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Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Immigration > Senate Inaction Means More Hate Directed at Innocent Legal Immigrants

Senate Inaction Means More Hate Directed at Innocent Legal Immigrants

LatinaLista — The defeat of yesterday’s vote on moving forward with the immigration reform bill in the Senate was a huge disappointment for anyone who is tired of the rhetoric and wants to get on with the business of living.
Critics may think that the longer the bill is not passed, the longer undocumented Hispanics will suffer hardships to the point of being driven out of their homes.
The only problem is that the longer the bill sits in limbo, the longer Hispanics who are citizens are suffering.


There’s no clearer example of this than what recently happened to Amilcar Arroyo.
Amilcar is a first-generation immigrant from Peru. He’s a legal citizen, an entrepreneur who is the publisher of El Mensajero, a local Spanish-language newspaper, sits on the board of several distinguished non-profits like United Way, and is an 18-year resident of — Hazelton, Pennsylvania.
Yup, the cradle of anti-immigrant fervor.
Ever since the town’s mayor spearheaded a campaign to pass a city ordinance that would fine landlords who rented to undocumented immigrants and business owners who employed them, it’s been a most unfriendly town to people with brown skin or speak with an accent.
Ask Amilcar.
During a rally at Hazelton City Hall where hundreds of the mayor’s supporters of his anti-immigrant ordinance had shown up, Amilcar, like a good journalist, went to cover the event.

Hazelton rally
Camera in hand, he was taking pictures of the people shouting “USA, USA” when all of a sudden a woman came up to him, and in something that sounds like a Biblical passage, began accusing him of being “one of them.”
She thought Amilcar was one of the people suing the city over the illegal immigrant ordinance. He isn’t.

A woman at the Hazelton rally shouts at a legal immigrant to go back where he came from.
Before Amilcar knew it, he was surrounded by about 20 people shouting things at him like “Get out of the country,” and “traitor.”
The local police, whom he personally knew, came up to him to shield him from the angry crowd. They escorted him to his car.

Police protect Amilcar Arroyo from angry crowd
Today, Amilcar told Latina Lista his feelings about what happened at the rally and how life has been in Hazelton for him since the ordinance was passed.

I wasn’t afraid. I didn’t want to say anything to further anger them so I just stood there, experiencing it. Finally, I tried to tell them I was legal but they didn’t want to hear it.
A policeman I know came up to me and told me “I think it’s better for you to leave.” The Chief of Police, who is a good guy, provided me with a car to take me to my car.
Those people didn’t see me as a person. They saw me as a representative of the Hispanic immigrant. Their behavior is proof to me that the movement (against undocumented immigrants) is wrong.
(Today) when I stand on the street corner to wait to cross the street, there’s always somebody in a car, who right before they go when the light turns green, will shout things at me like ‘Hispanic SOB’ or ‘Hispanic go back to your country.’ I get hate e-mails.
I don’t hate anybody. I behave like I always do.

Amilcar said that even though his fellow residents of Hazelton treat him like this, he’s never thought of moving away. Hazelton is his home.
Yet, as long as the Senate does nothing and there are people who will use their position to fuel hate and discrimination, innocent people will continue to get hurt in the crossfire of this debate.
Today, it is angry shouts.
What will it be mañana?

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Comment(8)

  • tizoc
    June 9, 2007 at 7:48 am

    well, i just hope it aint smallpox-laced blankets or diseased carcass chunks in the water, that will really do us all in (again)

  • Tom
    June 9, 2007 at 9:56 am

    It’s awful. I’m from eastern Pennsylvania originally, and I’m deeply ashamed to see this.

  • nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez
    June 9, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    i agree with all your points, marisa. but that bill was bad. for various reasons. we do need some humanity shown toward the Mex. but we do not need a National ID card (in the bill) and we do not need impossible (in practicality) barriers to citizenship. i dont want the perfect to be the enemy of the good, but that bill was no good.
    great post. great scary post.
    you see this everywhere. its terrifying to me. just in my state, about an hour away recently, 20 or 30 white guys beat the hell out of two Latinos in a park! for sitting there! so i feel you on this.
    before we can have a bill passed that is humane, we need a humane view in this nation, which does not currently prevail. i fear we are deadlocked on this matter for now. and it is up to our media to begin being careful. people suck it up like its gospel. and there’s too much “alien/invader/white race dying” talk coming from too man pundits. we need that to stop. we need the media to keep reminding people that these are human beings, and that many immigrants (all?) have not been so happily accepted into the Melting Pot. this is not new, we need a media with a memory.

  • tizoc
    June 9, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    nezua, i’m gonna hafta get some of that merch soon!

  • Humberto
    June 10, 2007 at 1:26 am

    Yo soy Latino. La imigración ilegal está violando América. La imigración ilegal está violando cuartos de emergencia en muchos hospitales. La imigración ilegal trae actividad criminal a América. La imigración ilegal está trayendo a criminales al Arizona y a Tejas y California. Viva el mundo sin imigración ilegal!
    Es verdad. La imigración ilegal está violando América. Viva el mundo sin imigración ilegal!

  • Amanda
    June 12, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    Either that “Humberto” guy is an impostor, or he REALLY needs to brush up on his Spanish…
    Anyway, I agree with most of your post but at the same time I’m not sure that passing this bill would necessarily stop the hate. I do believe it will dissipate after some time, but I’m not sure if the passage of a bill would really be the catalyst for change in that regard.

  • Horace
    June 23, 2007 at 6:47 pm

    The hate is caused by what most non-Hispanics perceive is the imposition of an amnesty that will add the burden of millions of poverty level aliens to the welfare rolls. You see them as brothers and sisters, but we see them as just aliens who wish to do an end run around our immigration laws. My wife has brothers and sisters who wish to come from Korea, but they can’t swim that far, so they’ll have to wait their turn and use the system. What Hispanic advocacy groups want is just plain unfair.

  • Horace
    June 23, 2007 at 9:51 pm

    Let’s describe this situation. We have Hazleton residents screaming at Hispanic citizens defending a specious claim that illegal immigrants somehow have a right to stay in this country, which they plainly do not, under our existing law. The city of Hazleton is targeting illegal immigrants claiming that they’re placing an undue burden on city services. Illegal alien advocates clearly do not care one way or another whether this is true or not, but only show contempt for the mayor’s or other citizen’s concerns and resort to playing the race card. Their only goal is to delary the arrest and deportations until some heroic effort, like the Senate bill, saves their friends and family from deportation. These efforts further infuriate those who support the mayor and fuel dislike for supporters of illegal immigration. And somehow, Hispanics hiding family members and friends from ICE seem to think that this will not upset people concerned for what the non-Hispanic citizens perceive as a threat to our national sovereignty. Those that perceive this threat are correct, as the citizens see the government of Mexico actually assisting its citizens in residing here. How else can one view the maps and instructions given their citizens to evade el Migra, and the matricular consular cards as identification? Shouldn’t every loyal citizen be concerned when a foreign government interferes in his country’s internal affairs? Hispanic citizens who support this effort are seen as being complicit in Mexico’s endeavors. With all this in mind, is it any wonder that non-Hispanic citizens of this country are up in arms and sometimes take it out on Hispanic citizens? It certainly isn’t right that Hispanic citizens are being abused by their fellow citizens, but it should be no surprise that they would be abused by some of the least tolerant Americans.

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