Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Immigration > Phrase “We are a Nation of Immigrants” has lost its pride and meaning

Phrase “We are a Nation of Immigrants” has lost its pride and meaning

LatinaLista — Whenever there’s an attempt to define the United States, the two answers that inevitably pop up are: baseball and apple pie. Yet, whenever anyone tries to define the essence of the nation, the standard reply — always popular with politicians — is “We are a nation of immigrants.”

muslim.jpgThe statement is the unofficial campaign slogan of the country’s diplomats and business community whenever trying to “sell” foreign companies, students or researchers on coming to the United States.

Muslim American Congressman U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison becomes emotional as he testifies during a hearing before the House Committee on Homeland Security on March 10, 2011.
(Photograph by: Alex Wong, Getty Images)

The notion that the nation is comprised of immigrants has been repeated so many times ad nauseum that it had devolved from a statement of pride into a meaningless verbal string.

We know this because of how U.S. legislators in this 21st Century have focused on making Latinos and Muslim Americans as uncomfortable as possible. From local city councils to Congress who have continuously focused on delivering hateful rhetoric and passing narrow-minded and racist legislation targeting Latinos or casting public suspicion on the loyalties of all Muslim Americans, legislators are not living up to what defines the United States.

While critics will say that the Latinos in question only refer to undocumented immigrants, the truth remains that all Latinos who fit the stereotype are profiled until they prove their citizenship.

Muslim-Americans have been under harsh scrutiny since 9/11 with many atrocities committed against innocent victims for just being Muslim American.

Yet, there has been a renewed focus on Muslim Americans with New York Rep. Peter King‘s first “Radicalization in the American Muslim Community” hearing.

The subject of the hearing is a valid question; the method is not.

As with legislation targeting Latino immigrants, these congressional hearings about the American Muslim community are acts being committed against a group that comprises the very essence of the United States.

The better course of action would have been had Rep. King worked in partnership with the American Muslim community to get a deeper analysis of the problem, find out how the American Muslim community is responding and how the federal government can help in that response.

Yet, when you have a legislator that deems him or herself above the targeted group, there is no room for cooperation or honest exchange. That is the feeling with some of the American Muslim legislators, one who testified at the hearing.

Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim-American elected to Congress, wept during testimony in which he accused Republicans of demonizing the entire Muslim community in the U.S. over the actions of an extremist few.

“When you assign their violent actions to the entire community, you assign collective blame to a whole group,” Ellison told the House Committee on Homeland Security. “This is the very heart of stereotyping and scapegoating.”

Unfortunately, this type of legislative abuse of power has become standard in how our government treats the nation’s immigrants — no matter if they play baseball and eat apple pie too.

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