The CNN Crusade Against Mexicans
By Richard W. Crockett
Lou Dobbs of CNN revealed the other day that his wife is Mexican, as though that fact inoculates him against a charge of nativism, or worse, racism in his campaign against the Mexicans who come into this country by whatever means. You know, that sounds a little like a claim that it is ok for Caucasian Americans to use the “N” word because “some of my best friends are black.” The implication is that, “they know I really don’t mean it.” But what seems to come across by this revelation is the idea that his wife is ok, because she’s not like all those other people who speak that language that we overhear in public places, but cannot understand, and where our paranoia tells us that it is a conversation about us. In short, much of the anti immigration fever in this country is a product of nativism at best, ironically against a native people, and racism at worst. However, we do not like to think of it that way. Instead, we emphasize as does Lou Dobbs, their illegal status. These immigrants are illegal, is the claim.
One of the ‘greatest dilemmas for both sides in this debate is the “anchor baby.” Mexican parents who have entered the United States illegally, and who become parents of children born in the United States have children who are naturally born American citizens. The fact of these children’s legal status in the United States has made it problematic to deport Mexican parents for their illegal entry, because in so doing the United States must “deport” an American citizen, the infant child—the “anchor baby.” Over the years, many an illegal has not been deported because of a reluctance to deport an American citizen, the legal child of illegal aliens. The other horn of the dilemma is that if the child is not “deported” with his illegal parents, he is being separated from his parents at the time of their deportation and may have to become a ward of the state. .
But the young and vulnerable child should not be required to leave his native country—the country of his birth. But advocates of deportation have become more brazen. Bill Tucker of CNN in discussing this issue had the cheek to say, “children who are citizens are not required to leave the country; we let them leave the country with their parents.” Now think about this: a completely dependent infant child is being deprived of something that is legally his—and something that we, by the way, prize as one of the most precious gifts one can have—birth as an American citizen. Shipped back to Mexico, this infant will not grow up learning English as his native tongue, a skill that the anti-Mexican view insist upon as a condition of residence here, although it may not be enforceable. If deporting legal American citizens because they have Mexican parents is not racist, I can think of no other explanation for it.
A recent response to the immigration controversy by supporters of the immigrants from Mexico is something called “the new sanctuary movement.” In years gone by, it was widespread practice that persons fleeing from authority could “take sanctuary” in a church. It was believed that the church was “off limits” so to speak for the pursuers of those taking sanctuary, and once those in flight had found refuge in a church they were “safe” from capture and would be left alone. The new sanctuary movement argues that, “no one is illegal in the eyes of God.” Further, they argue that the “law of God that says there are no borders, is the law that we are required to follow.” This argument is made calling upon the notion of a “higher law” that is above the laws of man, a view of this perspective which says that it is the law of God. It derives from the philosophy that is at the foundation of the Declaration of Independence, the Natural Rights Philosophy. Proponents have been driven to this perspective through recognition that U.S. law does not recognize sanctuary in a church. If man-made law doesn’t work for you, it is time to resort to something else. This perspective was at the core of the civil rights movement and is associated with the American Revolution and much of the anti-slavery movement.
Kitty Pilgrim of CNN, sitting in for Lou Dobbs, introduced a discussion of this subject as “the church interfering in the debate over illegal aliens.” She further inquired if this activity does not go against separation of church and state. The reference is mainly to the Catholic Church, who may see alliance with the immigrants from Mexico who possesses a predominantly Catholic religious background, as not only a compassionate and moral thing to do, but also an opportunity to fill the pews at mass. The Catholic Church has been associated with this natural law tradition since the days of St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. The problem for the anti-immigration crowd is that to engage in a debate is not a violation of church and state separation. It is the exercise of First Amendment rights in behalf of an issue. It is speech and symbolic speech. It is in fact a response to a debate which has been shaped by a CNN crusade at the five o’clock hour every weekday evening by Lou Dobbs. The anti-Mexican harangue has been ongoing for more than a year, at the least. For CNN to whine that their antagonists dare to find allies and respond to the CNN monolog is somehow unfair, is itself dumbfounding to the listener.