Hope springs eternal
WASHINGTON ó Seven weeks after the collapse of legislation in Congress, the outcry against illegal immigration is louder than ever, manifested by proposed clampdowns at the state and local level and an uproar over the arrest of an undocumented immigrant in the execution-style slayings of three New Jersey college students.
Scores of organizations, ranging from mainstream to fringe groups, are marshalling forces in what former House Speaker Newt Gingrich calls "a war here at home" against illegal immigration, which he says is as important as Americaís conflicts being fought overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan.
While most of the groups register legitimate, widespread concerns about the impact of illegal immigration on jobs, social services and national security, the intense rhetoric is generating fears of an emerging dark side, evident in growing discrimination against Hispanics and a surge of xenophobia unseen since the last big wave of immigration in the early 20th century.
"I donít think thereís been a time like this in our lifetime," said Doris Meissner, a senior fellow with the Migration Policy Institute and former commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. "Even though immigration is always unsettling and somewhat controversial, we havenít had this kind of intensity and widespread, deep-seated anger for almost 100 years."