Illegal Immigration, the Seeds of Racism & the People We’ll Choose to Be

Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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138 Responses

  1. Kimsie says:

    People totally fail to understand this issue.

    The english-only crowd wants to erase the other — NOT necessarily through having the stranger move out, but by accepting him — and turning him into one of them. They want him to adopt all their cultural modikers (including race).

    Other folks (call ’em Cavaliers, call ’em the landed rich) just want some people with fewer rights, fewer priviledges than they’ve got. Because it makes ’em feel special.

    Liberals have yet to square the circle — legalizing the aliens fixes nada, when Americans are too poor to pay a good price on most items.

    The funny part about your article is that Massachusetts sees a ton of Irish illegal immigrants. Nobody ever bitches about ’em though, on a national scale. Because it’s hard to demonize the gingers in the good ol’ USA.

    And of course I look at the two pictures differently — though I don’t ask about illegals, because most of the kids in the top picture code as “black” to me. One is a mixed sex, indoor gathering — the other is a single sex band of remarkably well dressed kids, judging by their surroundings. One set looks happy the other one looks sad, depressed, possibly a bit angry.


  2. Michelle says:

    The primary reason we dare not have a discussion about illegal immigration in this country is that, like race, it requires nuance, and nuance and complexity have been systematically programmed out of our political system by the 24-7 news cycle and the general dumbing down of American culture. It’s much easier for politicians (and everyday citizens) to say stuff like “well, why don’t we just build a wall” or “why not kick them out” or “we should give them all amnesty” than it is too look realistically at the costs and benefits of maintain the current flow of Latin Americans over the border. Whole industries depend on a constant influx of undocumented workers–agriculture, hospitality, restaurant, landscaping, and so on. They do our society’s dirty and often dangerous work. Go into any meat processing plant and figure out how many of the workers there have the proper documents and how many crossed the border illegally.

    Plus, as the Newster pointed out in the last debate, a lot of these people who came here illegally been here for a very long time, have children and grandchildren who were born here, pay taxes, and contribute to their communities. Their absence would be sorely felt.
    Where and how do you draw the line. These are questions that need to be asked and answered, but the answers require thought and depth of thinking about the kind of culture and country we want and the kind of controls needed to achieve it.

    It’s easy to say close the borders, but if there were not a lot of powerful economic forces that wanted the labor these workers provide, generally on the cheap, and if we did not depend so greatly on that labor, the government would have made greater efforts a long time ago to secure the borders and provide for some kind of guest worker program.Report

    • Kimsie in reply to Michelle says:

      What nuance does it take to say drive the scofflaws out of business?

      What further nuance does it take to see the fence as Potempkin propaganda for exactly those businessmen?

      Insight does not equal nuance. Nuance is deciding exactly when a “soon to be human” crosses the line into “actually alive, or close enough for government’s sake”Report

      • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Kimsie says:

        What nuance does it take to say drive the scofflaws out of business?

        None whatsoever.  But we’ll leave it to you to explain why legal residents and American citizens just lost their jobs, too.  Good luck with that, you’ll need all the nuance you can get.Report

      • Michelle in reply to Kimsie says:

        I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. I think there is a great deal of nuance involved in a discussion of how to enforce our borders and deal with the millions of people who have crossed them illegally versus simply saying build a wall. Vice versa, it requires genuine give-and-take, and the confronting of uncomfortable questions, to come up with some kind of program that would allow people to come over and work here legally, with all the protections that involves, versus portraying all businessmen and individuals who avail themselves of the labor of illegals as scofflaws. Extremists on both sides seem to make it a question of black and white.


        • Kimmi in reply to Michelle says:

          would you be saying the same thing if they were hiring 4yearolds to pick those strawberries? That we should show some nuance in talking with them, that it wasn’t black and white? (less of a hypothetical than you might think… considering rand paul is pro-child-labor)Report

    • Sam M in reply to Michelle says:

      “…nuance and complexity have been systematically programmed out of our political system by the 24-7 news cycle and the general dumbing down of American culture.”

      Yes. The conversation was much better prior to cable news, back in the 60s, when most of the speaking was done with water cannons.Report

      • Kris Kringle in reply to Sam M says:

        And Walter Cronkite telling the country we lost the “Tet” war!   Walter Cronkite caused the loss of more American servicemen in Vietnam than the NLF and North Vietnamese combined.  For the record,  there was not one single battle, skirmish, offensive, conflagration, whatever, that was lost by the Americans during the Tet offensive. None.  For that matter, you could say that for the entire length of that war.  And I’m sure the ever putrid Jane Fonda posing at the controls of that anti-aircraft cannon didn’t exactly get mints placed on top of the pillows of US POWs, either.Report

  3. Jason Kuznicki says:

    I think conservatives’ big problem on this issue is a mistaken understanding of what laws are able to accomplish.

    The most respectable conservative position to my mind is that there was an amnesty under Reagan, with the understanding that there would never, never ever be another amnesty, so no more illegals, thanks, we mean it for real guys.

    It’s possible to give speeches about what your understanding is.  It’s possible to pass a law with that understanding firmly in your mind.  It’s possible that your understanding of what ought to happen makes you feel really, really righteous about the law you’ve just passed.

    But it is not possible to change people’s behavior by believing something really, really hard.  The incentives are still there for people to come to this country.  The lack of amnesty didn’t change the incentives all that much.  Nor will further attempts at believing something.  That way never, ever works.  Ever.Report

    • wardsmith in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

      Jason it’s more nuanced than that. Since we live under a two-party system that is *(and always has been) in a death-struggle with the opposition, immigration is just another pawn in the struggle. Reagan gave the illegals amnesty and they responded (demographically) by voting Democrat. I guess we could add that Republicans freed the slaves and they responded the same way. Republican “nativiists” in the past were against Irish, Italian and Hispanic (including Spain) immigration because when they arrived, they kept their “Papist” Catholic religion and voted Democrat too.

      George Washington rightly worried that partisan politics would split up this country.Report

      • Jesse Ewiak in reply to wardsmith says:

        Um, African-American’s voted Republican at least nationally until FDR. Because FDR to a greater extent than any previous President actually put forth the federal  government to help African-American’s through government investment in infrastructure and such (not that FDR was perfect on race issues), then the GOP totally abandoned the ideals of Lincoln. For example, could any Republican candidate praise Lincoln in South Carolina? 🙂

        As for Washington, factions are part of politics. Even if there were no “political parties”, there’d be factions of like-minded individuals. That’s how human beings _work._Report

        • wardsmith in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

          There you go again Jesse excusing away fault with the “everyone does it” argument. There IS another possibility. Drop your unceasing apologetics for “your” party and you unceasing attacks on the “other” party and pretend you can think for yourself. Then see how many others you can get to join the new train. Or stay the sheeple you so proudly are.Report

          • Kimsie in reply to wardsmith says:

            mu. What the heck do you think I have been doing? I ain’t that much of a liberal that I can’t understand a conservative mindset — and adopt it when it makes sense to me.Report

          • Jesse Ewiak in reply to wardsmith says:

            Not everybody does it. Just racists. Who were mostly Democrats until Nixon & Friends came up with the Southern strategy and northern congresspeople actually passed the CRA.Report

            • Kimmi in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

              from all that I’ve read, there’s still plenty of racists in the Democratic party. Some of them live near me, even.

