Anti-Immigrant Effort Takes Hold in Md. – Washington Post
Grass-Roots Movement Expands Beyond Montgomery in Targeting the Undocumented
By Pamela Constable
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 23, 2008; Page B01Of all the communities in Prince George’s County, tiny Mount Rainier seemed a fitting place to pass a broad sanctuary law for illegal immigrants. After all, the ethnically diverse city of 9,000 already prohibits its police force from enforcing federal immigration laws and inquiring about a person’s citizenship status.
“There are some who want to create a schism between African Americans and Latinos, but we need more black-brown coalitions. In one way or another, we are all immigrants,” said the Rev. Jamila Wood Jones, an African Methodist Episcopal pastor in La Plata. “This is a land of opportunity, not a place where we want to make criminals out of people who come to make a better life for their families.”
It saddens me to see new anti-immigration groups spring up. This makes me want to vent a little. This particular groups calls itself “Help Save Maryland” which implies that immigrants are going to take over and destroy the state. That is absolutely ridiculous and only serves to create false fear in their communities.
I refuse to ignore the voices that often remain silent from fear. I refuse to live a life where I do not recognize the suffering of others nor a life where I refuse to help in some way. So for those people that take to the anti-migrant movement I do not understand them. I do understand where they’re coming from in some sense, but when you really look at it closely they’re either blindly following a government with terrible policies towards immigrants (and we are essentially all immigrants) or they are simply prejudice against anything different. Now I don’t believe that the vast majority of the people in the anti-immigrant movement are prejudiced or racist, but there certainly are enough to make me worry. Many of these people claim that their towns are starting to look different and they don’t like it.
For those, such as the woman pictured in this article, that have begun to act against immigrants, having joined or started an anti-immigrant group, I ask ‘do you agree with every law your government wishes to put a pen to?’ Essentially the “it’s the law” and “we’re a nation of laws” people are saying that every U.S. action and every U.S. law are legitimate and beyond reproach. To those of us that question these immigration laws they call us traitors while claiming they’re patriots. Regardless of the fact that going against the standing government was what made you a patriot in the past, now when you do it you’re a traitor. Strange.
Actually many of these anti-immigrant (or anti-“illegal” immigrant for some) groups will agree that many of the U.S. policies and laws should be changed. Many of us don’t agree with the Patriot Act and many of us don’t agree with the Iraq War, but somehow when it comes to immigration policy they’re ready to shut the door. These people will run around handing out flyers and stand at podiums screaming bloody murder about “illegal” immigrants (often making references to Hispanics and Mexicans) while claiming they welcome legal immigrants with open arms. Well Dolce and Gabbana has an outfit for everyone that wants one, but affording one is another story. Trying to get into the United States legally for many people is much more difficult than it should be. I don’t believe many of these anti-immigrant groups even know or understand immigration law. They just like the sound of chants like “we’re a nation of laws”, but when leaving their rallies they probably break traffic laws or throw cigarettes on the ground (not that they all smoke of course).
We’re a “nation of laws” because we have to be “protected” from each other. We’re a “nation of laws” which are followed based on severity of punishment. If the punishment for speeding was death you wouldn’t see one person going a mile over the limit, but would anyone advocate this level of punishment? To hear many of those in the anti-immigrant crowd you’d certainly think so. If we’re so hard wired to our laws and loyal to the core to our government’s decisive pen then we should be able to accept death as punishment because we’d never dare break our precious laws. A body of citizens so in love with their country and its laws would have nothing to fear, because as loyal servants we would never do anything against those words made law by the kiss of ink.
So to those anti-immigrant groups out there I say we are questioning our government’s laws because that is our right and or duty. We are advocating for migrants because we have been blessed with a life that so many people will never know, but one they should be able to obtain. We give to others that need our help and it doesn’t matter if they’re citizens or undocumented migrants. We refuse to embrace inequality and our ready to give of what we have so that others can have to. There is nothing in our pockets to protect when reaching our hands in is an effort to help. When good and compassionate people work together we can all have wonderful lives.