How nativism has ruined the immigration debate in America

immigrationDoes anybody know what it means to be a “nation of immigrants” anymore? Since its inception, the United States has struggled with the issue of immigration. Some pretend to act as though the issue is new, but it most certainly is not.

The country we all know as the United States is a nation created by immigrants, lots and lots of immigrants. Some came willingly, others not so much. Regardless, the nation that millions of us now call home was built by immigrants fleeing the old world in pursuit of new found freedoms in the United States.

No single person in America today (save for those who are full blooded Native Americans) can claim that they do not descend from an immigrant background. Even if you can trace your ancestry back centuries, if you are White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, or any other group outside of the true original Americans, your lineage ultimately began outside the United States.

This information is important for context. Today’s immigration issues in American relate to the rapid rate of illegal immigrants coming from Latin America seeking better employment opportunities. Today the immigration system remains broken and what keeps it broken is a Congress that is very hesitant to act.

On one side, the more extreme Republicans want nothing more than total deportation, even though the Republican Party says they want to reach out to Latinos. They assume they are violent, here to steal (white) people’s jobs, run drugs, and create “anchor” babies (for which to gain legal status to stay in America). This narrative they form around immigrants coming from Latin America should not even be part of the debate.

On the other side, the Democrats say they want to pass immigration reform, but they too have been slow to bring up serious legislation. The DREAM Act is a start, but falls far short of what is needed. Also, while they preach a need to fix the system, Obama has deported more illegals than any president before him.

Senator Marco Rubio (R) of Florida
Senator Marco Rubio (R) of Florida

The more extreme solutions being floated around by people who themselves are descendants of immigrants are tried, old and rather racist in nature. Despite this little historical factoid, the more conservative right-wing elements of America’s populace still despise Latino (and other) immigrants coming to America. No surprise then that fellow conservative Latino politicians cannot get things together enough to reform the immigration system.

Marco Rubio, the Republican Senator from Florida was hailed as the supposed “savior of the Republican Party” following Mitt Romney’s election loss. Rubio is younger, and was seen as an important entity in trying to sway Latino voters over to the Republican side. Rubio not only flopped his response to Obama’s State of the Union, but now he’s fudging his role in the immigration debate.

Rubio has yet to stand out from the Republican Party on policy, his style is totally irrelevant. Just like Obama, you can have all the flare and style in the world, if that style doesn’t translate into actual policy then what’s the point?

Just to add more context to the right-wing’s hate of immigrants, I have included a video from the online Youtube show “The Young Turks.” Here they do some commentary of another video, in which a crowd of angry white voters protesting illegal immigrants are confronted by a full blooded Native American who has a bit of a different take on the immigration issue. Take a look, it will help you understand how such a horrible double standard has taken root in a large segment of the country, and how this double standard affects our immigration debate.


  1. I remember saying this as a young child. When I heard people talking about illegal immigrants I remember questioning why THESE illegal immigrants were so hated, because surely all our white ancestors didn’t come here legally. The fact is, a lot of Mexicans and other Latinos would get citizenship IF it were easy. It is not. At all. I have worked at a number of places in which illegal immigrants were my coworkers, and they were easily the most hard working people of the crew. It saddens me that they get such a bad rep when most of them are good people with good intentions trying to better their lives just as our relatives did so many years ago. How dare we stop them from having the same opportunity? They aren’t paying taxes because why would they. They are discriminated against and hated for trying to better themselves. I wouldn’t help this country out either if I were illegal.

  2. I believe we need an “Ellis Island” at every border, especially the Mexican and Central American borders…if we had that, people could enter somewhat legally. The only deportations I am aware of the the President has authorized has been of criminal illegals, a rampant problem in the southwest since there is so much drug and gun running and money is money. Many from Central America are political refugees from civil wars so they get lumped into the “illegal” status although they are not. I fully support the DREAM Act and believe if we educated this young people, we should tap into their talents.

Leave a Comment