Diversity would do world of good

By Helena Rodriguez: Local columnist

Shame on our politicians!

As we celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins today and runs through Oct. 15, some politicians are only concerned about being re-elected and are leaving millions of concerned citizens and Mexican immigrants in limbo as they delay immigration reform.

They cried “state of emergency” last spring, but with November elections this so-called “crisis” has been pushed to the back burner.

Can it be that politicians who want to get tough on immigration are afraid they will not be re-elected because of the so-called “growing power of the Hispanic vote?” This in spite of the fact that surveys show Hispanic voters didn’t make as much of an impact as was expected during the last elections.

The Hispanic vote will get stronger because Hispanics are the fastest—growing minority, but from what we’re seeing, this is happening at a painfully slow rate. And so Hispanics will not set a voting record this election.

Many politicians, however, don’t want to take a chance because this could be the big one, Elizabeth! This could be The Year of the Hispanic Vote. And so they will aggressively court Hispanic voters on one side, putting on sombreros and taking photos with mariachis as we celebrate El Diez y Seis de Septiembre, or Mexican Independence Day, on Saturday.

On the other side, however, the Pat Buchanan political types will be spreading unsubstantiated fears of a Mexican reconquest of America. Just read his new book.
So the political game will continue until after elections, then the immigration issue will go into crisis mode again.

Some people are opposed to immigration, namely illegal immigration, and for valid reasons. We are a country founded by immigrants and have historically been a refuge for people wanting to better their lives. From an economic standpoint, though, there must be guidelines and even limitations. It’s no longer practical to have an open-door policy and those wanting to become citizens should be expected to learn some English and pay their dues.

From a Christian standpoint, however, one must put politics and economics aside. Is it practical to deport millions of illegal immigrants? No. Is it morally right to tear apart families when you have undocumented parents with U.S. born children? And is right to tear such families apart, families who knowingly broke our laws while our own government permitted this to happen by looking the other way, not just for years, but decades?

Is it right to pass English-only laws for immigrants while ignoring the fact that millions of Spanish-speaking people are U.S. residents, many of whom were born and raised in parts of our country where Spanish was once the primary language? Is it right to also turn a blind eye to the fact that the Spanish media in our country — which anti-immigration groups claim promote segregation rather than assimilation — are American owned?

It made my heart sick a few weeks ago when a spokesperson from a mothers against illegal immigration group on CNN protested at a church where a Mexican mother has sought refuge from deportation because her child is a U.S. citizen. This spokesperson was only concerned about what this poor Mexican woman was supposedly taking away from her and her children.

The real issue is fear, a fear that we are no longer — and never really have been — a homogeneous society. A fear that her own children may actually have to share and may be introduced to a whole new language and world, which, contrary to what she may think, doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

From a moral standpoint, I sympathize with Mexican immigrants because scripture from Leviticus 19:33-34 reads, “When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”

Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at: helena_rodriguez@link.freedom.com