I’m seriously astounded that people are still ranting about immigration and how it is destroying the fabric of American culture, but they are, so it’s time for a smackdown. Not least because there are more important things to worry about, as The Daily Show so elegantly pointed out last week, but also because I am getting sick and fucking tired of anti-immigration rhetoric. It’s not just annoying and wrong, it’s bigoted, racist hatred of the lowest order, and it should not be tolerated, let alone broadcast on American airwaves.
America, more so than any other nation in the world, is a country of immigrants. This entire country was built through the process of immigration, first from Western Europe, and later from other regions of the world. There’s a reason they call the place the melting pot: because it is, and it’s truly remarkable. We actually built an entirely new culture by melding hundreds of cultures.
And, along the way, anti-immigration rhetoric has been insidious and persistent. The English ranted about the Irish. The Irish ranted about the Italians. The Italians ranted about the Puerto Ricans. The Puerto Ricans ranted about the Vietnamese. If you’ve been here just a little bit longer than someone else, you use that as an excuse to scream and wail about how immigration is ruining America. It reminds me of a job I once had in which someone who was hired one day before me made a point of reinforcing her superiority at every opportunity, because she was there first.
Immigration made America. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for immigration, because my great grandparents came from four continents (including North America), and there’s no way in heck they would have met up with each other without open immigration policies. I’ll bet the same holds true for a lot of my American readers. They came to this country for a chance, for an opportunity, and in the process, they added immensely to the rich cultural tapestry of the United States.
Just as immigrants continue to do to this day. Do you know what the latest food trend in Los Angeles is? Kimchi tacos, a melding of Korean and Mexican cuisine. And that’s just one example, one tiny example, of the constant cultural changes we undergo due to interactions between members of different immigrant communities. Of the awesomely wonderful things that happen in a multicultural nation.
I hear people screaming that bailout funds will end up “paying for illegals.” WHO GIVES A FUCK? What about the BILLIONS OF DOLLARS we handed to the financial industry with no accountability? If some campesina gets prenatal care in the barrios of Los Angeles because of the bailout, I really don’t care. In fact, I think that’s great, because I’m all about prenatal care.
Thank God, we seem to be largely over the rhetoric that immigrants are “taking” American jobs, and in fact immigration is at an all time low because the job opportunities of any kind in the United States are so limited right now. But the fact of the matter is that immigrants, legal and illegal, do our dirty work for us on a daily basis, from the laundry rooms of Hamptons mansions to the strawberry fields of the Central Valley. And some immigrants are coming up with innovative and entrepreneurial ideas which actually benefit the economy directly. Yeah, those same immigrants that are buying properties, thereby supporting the housing market, and paying income taxes, and getting engaged in community organizations.
We have so many other more important and interesting things we could be talking about, instead of rehashing the tired old immigration debate. Do we really have to keep doing this?