An editorial on CNN Opinion purports to explain why the uproar over immigration has gone nationwide, but the authors, Audrey Singer and Jill H. Wilson, both at the Brookings Institution, left out some key factors. The factors they cite are the economic downturn and the increase of immigrant populations in urban and suburban areas from 2000 to 2010. "The friction in places unaccustomed to or unprepared for new inflows of foreigners, particularly those who are assumed to be present illegally, manifests itself in different ways."
Scapegoating is common when there's an economic downturn, because those who are actually to blame for the country's economic woes want to divert attention away from themselves. Fanning the flames of racism and xenophobia is a time-honored method of deflecting blame toward those who have the least power:
History is full of irrefutable evidence that when the economy gets bad, scapegoats are targeted, and the worst instincts of humanity reveal themselves. Alabama has asked its citizens to cross invisible boundaries of humanity—waging political battles on the backs of school children, cutting access to the most basic human needs, like water. —Ilyse Hogue.
Although most Americans favor reasonable, comprehensive immigration reform, the small percentage of those who don't are the ones who are the most vocal. They believe they have a personal, vested interest in driving people of color out of their communities. Their fear and hatred compels them. That hatred is validated and reinforced by the terrorizing raids of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
On the other hand, few of those who favor reasonable reform are as compelled or as vocal. Because they may not feel that they personally have a vested interest in the outcome, they keep silent while the xenophobes freely and prolifically spew their hatred.
Another reason anti-immigrant uproar has gone nationwide is that there's a lot of money being funneled into it. And capitalism, whose great golden calf is the bottom line unhindered by any moral compunctions, is always in favor of cheap, exploitable labor with no legal protections. Just ask the booming prisons-for-profit industry.
The Immigration Policy Center dispels the notion that immigrants are the cause of unemployment:
Immigrants are not the cause of unemployment in the United States. Empirical research has demonstrated repeatedly that there is no correlation between immigration and unemployment. In fact, immigrants—including the unauthorized—create jobs through their purchasing power and their entrepreneurship, buying goods and services from U.S. businesses and creating their own businesses, both of which sustain U.S. jobs. The presence of new immigrant workers and consumers in an area also spurs the expansion of businesses, which creates new jobs.
We have to realize that we do indeed, all of us, have a stake in what happens to the immigrants in our midst. We must raise our voices above the uproar and advocate for common sense and compassion. The immigrants among us are our brothers and sisters, and in answer to a very old question, we are indeed their keepers.