The Illegal Immigration Issue

“The Illegal Immigration Issue” by Sha-King Cehum Allah

New Years’ Day, the first child was born to a immigrant couple of Guatemalan descent in Rhode Island. Afterwards the paternity papers were filed, later that day and the father was immediately seized and deported. While the couples’ roommate, a young Guatemalan man, was found hung to death in his room, when the police raided their home.

One of the most important issues during this presidential campaign is illegal immigration. Most people agree with tightening the security around the borders of the United States. The details of what that means is a very sensitive subject with it’s arms reaching into various sectors of society.

Even more controversial is the stance taken by those people closer to the issue at hand: so-called Latin Americans. While the illegal immigration policy involves anyone from a foreign country, those most affected are the United States’ neighbors, those in the Caribbean and Latin American countries to the South. This population of people is by no means homogenized when stating positions on the issue.

Ultimately, the position you adopt can put you at odds with your own people. So it is imperative that understanding be exercised. Many of us from Latin-American backgrounds probably have someone of some people in our families who have come here illegally at one time or another. And it shouldn’t be wrong to empathize with their determination for a better life. As well, it can not be argued, that not everyone who crosses the U.S.’s borders due so with the best of intentions. Neo-liberalism and capitalism paint pictures for people via television and media that simply aren’t upheld. I know someone who, as a little girl in Colombia, literally thought that the United States was like the lost city of El Dorado. A place of gold and fortune. A perspective she adopted from what she was exposed to via television in her home country. Upon arriving in the states ‘legally’ she found her and her family in the ‘projects’ and far from the American dream that sedated her with extravagant television images. As an adult, she now knows the truth. Many people arrive and experience a shock of tremendous proportions and are flung into homelessness and poverty, with some opting to etch out a living through criminal and nefarious activities. Which again, within a sociological mindset, one can understand. This then creates a generalized notion of “immigrants” and especially “illegal” immigrants which often result in negative stereotypes. These then put “legal” immigrants and the descendants of legal immigrants in the same category. It simply makes life harder for everyone. A contemporary example is the racial profiling of so-called Latinos in Washington D.C. where police randomly approached and harassed people, asking for their citizenship cards. The stigma of ‘illegal immigration’ makes a whole group of people seem unruly and uncivilized. In need of some sort of quarantining, some say, along the lines of a ‘fence’.

Illegal immigrants get blamed for taking away jobs, when it’s actual the corporations and companies who hire them who are responsible. It is the U.S.’s failed trade agreements which leave country’s economically shattered and result in people fleeing to where they have been told life is “better”. It is the support of the U.S. for un-democratic presidents and “dictators” which allow the continual downward spiral of many countries. And the people are caught up in this. Drug smuggling and terrorism aside. A vast majority of people who come to the United States do so for just reasons.

The ideology of “Reconquista” is common amongst many of our Mexica brothers and sisters, both across the border and here in the states. An ideology that I respect and understand. Nevertheless, it is an ideology that must be executed strategically and diplomatically and not one achieved by “squatting”. “Reconquista” is based on the history of continent of North America and the fact that the western part of the modern day United States is Aztlan, the homeland of the Mexica, mistakenly called “Aztecs”. Most “Mexicans” are these people or are the descendants of these people and are “Native American”, despite the U.S. perspective of who is and isn’t “Indian”. From their perspective, the border is a line in the sand and isn’t anything that is going to keep them from their homeland. To occupy and take back this land would be reversing, to a degree, the conquest of Native America executed by Europeans.

To many people in the world, and especially Native Americans, country boundaries are man-made and artificial. They were imposed by the Euro-centric colonizers as a means to divide up land and mark the control of territory by governmental laws and policies. Whose “governing” you or what laws you follow aren’t enough to separate or intentional distinguish one group of people from another. However, this notion of “land control” is held high by Euro-centrists. It is foreign to us. Yet and still, the conditions forced upon us are irreversible overnight and can only be resolved and dissolved through political means. We will need to be active participants in the government we live under, whether or not you acknowledge them as “true” power. Simply protesting will no do. The “system” and systems that be must be transformed, must be done from the inside out.

