From the op-ed:
Comprehensive immigration reform has been an elusive goal of both parties for two decades and is a priority of President Obama’s second term. But it will be hard to achieve unless the United States also re-envisions its approach to Mexico and other Latin American countries. The United States has historically shifted its Latin American policies according to its national interests. This won’t change, but the growing Latino voting bloc is likely to bring about a more nuanced approach.
For decades, public opinion about our southern neighbors — particularly with respect to immigration — has moved sharply to the right, with devastating consequences for transnational relations and for Latin American migrants in the United States. It was not always so.
…and of course it fails to mention how the U.S. fucked over Mexico and the Mexican economy with NAFTA, which lead to an increase in Mexican immigration to the U.S.
Also, I love this video of a Reagan v. Bush debate on undocumented workers and their children’s education. Part of American exceptionalism is that we are always getting more progressive and tolerant as a nation, except not really. (Also see: James Buchanan, our first gay president.)
Did you know that the idea of birthright citizenship in the U.S. was solidified by United States v. Wong Kim Ark?
I’m always stunned by what fails to make the history books as important information that everyone should know (usually because it’s about people who are not rich white men). Props to Wikipedia for making it today’s featured article.
I wonder where the futures of the Latino and Asian/Asian-American communities lie. Asian/Asian-Americans are still treated as perpetual foreigners despite our long history in America, and the U.S. has tried many times to boot us out…much as they are trying with the Latino community now. (United States v. Wong Kim Ark is under fresh scrutiny due to current politics.) I read somewhere that prior to the 1960s, Latinos were stereotyped as the model minority while Asian/Asian-Americans were stereotyped as the poor, grubby laundryworkers and manual laborers. It’s funny how these threads intertwine…
The wide use of the i-word by writers across all types of media has amounted to its acceptance and normalization, but that’s not sufficient justification to keep it around. Children pick up on cues and the meanings attached to people and groups very early through verbal slurs, ethnic jokes they may overhear, or acts of hate/discrimination they may be exposed to. A child’s environment, media, and the people in it help develop the child’s values, beliefs, and understanding of where they and others fit in the world. Research on implicit bias, “hidden, or automatic, stereotypes and prejudices that circumvent conscious control,” has shown that children can acquire negative associations with stigmatized groups based on media sources even when parents create an environment full of positive connections. The images and language immigrant children and children of immigrants are exposed to are tied to a set of policies driven by enforcement, resulting in mass family separation. Journalists have to report these stories and the complexities of immigration in the United States, and while across the country people do not all agree on solutions, the least everyone can agree on, is that if this language is hurting how children see themselves and other people, surely we can use other language available to us.
The video is on a similar topic, but made two years earlier. The article was recently published in the New York Times.
From the article:
Mr. Andrew said this project has become a modern meditation on the question of immigration.
“We always picture illegal immigrants as people who have jumped the fence,” he said. “In Turkey, these individuals were invited into the country. Immigration is no longer black and white.”
I beg to differ, especially in the context of this photojournalism. The camera lens, especially with its focus on the poor people of color, is symbolic of the wealthy, Western, white point of view. The camera lens is gazing upon the lives of others. The camera lens is ubiquitous, free to travel with removed “objectivity,” whereas the subjects are stuck in their particular lives. These Nigerian immigrants (Black) entered into a country that is part of the European Union (white). The framing of immigration in this story is Black and white.
On a side note: back in the day (pre-1960s), the stereotype of Asian/Asian-Americans were that they were poorly educated laundrymen, and the stereotype of Latinos were that they were the well-educated model minority (trying to find where I read that from).
One year ago, Jose Antonio Vargas publicly revealed he’s an undocumented immigrant. In the latest issue of TIME which will hit newsstands Friday, Vargas reports on life in citizenship limbo, and how others are ‘coming out.’
Read the cover story here.
(Photograph by Gian Paul Lozza for TIME)
“If you thought immigrants in the U.S. have it bad, imagine the plight of countless superhumans and mutants a generation ago, as they navigated the Kafka-esque world of Marvel’s draconian Registration Acts.
For fans and non-fans alike, the controversy over the Mutant Registration Act and Super-human Registration Acts is a complex case study in the balance between liberty and control for communities endowed with special powers.”
