Fear - The Central Issue on Immigration
Some of us have lived for long enough to remember a time when there were no daily news reports on immigration. While there’s always some set of important issues before the country, the immigration theme is today reported on almost daily. It’s certain to be a charged issue in the coming presidential elections of 2008.
Today as I was driving my daughter home from Montessori school the lead story on the news was about immigration legislation before the Senate. We hear that one influential lawmaker “has reservations” about the current legislation, while others have yet to weigh in. My daughter who’s almost four (and being raised to be English-Spanish bilingual) has no concern about the matter. She sat in the back seat and finished her nap while the newscaster spoke. My daughter has no attachment to US culture of the past and so has virtually no concern of what’s to come.
My wife grew up in Mexico City in a family headed by a father that idolized the United States. My wife’s father to this day loves everything American, and proudly wears US emblems on clothing and his car. He invested in her education early-on, sending her to private school so she could learn English, no small feat for a middle class Mexican family. Indirectly that decision contributed years later to her marrying an American, making a life in the United States, and eventually becoming employed as an interpreter in the US judicial system.
Back to fear – I recently met with my daughter's school teacher for a periodic review. The topic of fear came up. “Fear’s not bad”, he said. “I’m afraid of F5 tornadoes for example,” he mentioned. My daughter, however, has virtually no fear except for public toilets overflowing (an entirely separate story), dreams about giants (lately most nights she wishes for dreams about Disneyworld), but that’s about it.
Immigration strikes fear in the hearts of many, whether they admit it or not. Understandably they fear change, the unknown, altering the American lifestyle, economic consequence, strange people and cultures, to mention only a few. It’s odd that the cold war era could evoke emotions of nostalgia. What’s more frightening, nuclear annihilation or our children learning languages in addition to English.
The immigration issue is in essence about fear, in one form or another.