              A quote from Washington, PA, during the last election — Democratic canvasser comes to the door, asks who are you voting for. The family’s response, “we’re voting for the n!gger!”

              …I have no idea -what- possessed someone to say that.Report

          • Chris in reply to wardsmith says:

            How often do you praise Democrats, I wonder? Baaaah.

            Related to Jesse’s point, I used to do political surveys in the late 90s. I remember distinctly talking to people (usually older people) in the south and, after they agreed with every position I listed for the Republican candidate (or disagreed with every position I listed for the Democratic candidate), I’d ask them if they planned to vote for the Republican or Democrat, and they’d say the Democrat. Some of them would even volunteer that they always vote straight Democrat. Southern white people have long memories, memories that extend back well before they were born. Georgia didn’t elect a Republican to the Senate until 1980, South Carolina until Strom switched parties in 1960, Alabama 1980, Mississippi until 1978, and Louisiana 2004. Two thousand friggin’ four (one of Louisiana’s Senate seats has been occupied by a Democrat since Reconstruction).Report

            • Chris in reply to Chris says:

              I distinctly remember talking to people, but I probably talked to them distinctly, too.Report

            • wardsmith in reply to Chris says:

              I’m not saying blacks were brilliant for voting Democrats into office. On this site I’ve praised some (northern) Democrats from the past, such as Scoop Jackson and Mike Mansfield whom I knew and admired. As Reagan said (and Jesse will claim he was racist because that’s the only card in his deck) he “didn’t leave the Democrat party, they left him”. BOTH damn parties use the weak, disenfranchised and marginal citizens as pawns in their power politics game. There’s not one incumbent on the hill, corrupted by the trappings of office who wouldn’t throw his own mother under a bus if it would guarantee him a ‘win’ in the next election. And when they retire ala Dodd and Frank, after writing punitive legislation, they’ll make billions for their firms defending the same banks (as lobbyists) they were “attacking” with their law. Oh and they’ll hide their “winnings” quite well so they can continue to be apologists for the selfsame class warfare they are promulgating.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to wardsmith says:

                No, I don’t think Reagan was a racist. However, he did start his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, for sooooooome odd reason.

                And of course the Democrat Party left Reagan. It’s hard to stay a liberal (not that Reagan was ever much of one) when you start cashing those sweet checks from GE.Report

              • wardsmith in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                It’s hard to stay a liberal when you start cashing those sweet checks from GE. I guess this proves once and for all that Obama isn’t a liberal then (at least in your eyes).

                Time to play your one and only racism card again Jesse. You should start a band, Jesse’s One Note.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to wardsmith says:

                Nah, Obama’s a centrist technocrat internationally. Which means he’s on the center-left in the US.

                Again, I don’t think Reagan was personally no more a racist then the average person born of his era. But, he sure whistled to those racists with talking about welfare moms stepping out of Cadillac’s and starting his campaign in Philadelphia, MS.Report

              • wardsmith in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Yup, your one note, sounds a bit off-pitch to me, but what do I know?

                political speeches from local, state, and national politicians at the fair had been a long-standing tradition at the Fair dating back to 1896, with Jack Kemp, John Glenn, and Michael Dukakis among the politicians who have spoken there

                there was nothing racist about Reagan’s use of the phrase “states’ rights” in the context of the speech; The New Republic criticized Jimmy Carter‘s allegations of racism, calling them “frightful distortions, bordering on outright lies.”[6] David Brooks of The New York Times called the attention paid to the “states’ rights” phrase a “slur” and a “distortion.” He wrote that the campaign had been somewhat forced by the county fair organizers who had announced Reagan’s appearance, and that the “states’ rights” phrase was used in the part of his speech, mostly about inflation and the economy, where he spoke about schools. Brooks wrote that Reagan had been courting black voters at that time, and he flew to New York City after the speech to deliver an address to the Urban League.

                But why let facts get in the way of your one-note-narrative? Frankly Jesse you bore me, hardly worth the bother of a rebuttal.


              • Kimmi in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:


                when Reagan talked about “big black bucks” THAT is fucking racist, and don’t you be telling me otherwise. This from recorded southern speeches.

                We’re not talking masked racism, we’re not talking dogwhistling, we’re talking a presidential campaign openly playing the racism card, and the media covering up for it (by not mentioning it to northern audiences, where it wouldn’t play well).

                Ya can contrast this with the paternalism displayed by republican politicians wrt Palin — “don’t question her too hard, she’s a lady” — which got a LOT of play in the rest of the country, who really didn’t want to hear it.

                See? I’m bringing up cited instances, for particular events. I’m NOT using blanket statements.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to wardsmith says:

                Oh, and I’m assuming you’re for public financing if you’re truly worried about the corruption of both parties due to lobbying, right?Report

              • Chris in reply to wardsmith says:

                Black people didn’t vote those southern Democrats into office. For much of that time, black people couldn’t vote, or at least not in numbers sufficient to influence even local elections. White people voted them into office, because they hated the Republicans for the war, emancipation, and Reconstruction. When black people could vote immediately after the war (during Reconstruction), they voted for Republicans, and they ran as Republicans.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Chris says:

                Ditto this and Chris’s comment further up.  The South was long a one-party system, and that party was the Democrats because the Republicans were the part of Lincoln.  And because of their political culture, they tended to re-elect the same people year after year.  That had two effects: one, it meant lots of old guys in office; guys who in the 1950s and ’60 heard stories about the war for southern independence and those damn Yankee carpetbaggers from their grandparents who actually lived through those times; second, it meant that through seniority they controlled most of the plumb committee chairmanships in Congress.  So even as the other wing of the party drifted away from them they had solid incentives to resist jumping ship.  But by the mid-90s, both of those things had broken down; hardly anybody left had such a close connection to the Civil War, seniority was less important in controlling congressional chairmanships, and then when the Republicans took control of the House for the first time in 4 decades, Southern Dem congressmembers faced the prospect of being in the congressional minority with a party they despised or jumping to a party they no longer hated so much and being well-rewarded with good committee chair positions.

                The southern Republicans (and increasingly the northern Republicans) are little different from the old southern Dems.  Not, except with very rare exceptions, virulent racists anymore, but still the most conservative political block in the country.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to wardsmith says:

                “BOTH damn parties use the weak, disenfranchised and marginal citizens as pawns in their power politics game.”


  4. Michelle says:

    As to your other question–is there an element of racism to the current fanfare over illegal immigration? Of course. It’s not the whole of the issue, and not everyone who opposes illegal immigration and wants to build a wall is some kind of racist cretin. The issue is much more nuanced than that. But there is certainly a fear of the Other involved, a fear that wouldn’t be seen if Canadians were flooding over the borders to take jobs Americans supposedly didn’t want.

    Differences in language, culture, and skin color certainly play into the debate such as it is. Having lived in Los Angeles for several years, it was kind of amazing to drive through sections of the city and not see any signs in English, let alone a white person walking down the street. The Latin Quarter, as it’s called, is immense, but other immigrants have their own enclaves in the country’s larger cities (and probably smaller ones as well). I think it does lead people to wonder if their country is being hijacked by people who will fundamentally alter the culture and social fabric to a point where it’s unrecognizable. Such fear has a long history in our country. Each successive wave of non-white-Protestant immigrants brought with it a subsequent reaction along the same lines–the notion that “these people,” whoever they might be, would somehow undermine American culture and rip the social fabric apart. For a nation of immigrants, we’re not entirely comfortable with a lot of the people who choose to immigrate here. From the 1920s through the 1960s, our laws reflected our desire to allow only certain groups in.

    Long story short, it’s a complicated issue with deep roots in American history and it brings up all kinds of anxiety about what indeed it is as a culture and society that holds us together. It relates, as well, to the whole hijacking of Christmas issue, or other critiques that focus on our “cultural” breakdown.Report

    • Kris Kringle in reply to Michelle says:

      Michelle, you are simply smoldering!    Would you mind terribly if I, and my lute, were to serenade you with this song under your window some night?   (Quiet panting heart.  Don’t scare the poor woman away.)

      In the spirit of,
      SHE walks in beauty, like the night
      Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
      And all that ‘s best of dark and bright
      Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
      Thus mellow’d to that tender light

      Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
      One shade the more, one ray the less,
      Had half impair’d the nameless grace
      Which waves in every raven tress,Report

  5. Will Truman says:

    If there was one uniting theme in the thread over at Elias’s joint, in was that racism doesn’t exist/barely exists/is irrelevant when it comes to the illegal immigration debate. Tom, Will, Koz and Jaybird seemed very clear on this.

    Oh, I wouldn’t say that at all. I am taking a more minimalist position: that the illegal immigration debate is not solely, or even primarily, about race. I think that it is aggravated by race, though, for a couple of reasons: First, because Mexican-Americans and immigrants are more immediately identifiable than other groups. Second, because those that are racist are more likely to be… excited… by Latino immigrants than they would be by Polish ones (though the same people would not be accepting of the latter, either). Third, because folks have to watch what they say to a greater extent to avoid accusations of racism (whether it is present or not) and this causes resentment (Note: I don’t believe watching what you say to avoid the appearance of racism when none is intended is an altogether bad thing. Just that it has some negative side effects in addition to the ways it is beneficial).

    You (if I recall) asked Jaybird about Canadians and whether the same hostility would apply to them. I think the answer is clearly no. Partially due to race, but more due to commonality of culture and language. They’d fit right in. They already do. But take a group of immigrants that don’t fit in so cleanly, even if they look white-ish, like Armenians, and you will hear things from Anglo Glendale residents that will make you blush (“I understand why the Russians wanted to wipe them out. Genocide is wrong, of course, but I understand.”). And even more modest differences, in large enough numbers, can create resentments (Californians in Idaho and Montana, gentiles in Utah).

    That’s my main point.Report

    • Kimsie in reply to Will Truman says:

      I’d rather not watch what I say. I’ll take my learning opportunities when I find them, and hopefully apologize with enough humility to not cause hard feelings.Report

    • @Will Truman:

      I do think that under certain conditions, even Anglo-Canadians would be regarded as “otherized” (or “racialized”).  If they came in very large numbers and were concentrated in, say, the low-waged service sector or low-waged manufacturing sectors, and if they tended to congregate in the cheaper areas of town (because they couldn’t afford higher rents), I believe that people would start seeing “racial” differences, or markers of race differences

      Of course, I am positing something very hypothetical–there is probably a lot of Canada to US immigration, but I don’t believe there are that many Anglo-Canadians concentrated in certain identifiable sectors of the economy (well, maybe sketch comedy is an exception), but I suspect that such would be the case.

      If I am right, my “rightness” suggests that to some degree, the racism involved is a posteriori rather than a priori.  Now, I do agree with you that the anti-Mexican xenophobia (to the extent that it is xenophobia and not just anti-immigration) is fueled by the fact that most latinos don’t look “white” and speak a language other than English.Report

    • Will Truman,

      “You (if I recall) asked Jaybird about Canadians and whether the same hostility would apply to them. I think the answer is clearly no. Partially due to race, but more due to commonality of culture and language. They’d fit right in. They already do.”

      I think this is true to the extent that they could hide their illegal status by blending in. Hispanics cannot. At the end of the day i think the problem with illegal immigration is that we are ultimately a country of laws and MOST Americans do their best to respect those laws. When I stop for gas once or twice a week the station is filled with Hispanic landscapers and roofers starting their days. I don’t think it makes me a racist to admit I always wonder how many of them are here legally.

      I’m having trouble thinking of another scenario where so many people could accurately be assumed to be breaking the law in plain sight. A Grateful Dead show maybe?


  6. Michelle says:

    But take a group of immigrants that don’t fit in so cleanly, even if they look white-ish, like Armenians, and you will hear things from Anglo Glendale residents that will make you blush. . .

    Having spent some time in Glendale, I can attest to the truth of this statement.

    I also think your point is well taken. It’s not simply a question of race, but of culture and language. However, you generally don’t see the kind of rancor over the influx of Asian immigrants, many of whom also come into the country illegally, as you do over Mexicans and other Latino groups.Report

    • Kimsie in reply to Michelle says:

      has to do with where they settle. If you ain’t around the knownothings, they ain’t gonna bitch about ya.

      And some cultures are much more about fitting in than others…Report

    • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Michelle says:

      Well, two things on Asian vs. Latino immigration.

      1. Asian’s are still a relatively small percentage of the population. I think the number as of 2010 is around four percent. Hispanics are fifteen percent.

      2. Ancedotally, Asian influence within an area via immigration comes in two forms. One, one or two Asian families so they’re more of a curiosity than anything else. Or two, so many immigrants they become a large chunk of the population quickly. There’s not the large, but not overwhelming numbers Hispanics are in places like the Midwest and some parts of the Northeast.


    • Will Truman in reply to Michelle says:

      I actually put the “illegal” status in the same category as race. It’s an aggravator, but the primary cause, of general resentment and conflict.

      It’s worth noting that Asian immigrants are not as numerous as Latino ones. In places where they are concentrated, there often are issues. This was true at my high school and an apartment complex where I lived, even though they were two very different types of ethnic Asians and the conflicts were not necessarily over the same things (and not to the same degree). Culture clash happens, even when everybody is operating in good faith.Report

  7. Koz says:

    There’s a lot to chew on here. I want to make a couple of points clarifying my position on a couple things because I suspect it might be different than Tom or Jay. My position isn’t that racism is rarely or never a factor in the immigration debate. I make some effort to be agnostic on that point. My point is that it doesn’t make any difference one way or the other, in exactly the sort of context you’ve outlined.

    “I know even as I write this that everyone will claim that they and no one they know would ever look at the first group of kids differently than the second; that were they to drive past the first group of kids any fleeting connection to illegal aliens would never, ever, ever cross their minds.”

    We should never allow libs and diversity racketeers to browbeat us into thinking the same thing about the people in those pictures. They’re plainly different. Among other things, if the kids in the bottom picture are in America, I can promise with a high degree of confidence that none of them ever illegally crossed the US-Mexico border whereas there is some chance that one of the kids in the top picture did. Otoh, it is a rash conclusion to think that the kids on top are all illegal immigrants and very likely wrong.

    “I know already that many here will argue that this isn’t racism; and that if it were white Canadians working illegally we would be having the exact same conversations. But I remain dubious of this argument; for me it just doesn’t pass the sniff test.”

    Or here. The answer to this is much easier than you think. “So what?” The upshot is this. Our important cultural currents are not so sensitive or inflammatory that we can’t bring them on the table. A lot of libs tend to think we can’t do anything but clutch pearls but they’re wrong.

    This is about culture in general, not necessarily immigration but immigration is important in its own right. And that story about the nursery is very interesting for me at least because it exposes a particular undercurrent of the immigration debate. Ie, that employer was leveraging an exploitative labor situation that wouldn’t exist without a significant number of illegal immigrants around, and the unfairness of it goes well beyond wages.

    Their job security and working conditions really couldn’t apply to citizens. That’s why a large part of the answer to avoiding exploitative situations like this is the promotion of citizenship. Ie, in this case restricting immigration rather than liberalizing it.Report

  8. MFarmer says:

    When I see the first picture, I don’t think of illegal immigrants. There are so many hispanics in our area, I hardly give it a second thought. I took two years out of my life to help a friend land and manage a Walmart account as a third party distributor of goods being shipped from overseas. Our warehouse was right off the port, and we had about 150 warehouse workers — my Operations Manager, Sam, is hispanic. His father is a local physician. 75% of our warehouse workers were hispanic, and I loved working with them. They mostly had great attitudes about work and getting the job done. I almost learned to speak enough spanish to communicate, but I didn’t become fluent. Sam was my translator, and he said they all respected me because I would jump on the back of truck and lift boxes if we were in a jam. Overall, I think hispanics will assimilate, but the problems at the borders have to be dealt with for many reasons — ending the War on Drugs and at least legalizing marijuana wouldl help. If we work to create the free-est market possible, that will help too. I’m not sure why there hasn’t been a demand to streamline the citizenship process, but we have lots of room to grow and prosper, and our neighbors south of the border can certainly help if we create a system for them to take certain steps to gain citizenship and learn our language. The more the merrier is what I say. Diversity and new blood is the zip in a nation’s get-along. I think cultures like Japan’s and in the mideast and in China will always suffer because of lack of diversity.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to MFarmer says:

      I’ve similar thoughts about the first picture — familiarity breeds acceptance.

      However, the first picture does have a negative, gloomy, foreboding quality about it. The young men in the picture are looking down, sullen-faced, and are in a barren, desolate urban environment. They seem dejected and apprehensive. Their eyes are narrow and focused off-camera, none seems to be making eye contact with any other human being. None of them are interacting wtih one another. The same sort of emotional impact could be had with white kids instead, but these are Latino kids. One of them has part of his head, including his eyes, cut out of the shot. They’re also all men or at least older teenagers, which sets up a degree of emotional distance between them as subjects, and the picture seems to have been taken without staging or makeup.

      The second picture shows happy teenagers, goofing off and laughing. They too are idle, but their idleness is filled with amusement. They are comfortable, relaxed, and energetic. Three of them are looking at the camera and smiling, two of those making eye contact with the viewer and the third seeming to shout in delight while playing with a cellular phone. The other two are making eye contact with one another as they interact somehow (their similes suggest some good-natured rough-housing is in the works). This suggests that the picture has been staged — the subjects have been posed to some degree, made up, and possibly photoshopped to enhance their attractiveness and appeal. (There is also what seems to be an extra hand sticking out from underneath the boy on the far left, further suggesting photoshop.) They are all on a comfortable couch and there is food present in the picture, suggesting that there is economic substance and provender available. As before, the same effect could have been achieved with Latinos — but in this shot, we see happy, energetic, beautiful white kids.

      So the result is that on the one hand we see a picture of five or so Latino boys who look more like young men, bored and sullen and a little bit nervous, generating a feeling of distrust and anxiety; and on the other hand we see five white kids, positively radiating beauty, youth and exuberance in an atmosphere of safety and plenty. While I won’t go so far as to say that race has nothing to do with the emotional impact of each picture, there are other elements at play that may have a substantial effect on a typical viewer’s response.Report

      • These are more or less my thoughts.Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Burt, what you say and note is most certainly true.  And a case can certainly be made that I might have taken more time to find photos that were more identical in most ways, save the inclusion/exclusion of latinos.  But the focusing on each photo’s “mood” makes me think I was not explicit enough in my point.

        My point was not that people look at kids in photo A and think “These are bad and unhappy kids.”  My point was that people look at the kids in picture A, if say the kids are hanging out on the street while said people are driving past them (frowning or smiling), and wonder “illegal alien?”  And they don’t if they pass the kids in photo B (frowning or smiling).  Not everyone, of course.  And wordsmith makes a good point that if you live in a place where latinos are a big % of the pollution probably less so.

        But I still argue that the dynamic I describe exists in our society, even if we pretend it doesn’t.Report

        • Burt Likko in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          Race is a part of that equation, I never said otherwise. It’s just not the only part of it. Nor do I think it realistically can be isolated — either in or out of the picture — because there is so much historical and cultural baggage associated with it, even as social constructs and perceptions about race morph over time.

          A century ago, your ancestors and mine were the subject of attempts by the laws and by the prevailing culture to restrict the economic opportunities available to them upon immigration to the US. The cultural differences between the established culture and the new immigrants seemed immense and of great significance back then. Part of that was motivated by popular-with-the-elite notions of “idle, drunken Irishmen” and “swarthy, scheming Italians,” which faded away slowly and only with familiarity and proximity. And part of it was motivated by anxiety about the perceived finity of economic opportunities available to those already here and then running the show.

          The culture changed to at once be more accepting, the immigrants adapted, their children assimilated. In the twenty-first century, anti-Irish discrimination seems among the most silly of the available flavors of bigotry. The great American melting pot got a few more flavors mixed in to its global cultural fondue. What is happening today with Latino and Asian immigration is really not very different, at least at the macro level. The new spices seem strange and incongruous to those who are used to the older flavors. But this too shall pass, as awkward and painful as the process may be.Report

          • Tod Kelly in reply to Burt Likko says:

            I think that I both agree and disagree with you, to some extent.

            On the one hand, everything you say is true.  But as I said in the OP, I think that the more differences there are between an “Us” and a “Them,” the easier it is for us to not care about the outcomes of them.

            For example, I would argue that if a group of white, english speaking Baptists from England were being put in unsafe working conditions in South Carolina it would tick on our radar more than it does in the current scenario.  Likewise, I think that if in addition to being Mexican and non-English speaking, the same group of people in Oregon were gay, Marxist, and worshipped Bal it would be just that little bit easier for us not to notice their fate.

