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Musings on Immigration from a Suburban Dallas Apartment

Robert Franklin

Posted on January 26, 2019 23:02

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In Texas, clashing cultural views and nationalistic thinking are seemingly at the heart of immigration policy.

Texans seemingly compose the immigration narrative for the country.

As a native Texan, I've spent a considerable amount of my life within earshot of people railing about border security. All too often, I've eavesdropped on other Texans using incendiary language about immigrants -- specifically those from south of the Rio Grande -- allegedly stealing jobs that nobody else wants and holding up checkout lines because some disinterested cashier has trouble communicating with someone for whom English is their second language.

But there are plenty of reasons Texans gripe about security on the southern border beyond employment opportunities and checkout lines. In the view of far too many Texans, the southern border is rampant with illegal crossings, drug smuggling, human trafficking, and a foreign, unwelcome culture bleeding into our own and threatening our way of life.

It's almost apocalyptic, apparently.

This is why far too many Texans supported President Trump's government shutdown. To them, he was holding a bloated, overreaching Federal government hostage to secure the one thing it seems almost every conservative salivates over -- an imposing partition on the southern border of the U.S. that sends a powerful message to our neighbors down south:

"We are the United States of America and we've just wasted billions of dollars on a monument to our prejudices for reasons that are intellectually dishonest and motivated by xenophobia and ignorance!"

To be fair, I'm sure that won't be the message Texans are trying to convey. It will, however, be the one they do, because in Texas, like everywhere else in the country where the support for a wall is at least fundamentally even with the opposition, the reasons for doing so are rooted in prejudice and misinformation.

Arguments made in favor of the wall paint a hyper-disturbing picture of Latino immigrants pouring through the border in droves under the cover of night, aided by the cartels, transporting drugs and sex workers to get everyone high and profit off their moral corruption.

But these presuppositions don't hold much weight.

Illegal border crossing apprehensions have declined over the last two decades, from over 1.6 million in FY 2000 to just over 130,000 in FY 2017. The apprehensions decrease as the foot-traffic decreases.

Most illegal immigrants in the U.S. just have overstayed visas. Also, they're mostly Canadian, and in Vermont. Where's all the talk about the wall on the northern border?

It doesn't exist. In Texas, no one cares about Canadians. They care about Mexicans, and Latin Americans, and caravans, and MS-13, and elotes stands. For far too many Texans, the existential threat is south of here, not north. It's not associated with people who are assumed to be white, but people who are known to be brown. It's derived from a centuries-long uncomfortable relationship kept alive through oral tradition and a distorted, nationalist view of the state's history.

A history that, like the misinformation that acts as kerosene on the prejudicial fires that burn at the heart of the topic, is of dubious authenticity.

Robert Franklin

Posted on January 26, 2019 23:02

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