The Anti-Migrant and Pro-Migrant Voice – Anger Versus Compassion

In this post, and hopefully subsequent posts, I will attempt argue the faults in the anti-migrant and “illegal” migrant movements by showing that their tactics do not provide hope and promise. This is my opinion and though I like to think others feel the same way I do and do not speak for everyone in the pro-migrant movement. Whether you agree or disagree please leave a comment and let me know. As always, thanks for stopping by.

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A good way to gain perspective on the issue of undocumented migrants is to see how both sides are reacting to it and what it says about the people involved.

Here’s quote from “Writers Under Siege.” This quote is from a play by Jean-Louis Ntadi titled Cries of the Cricket. In this play a man from the Republic of Congo is being interrogated by UK immigration officials. They accuse him of using a false passport to gain entrance to the country.

If you are in a house that is burning, do you break a window to get out or do you die in the house because the main door is locked?

When thinking of undocumented migrants we must have compassion. However many anti-migrant and anti-“illegal” migrant groups work to remove that factor from the equation. In the United States we ask everyone around the world to work together, we asked Gorbachev to “tear down that wall” and we ask Israel and Palestine to get along. However, when it comes to our own neighbors rather than reaching out to them many just stay sick in their beds. They hold onto nice words like “patriot”, “American values”, “ideals” and “rule of law” like some musty old stuffed animal their parents gave them as children. They cannot see the world, but only that their grass or their neighbor’s grass is too tall. It’s a blurred peripheral vision.

The Anti-Migrant (or “illegal” migrant) Voice:

The anti-migrant or anti-“illegal” immigrant side of the argument uses visions of death and despair while advocating we lose our hearts when dealing with other human beings. The want and need you to find an enemy to see ‘their’ way. As a matter of fact it is quite fundamental that you lose your ‘universal’ heart when thinking about undocumented migrants. I say universal because it is true that there are a very small number of undocumented migrants that have committed terrible crimes. These crimes are used to play toward the ‘heart’ (though through terror) of those that attempt to persuade. So you may have compassion for others, but you must not have compassion for everyone, otherwise you might understand that they are involved in a plight rather than an “invasion” – which is a vilifying term anti-migrant groups like to use.

Further to this it is important that you have little concern for people that are not U.S. citizens if you’re to be swayed against them. It’s not enough that we are one of the most fortunate peoples in the world by birthright and, for some, through immigration, but we must not let others experience that same joy. These groups will claim that our failure to promote selfishness will result in our downfall. That is quite different than I was taught as a child. What parent teaches their children that sharing will cause them suffering? Make no mistake, this issue is about not letting others experience our joys, for fear that they’re pulling that joy from a finite pool.

The anti-migrant groups ask you to see undocumented migrants as a menace, a hord, and some even call them cockroaches. Such terms and directions from this group are used to dehumanize migrants. Many anti-migrants will quickly identify that Mexicans are their source of contention.

The Pro-Migrant Voice:

Now let’s look at pro-migrant supporters. First and foremost, as a pro-migrant supporter, I am against the vilification of other people that have in fact done nothing terribly wrong. I am against those that promote hatred toward Hispanics simply because they identify them as the majority of undocumented migrants. This hatred has so easily spread to Hispanic citizens and even has some convinced that any Hispanic they see is, as they so endearingly say, “illegal.” I, as any pro-migrant supporter would, find this extremely unacceptable, un-American, heinous and dangerous.

Pro-migrant supporters ask that you care for others. Not only the migrants who have come to this country in search of work, but also American citizens that are suffering because of lost jobs in the United States. We understand that although the majority of Americans have been given a wonderful gift simply by being born here that there are many that suffer. For this reason we must all work together and find a common cause of change. So we, as pro-migrant supporters, are asking you to care – not just for Americans, but for everyone around the world. We’re all flesh and blood.

Pro-migrant supporters do not tell you to “lock and load.” They do not tell you that a particular group of people from a particular part of the world are “invaders” or are trying to “steal” from you. Pro-migrant supporters ask you to take the humanitarian initiative and ask how we can create to a world where we can all live free and happy.

Sadly, as I mentioned above, pro-migrant supporters have been pushed into a corner by the anti-migrant movement. In that corner we are having to defend the Hispanic migrants who are suffering so much in their own country that they feel they’ve no other choice than to come here. Even though there are undocumented migrants from all over the world the anti-migrant crowd is focused sharply on Hispanics. I’ve read some anti-migrant supporters even claim they’d not care if it weren’t for the Mexicans coming here. So if it were just undocumented Europeans everything would apparently be fine yet they claim their fight is about the “rule of law.”

Pro-migrant supporters understand that the United States is responsible for much of the suffering in the world. We’ve invaded countries, staged coups and replaced leaders through “democracy” which have gone on to lead their people into suffering. We’ve also supplied guns and justified the actions of people and groups who have proven to be evil. Because we understand this we are asking that everyone come together and fight against this terrible wave of hate perpetrated by our government and other governments as well. How can anyone in the world live in peace when we’re constantly at war? How can we expect other people to stay in countries which we’ve drained of resources and abused through proxy wars while we live in a country that has never, in current times, seen a war on its own soil? Is it ok that others wake up to mortal blasts while we fear alarm clocks? Is it ok that others fear walking out of their own front doors for fear of being beaten and raped?

I feel I can hear the anti-migrant groups chanting now – “go home and fix your own country.” I suppose these people have never felt powerless. Our country is entirely founded on the idea that you can move elsewhere and have a better life. Did we fix England? Did we fix Ireland? Did we fix Germany? No – we moved to the United States for a better life. So others should not only have this same right, but we should also fight so that they don’t have to make this choice because of the horrors of their home land.

Both sides of this argument need to move together in order to make our government listen to us. We cannot stand for the invasion of Iraq nor the total lack of respect for the American people. How is this a government by and for the people when our president won’t even listen to us? How can we make this world a better place when our bombs kill people everyday? All our names are on those weapons of war.

So to finish I want to recall a recent discussion I had with some coworkers regarding found wallets and cashier errors. While the majority of us felt that in either case you should return the wallet or alert the cashier one person in our group argued that since everyone else is out to get you it’s only appropriate to “return the favor.” He felt that nobody else would return the money in his wallet or let him know if he had made an error as a cashier so why should he do this for others. He made this argument while three of the four involved in the discussion claimed they’d “do the right thing.” So the point is that many take the negative position because they feel that others are out to get them or take from them. Therefore they justify position because everybody else is evil and nobody else is honest. The sad fact is this simply isn’t true. Just like the majority of undocumented migrants are not out to get you nor do they want to steal from you. So how do we convince each other that we all want the same thing, but that we’re going to have to work together to get there?

Just as we all know a smile is contagious we do not have to give up anything for others to have as well, but we do have to give.

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2 thoughts on “The Anti-Migrant and Pro-Migrant Voice – Anger Versus Compassion

  1. It really is all about trust. How do you propagate it, how do you extend trust to “opponents,” “enemies,” or “outsiders?” This is true whether people are trying to figure out how to navigate conflict in Iraq, how to defuse race or nationality-based animus, or how to bridge the differences between interested parties in the immigration discussion. It is really, really hard. But it can and must be done.

  2. I completely agree. I’ve been reaching out to the head of a local anti-“illegal” immigration group and though I believe we both agree on things outside the immigration discussion I do see things from time to time that make trusting our dialogue regarding migrants difficult. While I’ll think he’s understanding my argument and he says he agrees with much of what I write about I’ll then think I’m watching a completely different person when he’s speaking at a rally.

    So it’s been difficult feeling that I’ve been able to reach the point where I can trust the validity of our dialogue. Thankfully I’ve had a few people comment here that don’t agree with me but have been kind enough to engage in a respectful discussion. That’s definitely a good place to start.

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