            I think this is just a human thing.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Burt Likko says:

        And I belatedly notice that the color palette of the two pictures contrasts also — the first picture is almost all of muted, neutral colors of tan, khaki, and gray. We see lots of shadows, cast by objects within the boys’ environment, and by the boys themselves. The world of the Latino boys is somber almost to the point of being sepia-toned. But, the three kids in the middle of the couch (and therefore in the middle of the shot) are wearing bright yellow and red clothing; they are alive! and extrovered! as expressed through their use of outgoing, exuberant colors. The area is so well-lit that none of the happy white kids cast any shadows at all, and so arranged that no shadow whatsoever falls upon any of these fortunate youth.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to Burt Likko says:

        not a barren urban landscape.

        1) no trash

        2) Trees, looking reasonably cared for

        3) those rocks weren’t put there by kids — they’re either in a pretty decent parking lot, or the edge of a park or something.

        4) No broken windows, no glass on the streets.

        In short, this looks like a decent, poor neighborhood. I’m not sure about the “looking into the camera” thing — might be a bit cultural, kinda like how only girls show teeth when smiling at the camera. This photo also looks posed, in my opinion. Either that, or everyone’s waiting for someone to go play basketball or soccer.Report

  9. Creon Critic says:

    Two points. Where is the evidence liberals engage in Othering the undocumented? You point to conservative radio hosts emphasizing difference in names and such, but I failed to see why the side that worries you the most is the liberals. There was a minor kerfuffle in the other thread about terminology, “undocumented”, “illegal alien”, or “illegal”. I’d argue liberals prefer terms that place people as least Other.

    …they allow me – and the rest of liberal and centrist America – to have our cake and eat it too. We get to insist upon having a baseline standard of living, basic level of healthcare, and safe working conditions for everyone – except the people we don’t feel like paying extra to have them.

    Second, one of the arguments liberals make is that the undocumented represent an exploited/exploitable underclass whose status needs to be regularized precisely to grant universal access to the protections all workers are due – thus ensuring that employers can’t pressure any group of workers into unsafe conditions or illegal underpayment of wages. Where do you see liberals carving out exceptions for basic healthcare, safe working conditions, and the like? As far as I have seen liberals press most forcefully in favor of universality, not against it.

    Oh, and I’ll just agree with Jason at 2:11 as to the limits of law in this instance. The US and Mexico share a long border with a huge differentials in economic prosperity. The magnet of relative American prosperity is bound to mean lots of potential workers from Mexico (and near neighbors) seeking work here. The sooner this fact is recognized and accommodated the better.Report

  10. Steph says:

    As you say – it’s complicated.

    I love Mexico, the Spanish language and most of the Mexican people I have ever met. I’d love to live in Mexico, to retire there. I don’t have a single negative feeling about Mexicans as a people and consider them essentially hard working salt of the earth (there are, as with anything, exceptions.) I have worked with Mexican people in restaurants and had Mexican people working for me in various capacities. 2 Mexican American boyfriends long ago.

    And yet – I live in a large city in the Southeastern US. I see the effect that large numbers of Mexican and Latin students have on the quality of certain public schools and it’s bad. This is probably due to poverty, to lack of English skills and general lack of formal education on the part of the parents. But – almost to a school – large numbers of Hispanics in the school can only mean one thing – that it’s a lousy school and certain to get worse before it gets better.

    I have the choice to live in a neighborhood where my kids can go to a public school that has diversity and is majority white. If I lived in a neighborhood where my public school was going down the tubes due to the influx of largely poor, largely lacking formal education parents that happened to be from Mexico or Latin America, I might really come to resent such folks. In fact, there is talk of redistricting that could have my kids going to a high school (down the line) that is maybe 20% Hispanic but a much worse school than the one they are slated for (which, ironically, is majority black but a very good intown school.) In theory I would love for my kids to go to school with Hispanic kids, kids with Mexican parents, but I don’t want them to go to a bad school. I don’t want them to go to school with lots of girls who get pregnant at 16 and drop out.

    If I hadn’t spent time in Mexico and Texas and didn’t have a love of Mexican people, culture, etc. – I might feel extremely bitter about what they are doing to some of the public schools in this area. Indeed, I sort of do feel this way and I am a liberal.Report

  11. Joecitizen says:

    I have observed large swaths of the non immigrant work force unplugged from the job market. Mainly due to the factors created by viewing immigrants as a asset and domestics as a liability. To be honest I think many are looking for the system to collapse so they can engage in whatever comes after. After all, why would locals continue to engage in a system this screwed up?

    One of my biggest gripes here in the south is something the locals dubbed as “Mexican bureaucracy”

    Think 3 hours for an average oil change.     2 hours wait for a drivers license.    2 hours wait to see a doc in the Emergency room.

    In the northern states the same setups run near 3 times as fast.

    There is a strong racist component against anyone not latino. It is a strange contrast.Report

    • Chris in reply to Joecitizen says:

      Two hour wait in the emergency room? Tell me where, so the next time I need to go to the emergency room, I can go there! I suspect that the travel time from here to there, plus the 2 hours, will still be shorter than the wait in the ER in most places. I can’t imagine there’s another place in the world, outside of your town, where oil changes take longer than the wait in the ER.

      In other words, I think you may be talkin’ out of your…Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Joecitizen says:

      I’m not sure I understand the situation you’re describing.  Do you mean to say that immigrants are causing you to wait 3 hours for an oil change?  Unemployed non-immigrants?  I’m confused.Report

      • Joecitizen in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Basically 2 concepts:
        1. How saturated can you make a job market with immigrants before the native population says to hell with it?

        2. Lack of diversification in immigration may lead to the import of a dominate culture that doesn’t care to preserve efficient systems.Report

        • Tod Kelly in reply to Joecitizen says:

          i still don’t understand.  Are the immigrants getting their oil changed for free?  If not, how does they affect the ability to get your oil changed anymore than anyone else?Report

          • Joecitizen in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            Ok lets carry it out a few more decimal places.

            I change my own oil now.

            I pray that HR departments everywhere refuse to hire natives until we reach 80% uneployment, and truly rely on immigrant labor.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I think he’s implying that here in America, none of these things happen.Report

  12. Joecitizen says:

    Alice Texas, home of the 3 hour oil change!Report

    • Chris in reply to Joecitizen says:

      Ah, Alice is only about 3 1/2 hours from here, so I was right! If I go to your ER, I will probably get in faster (unless I’m having a heart attack, or pregnant, or both) with the 2 hour wait than I will here. Plus, I can get my oil changed while I’m in the hospital. Should be ready right when I get out, eh?Report

    • Alice Texas, home of the 3 hour oil change!

      I call bullshit.  There may be a place in Alix, Texas that takes 3 hours to change your oil, but a city of almost 20,000 is going to have multiple options for getting your oil changed (I live in a similarly sized city), and if all of those places take 3 hours to change oil, then there’s a goldmine business opportunity just waiting for an entrepreneurial spirit.

