War, Lies, Immigration & the Scapegoating of Children

By Roberto Rodriguez
Published on LatinoLA: July 22, 2006


There is a worldwide consensus that the United States is engaged in an illegal and immoral war against Iraq and that President Bush has also exceeded his Constitutional authority in prosecuting his equally nefarious "war on terror."

This is not exactly breaking news, nor is it simply the opinion of human rights organizations, but also that of many traditional U.S. allies and members of both parties of Congress and now even the U.S. Supreme Court (Hamdan v. Rumsfeld).

In the face of this disastrous and costly war, what are loyal chest-thumping war?supporters to do? Blame former President Bill Clinton?

Six years after leaving office, blaming Clinton for all the nation's ills is getting old. So why not blame Mexicans instead? And specifically, why not attack a school that is teaching mostly Mexican children to learn four languages? instead of one? (Not able to vote, these children make for great scapegoats).

Blaming Mexicans/Central Americans always sells? especially in an election year. Don't want to be accused of being racially biased? Just say you're anti-illegal immigration. Emphasize ILLEGAL. Stress that you favor the rule of law (except when it comes to the president's illegal wars). Stress that you simply want a 2,000-mile impregnable wall? that you want to deport the 12 million people that have entered the country illegally and that you simply want to make felons out of everyone that has assisted them. Lest anyone accuse you of being heartless, tell them you're not advocating separating families ? you want the families to leave also. Tell them that you're not advocating their incarceration either ? even though many of them could be potential terrorists. You just want them out of the country? pronto.

Even if every illegal immigrant could be deported today ? this wouldn't solve many of the nation's problems because this anti-immigrant campaign has been orchestrated as a diversionary tactic by shameless politicians. A consensus of economists agree that
undocumented migrants contribute far more into the nation's coffers than they will ever take out. Most will pay in, but will not ever see a dime from Social security or from unemployment or health insurance. (The president's Guest Worker program would also codify this travesty). Yet their labor will enrich plenty of corporations and the economies of several nations.

The nation's primary problem is that corporations are permitted to mercilessly exploit workers and fleece consumers (otherwise they leave the country). If all undocumented immigrants were deported, does anyone honestly believe that workers nationwide would then receive a living-wage, able to afford a decent home and receive universal health coverage? Would the nation's commitment to veterans and seniors be fulfilled?

Of course not. Blaming Mexicans simply makes people feel good, while solving nothing. No people should be reduced to "filling the jobs no one else wants." And yet, who would fill those exploitive jobs? And would travelers stop overstaying their visas (40% of undocumented migrants come in this way)? Who prospers in a police state in which we
are divided into legal-illegal human populations? And who will actually benefit if everyone is mandated by law? to speak English? (Cuidado con el language police.)

Is this the kind of future we want? where using public transportation, buying goods and renting homes requires proof of legality? What's next: internal checkpoints? This is precisely where this whipped-up frenzy is taking us. Freedom, justice & liberty will
be available only to all who can prove they are legal. Truthfully, we already know who will be singled out to do this proving.

These politicians ? and their hate-radio fans -- would sacrifice the humanity of entire peoples for the short-term gain of an election. In this legal-illegal scheme -- everyone's humanity is actually at stake.

Has anyone ever bothered to ask: How did Mexicans/Central Americans ever become such great scapegoats and how did they ever get associated with terrorism? (Their brown skin perhaps?)

In this environment, how long would it be before children became the focal point of this misdirected frustration? Not long. Los Angeles provides a case in point. There, Semillas del Pueblo (Xinacalmecatl) teaches English, Spanish, Nahuatl & Mandarin. A model for the future or part of a nationalist and subversive plot to destroy the nation from within? Only in the United States would anyone even bother to entertain such a silly question.

But that has not stopped hate-radio enthusiasts from turning to a xenophobic agenda, accusing the school of undermining U.S. values? this in a time of war. The school, the teachers and students have continually been harangued (even a bomb threat). This hate campaign has been fanned by a KABC Radio talk show host (a Disney affiliate). And such campaigns are not unique. Hate crimes are on the rise? and not just on the border. (The right wing has located Aztlan somewhere next to Ubekeztan). Nor have these nationwide attacks ? with accompanying xenophobic legislation -- been unforeseen. With CNN's Lou
Dobbs and NBC's Jay Leno fanning the flames nightly, a day doesn't go by that Mexicans aren't being dehumanized and treated like political pinatas.

It's not unreasonable to ask: How long are people supposed to sit back and allow the most egregious corporate violators to dehumanize these migrants and pit fellow human beings against each other? There's always talk of boycotts. But another call is also beginning to be made; why not instead channel the billions not simply away from offending corporations, but toward schools that encourage excellence such as Semillas del Pueblo? toward groups and organizations that support the rights, dignity and equality of all human beings? Perhaps that call needs to be made a little louder.

(c) Column of the Americas 2006

* To reach Semillas del Pueblo, call 323-791-7496 or or go to:

About Roberto Rodriguez:
Gonzales/Rodriguez can be contacted at: or 608-238-3161. Our bilingual columns are posted at:

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