Jun 26, 2012
“Time Magazine” hit the stands last week with an intentionally provocative cover, picturing people from around the world with the caption “We are Americans – Just not legally.” I appreciate the sentiment and de facto reality of this statement. However, the impact of the cover and the corresponding article by Jose Antonio Vargas, may not be all that constructive. Both are a bit too menacing to move the immigration debate in a positive direction.
It is no surprise that TIME is stirring the melting pot rather than settling the tempest. Besides their interest in selling magazines, the immigration debate has an inherent tendency to devolve into either xenophobic, hyperbolic doom-saying, or myopic accusations of injustice. Due to the confluence of legal, moral and economic issues involved – not to mention the politics of a campaign year – immigration rarely seems to get the positive, rational treatment it deserves.
At the center of the debate are four flashpoints: first, there is the question of the law. Some would prefer that the immigration debate focus entirely on the “illegality” of entering or staying in a country without legal permission. No matter how hard-hearted or a-historical this is, these hardliners are adamant that the law alone should dictate the fate of the un-documented.
The second boiling point counters the above. Immigration advocates vehemently argue that undocumented immigrants come to the US to find work and better lives. They point out that immigrants are net contributors to society. They question why, especially given our culture, we would want to criminalize the pursuit of a better life. Obviously, this group gets a lot of behind the scenes support from factory operators.