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No Room for Nuance in Immigration Debate

Mar
26
2006

As I lay in bed trying to get to sleep in my Paris hotel room watching the images of yesterday’s march for immigrant rights in Los Angeles, I could not help but think, “Oh. My. God. They just keep coming.” Half a million in all, described by the world media as immigrants to the United States opposing government plans to make their status illegal. And the press couldn’t have confused the issue any more.
At first glance, you’d think that everyone of the half million people in Downtown Los Angeles were illegal immigrants and that the evil George Bush wanted to round up everyone in this group and ship them out of the country. I am sure that even with the benefit of more than a 30-second television segment, many Americans think the same thing…but you couldn’t be further from the truth.
It’s hard to tell what exactly the “immigrants” are protesting at this point. Months ago, the House of Representatives passed the legislation they should have been protesting about—the Sensenbrenner Bill which I described earlier as “red-meat for the farthest right elements of the GOP” Some, it appears, are protesting it anyways as the US Senate prepares to hear its own immigration proposals.
But for the people marching in the streets of Los Angeles and other American cities, the proposals being heard in the Senate should be an embarrassment of riches—worthy of praise not protest. President Bush’s proposal, advanced by Senator John Kyl would grant legal status to many who are in the U.S., while a McCain-Kennedy proposal goes even further to accommodate workers within our borders, legal or not. And that’s my 30-second version.
Three competing proposals is one to many for a media that likes to cast things in black and while—and the nuances of Senate deliberations and Conference Committees with the house are hard to put on a 3′ x 5′ placard…so rather than a real discussion of policy, we get “Illegal Immigrants Protest Government in Los Angeles”…which plays into the hands of those who’d rather make immigration an election-year issue rather than make real policy advancements.

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