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Hate Is What Really Should Be Illegal

October 5, 2010

Coming across The New York Times Article Immigration Law Moves to Center Stage by A. G. Sulzberger, I was shocked and appalled that the proposed illegal immigration laws from Arizona are spreading to other states, and I could not help but wonder what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would think of this travesty.  The problem began in 2007 when Arizona passed a bill that limited the hiring of illegal immigrants.  Soon after more bills were passed that limited the rights and privacies of those who have illegally immigrated into the United States.  The NYT article talks about how the focus of illegal immigration has moved north into Nebraska where the Republican Governor Dave Heineman has made his stance clear that he does not support illegal immigrants in his state.  With this widespread disapproval of illegal immigrants has brought on an animosity towards Hispanics.  People like Nebraska factory worker Gerry Boller, 78, said in the article “We’re just getting too many Hispanic people in town.”

This kind of comment would make MLK roll over in his grave.  This is a clear instance where King’s “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” comes into place.  Because of these new strict immigration laws people are starting to look down upon Hispanics because they are trying to come to America and make a living.  Last time I checked that’s exactly what the pilgrims did when they left Europe, except the Hispanics have had the courtesy to not kick out the inhabitants of the towns they are moving into.  The problem with trying to get rid of many of these illegal aliens is that many of them occupy jobs that help keep our economy afloat.   If we get rid of the people doing these low-paying jobs, we will have to pay more to make these jobs more appealing.

Additionally, King would greatly disapprove of the invasion of privacy that these new laws are creating.  Within Arizona the new laws proposed would require all illegal immigrants to carry around with them a document registering them with the United States.  Thus, giving the right to police officers to ask for this documentation if they find a person who is questionable of being an illegal immigrant.  Without this documentation it is a state misdemeanor.  This raises the problem of having the police ask every Hispanic person they see for documentation because they assume that all Hispanics are here illegally.  These laws are clearly unjust by all of King’s standards and clearly need to be addressed and fixed so that we do not go back to being a nation of divided races.

  1. glterryn permalink
    October 6, 2010 1:45 AM

    jsklarin, you make some great points regarding injustice and its spread through the US. I really like how you used a current and relevant event to make connections to spreading injustice. However, what do you say to those people who have waited diligently through the long arduous citizenization process. Or professionals who fear the growing population could overflow the resources available to our nation and worldwide.

    If overcrowding is a real concern, shouldn’t the available spots for migration go to those who work for it. Will the US, which already has tinkered on the brink of financial uncertainty, function while supporting an increasing base of unannounced and tax-free citizens? Just a thought

    • October 6, 2010 10:08 PM

      Glterryn to answer your concern about our country going bankrupt I feel that we should make more of these people waiting in life be citizens of the United States. If we make these people citizens then we have the right to tax them just like anyone else, giving the government more money. This money could easily be allocated to help create even more jobs, like President Franklin Roosevelt did during the depression. Additionally, if you are worried about overpopulation, the tax dollars from these new citizens could be used to bolster some of the lesser populated cities like Detroit or Albuquerque so to spread out the population. Thanks for your post and hope to hear your response.

  2. jptrue permalink
    October 6, 2010 10:41 AM

    While I agree with the sentiment of your post, I do wonder in fact if King would have viewed the issue as solidly as you propose. King defined a injustice as “any law that degrades the principle attributes of humanity.” Is asking people who are in the country illegally to carry proper identification really degrading their humanity? It seems like a stretch to me to compare the situation African Americans face to the current topic.

    Additionally, the parameters of the 1960’s civil rights movement were completely different than the immigration issue we view today. In the 60’s African Americans were limited in their rights because of the color of the skin. Moreover, they also were also citizens of the state. As a result, there was a constitutional requirement for the government to protect their rights. Currently the setting is different. First, Hispanics are not being ethnically targeted. Instead, the law seeks to target illegal immigrants. While the fact of the matter may be that most illegal immigrants in the are are Hispanic, the law is not explicitly targeting Hispanics. Further, these aliens are not citizens of the United States, thus the government is not contractually burdened with the same duty to ensure the rights of non citizens.

    While I agree that racial profiling and hate should not exist in the United States, I think these are some points to consider when using such powerful words as “Hate” when discussing our perspectives.

    • October 6, 2010 10:22 PM

      jptrue I do agree with you that it is not at all fair to make Americans carry the burden of illegal immigrants. But if you read my comment above I do think we should make many of them citizens so that we can tax them are allocate much of that money to create even more needed jobs within the United States.