      The only problem is you might end up with so damned many customers they’d still have to wait in line for an hour to get their oil changed!Report

  13. Jaybird says:

    For the record, my position is that opposition to immigration is analogous to support for redlining… but I also know that I’m more likely to change minds about immigration by mocking the position that opposition to immigration is racism than by mocking cultural conservatives for being cultural conservatives.Report

    • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

      Would you at least agree that racist sentiments towards certain groups of immigrants are frequently found among people who hold anti-immigration positions? Not that all, or even most, anti-immigration folks are racists, but that many of them are, and that, even if their anti-immigrations have roots other than racism, racism fuels some of the passion they feel about the issue?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        I don’t see how that’s relevant or interesting.

        Let’s assume that Republicans are racists (all of them!) and Democrats are good-hearted people who know no racism.

        Obama has deported more “illegals” than Bush.

        I care less about what’s in your heart than what you friggin’ do. If you want to take refuse that, sure, maybe Obama has hurt more Mexican families than Bush did BUT AT LEAST HE DID SO FOR THE BEST REASONS!, hey. Whatever helps you sleep at night, in your bed, with your family.Report

        • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

          I can understand your position, but I think it overlooks the role of rhetoric in determining what positions people will support.

          And I have no love for Obama’s immigration policy. To the extent that anti-immigration positions cross party boundaries (and they do), I think the racism follows them, as well, for what that’s worth (which is apparently not a lot, to you).Report

          • Kimsie in reply to Chris says:

            fwiw, i don’t think clinton tightened immigration policy because of racist sentiment. and it was certainly not done for points, as nobody remembers itReport

          • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

            I think it’s more interesting to focus on what the real, addressable problems are.

            Racism? Uninteresting.

            Language issues? The fact that the majority of immigrants (and the overwhelming majority of illegal ones) come from one particular language/culture?

            Now *THAT* is somewhat more interesting and addressable and, on top of that, it’s possible to have a conversation about that without needing to accuse whomever you’re talking about this with of bad faith. Hell, it’s even possible to suggest a solution or two that would get your opponent to say “well… yeah, that probably would address the problem” or “that wouldn’t address the problem and here’s why”.

            Which is a lot more interesting than preening.Report

            • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

              I don’t promote preening, either. I do, however, think an addressable issue is the rhetoric.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

                What questions do you most want answers to?

                What do you hope that the answers will provide you?

                To quote your questions from earlier:

                Would you at least agree that racist sentiments towards certain groups of immigrants are frequently found among people who hold anti-immigration positions? Not that all, or even most, anti-immigration folks are racists, but that many of them are, and that, even if their anti-immigrations have roots other than racism, racism fuels some of the passion they feel about the issue?

                Let’s say that I agreed with the first. So then what?

                Let’s say that I agreed with the second. So then what?Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

                The problem, I see it, is that very little of the rhetoric actually focuses exclusively on race. A whole lot of it is a more general xenophobia that could be, was, and is directed to varying degrees at California transplants in Idaho, gentiles in Utah, Armenians in Glendale, Quebecois in Ontario, and Irish and Italian immigrants from yesteryear.

                Now, this xenophobia can come from outright bigotry, or it can come from (a) a concern over lost cultural commonality and gained cultural disruption or (b) a general desire, shared all across the globe, to spend your time with people with whom you have a lot of common ground (and, among other things, a common language understandably spoken).

                Now, we can discuss and debate the degree to which (a) and (b) are reasonable or unreasonable and whether and how they should be addressed or accommodated, but we can’t really do that when the airing of these concerns is cause for censure because it is inherently bigotry or code for bigotry with the R-word used to reinforce the point.

                I do wish anti-immigration folks would be more careful about what they say, because that’s not remotely helpful to the conversation either. It took me the longest time just to figure out what they were getting at because I was so quick to dismiss what could be construed as bigotry as actually being bigotry. But I do not believe that is the only problem here, as I think the racism discussion makes the immigration discussion immeasurably more difficult.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to Will Truman says:

                a) was what i was getting at above. the scotch irish aren’t actually anti-immigrant, per se. They want to integrate people (and turn them white). It’s just, they see that as something that society should force on people, to the extent that it is able.

                I see it more as “it’ll happen naturally” and “if you really care so much, make sure you get more flavors of immigrants — ten people speaking German gonna learn English quicker than 500 germanics”Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Kimmi says:

                Here’s what I said back here (so many memories!):

                Everybody wants to pull the ladder up after them.

                The immigration problem is solvable by getting rid of most immigration regulation.

                First off, I think that beating around the bush is preventing real discussion from taking place. When folks talk about “immigration”, what they are really talking about is Mexican Immigration. When people talk about “The Immigration Problem”, they aren’t talking about problems with immigration. They’re talking about Mexicans.

                Now, my wife immigrated to the US from Canada. I’ve never met anybody who has a problem with that sort of thing. She’s educated, she’s bi-lingual (with one of them English! Yay!), she’s employed. Despite being employed, I’ve never encountered even the thought that “she’s taking our jobs”. Why? Because when people talk about “immigration”, they’re talking about Mexicans.

                One cannot, however, talk about Mexicans directly. At best, one can say “illegal immigrants!” or, more politely, “undocumented migrants!” Only the most crass, most wicked people say “the Mexicans”.

                And people, desiring not to sound crass or wicked, yell for the government to “Do Something” about the “Immigration Problem”. The government, being the government, only has so many tools at its disposal. There are laws, and agencies, and whathaveyou… so they come up with an Immigration Process! Being neither crass nor wicked, they apply it to all and everybody equally without looking at the color of their skin or their country of origin…

                And, of course, it makes it a pain in the ass to immigrate to the US. My wife and I are both college educated people. I may flatter myself by thinking that we’re both intelligent people to boot. In doing research for how best to get her here, we found out that the Fiance’ Visa is the easiest way to do it. We were FRIGGING LOST. What forms, who do we talk to, what do we do? It was a *MAZE*. I eventually called my Congressman’s office (Joel Hefley! Woo!!!) and talked to his INS Liason (!) who held my hand through the absolutely Byzantine process and we got my wife here after an awful ordeal.

                She came here because we were in love. She told me that there was nothing in the world that would make her go through that otherwise. Money? Pfeh. She could find work in Canada for less hassle. Or Europe, for that matter. As a Canadian, she could go to GB, and from there to the rest of the continent.

                This tells me that there are large numbers of other Canadians likely being kept from moving to the US, along with (bear with me here), potential immigrants from (deep breath) Denmark, Sweden, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Brazil, China, Russia, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, Greece, and Italy. Surely others!

                Imagine if we had a more open immigration policy… we could have people immigrating here speaking Danish, Swedish, French, German, Polish, Portuguese, Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Korean, Urdu/Hindi, Greek, and Italian. As it stands, all those folks are staying home or immigrating someplace easier.

                And the biggest group of people immigrating here is the group that walks here.

                When, once, there were dozens and dozens of languages being spoken, now there are just two.

                And people continue to scream for the government to “do something”.

