Hey, man, I’m back for my weekly explainer. This time I thought we’d talk about this whole immigration issue and the debate surrounding it.
Sure! I once had a job analyzing the economic impact of immigration, so this subject is right in my wheelhouse. I also worked at Arby’s, so if you ever need to know the difference between a half-ounce of roast beef and a full ounce, I could help you with that, too.
Let’s stick to the immigration debate for now. First of all, what the hell is this DACA thing everyone is fighting about?
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was a policy implemented by President Barack Obama that allowed some minor immigrants, who either came to the U.S. illegally or overstayed visas, to defer their deportation for two-year periods and become eligible for work permits.
Some people tried to pass a bill called the DREAM Act, but even though it had enough votes to pass in the Senate, Republicans blocked it, so Obama issued an executive action implementing the law.
So why do Republicans hate it so much?
Because Obama is black and Republicans are racist.
Why does this have to be about race?
Because there is no other explanation. The GOP accused Obama of abusing his executive powers, even though Obama’s plan was similar to executive actions by Republican Presidents George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. DACA was less lenient than Reagan’s plan. The DREAM Act was written by Republicans and Democrats.
The demonization of illegal immigrants has been a tactic used to scare white people since America was founded. Whether it’s terrorism, crime or the time-honored Swiss Army knife of white supremacy, “American Christian values,” white America has used every opportunity in history to gin up fear about immigrants.
In 1798 the Alien and Sedition Acts gave the president the right to deport people “dangerous to the peace and safety” of the country. In 1875 the Page Act banned “undesirable” immigrants. The Chinese Exclusion Act, well ... I’m sure you can guess what it did.
And it’s not just black and brown people who were targeted. At different points in history, white people said the same thing about the Irish, the Italians and the Catholics.
But those are all white people.
Those people became white. You must remember, whiteness is a made-up thing. The Irish were once thought to be lazy, dumb and prone to criminal behavior The Italians were considered dumb, dirty and uncultured Neanderthals who would rape white women. They were all eventually absorbed into the American Caucasian culture after extended debates about immigration.
And black people?
I don’t think anyone referred to the centuries-old practice of trans-Atlantic kidnapping as “immigration.” I’ve seen slave logs. We were not “undocumented workers.”
Fair point. But what about the fact that illegal immigrants commit more crimes and acts of terrorism?
That is a great point ... except it’s not true.
Study after study has shown that undocumented immigrants are less likely to engage in criminal behavior and less likely to be incarcerated than native-born Americans. In fact, the American Immigration Council reports that higher immigration is associated with lower crime rates.
Trump even faked a Department of Homeland Security report citing the statistic that 3 out of 4 people convicted of terrorism are foreign-born, even though most acts of domestic terrorism are committed by white men.
But you have to admit that they come here and take our jobs.
Not according to the Brookings Institution; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; and the American Action Forum. In fact, data shows that immigration increases wages and employment.
But they don’t pay taxes, right?
Have you ever been in line at Target and heard someone tell the cashier, “Don’t add taxes to my groceries, I’m from Mexico”? Even if a worker is undocumented, an employer must deduct federal, state and local taxes from every worker’s paycheck. In fact, undocumented workers pay billions in Social Security and Medicare that they will never benefit from.
OK. Maybe you’re right about all of those things, but you must admit there is such a thing as “shithole countries.”
I agree with you on that point. There are some countries that do better than others. A country that incarcerated more human beings than any other on the planet could be considered a shithole. If there was a country that had the best medical care in the world but still allowed people to die because they couldn’t afford to see a doctor, I’d consider that a shithole. A shithole country would have homeless people in the streets and empty houses on every block. A shithole country would be the last “civilized” country to outlaw slavery. A shithole would drop bombs on innocent people with robot planes. A shithole country would allow someone to lead it even though he had no demonstrable qualifications.
But if all of these things are true, then why are people so up in arms about illegal immigration?
Because ... white people.
White people? That’s not really an answer.
Maybe I should pretend we’re playing Jeopardy and put my answer in the form of a question.
Who waltzed onto the shores of America and declared that an already inhabited land now belonged to them? Who slaughtered their way across a whole continent and called the residents “savages”? Who justified relocating an entire indigenous population to “reservations” through trickery, threats and good old-fashioned genocide? Who rounded up its citizens of Japanese heritage and herded them into concentration camps? Who refers to Muslims as terrorists, Mexicans as rapists and black people as thieves while raping, terrorizing and stealing an entire continent?
Here’s the bigger question: Who prances around the globe digging holes, shits in the holes and then has the audacity to slander the place where they dumped their waste as a “shithole”?
You should’ve made your question a true Daily Double.
Whether you refer to it as colonization, reappropriation, gentrification or “manifest destiny,” their specific brand of treachery has always been the great American modus operandi. It has nothing to do with criminality, terrorism or the economy. They fear immigration because they worry that America will become a nonwhite country.
At its core, their anti-immigrant sentiment is less about hate and more about insecurity and fear. They’ve seen how minorities are treated, and they assume that everyone else is filled with as much black-hearted evil as they are, so they create slogans like “Diversity equals white genocide,” “You will not replace us” and “Make America great again.”
What will happen if their efforts are successful?
If the Donald Trump Ethnic Cleansing Plan succeeds, they will have reversed the thing that made this country a superpower in the first place. This nation was built by black, Latino and Muslim hands. Whites have been the main beneficiaries, but they didn’t do it by themselves. A white ethno-state might be their ultimate goal, but it won’t be America.
So, what will we call it?
A shithole country.