FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

No White Christmas for Brown Immigrants

by ALVARO HUERTA

The recent controversy over the comments made by Megyn Kelly—the new media darling of Fox News—telling kids on the air that Santa “is just white,” rings truthful for millions of brown, undocumented immigrants in this country. Latino immigrants who lack legal status will have something less to celebrate this year, once gain, since neither President Obama nor Congress has taken meaningful action to resolve their precarious and vulnerable status.

In this time of holiday celebrations, where families gather to feast on good food, open presents and count their blessings, the Obama administration continues to deport undocumented immigrants at record rates, whereby splitting immediate and extended families apart. For instance, according to recent data from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, the Obama administration has deported over two million immigrants in the past five years. Compared to former U.S. Presidents, this mark makes Obama the leader in the field of separating families and penalizing mostly hard-working individuals for the simple act of wanting a better future for themselves and their families.

While Obama supports a bi-partisan, immigration bill drafted by the so-called “Senate Gang of Eight,” where it passed in the Senate and remains stalled in the House, the House-dominated Republicans balk of a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Although Democratic leaders in Congress and some immigrant advocacy groups begrudge Republicans for not acting on this “comprehensive immigration reform” bill, the legislation remains politically and ethically flawed for undocumented immigrants and their families. By focusing mainly on enforcement and security measures, such as the ongoing militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border with thousands of additional enforcement agents, high-tech reinforcement and expansion of the wall, increased drones and military-related equipment, not to mention draconian employer-based measures to identify and deport undocumented workers, this bill does more harm than good for those who live and work in the shadows.

If the White House and Congress truly want to make progress in fixing the dysfunctional immigration system and not just penalize those on the bottom, both Democrats and Republicans need to accept the premise that undocumented immigrants represent mostly honest, hard-working individuals who contribute greatly to this country’s prosperity. While it’s politically convenient to blame Latino
huertaimmigrants for America’s economic downturns, why don’t America’s leaders and the public also recognize their strong work ethnic and daily sacrifice when they clean houses, raise children, care for the elderly, mow lawns, wash dishes, park cars and sell their labor on street corners?

When Obama talks about “American exceptionalism” in international affairs, he needs to seriously re-examine his domestic policies and how his administration treats the most vulnerable and exploited among us. Like all U.S. Presidents, Obama has enormous executive powers that he needs to exercise, providing relief for most undocumented immigrants living and working in this country. It’s not enough to provide temporary relief to some undocumented youth, Obama needs to halt the deportations and detentions for all undocumented immigrants (except for serious criminals) until Congress passes true comprehensive immigration reform based on humane principles, like dignity and respect for all.

Obama should also act immediately to prevent the senseless deaths of Latino immigrants who attempt to cross the border state, such as Arizona, resulting in a silent humanitarian crisis in this country. During the past decade, for example, over 2,000 immigrants have died in border states, especially in the desert where they lack access to water and succumb to heat exposure. This figure only includes those bodies that have been found, where families from Mexico and Central America mourn their missing and dead relatives. Where’s the public outcry? Who will fight and defend the interests of these human beings and future ones at risk of death, if not the federal government with its financial, technological and humanitarian resources at its disposal?

For those immigrants who survive the treacherous U.S.-Mexico border crossing, many of them face a nightmarish experience after being apprehended and imprisoned by ICE officials. Operated both by public officials and for-profit interests, these detention centers or immigrant prisons serve the function to criminalize, detain and deport immigrants with minimal rights and limited access to legal counsel. Too often, unaware or misinformed of their rights, many immigrants sign stipulated orders of removal, waiving their right to a hearing in front of a judge to plead their case. Morever, given that these men and women are desperate to escape their harsh imprisonment, by signing this “voluntary” deportation form, many of then are unaware of the legal ramifications, such as “agreeing” to a 10-year restriction on re-entry to the U.S. and other punitive consequences.

I find nothing “exceptional” about how the U.S. treats los de abajo / those on the bottom.

Thus, by taking decisive and humane actions towards resolving our dysfunctional immigration system, Obama will remind Kelly and her friends at Fox News that Santa doesn’t have to be white, after all.

Alvaro Huerta is a UCLA Visiting Scholar at the Chicano Studies Research Center. He is the author of “Reframing the Latino Immigration Debate: Towards a Humanistic Paradigm,” published by San Diego State University Press (2013).

 

 

Dr. Alvaro Huerta is an assistant professor of urban and regional planning and ethnic and women’s studies at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He is the author of “Reframing the Latino Immigration Debate: Towards a Humanistic Paradigm,” published by San Diego State University Press (2013).

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
David Price
The 2016 Tour of California: Notes on a Big Pharma Bike Race
Dmitry Mickiewicz
Barbarous Deforestation in Western Ukraine
Rev. William Alberts
The United Methodist Church Up to Its Old Trick: Kicking the Can of Real Inclusion Down the Road
Patrick Bond
Imperialism’s Junior Partners
Mark Hand
The Trouble with Fracking Fiction
Priti Gulati Cox
Broken Green: Two Years of Modi
Marc Levy
Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets
Lorenzo Raymond
Why Nonviolent Civil Resistance Doesn’t Work (Unless You Have Lots of Bombs)
Ed Kemmick
New Book Full of Amazing Montana Women
Michael Dickinson
Bye Bye Legal High in Backwards Britain
Missy Comley Beattie
Wanted: Daddy or Mommy in Chief
Ed Meek
The Republic of Fear
Charles R. Larson
Russian Women, Then and Now
David Yearsley
Elgar’s Hegemony: the Pomp of Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail