Thursday, January 29, 2009

Back to the Future: Let's Deport "Criminal Aliens"

225pxjanetnapolitanoiraqThe N.Y. Times reports that U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano wants to focus on the removal of ''criminal aliens'' from the United States. Sounds like Bush redux.  What about reconsidering detention?  Enforcement?  Border Patrol abuse? Deaths on the border?  Lengthy backlogs of naturalization petitions?  Human trafficking?  Etc., etc.


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Ok this is one my greatest frustrations with the state of the immigration discussion – we essentially have these two separate debates about immigration going side by side. The first one, lets call it the immigrant dialogue, is focused on the really serious issues that immigrants and activists actually face, on the ground day-to-day, such as the “treatment of unaccompanied minors, health care of detainees, unconstitutional actions by ICE, plight of dream act kids, etc.”

And then we have this whole other unrelated political debate about immigration going on, a debate that I see as shaped with an eye for maximum political impact, and that seems only loosely tethered to reality. (but, frustratingly, makes up 97% of mainstream coverage.) This is the debate that spends 100s of hours of mainstream political time discussing essentially fictional issues like “anchor babies,” “immigrants crowding out emergency rooms” and “Pakistani terrorist sneaking over the Mexican boarder.”

The two unrelated discussions about immigration essentially talk past each other – because they don’t share a common world. Its like the real immigration issues are politically invisible. Most people aren’t even aware of a fraction of the issues that immigrants actually face and are horrified when something like the situation of dream act kids is actually explained. Its odd, frustrating.

But most frustrating is that real world political decisions are made, effecting real people, based on the fictional assumptions of the political immigration debate.

Posted by: Jenn | Jan 29, 2009 2:56:44 PM

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