I am in America because of illegal immigration, and that is part of the reason I have such strong opinions about it. My ancestor came to this country from Great Britain illegally. But he was able to "melt" into the "pot" we call the United States and make babies and such and here I am.
I agree that current immigration policies need fixing, but rather than working toward actual solutions we hear hateful rhetoric and pass laws that disrespect humanity and tear families apart.
Here's a video that's a couple of years old, but points out the ignorance of some people (like you don't speak to Koreans in Japanese and expect them to understand), and the realization that you don't just come to this country and immediately know English. And, of course, that not all immigrants (legal or illegal) are Hispanic. There is a huge Vietnamese community on the Alabama coast that could be affected adversely if, say, drivers licenses were restricted to those who already know English. (That didn't come from this video, by the way).
Here is a column I wrote for the Western Tribune, oddly enough, the same month that video was produced (November 2007).
Immigration is a hot topic but wouldn’t it be nice if everyone knew the
facts before forming opinions and voicing them on talk radio and such?
The state’s Joint Interim Patriotic Immigration Commission held a public
hearing recently and some little known facts were revealed during the testimony.
Sam Brooke, Law Fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, took
the opportunity to dispel several myths, as the following examples from his
testimony point out.
One myth is that immigrants without legal status cause a rise in criminal
activity. The fact is that an increase in immigrants – with or without
legal status- generally causes a reduction in crime.
This was proven in court in Hazelton, PA, when anti-immigrant ordinances
were being challenged, and testimony brought the true facts out.
In addition it has been shown in our own state that immigrants are
more likely to be the victims rather than the perpetrators of criminal
activity. We only need to look as far as Lipscomb where Hispanics were
recently being targeted to realize this, but an article from the Montgomery
Advertiser (October 16, 2007) also backs this up.
Another myth is that immigrants drain public health dollars and put
a strain on medical services. A recent study in Georgia estimated that
undocumented immigrants contribute between $215 and $252 million to the state’s
coffers, and in Texas it is estimated they contribute $380 million more than
they use in relation to state-provided services. While similar numbers are not
available for our state, it can be concluded that immigrants who lack
legal status do not cost our state money.
Immigrants without legal status have been made scapegoats over these
issues. To combat this, the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice and the ACLU
of Alabama are encouraging the Immigration Commission and our Legislature to
treat immigrants with respect and dignity as they find solutions that are
inclusive of this growing community.
And they should remember that only the federal government can regulate
employment and presence of immigrants. Laws in other states that have attempted
to challenge this authority have not been upheld. It would not make
sense to have a hodge-podge of laws that differ from state to state regarding
who can come into our country.
The federal government has failed to address the immigration issue,
but that does not mean we should attempt to solve the problems on a state by
Rather, we should be encouraging the Congress and President to find
workable solutions without stereotyping or making scapegoats of people.
Solutions that allow well intentioned immigrants to live and contribute to our
society as they move toward full citizenship are solutions we can all live with.
In the meantime, in Arizona: