Tuesday 27 April 2010


I’m a child of immigrants. My parents and grandparents were immigrants. My partner comes from immigrants. And I currently live in a country I was not born in. In fact, I think I’m in the majority here when I say everyone could trace themselves back to an immigrant somewhere. These days the word immigration has become a dirty word. No matter where you are in the world, it is the defining issue that can literally divide a room, and boy can it get ugly. And of course, nowadays, with the history of the world pleasantly forgotten, every argument is pulled out of the arsenal and used to fight the proverbial corner. “They should not be here; our country is too crowded (there seems to be an awful lot of space in the middle?? Just saying); they take our jobs (btw, they take your jobs cause you don’t want to do them for the wage they do them for; that sounds like free enterprise to me) etc. I’m sure you’ve heard them all too – or said them yourselves – and you’re perfectly entitled to your opinion of course.

The problem is, if we were to give history its actual due, we as Americans took a country that wasn’t ours, from a people we deemed insignificant, and how did we take care of that one? Well, we killed as many as we could get our hands on. Check your history books (and for those of you in California, the Mexicans and Spanish were there first as well back in the 1500’s). Then we took it one step further and founded our country on the very principle of acceptance. Some of you may want to check the engraving on the Statue of Liberty: “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;” Sound familiar? Big oops. Guess we should’ve put a time stamp on that one. We meant to say, “Give us your tired, your poor till 2011, then you’ll have to bugger off somewhere else. Try Spain. I hear it’s lovely this time of year.”

And because immigration is such a contention issue, it has of course become a call to arms for racists everywhere. Now it’s not just a ‘we don’t want them here’ question, it’s a ‘we don’t want them here cause they are horrible bunch of – racial epithet – and those nasty *&(@(&#*) are screwing up our country.’ Nice. Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?

The latest bill to address the immigration debate is in Arizona. Supposedly, it’s one of the strictest bills to pass on the issue. People fear that this will spark a rise in racial profiling as the police can stop a person, anytime, anywhere if they find you ‘suspicious’ of being illegal. Wow. I can’t wait to see how they figure out that one.  I’d hate to be a brown tourist in Tucson, I can tell you that much. After Governor Jan Brewer signed the bill, a reporter asked if she knew what an illegal immigrant looks like. "I do not know what an illegal immigrant looks like," Brewer said. "I can tell you there are people in Arizona who assume they know what an illegal immigrant looks like. I don't know if they know that for a fact or not." Wow, that’s reassuring. Can anyone say lynch mob?

Before the anti-immigrant corner gets their knickers all in a twist, I understand the argument – especially over here in the UK - that an island can only take so many people, and systems are becoming over run and the people of that country are sick of people entering illegally and living off the system. Of course I accept that. And I’m all for people going down the legal route to obtain status in a country. In fact, I think we should be focusing on that as opposed to anything else. But fences? Closing borders? Mass deportation? They’re not dogs people. It’s actual people we’re talking about. People wanting better lives for their families, people escaping unbelievable oppression, poverty, violence. Excuse my utter frankness, but If you woke up in the Congo and were getting raped daily, watching all your ancestors get slaughtered, would you not want to flee to somewhere better where you could get a Starbucks and be the left the hell alone. I would.

And then of course, there are some people that take it a step wayyy too far and fear us becoming a mixed race of people – ohhh the fearful Xenophobes of the world wanting their bloodlines to remain pure and white as snow; to those people I say two things: one -  WAKE UP, no bloodline is pure anymore, you silly fools. And secondly, I can’t wait to introduce you to my part Grenadian, Polish, Lebanese, English, French, Greek child. He’s going to be a knockout. 
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