….Is it related?
Much is in the news these days about illegal immigration. The emphasis is always on the “illegal” part of the equation. And much is in the news about our southern border.
Illegal immigration from the south almost always implies people who are not white. This may not be stated, but it is certainly the implication. But statements are made about language, about having immigrants learning English, regardless of where they are from.
One thing that “seems” to be true is that employers are hiring people, either not caring or not checking if they are illegal.
I know that when a company is interviewing a person for a job, there are a number of personal questions that are not allowed to be asked. This begs the question: Can an employer ask where a person is born? Can they ask if and when the person was naturalized (to be a citizen of the US?)? Apparently they can ask for certain documentation.
What about people who fit the general superficial description of an immigrant, but are legal citizens, perhaps even born here? Do they have to constantly carry their birth certificates? Most of the rest of us don’t have to do that.
We became acquainted with a couple with Hispanic last names because our children were friends. They told us that the reason they were self-employed is that they faced so much apparent racism when they were looking for work. I found myself assuming that they had come from Mexico at some point, even though they spoke English with the same accent as the rest of us. Well, my assumptions were wrong. They told me that they had come from Colorado where their people had a strong Spanish influence, and their ancestors had been there for 400 years.
Will there be a backlash against people who appear to be immigrants, appear to be non-white, or people have accents?
A young man I know, who is an immigrant, naturalized citizen, who speaks with a middle-American accent, has been having problems finding work. He is clean-cut, well-spoken, outgoing, hard working, and has excellent recommendations, etc. He gets called to come and find out about a job, but when he gets to some of these interviews, they’ve sometimes taken one look at him and said that the job has been filled. Or they say that they will call back, and they don’t. He is beginning to suspect racism. His last name sounds “white,” which is why, he suspects, that he gets called for the interviews. We are not talking great jobs here, but rather, part time work to make ends meet.
He says that when he talks to his white friends, they deny that racism could possibly be a part of the equation. And, of course, he doesn’t really know the real reason why he isn’t finding work. Are whites still in denial that racism still exists? This young man has also noticed that “all” of the cleaning people he sees anywhere are not white.
What should people of faith do to influence the current public policy and climate? What would you say to this young man?