                It’s yet another iatrogenic disease.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

                I’m having fun imagining how this post could be used as evidence of racism.  “Darn fargin’ brown people, makin’ it so all them God-fearing honest white folk can’t get in!”Report

            • Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird says:

              This is correct, I think.  I suspect that a lot of liberal resistance to”Learn English” initiatives are more of a knee jerk reaction to conservative’s insistence that we create them.  It seems to me that in order for immigrants to thrive economically, this is a good thing overall.Report

              • greginak in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                My ex moved to The Netherlands with her new dude. To get her long term visa she had to learn Dutch. She had to pass a few tests like opening a bank account all in Dutch in a real bank. That kind of thing makes sense to me. I’ve worked with numerous immigrants. In fact i have client who is Hmong and been in the US for 7 years yet he doesn’t speak a word of english. I’m not worried about how he assimilates per se or how he will change the nature of our culture since he is almost completely helpless. His job prospects are incredibly limited as is his ability to interact with places like the court or gov departments.

                I’m not sure it should be a legal requirement to learn English but its a real good idea. I think you are right about liberal reaction to the “learn english” thing. It would be great if there were more places for people to learn english. Making it a requirement sure might create an incentive to language schools to open up to serve people.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to greginak says:


                On the other hand, I must also note that conservatives in my part of the world get bent out of shape that there are second-language immersion magnet schools in our city, especially the on that is Spanish.  The hostility to children learning a second language seems a bit like the other side of that same coin.Report

              • greginak in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Here in AK many of Alaska Native kids are learning their ancestral language in school as well as english. They are all primarily english speakers but want to save their elders languages. I’ve heard some cranky criticisms of this from people who don’t think they should even be spending time to save their languages.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to greginak says:

                I typically roll my eyes when people talk about how America are sooooooooo backwards, but when it comes to multilingualism, I truly think that’s something we need to work on.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to greginak says:

                … that is so awesome!

                … around here, it’s the liberals that fund the “english as a second language” classes. Seems they remember what it’s like coming to a new country and not speaking the language.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                In the schools that I’ve been to, the ESL program was a ghetto intended to get the Mexican (there were no Hmong, French, or Russian children in these ESL classes) out of the classes that might actually have an effect upon funding. There was no indication that the goal was to move the kids in ESL would someday join the native-speakers in the other classes in the rest of the building. Not one ever did.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to greginak says:

                opening a bank account? I doubt most people in America have that level of financial literacy/patience to read and understand the forms involved.Report

              • Alan Scott in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Those immigrants who benefit economically from learning English overwhelmingly do so already.  Those who don’t tend to be older, and tend to have family members capable of translating for them, and/or live in ethnic enclaves where they can function knowing only the language of their original country.

                And yet conservatives are demanding a government mandate–one that’s contrary to a small-government, market based approach.  Is it any wonder that liberals object to a proposal that fails the smell test so badly?Report

  14. James Hanley says:

    If there was one uniting theme in the thread over at Elias’s joint, in was that racism doesn’t exist/barely exists/is irrelevant when it comes to the illegal immigration debate

    When I lived in San Francisco, everyone was worried about illegal Latino and Asian immigration.  The number of illegal Irish in San Francisco didn’t seem to bother anyone.  Surely race/ethnic concerns had nothing to do with that.


  15. DensityDuck says:

    When I started reading the column, I thought you meant “nursery” like where you would find infant humans, and the mention of “sharp hand tools” was really confusing!Report

  16. Neo says:

    they allow me – and the rest of liberal and centrist America – to have our cake and eat it too. We get to insist upon having a baseline standard of living, basic level of healthcare, and safe working conditions for everyone – except the people we don’t feel like paying extra to have them.

    I think you’re bending over too far backwards to implicate yourself and your fellow liberals/centrists–whichever you are.  (It’s okay, we all enjoy a nice invigorating implication now and then.)

    So at the end of the day what is the difference, really, between the nursery that hired my team in the 90s and myself?

    The difference is, you’d vote for policies that would force employers to provide a decent wage, good healthcare, and safe working conditions for all their human employees of whatever variety.  (Whether the resulting higher price of maid service would result in your choosing to clean your own home instead of hiring someone is a separate question.)

    Your attitude here is like someone who’d challenge a wealthy liberal who was in favor of taxing the rich to donate his personal wealth to the Treasury instead of advocating for higher taxes–when the only thing that would have the desired effect would be to implement policies to make all the wealthy share the burden. You could reasonably claim your mortgage interest deduction and at the same time favor eliminating it for everyone, including yourself.

    There’s no necessary contradiction between personally operating within the existing system and advocating for a better system.Report

  17. Scott says:


    So when if ever, do you think liberals will stop shouting about racism every time the discussion of illegal aliens comes up?Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Scott says:

      Scott – I suspect this will happen about the same time conservatives stop accusing liberals of hating freedom and blaming all their woes on illegal aliens.

      I hope this is soon.Report

      • Scott in reply to Tod Kelly says:


        Sorry Tod, conservatives don’t blame all their woes on illegals. It would be nice if when folks point out to liberals that illegals are by definition law breakers (i.e. they broke the law when they came into this country and stayed), some illegals take jobs, commit crimes and cost some states a lot of money that they had a better answer than that’s racist.Report

        • Tod Kelly in reply to Scott says:

          Dude, read the OP and agree or disagree.  But if you just want to find a cardboard liberal caricature to argue with you’ll find better luck engaging someone else.Report

          • Scott in reply to Tod Kelly says:


            Tell us then, do you think the nursery owners did what they did out of racism or the fact they could economically exploit illegals who just happened to be Hispanic? Do you think the owners would have exploited white illegal aliens just as much?

            Does the fact that you might look more closely at the first group of teens mean you are racist or that you are aware of and acknowledge the fact that most illegals in the US are Hispanic?Report

            • Tod Kelly in reply to Scott says:

              1. I think that the nursery owners made the decisions they did entirely based on income vs. expenses.  I don’t think that the national origins mattered one way or another, except for the obvious particular circumstances.

              2. The fact that illegal immigration is such a hot button topic makes it fairly reasonable that anyone might make that connection, mentally.  This does not mean that it is a good thing.  Most illegal gunrunners in the 1980s were Irish, as I understand it, providing guns for terrorists.  That doesn’t mean that I would have wanted people to wonder if I was arming terrorists every time they say my last name.Report

              • Scott in reply to Tod Kelly says:


                1. So why even bring the nursery story up if doesn’t really involve race or a decision based on race?

                2. Maybe if the fed gov did something about illegals then  folks might not make connection b/t one group and illegals.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Scott says:

                Scott, seriously… do you even read my posts, or do you just skim them for things you’re hoping to argue about?

                The entire purpose of my post was to talk about how incredibly complex an issue it is.  For fish sake, I even wrote that the standard liberal position as “The reason the other side doesn’t like them is because they are Latino” and then spent the rest of the fishing thing saying that is was overly simplistic and incredibly un-self aware.

