Wildcat File Photo
Arizona Daily Wildcat
A couple weekends ago, a friend and myself took a little road trip to San Diego to visit an old friend. Our Tucson eyes were delighted to see such beautiful and somewhat foreign sights as rolling green hills, crashing waves, and a skyline with more than two tall buildings. While traveling along the highways and byways to the Golden State, however, we also saw an ugly and disturbing sight. Into our innocent and naive eyes were burned the brutality of America's ongoing border woes.
While cruising down the interstate, we saw the body of an immigrant struck down by an oncoming vehicle. Whether they were running from la migra or toward America's financial opportunity, we'll never know. Regardless, all their hopes and worries died in a pool of blood at the hands of a Ford Contour hauling down Highway 8.
Most disturbing, however, are the state border "inspection stations." Motorists used to stop at this station to protect California's agriculture industry. However, today's drivers are now rerouted to a makeshift Border Patrol checkpoint. All motorists are required to stop, then are waived through by a Border Patrol agent proudly decked in a green uniform, complete with a nightstick and inflated ego.
That is, of course, provided you're white, for the protection of America's southern border is essentially legalized racism.
To illustrate, police and Border Patrol officers in Chandler are currently under heat for their role in a SS-style roundup. Back in the summer of 1997, the powers that be spent five days searching Chandler's streets for illegal immigrants (read: Hispanics) to arrest and deport. In the process, Chandler Police and the Border Patrol questioned and scrutinized
illegals and U.S.-born citizens alike, based not on immigration papers, but on skin color. The end result of the ensuing nine month investigation was an admission of poor training. A slap on the wrist.
But the real question is, what are we so afraid of? A conflict as old as the United States itself, the immigration issue is one that never seems to go away. Irish and German immigrants met opposition in the 1830s and '40s, yet many of those same immigrants turned around to resist the pressure of Eastern European immigrants a generation later. Behind the perpetual immigration issue is a "close the door behind you" attitude of hypocrisy.
Now, in the 1990s, we are faced with this issue once again. Forced north by unstable governments and economies, Mexicans and Central Americans want their slice of the pie.
But America doesn't want to give it to them. Fueled by extremists like Pat Buchanan, mainstream America has a paranoid and extreme conception of Hispanics as a society of leeches. They have the false conception that Hispanics are just baby-making machines who come north to live off the fat of the land.
The fact of the matter is that these immigrants only want what the rest of us were given way back when we were immigrants: A chance to succeed and work their way up America's economic ladder.
And as much as Americans think that immigrants, whether legal or not, are draining their pocketbooks, America needs them. As unskilled laborers, they do the work that nobody else will do, often to send money to their family back home.
The slight negative impact on America's public benefits system is minimal compared to the positive impact on America's agricultural and retail economies.
Certainly an immigrant who is struggling to feed himself and his family has more on the line than a lazy American unionized worker. These laborers will work harder for less money than will an American. What's so wrong about that? It's basic capitalism. Whoever will do the work for cheapest gets the job.
After all, the United States bullied Mexico to obtain Arizona, California and New Mexico 150 years ago in the name of Manifest Destiny. This is as much their land as it is ours. So shouldn't they be given a chance?
Ryan Chirnomas is a molecular and cellular biology senior and can be reached via e-mail at Ryan.Chirnomas@wildcat.arizona.edu. His column, In Hasselhoff We Trust, appears every Monday.