In a recent confrontation between protesters against the illegal flood of unaccompanied children into the United States and counter-protests by some Hispanic group, one man from the latter group said angrily, “We are as good as you are!”
One of the things that make the history of clashes over race or ethnicity such a history of tragedies around the world is that — regardless of whatever particular issue sets off these clashes — many people see the ultimate stakes as their worth as human beings. On that, there is no room for compromise, but only polarization. That is why playing “the race card” is such an irresponsible and dangerous political game.
A country that does not control its own borders does not have any immigration policy. There may be laws on the books, but such laws are just meaningless words if people from other countries can cross the borders whenever they choose.
One of the reasons why many Americans are reluctant to keep out illegal immigrants — or even to call them “illegal immigrants,” instead of using the mealy-mouthed word “undocumented” — is that most Hispanics they encounter seem to be decent, hard-working people.
This column has pointed out, more than once, that I have never seen Mexicans standing on a street corner begging, though I have seen both whites and blacks doing so.
But such impressions are no basis for deciding serious issues about immigration and citizenship. When we do not control our own borders, we have no way of knowing how many of those coming across those borders are criminals or even terrorists.