members. The immigrants themselves, however, were wary of providing personal information to public officials for fear of deportation or detention. Now that DHS has granted them one-year temporary visas, at least some of that fear is gone. (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/08/15/911-immigrant-survivors-move-toward-legal-status/)