The millions of undocumented among us will not leave. They will only get angrier.
by Andres Oppenheimer*
The rapid escalation of the U.S. anti-immigration hysteria -- fueled by ratings-hungry cable-television hotheads and leading Republican presidential hopefuls -- is a dangerous trend: It may lead to a Hispanic intifada that may rock this nation in the not-so-distant future.
Remember the Palestinian intifada of the early 1990s, when thousands of frustrated young Palestinians took to the streets and threw stones at Israeli troops? Remember the French intifada of the summer of 2005, in which disenfranchised Muslim youths burned cars and stores in the suburbs of Paris?
If we are not careful, we may see something similar coming from the estimated 13 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, most of them Hispanic, who are increasingly vilified in the media, forced further into the underground by spineless politicians and not given any chance to legalize their status by a pusillanimous U.S. Congress.
We are creating an underclass of people who won't leave this country and, realistically, can't be deported. They and their children are living with no prospect of earning a legal status, no matter how hard they work for it. Many of them will become increasingly frustrated, angry, and some of them eventually may turn violent.
I was thinking about all of this when I read about last week's U.S. Senate refusal to pass the Dream Act, a bill that would offer a path to legalization to children of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States at a very young age, and who get a college degree or serve in the military.
The bill would have regularized the status of youths like Juan and Alex Gomez, the two Colombian-born Miami brothers who were brought by their parents to this country as toddlers, graduated near the top of their high school classes, and now face deportation to a country they don't even remember.
There are an estimated 1.8 million children in the United States who are growing up like other American kids, often speak no language other than English, but don't have legal documents, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. They are denied in-state college tuition fees or scholarships that are available to legal U.S. residents, and are eventually thrown into a labor market where they are barred from being employed.
Further, the Bush administration-backed escalation of raids against undocumented workers in factories, the increase of city ordinances prohibiting people from leasing apartments to undocumented immigrants, and the overt xenophobia spilling daily from Hispanic-phobic radio and cable-television shows will leave their mark on these and other children in immigrant communities.
*EDITOR'S NOTE: The tone of Andres Oppenheimer's article suggests he has more often than not argued in favor of open borders for the sake of "tolerance." But now the chickens have come home to roost, and this situation he now describes is obliquely being placed on the shoulders of European Americans who want to preserve their nation.