Im­mi­grant trou­ble: If you can’t beat ’em, get rid of ’em

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Opinion - BY RUBEN NAVARRETTE JR. Ruben Navarrette’s email ad­dress is [email protected]­navar­rette .com. His daily pod­cast, “Navarrette Na­tion,” is avail­able through ev­ery pod­cast app.

The anti-im­mi­grant crowd should just be hon­est and fi­nally own up to the real rea­son they want to keep out for­eign­ers.

It’s fear of com­pe­ti­tion, silly. Same as it al­ways was.

Oops, I shouldn’t be talk­ing. I’ve been put on no­tice. No sooner had Pres­i­dent Trump sparked a na­tional dis­cus­sion about im­mi­gra­tion than I was ap­par­ently ejected from the board­room.

An irate reader re­cently wrote an email to a news­pa­per that runs this col­umn

with some not-sofriendly ad­vice: “Navarrette needs to con­flict him­self out of writ­ing ar­ti­cles about this sub­ject.”

When the sub­ject is im­mi­gra­tion, the al­leged “con­flict” stems from two things: the re­al­ity that, for the last few decades, most im­mi­grants to the United States have come through Mex­ico; and the fact that I’m Mex­i­can Amer­i­can.

Some folks add two and two to­gether – and get five.

Over the years, when­ever sex­ual ha­rass­ment is in the news, I have heard fe­male col­leagues com­plain that men con­sider them too “emo­tional” to com­ment on the is­sue ob­jec­tively.

To­day, the few Latino jour­nal­ists out there are no doubt con­sid­ered too emo­tional to write ob­jec­tively about im­mi­gra­tion.

We’re told that con­ser­va­tive talk-ra­dio hosts and Fox News per­son­al­i­ties whose col­lec­tive knowl­edge of the is­sue could barely fill a mar­garita glass with room left over for ice cubes have the con­ver­sa­tion well in hand, and no one needs to hear from us.

But as a Mex­i­can Amer­i­can, the “Amer­i­can” in­gre­di­ent – which was on dis­play at the Bos­ton Tea Party, and the marches for women’s suf­frage, and the civil rights move­ment – makes me ornery and not so good at tak­ing or­ders.

So let’s get back into it – with a lit­tle his­tor­i­cal con­text.

Amer­i­cans have al­ways por­trayed im­mi­grants as in­fe­rior. The real na­tional motto is “There Goes the Neigh­bor­hood.”

A reader of mine re­cently com­plained in an email that ar­rivals from Latin Amer­ica “re­pro­duce like rats.” An­other said that to­day’s im­mi­grants “will never as­sim­i­late into this coun­try, will never learn the English lan­guage and will turn this ONCE great na­tion into a Third World piece of crap.”

But what if the nar­ra­tive is up­side down? Im­mi­grants of­ten make na­tives look bad by com­par­i­son. Next to them, we can seem spoiled, lazy and en­ti­tled. It’s not that im­mi­grants are in­fe­rior. It’s that, by work­ing harder and dream­ing big­ger, they make the rest of us feel in­fe­rior.

In the 1750s, as far as a cer­tain Bri­tish Amer­i­can in­ven­tor in Philadel­phia was con­cerned, the real threat to civ­i­liza­tion wasn’t Mex­i­cans. It was Ger­mans.

“Why should the Pala­tine Boors [Ger­mans] be suf­fered to swarm into our Set­tle­ments and, by herd­ing to­gether, es­tab­lish their Lan­guage and Man­ners, to the Ex­clu­sion of ours?” wrote Ben­jamin Franklin, Found­ing Fa­ther and anti-Ger­man bigot. “Why should Pennsylvan­ia, founded by the English, be­come a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so nu­mer­ous as to Ger­man­ize us in­stead of our Angli­fy­ing them, and will never adopt our Lan­guage or Cus­toms any more than they can ac­quire our Com­plex­ion?”

Iron­i­cally, Franklin him­self didn’t mind be­ing “Ger­man­ized” if he could profit. His­to­ri­ans record that he pub­lished books and pam­phlets in Ger­man, and that he tried and failed four times to pub­lish a Ger­man-lan­guage news­pa­per. Be­fore long, Ger­man pub­lish­ers had set up shop and they were com­pet­ing with Franklin for that mar­ket. He wanted to elim­i­nate the com­pe­ti­tion.

Now, nearly 270 years later, who in their right mind would want to com­pete head-to-head with the likes of 18-year-old Emily Salazar?

The daugh­ter of Gu­atemalan im­mi­grants, Salazar is grad­u­at­ing summa cum laude from Roo­sevelt High School in Fresno with a GPA of 4.32. But, be­fore she gets her di­ploma, she will have al­ready earned an as­so­ciate’s de­gree. While at­tend­ing high school, she was – thanks to a dual-credit pro­gram – also at­tend­ing nearby Fresno City Col­lege. Too bad her fa­ther isn’t here to see her grad­u­ate – twice. He died of can­cer a few years ago. But Salazar per­se­vered. She ap­plied to Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity, got ac­cepted, and was given a full ride.

How would your son or daugh­ter stack up against this over­achiever?

It’s no won­der that so many Amer­i­cans want to keep im­mi­grants – and their chil­dren – out of this coun­try. It’s much eas­ier than hav­ing to com­pete with them once they get here.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.