                Seriously, read the damn thing if you want to discuss.Report

            • wardsmith in reply to Scott says:

              Scott, Hispanics are the majority of illegals in the US because the law makes them so. They don’t have a legitimate entry mechanism (as Reagan said and one-note Jesse ignores) and therefore are discriminated and abused by our society. As for the pictures, the upper one doesn’t affect me at all, because I can see it at almost any Home Depot in almost any major town. Illegals are invisible in this country, part of the scenery. They serve a purpose but aren’t legitimate contributors to our society and have occupied this role for longer than we’d like to believe.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to wardsmith says:

                ” They serve a purpose but aren’tlegitimate contributors to our society”

                Low-skill industry employers and purchasers of cheap food throughout the country might disagree with you here.Report

              • wardsmith in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                I meant it different than you’re interpreting Tod. I was more focused on the link than the syntax. Put differently society doesn’t respect their valuable contributions as legitimate.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Tod, I’m surprised to find that you advocate slave labor.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to DensityDuck says:

                You’re surprised!  I didn’t even know that I did!Report

              • Scott in reply to wardsmith says:


                BS, there is a legal mechanism for a foreigner to become a citizen legally. Just b/c some folks choose to ignore doesn’t change the fact that it does exist. Last time I checked, our legal mechanism doesn’t discriminate solely against Hispanics. They aren’t exploited as in Tod example b/c they are Hispanic but instead b/c they are illegal.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Scott says:

                Um, actually, no. There is no line for low-skilled Hispanic immigrants to get into. If you’re a poor manual laborer in Juarez, there is literally no legal way for you to become an American citizen.Report

              • Scott in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:


                Are there lines for low skilled persons of other races, ethnicities, and nationalities? Or the more likely answer is that this is about a lack of skills and not race? Can you even consider the possibility that race is not a factor?Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Scott says:

                The real question is why you’re so worried about it.  We’re a nation of immigrants; always have been.  And yet  oddly we have gone through periodic paroxysms or paranoia over immigrants.

                Now, in an effort to claim that it’s not about race, people like to focus on the “illegal” aspect of it.   Crossing an imaginary line in the sand, fixed by people who have absolutely no interest in your well-being, in search of a better life is treated as a heinous crime.  That’s silliness enough on its face, but given the origin and expansion of this country, it’s downright hypocritical.Report

  18. Murali says:

    But I still argue that the dynamic I describe exists in our society, even if we pretend it doesn’t.

    But, does the dynamic necesserily translate into political action? Because, I could pass them, think “effing s****” and still think we should not restrict immigration. Same way that someone can think “flaming homos” when he passes a gay couple and still think that gay marriage should be legalised. Considering that people can and do separate their gut reactions from what they intellectually know to be right or wrong, I am unwilling to speculate how strong the connection between revealed policy preferences and attitudes towards minorities is.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Murali says:

      You could well be right.  As I said in the OP, it’s not that I hold irrefutable proof that Group A sees Group B as “different” and therefore allows that to color their judgement with public policy.

      It’s that for me the denial of this doesn’t pass the sniff test.

      You think a group of people might say to themselves “fishing homos, ruining everything!” and then put it completely out of their mind and focus only on the pertinent public policy facts when, say, it’s time to vote on a gay marriage initiative?  OK, I get that.  I just believe people are less rational when voting than you, perhaps.Report

  19. Delaware Bob says:

    Let’s face it. Our Federal Government has failed all of us in not enforcing our immigration laws. Look at how many anchor babies, (illegal alien children), the American taxpayers have paid for. Was it about 4.2 million over the last 16-18 years? Maybe this is something that should be written about. Then we have to school these illegal alien children, the parents (parent) go on welfare, get food stamps, public housing and everything else. What does this cost the American taxpayer? How about the stolen identities, forged documents and fake green cards. Well, you can’t blame the illegal aliens completely. We do have these UNAMERICAN people who hire these illegal aliens. Of course we have these illegal alien students who are DEMANDING we pass the DREAM Act so we can pay for their college tuition. How about the demonstrations of these illegal aliens DEMANDING we give them amnesty. Who do these people think they are? They have no right to be in this country, yet they are DEMANDING, yes, DEMANDING we give them amnesty. Well, I am DEMANDING we get our immigration laws ENFORCED! Look at the costs of deporting these illegal aliens. Look at the costs of the trials and jailing of these illegal aliens. Look at the costs of the law suits by la raza, the aclu and now the DOJ. Oh, don’t forget the Catholic Church. Look at the BILLIONS sent out of this country by the illegal aliens. How does that help America? When is this all going to end? I will tell you. It will end when we get rid of all the illegal aliens. That’s when.Report

    • Nativism is never a pretty sight.Report

    • Joecitizen in reply to Delaware Bob says:

      Hell Bob your thinking is all wrong here. Let the native majority become the minority.  Let the economy REALLY go in the crapper. Eventually the short fella with the weird mustache will take the stage and show us the way.Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to Joecitizen says:

        Thank goodness.  I was a little worried we were going to get through this entire thread without a single Hitler reference.Report

        • Joecitizen in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          It wasnt a reference about Hitler, it was about Bob. Many folks watch footage of Hitler and only see a mad man. I look at the cheering crowd and try to consider what BS lead them there. I apologize for being such a wing nut, this was a stretch even in my own flavors.

          Lewis speaks of a “brutal teacher”,  I don’t think we learn.Report

          • Tod Kelly in reply to Joecitizen says:

            No worries!  I just hope you’ll stick around.  I realize my asking you to clarify and reclassify might have contributed to you getting irritated, but FWIW I wasn’t trying to antagonize, I just wasn’t getting what you were saying.Report

      • Let the native majority become the minority.

        Eh, Joe, you might want to think about what “native” actually means in the context of North America.  Seems to me we already let the native majority become the minority, and I’ll bet you’re not too bothered by that at all.Report

        • Joecitizen in reply to James Hanley says:

          Yes James I know “native” enough that my genetic materials could easily put me “on the Rolls”.

          Genetically speaking I should be 5’4″ with even mix of Italian/Native American skin color. brown hair and brown eyes. A slight dash of German in the mix.

          5% of dominate Norwegian genes has left me 6’2″ blue eyes, blonde hair, high bone density. For some reason the native american nose won over the Norwegian, go figure. My guess is the temper is Italian.

          I understand we are mostly a nation of immigrants, I get it. It was a good healthy trickle that made a reasonably good mix. Not the dam burst we have seen for several decades.Report

  20. Anonymous At Work says:

    Two comments.

    First, pay note to the exception to the “Latin American” illegal immigrant stance of conservatives: it exempts Cuba.  Cuban refugees, fleeing Communist Cuba, for whatever reason, are/were seen as reliable voters and supporters for the Republican Party.  It was the same way with Vietnamese refugees; laws were changed to allow them in, with different culture, language, etc.  On one level, that isn’t racism, but on a more general level, conservatives used political calculations to decide that this group of suffering people was worthy of safe haven but that others were criminals.  Which isn’t any better than being a simple, old-school racist.

    Second, how those business owners treated other human beings wasn’t racist but should be criminal.  Reforms to punish businesses for hiring illegal or otherwise reverse incentives for businesses have gone nowhere; instead we have gotten “guest worker” bills that would have done nothing to help the injured in this story.  If guest workers had gotten hurt, they would be fired and deported, where US courts would no longer have held the owners liable for the injury caused.Report