Illegal Immigrant Hubris

Published on May 28th, 2008

May Day placards reveal the danger of mythologizing the ‘undocumented’

By Mark Cromer

At first glance the signs seem about as benign as cotton candy on a carnival midway, at least as far as placards at a street protest go. Held aloft by two grinning teen girls; one sign reads ‘USA is rich cause [sic] of my parents.’ The other: ‘I’m illegal, not a criminal.’

Contrasted with many of the other slogans visible on the streets of Los Angeles during the national May Day marches in support of a mass amnesty for illegal immigrants, these two signs appear downright cerebral. Competing signs heaped profanity-laced scorn on the LAPD, called for the deportation of white Americans and compared enforcement of immigration laws to the Holocaust.

hspace=4While the girls’ dual signs avoided cheap denunciations, the core message they carried on May Day offer an unadulterated display of the whimsical mythologizing of illegal immigrants in America. It’s a growing myth that is seeping into the American consciousness, one that relies on a fantastical revision of United States history. It’s a myth that has no basis in fact, betrays the memory of our forbears and ultimately threatens the collective cohesiveness and confidence of our nation.

Yet the girls’ messages are now among the most dynamic concepts in the burgeoning community of illegal immigrants, bubbling like an ideologically refreshing wellspring amid the proponents of open borders.

The placard proclaiming ‘USA is rich because of my parents’ distills ethnic suspicion to its purest form, sentiments that are rooted in the myth that illegal immigrants are responsible, in both breadth and depth, for American wealth. This myth parlayed into propaganda holds that it is the sweat of ‘the undocumented’ that has allowed for an unparalleled expansion of American’s discretionary income and the rise of its fabled middle class.

On their backs, they believe, we Yanqui’s have ridden to the good life.

This perspective is now rampant across the nation’s universities, where a generation of students are now evidently unburdened by the historical facts of America’s emergence from the Great Depression into the ‘Arsenal for Democracy’ and then a post-war economic boom that created middle class wealth with skilled labor manufacturing jobs—not illegal immigrant labor.

It’s unlikely that the girls know much about the massive job programs like the Works Progress Administration and the Tennessee Valley Authority, or government-funded works like the federal Interstate Highway system and a durable goods manufacturing base that stretched coast to coast.

The relative wealth of the American middle class is the fruit of our ‘greatest generation’s’ work ethic, ingenuity and sense of national exceptionalism. It is not the product of illegal immigrants working in a parallel economy for the benefit of select industries.

But if the history of this nation is being rewritten, so is its conception of law and order.

The second sign read ‘I’m illegal, not a criminal,’ a slight break from the more frequently encountered open-borders cant of ‘No person is illegal.’ But the slogan still lays bare the prism through which American sovereignty is viewed not only by illegal immigrants, but also the millions of Americans who support them.

Offering a demarcation between immigration law-breakers and common ‘criminals’ might seem reasonable and in the spirit of America’s historic commitment to accepting immigrants. But in the context of the spiraling violence on our southern border; the massive system of document fraud and bureaucratic corruption that has blossomed in the United States as a clandestine support network; and the deadly chaos of illegal immigrant gangs that is growing daily on our cities streets—it is a shallow slogan that masks a dangerous concept.

Mythologizing illegal immigrants in the United States is to romanticize the lawless dysfunction that is now endemic in the countries illegal immigrants are fleeing, with the collapsing state of Mexico as Exhibit A.

Revising history in order to elevate and excuse lawbreakers is a deadly path for a nation to tread.

The two signs those smiling girls carried on May Day offer a chilling foretelling of how a nation that’s unwilling to defend its history or enforce its laws will meet its end: at the hands of those willing to violate both.

Mark Cromer is a Senior Writing Fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS), www.capsweb.org . He can be reached at [email protected].

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