Most immigrants to the US have been neither Hispanic nor illegal
The weirdest thing, to me, about the immigration debate is that so many people assume all the immigrants to this country are Hispanic, and that the reason for the rising Hispanic population in the US is immigration, especially illegal immigration. But the latest numbers from the Census Bureau show that the #1 reason for Hispanic population growth in this country is births, not immigration. The Hispanic folk who are already here are having lots of babies. Last I checked, there's nothing illegal about having babies.
Plus, the all-time number one country of origin for immigrants to the US is Germany. Number two is Italy. I bet you didn't know that. Yes, Mexico is third, but followed very closely by the UK, Ireland, and Canada. The reality is that only about 13% of immigrants to the US came from Mexico, Central America, or South America. The vast majority of us came from somewhere else.
The widespread perception that most immigrants come from South of the Border is a product of racism. And a product of having somehow forgotten that 99% of us are not Native Americans.
OK, there are about 12 million illegal immigrants inside the US, according to credible, nonpartisan surveys. That sounds like a lot of people, though in a country with 304 million people total, the percentage of illegals is only about 4%. There are far more legal immigrants inside the US, about 37 million.
So, when you think about immigrants, you should know that most immigrants are legal, and that most immigrants do not come from South of the Border (not that it should really matter where they come from). When you hear the news media focusing on the minority of immigrants who are both Hispanic and here illegally, you should recognize that this focus perpetuates inaccurate racial stereotypes.
For reasons that I don't fully understand, lots of US citizens are irate about those 12 million illegal residents. I guess 4% of the population is just the right amount for scapegoating and hatred. 4% is visible enough to see and hate, small enough to be relatively defenseless. Hmm, isn't the gay and lesbian population about 4% of the total? Wasn't the Jewish population of Europe about 4% of the total before World War Two?
OK, maybe you are irate because those illegal residents are, by definition, breaking the law. Well, not too long ago, back when I lived in Virginia, every time I had sex with another male I was breaking the law. Luckily the Supreme Court decided that same-gender sex is a Constitutional right, so now nobody gets irate about gays anymore, right? Oh. Hmmm.
Are you irate because people are breaking the law, or are you irate because you are prejudiced against the class of people the law prosecutes?
Whenever people are breaking the law, one solution is to change the law. If you've got a problem with 12 million illegal residents in the US, you could solve your problem by giving these people easier ways to become legal residents.
The US needs new legal residents to keep our economy growing, and especially to pay the taxes that our Baby Boom retirees will need to fund their Social Security and Medicare. Instead of scapegoating and hating the people who violate our laws to come here and work hard, pay taxes, and raise families, perhaps we should welcome them. Or we could deny our Seniors pensions and health care.
We could even tear down that ridiculous Statue of Liberty, and use the metal for a new border fence in Arizona.
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
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