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Immigration Reflections: Southampton Anti Bias Task Force

Unintended Consequences

It’s already started. Across the nation, laws and rhetoric designed to discourage illegal immigrants from coming to America have unintendedly caught within its net millions of American citizens of Hispanic origin.

Some examples: A week ago, agents from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided several east end homes [of Long Island] at night and arrested 38 sleeping Latinos including, without warrants, a teen age girl and over two dozen adults.

In a Southampton school, a teacher reported that a white child bullied a Latino child and told him to “go back to Mexico.” Both children were U.S. citizens.

A prominent Latino citizen stated at a public meeting that he is concerned going to the local 7-11. He feared being mistaken for one of the laborers and the potential consequences that might result from a run in with the “Minutemen” who also congregate there. [The Minutemen stand with anti-immigrant signs, in black law-enforcement-looking uniforms, sometimes with an attack dog at their side.]

These are some of the millions of Americans who now have more than a modicum of fear and humiliation added to the usual trials and tribulations of their daily lives merely because they are Latino. And they are the legal immigrants and citizens. Millions more in our country who entered “without any papers” live in daily fear.

How could “we the people” have allowed this to happen? Are Latinos just the latest group in a long line of immigrants that have been discriminated against as they came to America and started the long climb to economic and social success?

Why are such fearsome and harassing acts tolerated in a country with 80 million Hispanics? To whom should we speak out against this discriminatory environment?

America has always provided special rights to people “in country.” Our shores have been a magical safe haven starkly revealed whenever a Cuban refugee sets foot on it. He or she can’t be sent back and is given other rights and privileges. By contrast, those caught
by the Coast Guard, even a few feet off-shore, are routinely sent back to their home country. The Supreme Court recognized birthright citizenship in American constitutional law by ruling that children born in the United States are automatically citizens and entitled to all of the same rights as anyone else—even if their parents entered the country illegally. Moreover, the Court also decided 25 years ago that children of
illegal immigrants “should not be left on the streets uneducated” and thus are entitled to a U.S. public education. These governmental and judicial opinions reflect a wise and well thought out approach to an intractable problem: we may not encourage the “huddled
masses yearning to breathe free” to come, but once here, we expect their allegiance to the laws of the land and offer our protections.

This is not an approach we should change without great debate on the national level and certainly not on the local level, not with 3,077 counties in the U.S.

There is a deeper psychological reason for treating all “in country” people the same under the law. It reflects the recognition that to exclude some for one reason or another is to run the risk that others—even you or I—will be excluded for some other reason,
tomorrow or in the future. The American success story is built on the integration of all kinds of people into our society under one set of laws. If one has the skills or drive, it is usually possible to find work. If you violate the law, you are arrested and jailed.
Just look at the religious, sectarian and racial strife occurring all over the world to realize how effectively our American society works.

And yet there are those who want to change the law. They apparently fear a new wave of immigrants from south of our borders; ironically, many are already here leading productive lives. Some of our leaders want to restrict them from our schools (unconstitutional) or drive them out of our communities (also unconstitutional). They now openly pander to the worst fears of their constituents by proposing new laws that they publicly acknowledge are probably unconstitutional and likely to be eventually
overturned. The latest example is an anti-loitering bill, proposed by Legislator Jack Eddington of Medford that would bar people from congregating on roadsides
and sidewalks for the purpose of seeking work from passing motorists or selling products and services. Violators could face a fine of up to $500.

The courts most assuredly will strike this law down. But the damage will have been done. And it will affect all of us.

As noted above, it is already affecting Latinos across the nation. Some children, hearing their parents talk about it, apparently act out in school their first steps in becoming “racists.” It is bringing out the vilest insults hurled at people, legal and illegal, such as Werner Maldonado, one of the day laborers standing in the bitter cold at 7-11, who pleaded “I just want to work.”

The intended consequence of Eddington’s law and others being introduced throughout the nation is to dehumanize some of us; the unintended consequence of such a law is to dehumanize all of us.

How can we stop this madness? Call your local Supervisor, county and state legislators and tell them not to be bullied. Reject those proposed laws that discriminate against some and are unconstitutional for all. Treat all people on our shores and in our communities equally.

Our forefathers came to America to be free—free of fear, free to pursue a better life for themselves and their children.

“We the people” provided for that freedom. Let us continue to be diligent and protect that freedom by applying it consistently to all those in our land.

Southampton Anti Bias Task Force
March 7, 2007

For video of a pro-immigrant response from Long Island residents, please click here.

3 Responses

  1. Are you for people breaking our laws?
    Should there be no consequence for breaking our laws?

  2. Someone should start a 501c3 that would help other 501c3s think things through, and the “anti bias task force” should be first in line for the new service.

    If far-left groups were not continually trying to blur the line between legal and illegal immigration, and conflating “Hispanic” with both, then the events described above wouldn’t happen (if they even happened in the first place).

  3. Let them “urinate” in front of your house. Breaking the law is breaking the law. Plain and simple

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