Murrieta and Immigrant Hatred

Murrieta ImmigrantsI have always thought of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as a pro-Israel lobbying group. And that’s certainly not an unreasonable way to think of them. They are fiercely supportive of Israel, as I mentioned briefly a couple of days ago. But they are much more than that. I was pleased to come upon an article on their site this week, Longtime Anti-Immigrant Activists Behind Murrieta Protests. It is very interesting reading.

What appears to be happening is that a small group (in the thousands) of mostly children from a few Central American countries have come to the United States seeking asylum. These are not undocumented people and they have (most anyway) not broken any laws. They turned themselves over to the United States government and asked for asylum just as people do all the time. During the Cold War, Americans were proud that Soviet citizens did this. We even had a super-keen word for it: “defecting”! Well, that’s what these kids are doing.

So why the protests? Why is the conservative press presenting this as a huge increase in illegal immigration? What is actually happening should make Americans swell with pride. These mostly young people are in trouble not at all of their own causing and they have come to us for help. I say, “Welcome!” I say, “Thank you for the honor of thinking us so good.” We are supposed to say:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.[1]

The reason for the protests comes down to what I wrote about a year ago, Conservatives Hate All Immigrants. It was after the Boston bombing and how it was causing people to complain about immigrants. I thought it was strange because the Tsarnaev brothers were here legally. And it was only then that I realized that all the talk of “illegal immigration” was really just a cover for the anti-immigration sentiment that has been here in the United States from its very beginning.

Still, I think most people are like me. In that article, I wrote, “I am proud that much of the world would like to come here.” And what I learned from the ADL article is that these protests didn’t just erupt spontaneously. They were a creation by a number of hateful people and groups. There’s conspiracy theorist Patrice Lynes, who thinks that the United Nations is going to destroy US sovereignty. This has long been a belief of the John Birch Society. The anti-immigration group We the People Rising seems to have done much of the organizing and provided most of the signs. The group is related to Lupe Morfin who was quoted by The Los Angeles Times charmingly saying, “They’ve completely taken over our areas and our neighborhoods, which have become Third World countries.” And it seems that the anti-immigration group San Diegans for Secure Borders Coalition has been involved in promoting the protests as well.

Now there is nothing wrong with people organizing events. But I’m afraid that it gives a bunch of marginal groups a lot of undeserved attention. Most Americans have confidence that the government can manage to apply its immigration and asylum laws correctly. But as the ADL concludes, “In Murrieta and Vassar, anti-immigrant activists closely tied to the largest anti-immigrant groups in the country such as FAIR[2] and NumbersUSA are helping to spread their message of bigotry and xenophobia in an attempt to create a climate of fear around this humanitarian crisis.”

Meanwhile, pro-immigration groups are fighting back. And it’s funny. When I look at pictures of the pro-immigrant side, I see America in all its variety. When I look at pictures of the anti-immigrant side, I just see a bunch of angry white people. Of course, this isn’t about skin color or culture. These same fights went on when the Irish came, when the Italians came, when the Chinese came—pretty much when anyone came. There will always be people who use fear and hatred to maintain the status quo. But American history is very clear on this: the immigrants always win.

[1] These are, of course, the words emblazoned on the Statue of Liberty. It is the ending of the sonnet “The New Colossus,” written by Emma Lazarus. Here is the sonnet in its entirety:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

[2] In this sentence, “FAIR” stands for the anti-immigration group Federation for American Immigration Reform—a group that explicitly wants to reduce legal immigration as well as illegal immigration. It is not the really great group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, which I talk about all the time.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

2 thoughts on “Murrieta and Immigrant Hatred

  1. @andrew markoff – I see that people come here from Facebook, but for some reason, Facebook doesn’t show which accounts they come from. I have gotten about 40 hits from Facebook in the last day or two, which is more an usual. So thanks for that, if it’s you. ;-)

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