Geraldo Rivera is right, immigration is a human issue

By Eric Naing

Last week, Bill O’Reilly and Geraldo Rivera almost came to blows while discussing a fatal car accident. While O’Reilly blustered over the driver’s “illegal immigrant” status, Geraldo admirably reminded us that behind the heated debate over immigration, there is tragedy that affects everyone.

Now the White House is trying to take away the rights of legal immigrants to sponsor relatives to come here forgetting that there is a tragic cost to the escalating debate over immigration.

The growing arms race of rhetoric in the immigration debate has forced the anti-immigration people to take positions that are more and more extreme. As a result, now the rights of legal immigrants are at stake. The brainchild of congressional Republicans, an immigration reform draft leaked from the White House would take away the ability of legal American citizens to bring over their relatives to the United States.

If this were to be written into law, legal immigrant families would be torn apart in a manner reminiscent of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act.

Many of the bile-spewing, hardcore anti-illegal immigration types use the issue as a thinly veiled excuse to be racist against Latinos. As Geraldo notes when he asks O’Reilly, “If Ramos was Raminski, would we care?”

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    But it is not just Latino families who would be hurt by restricting sponsorship. The blog Angry Asian Man points out that “according to the Office of Immigration Statistics, the Asian American community is the second largest group of immigrants who enter the United States through family sponsorship or by being immediate relatives of American citizens.” In the end though, it does not matter what race will be hurt the most.

    Whether it is a Honduran, Korean, or Polish family being torn apart, it is still equally tragic.

    Earlier this month, U.S. Immigration arrested 60 to 70 workers at Cargill’s pork plant in Beardstown, Illinois. Most of the workers were charged with being undocumented and some were charged with identity theft. This is a scene that is being played out across the nation.

    On the surface this is an open and shut case; these people broke the law and many will get deported because of it. But how many of them have families that will now be torn apart, and what about their children?

    In their zeal to “uphold the law,” many in the anti-immigration crowd forget that there is a very human face to this issue.

    Raids like the one in Beardstown are happening all over and are leaving thousands of families broken.

    And what makes the situation truly twisted is that our business community and politicians have been enticing these immigrants to come and work here for decades. As Geraldo notes in his shouting match with O’Reilly, “We have for decades been luring them here and now we’re starting a mob scene.”

    Much like how many people use the “abstinence only” argument when debating the morning after pill when they really want to prevent people from using any contraceptives whatsoever, it seems like the most vocal on the anti-illegal immigrant side have much grander goals.

    The fact that they would go after the rights of legal American immigrants and citizens shows that for some people, going after illegal immigrants is not enough.

    Even for immigrants that come here legally, the ability to bring over one’s family is invaluable. Curbing this ability would wreak havoc with the families of countless immigrants across several nationalities.

    The Anti-Defamation League notes that, “If any one single issue or trend can be credited with re-energizing the Klan, it is the debate over immigration in America.”

    The heated rhetoric over immigration is taking us down a very dark path. Again, as Geraldo warns O’Reilly, “You want your viewers to go knocking on people’s doors (asking) ‘Are you an illegal? I’m going to take you outside and do something to you.'”

    When yelling back and forth about immigrants, we need to remember that these are real people with real families.