Thursday, May 03, 2007


Immigration policy is as close as I come to agreeing with President Monkeyface on anything. I'd want to see less immigration into United States, legal & illegal, because I believe we could use a period of relative respite from constant cultural dislocation while we reform health care & social services. But punishing or deporting millions of Hispanics, nearly all of whom have come here for good reason & honest intent, is crazy. Since 1993, I've lived in close proximity to large Hispanic communities, comprised of immigrants from many Spanish-speaking nations. The one I'm around now is anchored by South Americans, particularly Colombians. My neighborhood is majority Hispanic. It is also middle class. - broadly so when looks closely at it. I don't understand much of the language, but I certainly understand the aspirations & the lifestyle. There are many tradespeople; general contractors, plumbers, electricians, beauticians, merchants. & a substantial professional class of doctors, lawyers, accountants, realtors, teachers. They live right here where they work, in houses with lawns & flowering bushes out front, gardens & circular swimming pools around back. They're on the school board & city council. Their United States Senator Menendez is also my Senator. They are bourgeoisie. They fill up the cafes on Sunday mornings - they don't seem especially religious. They have a vibrant popular culture that looks more sophisticated than it actually is. They like being out on the streets, & they like their streets safe for their families. No doubt, the new arrivals in Elizabeth NJ look at these established, rooted Hispanic residents & want what they have. Many of the local businesses are devoted to helping others get settled in the United States. Spanish is spoken in the neighborhood, but in New Jersey you'll quickly understand the limits on opportunity if you don't learn some English. This is an ethnic neighborhood, not a ghetto. It has no borders. It excludes no one. True, it isn't Texas or Los Angeles. There is not much visible. desperate poverty on this side of town. Because this city has been trending Hispanic for decades, there also isn't the kind of rapid demographic change that overwhelms smaller towns more quickly than they can adapt. Elizabeth is what happens when Hispanics become Americans in the same progression as previous immigrant groups, building communities & gaining real economic & political power. I can relate to these people in a way I never could to right wing, Anglo fundamentalists who have a strange vision of America as it never was, & advocate a Christianity as it should not be.

If we are in a long-term War of Civilizations (when isn't there such a war?) Hispanics are definitely on my side of the fight. The theory I've heard recently that the United States could be insidiously changed by an influx of fundamentalist Islamic immigrants is ridiculous. We're already under attack by our own homegrown fundies, who have enough in common with the Islamic variety to be really scary. Hispanics will never stand for those kinds of strictures on belief & action; it is utterly contrary to who they are & why they come here, an insult to their diversity & to the depth & breadth of their achievements. (Nobody can push the Colombian women I've met into a burka & cloistered existence.) The sheer weight of their numbers on the North & South American continents makes inevitable the gradual latinizing of the United States, & we ought to get used to it, get used to the idea that they are also us.


Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home
"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?