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Friday, March 2, 2012

Irresistible Forces Meeting Immovable Objects

I owe the subject line to Professor Rubén Rumbaut of UC, Irvine, who pointed out the new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center describing the impact of Alabama's HB 56 on the Hispanic population in that state. The Irresistible force refers, of course, to the fact that we need immigrants to fill in the labor force in this country because of the low birth rate. The immovable object is, at root, racism--xenophobia--sending the the message that "we need you here, but we don't want you here."

Latinos in Alabama have experienced harassment, hardship and discrimination, regardless of their immigration status, as a result of the state’s anti-immigrant law, HB 56, and the xenophobic climate it has created, according to a report released today by the SPLC.
The report – Alabama’s Shame: HB 56 and the War on Immigrants – features stories told by Latinos from across Alabama. They describe being cheated out of wages, being denied medical treatment and facing a growing hostility since the passage of HB 56. The report calls for the law’s repeal, citing evidence that it attacks the basic human dignity of all Latinos.
The report includes the following stories:
  • A health clinic refused to treat a young girl due to her immigration status. Days later, she had to undergo emergency surgery.
    A family with young children lived in a home without running water for 40 days because their “papers” were not in order.
    After asking to be paid for her work, a day laborer had a gun pointed at her by a boss who declared he didn’t have to pay her because she didn’t have “papers.”
    Latinos who are U.S. citizens have reported enduring taunts of “Go back to Mexico” and being treated with suspicion. One citizen described having to provide “American” identification to complete a routine purchase at a store – simply because he is Latino.
You might argue that these stories are--perhaps--only the exception, not the rule. Even if that were true (and I don't think it is), it still makes me heartsick that this sort of thing can be going on in this country.

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