There has been much talk about how the Boston Marathon bombing changes the calculus of immigration reform. At first that surprised me. The Tsarnaev brothers were here legally. How does that have anything to do with illegal immigration. But then only last night it hit me: I’ve been dumb, naive, or both.
I’m very pro-immigration. I think diversity makes us better. With all the problems that our country has, I am proud that much of the world would like to come here. And that makes me highly sympathetic toward people who come to this country illegally. Many of them have risked death to come here. Many have died trying to come here. These are not criminals. Everyone should celebrate the fact that these people risk so much just to join us.
Just the same, I’ve often been confused by the arguments that immigrant rights opponents make. It seemed to me that they conflated legal and illegal immigration. Surely this was an error. The people who were complaining about immigration were only concerned about the illegal kind. Everyone was for legal immigration, right?
That’s where last night’s epiphany comes in. These conservatives who claim that the Tsarnaev brothers change the immigration debate mean that their concern is not just illegal immigration. These people have a problem with immigration itself. In fact, this is just a continuation of the centuries old problem of hatred and discrimination toward immigrants.
Most of my readers probably think that I’m fairly cynical. In fact, it is one of the better aspects of my writing. But I remain, deep down, optimistic and positive. I really do want to think the best of people. And sometimes that means I miss what people are really thinking unless they come right out and say, “I’m a bigot! I’m a bigot!”
Because let’s be clear: the Boston Marathon bombing and the Tsarnaev brothers have nothing to do with the underclass of undocumented residents who our system implicitly creates. And anyone who conflates them just doesn’t like immigrants. And frankly, unless you are 100% Native American, you’re on flimsy ground.