Sunday, October 26, 2008

Immigration and the RNC

Haven't been blogging much. Caught up too much in election issues.

But I couldn't help but notice the Republican National Committee's approach to immigration issues. You can see the entire platform document at The immigration section is on pages 10-11.

First notice that immigration is discussed in a section titled, "Immigration, National Security, and the Rule of Law." That pretty much tells you where they are going with this. Before 9/11 no one thought of immigration as a national security issue. It is the nativist crowd that constantly (and unfortunately, successfully) drumbeats a connection between the two. Somehow 9/11, which is primarily about a radical muslim agenda, has become the battle cry for building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Thinking of immigration only in terms of national security issues is a recipe for xenophobia. Every immigrant is a potential terrorist, rather than a potential nobel prize winner, or potential reunited family member, or potential solution to U.S. employer's needs for specialized labor, or potential model citizen and patriot.

The focus on the "rule of law" rather than justice or compassion is also a telling sign of the approach to immigration. Apparently, it doesn't matter how stupid or unjust the law is, our moral imperative is simply to abide by it, rather than change it to reflect our true values.

There is much more that could be said about this document, but I did want to point out one amusing irony. On page 11, the platform talks about the English language, as a sign of our national unity. They support English as the "official language in our nation." Although this seems innocuous, it is often code for immigrant bashing and intolerance. I regularly see letters to the editor where people complain about having to "press 1 for English" on telephone calls to their banks, as if somehow this inconvenience of an extra click is undermining our national integrity.

At any rate, the "English Only" section ends with this statement

English is the accepted language of business, commerce,
and legal proceedings, and it is essential as a
unifying cultural force. It is also important, as part of
cultural integration, that our schools provide better
education in U.S. history and civics for all children,
thereby fostering a commitment to our national
motto, E Pluribus Unum.

Maybe someone should point out that "E Pluribus Unum" is Latin. I guess English only is important unless we are talking about national mottos.