  3. Vidya permalink
    October 6, 2010 12:51 PM

    I agree that the spread of these immigration laws can be very unfair and even appear hateful. However, I don’t think that this is the primary reason for these laws. Most people that argue for these laws feel that illegal immigration takes away from their own quality of life. They feel that citizens must pay more and more taxes, while many benefits go to those who pay little if any taxes in the US. However, statistics show that this situation is getting better, as more immigrants choose to file tax returns as a way to comply with US law. People also feel that millions of job opportunities will be available for citizens once immigrants leave. They feel that their safety might be threatened by undocumented immigrants living all around them.
    I agree with what jptrue argues. “Hate” is a strong word, especially when used in this context. MLK Jr. admits it is only right to break an unjust law, because one has a moral obligation to do what is right. But is becoming a legal citizen and carrying proper identification to ensure the safety and welfare of the country an unjust law? To MLK Jr., a just law is one that applies equally to everyone. This law still applies to everyone, citizens and immigrants of the US alike. It is much easier for citizens, but perhaps the problem may be in the difficulty of obtaining citizenship or proper identification, not the immigration laws themselves (or the “hatefulness” of those who make the law).
    Of course, there are always the die-hard haters who simply want to establish these laws because they are prejudiced against illegal immigrants, but this shouldn’t be confused with the law. The law exists to protect its own people, not to hurt those who aren’t its people.

  4. Zac Hiller permalink
    October 6, 2010 6:47 PM

    Very controversial post. I agree that police should not be asking hispanics if they are citizens just off there looks however illegal aliens in the United States can be a threat to national security. MLK would definitely have some words for Gerry Boller and i do not agree with his statement about hispanics either. He is making it seem like hispanics in general do not belong in Nebraska which is clear racism and instead said “illegal hispanics” if that is how he feels. I personally think Boller should publicly apologize to all Hispanic-Americans.

    • October 6, 2010 10:29 PM

      Thanks for the comment, and I could not agree more. Boller should be ashamed of his racist comment. I would like to think King would be disgusted of comments like his. Thanks for the comment.

  5. Andrew Babat permalink
    October 6, 2010 9:09 PM

    Although Martin Luther King, Jr. would be unhappy with Gerry Boller’s comments and the treatment of Hispanic people, he would not find these illegal immigration laws unjust. It is important to recognize the many consequences of illegal immigration. One consequence is illegal immigrants are a burden on tax-based resources, and cost tax payers billions of dollars. Also, illegal immigrants have a negative impact on working and middle-class citizens. Lastly, those who successfully cross the border inspire those left behind to do the same. I think Martin Luther King would fight for better treatment of Hispanic citizens, but would have no problem with immigration laws because of the numerous negative consequences.

  6. ajking91 permalink
    October 6, 2010 10:16 PM

    I think this issue is very different than that of the black Americans in the United States before the Civil Rights movement. I think it is somewhat insulting to put these two issues in the same context in fact. The illegal Hispanics are not citizens of the United States of America, where as the African Americans were. MLK says it is moral to break an unjust law, but why is it unjust to ask workers for their citizenship papers? Yes, many argue that racial profiling comes from this, but the fact is, it is necessary, if they are breaking the law. Tax payers cannot support the illegal immigrants, not to mention, their income is not invested back into the American economy. It typically is sent back to the laborers homeland.

    • October 6, 2010 10:27 PM

      Yes, African Americans were citizens in the 1960’s, but mostly throughout the south they were second class citizens. They did technically have rights but many of them such as suffrage and equality were greatly strangled. So what I am getting as is that I think we should allow many of these illegal immigrants who have been in the country working for some time, with a clean record should be allowed to become citizens more quickly so that we can tax them and support them. I have commented above about some of my other views on this issue if you have any other questions. Thanks for the response.

    • blanchc permalink
      October 6, 2010 11:09 PM

      It’s not the presence of immigration laws that Martin Luther King, Jr. would have a problem with. Instead, he would have a problem with the obvious discrimination that results from these laws. As you mentioned in your comment, laws such as these will lead to racial profiling. Not only are illegal immigrants victims of racial profiling, but legal, Latino American citizens also fall vicitm. That’s exactly what MLK was against. Therefore, I think it is an extremely relevant comparison, and not in any way insulting to MLK’s cause.

  7. Dani Weinberg permalink
    October 6, 2010 10:46 PM

    I think this article brings up a good point about how MLK viewed laws and ones obligation to follow those laws. First, I agree with the author of the article that Dr. King would have felt that these immigration laws were unjust because they are laws that fall into Dr. King’s category of unjust laws. Although they technically apply to everyone, because the police have the ability to ask anyone for their papers, in practice they are only being used against people of Hispanic or foreign descent. And for this reason, be the people US citizens or not that are feeling the brunt of this law, they are unjust according to Dr. King.

    I also think it is important to mention that illegal immigrants do the US a great service. Yes, there are many American workers currently out of work , but who of them is willing to work in the fields as immigrant workers do? Before we kick out all the illegal immigrants, or incorrectly accuse American citizens of Hispanic origin, let’s see if Americans are willing to take their jobs. I don’t think many unemployed Americans would jump ship to working in the fields.

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