Why So Angry About Illegal Immigration?

Why so angry about illegal immigration?

Dennis Welch
East Valley Tribune
May 4, 2008

The rage and anger surrounding illegal immigration is visible everywhere. In the outright racist comments posted on the Internet. In blistering arguments on television. And in tense standoffs in the streets. It seems the signs of discontent are only growing.

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But in a nation built by immigrants, why are people so angry?

Experts and activists on both sides of the issue point to a number of factors contributing to the toxic environment – the slowing economy, fear of losing jobs, and the fiery rhetoric used by the nation's political leadership.

“These kinds of things are unsettling for many people and it's a natural human tendency to create an us vs. them,” said Jane Gans, program director for the University of Arizona Center for Studies in Public Policy.

Any time there are massive social and economic changes at play, there are risks of a backlash against foreigners who are perceived as a threat.

Right now, people are worried about their jobs and what the future will bring. The news is filled with reports of the U.S. economy limping along. Prices of homes, usually a person's biggest asset, are plummeting. The country has just entered the fifth year of an unpopular war, and the cost of gasoline is skyrocketing.

All that creates a culture of uncertainly and a particular mentality that exacerbates the immigration problems, Gans said.

The anger has become very visible on the Internet, manifested in blogs and posted as comments at the bottom of online newspaper articles.

One evtrib.com reader, identified as brittanicus, posted this comment after an immigration story: “Are you now living from paycheck to paycheck, wondering how your going to feed your family, making your mortgage payment. You need to be aware of how much Uncle Sam is secretly skimming off your taxes and diverting into government freebies or immigrants and illegal foreign nationals.”

Other comments are more spiteful, filled with racial slurs and other derogatory terms in describing illegal immigrants as well as other Hispanics.

But experts say that while there is a strong racist undercurrent running through the anti-immigration movement, racism alone is not enough to account for the massive anti-illegal immigrant sentiment throughout the country.

For that to occur, said Raul Yzagurre, a professor at Arizona State University, large numbers of people need to be personally affected. He points to the transformation of neighborhoods overwhelmed by immigrant Hispanics. At first, he said, small changes such as businesses moving in and putting up signs in Spanish are not seen as threatening.

“But there comes a tipping point when the feelings about those changes turns into fear,” Yzagurre said.

That fear is then too often fueled by opportunistic politicians who exploit the situation for votes, rather then working to alleviate fears, he said. That in turn only serves to fan the psychological flames and incite even more anger, he said.

East Valley lawmaker Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, is one of the leading voices opposing illegal immigration. For the past several years he has introduced legislation aimed at getting tough on illegal border crossers and the businesses that hire them.

Over the years, as attention on illegal immigration has increased, Pearce has grown from a relatively minor player at the state Capitol to an influential one. Last year, he successfully authored and passed the state's employer sanctions law that punishes businesses knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. It's considered one of the toughest immigration measures in the country.

“If they think I'm fueling the flames then I'll continue to do that,” Pearce said last week. “If they can't handle the truth, then they've got a problem.”

In the interview, Pearce went on to reiterate the key points he usually makes regarding illegal immigration, including inaction by the federal government which he calls “malfeasance of government.”

And while the U.S. government's action or lack thereof has become a regular element in Pearce's speeches, that theme also resonates with the public and is contributing to the growing frustration in the streets, experts say.

Speak with any activist from the dozens of anti-immigration groups that have sprouted up in Arizona, and they'll tell you about the “do-nothing” Congress. Rusty Childress, founder of United for a Sovereign America, says that is one of the key issues that continues to draw people to his group.

But Childress, who owns an auto dealership and has himself been accused of racism, believes the media's coverage of immigration also adds to the rage.

“You don't see stories about the lack of illegal immigration enforcement,” he said. “They're not there or if they are they're hard to find.”

Now, the anger has reached a point that people on both sides of the issue worry that violence is a very real possibility as people take their feelings beyond internet postings, letters to the editor and emotional phone calls to elected leaders.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is continuing his crime suppression sweeps, aimed at picking up people in the country illegally, in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods, and police as well as protesters are gearing up for the demonstrations that go along with Arpaio's operations to turn violent.

The sweeps are announced and promoted along with details of where deputies will be patrolling, and protesters from all sides of the issue show up. Many carry guns, police say, creating a volatile situation.

Last month, during one of the sheriff's sweeps in Guadalupe, a group of people supporting Arpaio could be seen shouting racial slurs and antagonizing Hispanic residents. In Phoenix, near Cave Creek and Bell roads, another group incited a pro-immigrant crowd during a protest by desecrating a Mexican flag.

Salvador Reza, an immigrant rights activist, said they were able to keep that incident from escalating, but added he's unsure whether it will be possible in the future.

“It's getting very hard to tell people not to confront them,” he said. “We can't control the anger anymore.”

Likewise, those opposed to illegal immigration also fear the likelihood of violence.

“They got guns, we've got guns and the sheriff's got guns,” said Michelle Dallacroce, founder of the Mother's Against Illegal Aliens. “It's not a good thing.”


Templar: Napolitano veto reflects illegal immigration not a federal crime

Napolitano vetoes bill on illegal immigration

Handling of illegals: Valley police forces split

Immigration studies reach different conclusions


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buzzm1 wrote:


Ranking of States from lowest to highest unemployment:

33 MAINE 5.0
34 INDIANA 5.1
36 GEORGIA 5.3
40 OHIO 5.7
40 OREGON 5.7
40 SOUTH CAROLINA 5.7 (just passed E-Verify)
45 NEVADA 5.8
46 MISSISSIPPI 6.0 (just passed E-Verify)
47 RHODE ISLAND 6.1 (just passed E-Verify)
50 ALASKA 6.7

Oklahoma Unemployment Is Way Down. Will Media Look into Why?

Oklahoma's unemployment rate, which was a seasonally adjusted 4.3% and 4.4%, respectively, in September and October 2007 (4.1% and 4.2% unadjusted), has fallen to a seasonally adjusted 3.1% in both February and March of this year (3.5% and 3.2% unadjusted).

The unemployment rate in most states has gone up from September 2007 to March 2008. In states where the rate has gone down, none has shown an improvement like that seen in the Sooner State — not even close. Why is that?

What has happened in Oklahoma that hasn't happened elsewhere?

Well, one thing Oklahoma did last year was to pass an enforcement-focused immigration reform law.

It did so in May, 2007, and it took effect in November, 2007.

Mar. 2008p Unemployment Rankings
Rank State Rate
3 IDAHO 3.0
4 HAWAII 3.1