'Them against us' approach not OK
March 11, 2008
growing attempt to blame illegal immigrants for the social ills haunting
American society is a disturbing phenomenon. The same kind of anti-immigrant
rhetoric that was commonplace before World War II and blessedly became taboo has
re- entered our public discourse. This is unacceptable.
Politicians and pundits, exploiting our well-grounded fears about national
security and the economy, have upped the ante, demonizing undocumented
It is convenient to argue that there is no effective way to reconcile the core
American tradition of welcoming immigrants with our current security and labor
needs and our regard for the law, especially during a political campaign. By
pitting "them against us," they miss the mark.
There is no question that our immigration system is broken. The unresolved
status of 12 million undocumented immigrants does complicate our real concerns
about border security and economic recovery, but vitriolic propaganda does not
It is time to revive America's "can do" spirit to meet the immigration
challenge. Surveys show that most Americans want those in power to address this
problem in a sensible, measured fashion.
My organization, the American Jewish Committee, along with our coalition
partners in the Latino community, have a long-standing commitment to
strengthening our immigration system through comprehensive reform.
We believe that a generous and orderly immigration policy is central to our
nation's tradition of pluralism, democratic values and civil rights. It also
underscores our deep respect and appreciation for America's rapidly growing
Latino population. We feel that the time has arrived to speak out about the
mean-spirited and unproductive rhetoric that haunts our airwaves and discourages
Let's consign our anti-immigrant baggage to the past, and show those who would
revive it the door.
The writer is executive director of the American Jewish Committee, Arizona