Is Immigrant Synonymous with Criminal?

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Ohg Rea Tone is all or nothing. He is educated and opinionated, more clever than smart, sarcastic and forthright. He writes intuitively - often disregarding rules of composition. Comment on his posts - he will likely respond with characteristic humor or genuine empathy. He is the real-deal.

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Is Immigrant Synonymous with Criminal?

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Control the Border, build fences, beef up Border Patrols, arrest illegal immigrants, deport them.  The ranting protesters against immigration would have us believe that immigrants with Spanish accents are essentially criminals.  Not just any criminals – they are really dangerous criminals.  The misguided criminal paradigm is applied to people who merely hope for a better future.

A comment on a recent post on this site makes the point of criminalizing immigrants:

7 captured immigrants identified as sex offenders
Apr. 13, 2010 07:03 AM
Associated Press
TUCSON – Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents apprehended nine illegal immigrants in separate incidents over the weekend.
Fingerprint identification checks revealed seven of the nine are sex offenders.
One individual from Mexico was previously charged in New Castle, Del., for “solicitation of a child under 16 to engage in a prohibited sexual act.”
The government said he had been arrested for child sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and attempting to induce sexual contact.
Near Willcox Saturday, agents captured an illegal immigrant charged with killing two people and wounding two others in the Dominican Republic.
Sunday, agents arrested an illegal immigrant from El Salvador who had been convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 90 months incarceration.


Perhaps these criminal arrests are accurate – what does that mean?  There are more Boy Scout leaders arrested for pedophilia than there are Hispanic immigrants arrested for sex crimes.  Does this  suggest Boy Scout leaders in general are sexual perverts?  Last week in Kansas City a girls basketball coach was arrested for having sexual relations with an underage female athlete.   Are all male basketball coaches perverts?  You see the point.

The anti-immigration mantra suggests the Spanish speaking immigrants are like rats carrying the plague – their only function is to destroy America.  Over exaggerating the consequence of illegal immigration, raising the threshold of danger, serves to inflame an American population struggling with unemployment, war, threats of terrorism, and general uncertainty of the future.

In reality most of the illegal immigrants have come to America seeking work, seeking an opportunity to send money to their struggling families, hoping one day to bring their family north to the promised land, hoping that one day the American dream can be theirs. These are not criminals – they are hard working family members seeking a better future.

This human phenomenon has played out many times in the past:

Why did the original immigrants come to America from Europe?  Opportunity for a better life, opportunity to be rewarded for a hard day’s work, escape from impoverishment, and escape from oppressive government. The upper classes of Europe were happy to see the malcontents leave.

Why did the slaves of early America seek refuge in the North?  Slaves and anyone who participated in the underground railroad were treated as criminals.  Government sanctioned oppression in the southern States drove the desire to escape.

Why did the people of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas migrate from the Plains to California?  They were struggling to support their families – they heard of opportunity – they migrated.  The Okies were met at the California border by Border Guards.  If they had no money they were tuned away.  Woody Guthrie was one – his music reflected the struggle of desperate immigration.

Humans are no different than other animals.  If drought depletes the water supply – animals will migrate.  If the climate will not support life – animals will migrate.  This is not the selfish, individualized, indiscriminate abuse of the criminal mind.

The solutions to the problem of immigration can only be effective if we understand the phenomenon for what it is.  Immigration is a result of human trauma, of human oppression, of human rights violations, and of how people treat their neighbors.

The paradigm of immigrants as criminal has not served us well.

There Are 4 Responses So Far. »

  1. Here becomes the problem with illegal immigration. Say a huge pork plant opens and hires illegal immigrants at a low wage. Already those folks are struggling to survive in America, then the plant closes down like the 3 others before it. Now we have hundred of unemployed, poverty stricken people that see two ways out, welfare on our dime, or crime. Which of the two benefit our country?

    I say work visa’s are the way to go with random drug testing on all who are on welfare. Some may call that harsh, but if so then all business’s in America are in conflict of our civil rights.

    Sure it may not be fair to those who are honest hard workers just trying to support their families, but that is why there is a path to citizenship. Illegal immigrants are not much different in those who are citizens they want what they want now, instead of getting a 21% interest rate credit card they jump the boarder.

  2. I agree – work visas and random drug testing on ALL Welfare recipients – including those who get public housing.

  3. If you think the new SB1070 law is going to end up with even more discrimination and social profiling please go to and vote against it! Your comment and vote really matters! Thank you!

  4. I know SB1070 will lead to more discrimination. The discrimination continues, as those who think the rest of the country support them, they will feel empowered and emboldened to spread their racist hatred.

    Now we see “tit for tat”, AZ is boycotting San Diego, and Disneyland, they are threatening to cut off electricity to L.A.. AZ feels the need to retaliate for boycots against them, to show thier strength and superiority, there is no civilized discussion they like threat, aggression, and intimidation, it’s the way the state is run. They boast about their behavior and wear their ignorance like a badge of courage. Still calling it “the Wild West” imagine that in the year 2010? They are now dicussing not giving birth certificates to immigrant children born in the U.S. Is that not more discrimination? Will that not lead to more crime, poverty, racism a secret underclass…I don’t know what to think of it, or what to call it.

    I feel ashamed of being caucasion because of it. I have done nothing wrong, I embrace diversity, celebrate it but I feel embarassed to be white. I feel like I need to appologize for the stupidity and ignorance of white people. I am affraid to keep quiet, I’m affraid to speak out…go figure. We are supposed be educated and modern we live in a global community, we are not territorial like animals or are we? If this is what being human is, I don’t feel very human.

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