Illegal Immigration: The Deepening Divide
This appears to be an authentic photo of an-advertising campaign that is irresponsible at best. The photo first appeared on the web site for Americans for Legal Immigration, ALIPAC.
I am posting about the above billboard because it is such a clear manifestation of the short-sightedness that plagues public discussion of illegal immigration in America. Both extremes in the debate seem overly emotional, implacable, and either uninformed or unaware. That's a combination that makes life very difficult for any politician (or blogger!) who attempts to propose a solution that might actually succeed.
The billboard above brings all this to the surface. It reportedly appears somewhere along the 605 Freeway in the greater Los Angeles are here in California. I heard a radio news report about the sign this morning, so I assume the photo is not a hoax.
UPDATE: The billboard is indeed authentic, as this Los Angeles Times story confirms.
The advertisement is for a local Spanish-language TV news program. "Noticias 62" means simply "News 62," and "Tu Ciudad. Tu Equipo" means "Your city. Your Team." As you can see, in the middle of the Los Angeles skyline, the billboard's creators have dropped in the famous Angel of Independence monument from Mexico City, and of course they have crossed out "CA" and replaced it with "Mexico."
How charming. And what a thoughtful, responsible contribution to an important debate!
I recognize that this billboard is very likely a product of the, shall we say, whorish element of the advertising profession. Presumably, some bright-eyed admen and adwomen thought they were coming up with an idea that would provoke lots of discussion and get lots and lots of attention. Well, they certainly have accomplished that. Still, the word "irresponsible" comes to mind to describe this advertisement, no matter what the motivation for it was.
All that aside, I concede that the billboard is somewhat useful, in that it highlights the extreme elements in the often-depressing debate over illegal immigration: The nativists and the immigrationists.
The Nativist Element
On one extreme, the folks at the ALIPAC web site are going ballistic. But what else can we expect? Residents of Southern California see Hispanic immigrants everywhere, Spanish spoken everywhere, and an unfamiliar culture encroaching on their homeland. They see hospital emergency rooms overflowing with people speaking Spanish and pretty much using the hospital as a primary care health clinic; proliferating Hispanic gangs; and growing numbers of semi-literate Hispanic teens who know only conversational Spanish (they can't read it) and have very poor English skills. The schools here in Los Angeles have doomed most of those kids to a life of limited possibilities.
I personally believe we need to deal with the reality of immigration and I've made no secret of my support for the immigration reform principles President Bush has advanced. I also admit that I am perhaps more accepting of Hispanic culture than many, having lived in Central America in my youth and still speaking fluent Spanish. (I am about as "gringo" as they come, ethnically.) Even so, I'm convinced we need to normalize, or get control over, the illegals now here. In other words, we need to know who's here. We also need to control the borders-- not just make token efforts to do so. I've blogged a great deal about all that in the following posts:
Getting into The Country And into The White House
Immigration And The National Interest: Where Should Conservatives Stand?
The Illegal Immigration Debate Continues
The Immigration Debate Rolls On: The Vietnamese-American Community's View
Illegal Immigration: The Issue The GOP Simply Must Get Right
Immigration Addendum: Tamar Jacoby Thoughts
Some Responses to Comments (So Far) on Illegal Immigration
Immigration, Carrots, Sticks, and Fences: Let's Talk Solutions
Just When You Thought The Immigration Debate Here Was Quieting Down for A While
About Those Minutemen
The problem is, the nativist element doesn't want to hear any of this. They immediately shout "amnesty!" when they hear Bush talk about guest workers. Many in this group also love to refer to illegal immigration as an "invasion," which is where the Minutemen movement comes from. (It is not an invasion, and using that term is about as responsible as the billboard above.) Seemingly, the only "solution" that will satisfy those folks is deporting every illegal now here and sealing the borders. As satisfying as that solution may be to some, it is a very foolish and unrealistic approach.
The Immigrationist Element
This is the group that screams "racism" every time anyone wants to stop illegal immigration and get a handle on those who are here (as the Bush principles advocate). Here's a sampling of what this group adds to the debate: