On Feb. 21 the Opinion article in the Dispatch attempted to present these topics as related and leading to a ‘logical’ conclusion. Having just taught a college class on recognizing the use of myths, ‘hot button topics’ and the potential harm produced when we do not question data put before us, I found this article a perfect example of what we must dissect before promoting its message.
Let’s begin with a fact check: “Opponents contend that he’s (Obama) pandering for votes from a predominately Hispanic illegal population.”
Undocumented immigrants cannot and are not voting. They do not have the documents and would not jeopardize their tenuous and dangerous position, in the shadows, by appearing to vote. This is counter intuitive.
By labeling the undocumented as Hispanic, promotes prejudicial divisiveness.
The immigration system is flawed and unequal. The question isn’t if people should ‘wait in line’ for citizenship, but why the line should span decades and be different dependent on country of origin. What is the back story?
Look up the Bracero program. The U.S. invited Mexicans to work our fields while the ‘boys’ were fighting World War II. The Braceros were sent back when no longer needed. We started telling Mexicans to ‘go home’ soon after the 1848 Mexican-American war. Santa Ana lost a third of Mexico (Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas…) thus fulfilling the U.S. belief in Manifest Destiny. Perhaps, if Santa Ana hadn’t lost that battle, all that gold in California would have gone to… Mexico. Perhaps we would be ‘sneaking’ south through tunnels and over the wall to support our families.
As to Social Security: The article states that ‘…it makes sense to enable those who are here without becoming citizens to now begin to pay into a system that is grossly underfunded.’
Undocumented immigrants are paying taxes. (Check the data.) Federal and state taxes are paid out of each paycheck. And yes, Social Security is automatically taken out. Therefore, ‘they’ are not ‘taking advantage of our system.’ I want to know what happens to the tax refunds they are not claiming.
Last, the emotional topic of abortion is added into the mix. It was suggested that all these aborted children would have made ‘good workers’ able to pay into Social Security, “…a system that is going to be pressed to near bankruptcy by a surge of baby boomers that have begun to strain the system…” Beyond using ‘pressed,’ ‘bankruptcy,’ ‘surge’ and ‘baby boomers’ as adrenaline vocabulary, the notion that those babies would have been workers to fund our Medicare is worth questioning.
My classes are required to produce a minimum of three sources, to fact check, and to offer a cohesive presentation where data leads to a logical conclusion. That is the least we can do to be informed citizens.
Jan Kurtz teaches Spanish as well as two courses in English: Many Faces of Mexico and Cultures of Latin America, at Central Lakes College.