By Luke Hinz
Daily Utah Chronicle
University of Utah
SALT LAKE CITY—My brother recently got married. It was not your typical wedding. There were no flowers or sappy music. There were no guests—my mother wasn't even present. My brother's new wife is from England, and they rushed their marriage before her visa expired.
After their marriage, they had to meet with the Immigration and Naturalization Service to prove they had married for legitimate reasons. My brother's wife joked on the way to the meeting that the INS building would be situated right at the airport. She said they would have a revolving door, and as soon as they rejected her, they would push her out the door to find a plane waiting to take her back to London.
Their smiles faded when they drove into the INS building. It was located at the airport—right on the tarmac, in fact.
Fortunately, they passed, but the incident reveals the overwhelming fear and distrust that this country harbors for foreigners.
Immigration has been a central subject for the presidential candidates, particularly the Republican field. Unfortunately, many Republican candidates see illegal immigrants just as dangerous as terrorists—if not more so.
Mitt Romney has voiced his own concern about illegal immigrants, stating that he would pull federal funding from so-called "sanctuary cities" that do not enforce immigration laws.
Does Romney know that Salt Lake City has been listed as such a city?
Rep. Tom Tancredo, who scares me more than Osama bin Laden, has made immigration the central component of his campaign. The congressman from Colorado has named illegal immigrants as the No. 1 threat to American culture. Excuse me, Rep. Tancredo, but wasn't it immigrants that built America and continue to do so?
For Romney and Tancredo, their unusual pressure on the immigration system is more a fear of the minority becoming the majority. Romney gave evidence of that this week when he told American Muslims that he would not place a believer of their faith in his cabinet.
Romney pointed out that the small Muslim population in the United States, about 7 million, does not warrant a Muslim in his cabinet. Pay no mind that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the United States number only 5.5 million.
These tactics of naming illegal immigrants as foreigners coming to steal our jobs are disturbingly similar to the Jim Crow laws that dominated the South for generations. These candidates are making these people out to be faceless villains bent on overtaking the American culture.Nothing could be further from the truth. My other sister-in-law lived in San Diego for four years while my brother was stationed with the Marines. On a weekly basis, poor immigrants would knock on her door, looking for work.
Many San Diegans call for harsh immigration laws, she said. They want them out of the country. At the same time, they want cheap labor for their mansions, only possible with low-paid illegal immigrants from Mexico.
When the immigrants are booted out, the rich cry foul. Apparently, they want their cake and...well, you know how the rest goes.
The truth is that many illegal immigrants are simply trying to survive, as we all are. But they come from a different country, and they don't speak our language. In response, people view them as invaders and treat them as such.
The faux fear of illegal immigrants being pushed by some presidential candidates is just another item in the supposed list of things threatening America. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth.
Candidates state that tougher immigration laws will protect us from terrorists. The terrorists are smarter than that. They know how to evade the authorities—they've done it before. Instead, any tougher immigration laws will result in some family, far from posing any real threat, being deported at enormous expense.
So, as our attention is focused on poverty-stricken illegal immigrants merely trying to make a few bucks, the real threat will slip under the radar, and all that money sucked up by the Department of Homeland Security will be meaningless.
Critics of illegal immigrants say that they are all for legal immigration and that if others did it, so can these people. But, legal immigration is a web of paperwork. The Citizenship and Immigration Services, which approves new citizens, has told applicants that requests could take up to 18 months to process. The price has also skyrocketed, from $400 to $675.