According to the legislative annals of Marvel Database, the backstory stems from the perennial dilemma of civil liberties versus state power. The MRA arose apparently in response to a prophetic vision related by Kitty Pryde after she “travels back in time from a dystopian future to the present” and warns that the X-Men must act to preempt the future passage of a Mutant Control Act, which would unleash an anti-mutant crackdown:
When the Supreme Court found the law unconstitutional the government responded by reactivating their robot Sentinel program so that they might police the mutant race. The Sentinels interpreted their mandate in such a way that they decided to forcibly take over the government of the country and instituted a harsh regime where mutants were severely persecuted.
Ultimately, a seemingly less draconian compromise measure emerged in the form of the Mutant Registration system. However, the Big Brotherish policy remained controversial, as it would potentially compromise secret identities and raised similar constitutional and civil liberties tensions, with serious consequences for the noncompliant:
Government agent Val Cooper and the mutant terrorist Mystiqueformed Freedom Force a government sanctioned superhero team (mostly comprising former members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants). Freedom Force sought to enforce the MRA by arresting unregistered mutants such as members of the X-Men, X-Factorand the New Mutants.
Even superheros were not immune to the tense national security climate. But the Super-human Registration Act met with more controversy over political feasibility as well as ethical implications:
In his testimony and in evidence he presented to Congress, Reed Richards argued that a Super-human registration Act was unnecessary as Super-humans had been largely effective and trustworthy in their actions and government regulation would only stifle their ability to protect the world. He argued that those individuals who were likely to act irresponsibly with their powers were also likely to be super-villains and thus would not be candidates for registration anyway.
Wikipedia has an extensive crowd-sourced historiographyof the Mutant Registration Acts and similar legislation. Eco-comics has anoverview of Metahuman Regulation. And The Onion hasfollow-up coverageof the Obama Administration’s response. Needless to say, you might notice an uncanny resemblance with the real-life analog in U.S. history: the1940 Alien Registration Actand other“registration” policies after 9/11.
Is this life imitating art or vice versa? Keep in mind that the registration subplots emerged on the pages of Marvel comics in the mid-1980s–way before the post-9/11 Homeland Security hysteria, before the recent spikes inmass deportationsandanti-immigrant legislation in the states. But comic narratives have historically reflected the political turbulence of the Cold War and the changing relationship between the individual and the state. According to Marvel database:
The issue has generally been portrayed in broad terms as being a debate between the rights of the individual (to freedom of action and expression etc.) on one side versus the rights of society at large (to safety from danger or harm) on the other. Does the super-powered individual (mutant or otherwise) have an absolute right to their abilities or does society have a right to constrain or at least monitor them and their expression of those abilities?Debate on the topic of the registration of super-heroes or mutants as presented in Marvel Comics has generally tended to be slanted in favor of the anti-registration argument, due to the fact that the protagonists of the comics are the powered individuals — the people whose freedoms might be compromised by any such law.
As such the issue has most often been explored in a civil rights context, with the various Acts portrayed as persecutory measures seeking to legislate against a minority group whose minority status is basically innate – an obvious parallel with the struggle of many minority groups against prejudice.
Fans may continue to debate the allegorical significance of the Registration Act subplots. But the metaphor rings as true as ever today, especially under an increasingly restrictive and arbitrary immigration policy regime, in which the day-to-day terrors faced by undocumented immigrants and their communities seems at times stranger than fiction.”
AHHHHHHHHHHH why can’t comics be more consistent on human rights and social justice issues? So good on this, but then on LGBTQ, race, and women’s issues, not so good.
An interesting look at the Tyler Clementi case. So often we dehumanize the perpetrators and forget that they too are people with their own stories and that ultimately, we are all more than the sum of our mistakes.
In the sphere of social justice and activism, I have noticed that the fight for LGBTQ rights has (recently, in America) advanced more quickly than the fight for women’s rights and for people of color rights. I’ve always wondered if that’s because LGBTQ folk can still count the privilege of white men to help them. Then again, I was born in the 1990s, so I didn’t see when it was really bad for queer folk, and as a queer woman of color, I am sensitive to whenever a minority is screwed over, one way or another.