The United States is the land of opportunity, the land of dreams. The resources available outside of its borders pale in comparison to those within them – especially in underdeveloped nations.
In 1492, European explorers unintentionally discovered what would become the United States of America. Children are taught across the country the story of Columbus’ discovery. Usually told with great zeal and pride, it fails to impart that America is stolen land. Native Americans occupied this continent long before it was colonized by Great Britain and the formation of the original 13 colonies. The United States of America is a nation built upon the dreams of those who immigrated here centuries ago.
Texas legislators will consider approximately 15 immigration bills in its upcoming session, which begins days before the start of the next semester. Both chambers will convene noon Jan. 11, 2011 at the state capitol.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act April 23, 2010. The law, most commonly referred to as Arizona State Bill 1070, is touted as the broadest and strictest piece of legislation aimed at preventing illegal immigration in recent history. S.B. 1070 makes it a misdemeanor at the state level for certain aliens, already federally required to do so, to not carry identification and registration documents.
The bill requires local and state agencies to confirm whether those suspected of committing crimes are in this country legally. It also prohibits the same officials from limiting enforcement of federal immigration laws and imposes greater penalties for those who hire, transport or harbor illegal immigrants.
The state of Arizona not only legalized racial profiling earlier this year, but set precedence in favoring it. This is racial profiling – the consideration of race when developing a profile of suspected criminals – to an extreme. The hue of one’s skin and the accent with which one speaks are characteristics of one’s racial identity. What then, are Arizona officials using as the basis to determine from whom to request documents verifying legal entry in this country?
How different is this from internment of the nearly 110,000 Japanese-Americans in the early 1940s during World War II?
What criteria will Texas law enforcement agencies use if similar legislation is passed in this state in the upcoming legislative session?
State laws on immigration do little, if anything, to prevent illegal entry into the U.S. The debate on the House and Senate floors will take away from the time legislators can debate issues that need to be addressed in Texas.
At best, these laws stiffen penalties already in place at the federal level. At worst, they heighten public hysteria of immigration issues and distract from the real and tangible good state governments can do.
These laws will do nothing to provide food for children and families without it. They will not restore funding to state colleges and universities whose budgets have been drastically cut once again. They will not increase access to healthcare. They will, however, promote fear, hate and injustice. They will further constitutionalize discrimination.
The United States should not be erecting walls and barriers, both physical and metaphorical. Immigration laws should be written to allow for all those who seek to live the American dream to enter the only nation where its pursuit is possible.
This is America in 2010, is it not time that we embraced our heritage as a nation – the melting pot of the world?