Those Damned Immigrants: America's Hysteria over Undocumented Immigration

Those Damned Immigrants: America's Hysteria over Undocumented Immigration

Those Damned Immigrants: America's Hysteria over Undocumented Immigration

Those Damned Immigrants: America's Hysteria over Undocumented Immigration

Synopsis

"This data-driven and massively documented study replaces rhetoric with analysis, myth with fact, and apocalyptic predictions with sane and realizable proposals." - Stanley Fish, Florida International University. The election of Barack Obama prompted people around the world to herald the dawning of a new, postracial era in America. Yet a scant one month after Obama's election, Jose Oswaldo Sucuzhanay, a 31-year old Ecuadorian immigrant, was ambushed by a group of white men as he walked with his brother. Yelling anti-Latino slurs, the men beat Sucuzhanay into a coma. He died 5 days later. The incident is one of countless attacks that Latino/a immigrants have confronted for generations in America. And these attacks are accepted by a substantial number of American citizens and elected officials. Quick to cast all Latino/a immigrants as illegal, opponents have placed undocumented workers at the center of their anti-immigrant movement, targeting them as being responsible for increasing crime rates, a plummeting economy, and an erosion of traditional American values and culture. In Those Damned Immigrants, Ediberto Román takes on critics of Latina/o immigration, using government statistics, economic data, historical records, and social science research to provide a counter-narrative to what he argues is a largely one-sided public discourse on Latino/a immigration. Ediberto Román is Professor of Law and Director of Citizenship and Immigration Initiatives at Florida International University. Michael A. Olivas is the William B. Bates Distinguished Chair in Law at the University of Houston Law Center and Director of the Institute for Higher Education Law and Governance at UH. In the Citizenship and Migration in the Americas series

Excerpt

Ediberto Román’s Those Damned Immigrants is a classic in the growing literature on the vast right-wing conspiracy, including the many exploitative features of capitalism in the postmodern age that attract and depend upon contingent and undocumented immigrant labor, largely from third world nations, especially the proximate Mexico, with liminal workers so desperate that they will risk life and ruin to come to el norte, even knowing the illegality and structural economic violence they will encounter for scandalous wages (and all too often the criminal violence they will encounter in routine hate crimes). Then, instead of rewarding them with gratitude for doing the work we do not want to do and allowing our economy to restructure at their expense, we turn around and despise them and often harm them because they are not us. And in the cruel discourse that marginalizes them as bearing “anchor babies,” being “illegals,” and possessing other undesirable traits—or worse, coveting our daughters—we demonize and scapegoat them. Watching these stories in the public discourse can be a sobering and largely horrific train wreck, but one that happens with much more frequency. Even the New York Times, largely sympathetic to immigrants, contributes to this marginalizing discursive habit by requiring its reporters to employ the term “illegal immigrant,” its New York Times Manual of Style and Usage ensuring that the terminology is widely repeated and giving veiled support to nativists and restrictionists.

Because there is so much anti-Mexican animus evident in the quotidian public polity, especially with the escalating drug violence along the border and interior, fuelled by this country’s prodigious drug appetite, it . . .

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