The lack of respect for the “laws of the land” is what really stirs up the issue. Not all immigrants lack respect for country laws, most do respect and abide by them. Obtaining a Visa and applying for citizenship thereafter and some even some degree of "patriotism". Some people may feel that they aren’t obligated to do so for whatever reason. Yet, they still expect to be treated with “citizen’s rights”. I will say that, if I entered into another country, let’s say-Canada, I’d be expected to follow guidelines. If I illegally entered into Canada, with reason, I could not expect to be given or treated with the same rights as it’s citizens. And would be deported. If other countries would have relaxed policies with illegal immigration, that is “Americans” simply sliding into their countries and living under the radar, then maybe it would be more reasonable to do the same. Since this is not the case, we must respect governmental policy until we change it. We can not depend of the conscience of the elites in power to do so in our best interest. The people must become involved and bring forth the change themselves.

With that being said, my perspective is that “change” is internal. You simply can not flee from the problems of the world. Similar to alcoholism or drug addiction, where one may hide from their own problems and mask them with substances, those who leave their own country to simply escape the turmoil there aren’t bringing forth any change. Once they leave that country, things continue as usual. We are addicted to this idea of freedom and democracy and have yet to fully understand it. One issue is that many people may not have been actively involved in the politics of their own country which means they are less likely to be involved here in the ‘states’. Some people may not be fit for politics or think that it’s not for them, because of lack of interest or lack of education. Revolutions have been led by some of the most uneducated people in history. Still their thirst for change was unquenchable and drove them to extraordinary heights.
Allah taught us that all things must “change or die”. This is the principle for all things in the universe. Build or be destroyed. Energetic transformation or atrophy. Despite what many people may think they know about our teachings, Allah encouraged us to respect the American flag and obey the laws of the land. Because one day, when we were qualified enough, we would be inheriting the government and would be in power. He told that that since we were born here and live here this is “our” country, and that we must protect the country and make it strong. With the greater influence and participation you have within the government, the more favorable the government is towards the people. The policies would be crafted for us and by us. If we think we have no obligation to follow the ‘rules’ because of our historical perspectives, we will remain in the past and not be able to move forward and continue to build and further civilization. The past is important to understand the present. Yet it is the present that defines the future. We must build NOW and not sit aside passively and expect others to make decisions for us. We must become the decision makers.

Allah’s views were unpopular in a time when separatism was a key term and black militancy and hatred for ’whites’ was a common theme. Most activists who favored integration were of Christian faith and those who favored separatism were Islamic or otherwise. Allah proclaimed himself “God” and walked his own path. Some of his views could be considered very conservative, but with good reason. He was clear about where we wanted the children in this country to go in the future. He understood that to make rules you yourself must know how to follow rules and that change in this country would not be achieved by protesting and blaming white America for our problems but by being educating, raising ourselves up and qualifying ourselves as the rightful owners of the land and the planet, as our ancestors once exhibited. This does not come from a nostalgic memorial walk through history, but understanding the “now” and the power within ourselves.

This message is very similar to what Bolivian President Evo Morales stated when he was interviewed on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show” with Jon Stewart a few months back. Stewart made a humorous statement about how the elections in the United States are “rigged”, inferring President Bush’s tinkering with the polls in his run against Al Gore. Morales simply smiled and replied by stating that this has to be changed, by the people who live here. He added on further saying that it is up to us to fix the problems in the government. While it may be true, that those who sought change in third countries were often met with bloodshed, it is unfortunately a consequence, a price, for freedom. Freedom is not free. The people must continue to wage the war of change against oppressive governments, through democratic processes or armed revolution (as a last resort). But the people must never give up or flee, for change will never come. People strive to get here and end up in the wilderness of North America and risk further hardships. Countless families have been broken up as a result of parents being deported. Numerous people have died crossing through the hot, arid deserts of the Southwestern U.S. Many people have been exploited by ‘smugglers’ seeking to make money by illegally bringing them here.

Regardless to your particular perspective on the issue, the health and welfare of families are at risk both here and abroad and we have to work strategically towards the change we desire to see and live. Understanding, that this change may not come in our lifetime, but willfully in our children’s or grandchildren’s. We have to balance culture, history, economy and government on the scales of justice and build for a better tomorrow without getting wound up in the political propaganda of those seeking candidacy and power.


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