Mar 272006
 
Authors: Megan Schulz

More than half-a-million peaceful protesters marched the streets of Los Angeles on Saturday to protest new immigration legislation. More than 50,000 protesters also marched in downtown Denver, according to an article from www.cnn.com.

The new legislation makes it a felony offense to be an illegal immigrant in the United States. It also imposes new penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants, and it arranges for the construction of fences along one-third of the U.S.-Mexico border. Churches are also mandated to check the legal status of worshipers before assisting them.

Moses Gil, a student at the Community College of Denver and president of La Mision, a student organization that supports students of different cultures, attended the march in Denver.

“I basically wanted to support my community and raise awareness on immigration issues,” Gil said. “I was supporting the rights for students to go to school. Everyone deserves an education regardless of their legal status.”

Gil said he thinks the new legislation is anti-Hispanic and the government is trying to control the immigration issue because it affects the nation.

Fellow objectors of the legislation believe it would harm Hispanics the most, even though it is partially intended to help protect against terrorism. Present-day immigrants liken themselves to the ancestors who started this country.

Hispanics are currently last in a long line of immigrating ethnic groups that experience discrimination. In the era of Nativism, the Irish were persecuted. Jews were also once confronted with intolerance. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was specifically designed to keep the Chinese out of America.

At the time, the unfair laws and prejudices were not discouraged because they represented popular American beliefs. This is unfortunate, because we seem to forget that America is an immigrant nation, originally composed of refugees fleeing religious persecution.

So what exactly about the Hispanic race is threatening?

While illegal immigration is a problem, there is not anything dangerously threatening about the Hispanic race. We have much to gain from learning about other cultures and languages.

Gil would agree, saying the Hispanic race also brings economy to the country because Hispanics take jobs that nobody else will, such as earning $2 an hour to work potato fields in California.

The fact that 500,000 immigrants stepped out Saturday to march peacefully says something positive. They want to be in America. Some risk their lives for the opportunity to live and work here.

I commend them, but this legislation is entirely anti-Hispanic. The construction of fences along the border may be viewed as a blatant attack, but it is designed to protect everyone and discourage breaking the law. A physical blockade could also prevent the transporting of drugs.

I’m torn. I want immigrants to be allowed here and given the same opportunities I have, but I want them to go through the process of becoming legal. My goal is simply too lofty.

I view this new legislation as the government’s response to public opinion about immigration. Apparently, many of us are afraid of other races. Maybe we feel their language will take over, they will steal our jobs or they will be prone to crime.

In defense of these beliefs, there have been members of minority groups who perpetuate the stereotypes. However, classifying a group as a whole from the actions of a few has seldom been correct.

To address the problems at hand, we should try to understand different races and cultures. Learning about other ethnicities is a positive thing. I would also say that any immigrant coming to America, regardless of race, is obligated to learn English. Gil agrees.

“We should enforce immigrants who attend school to be put in (English second language) classes,” Gil said. “[For me] ESL wasn’t challenging enough. Teachers were not prepared and couldn’t even speak Spanish. I learned the basics within a year [outside of ESL] because I had to defend myself.”

Language is an important form of communication. Immigrants have peacefully demonstrated that they value the opportunities America offers. It is up to both sides, perhaps with government assistance, to make an effort to understand each other.

Megan Schulz

sophomore

technical journalism major

 Posted by at 6:00 pm

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