Who’s afraid of Quruxlow and why?

An immigrant’s son tries to suss anti-immigrant militancy

Jeffrey Denny

Trump supporters: Have you ever —

Sang Happy Birthday, popular Christmas songs, or done the Macarena in public without copyright permission?

Used your mate’s prescription Ambien to fall asleep?

Put off getting a license for your dog?

Tossed an old tenant’s junk mail catalogs?

Joined a fantasy football league, office pool, or friends’ poker night, and won ten bucks?

Used your cell phone or texted while driving?

Had a beer in high school?

Relieved your bladder outside?

Filed your taxes wrong with innocent errors in your favor, or stretched your deductions?

Failed to update your driver’s license when you moved, or driven with an expired license or registration?

Driven 40 in a 25 mph school zone, or failed to yield to pedestrians?

Given a Sharpie pen —what Trump uses to sign executive orders — to a kid?

Burned the broccoli (so to speak)?

***

Yes? You’ve done some of these things? Me too.

Congratulations — we broke the law. We are lawbreakers.

Many laws are silly, obscure or minor infractions, hardly criminal offenses. The risk of getting caught is low to ridiculous. Worst case, we’re scofflaws and pay a fine. No problem.

But not if you’re an immigrant with a green card, visa or other status. You can’t risk any infraction, even the dumbest. You could get nailed if you fail or forget to report a change of address within ten days. Or if your papers aren’t pristine, even if they’re pending or tangled in bureaucratic mire.

As a result, intentionally or inadvertently, many immigrants may be technically illegal. If so, you face the daily risk of being arrested, held, deported and split from spouse and kids, your family torn apart. Maybe forever. Your kids don’t understand that you can’t see them anymore because between your two or three jobs, you didn’t get to the DMV on time.

The legal technicalities can create a life crisis for immigrants and their families. Unless you’re married to the President of the United States and may have violated the terms of your visa by getting paid for modeling work, as the former Melania Knaus reportedly has done.

I mention only to ask: Should the technicalities matter so much?

Staunch defenders of Trump’s harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric and crackdown essentially say yes. The law’s the law. If you’re here illegally, for any reason, stop whining, you deserve to be rounded up and kicked out.

If so, then let me ask: Are you willing to have federal, state or local government authorities enforce the same strict law-and-order militancy on you, family, neighbors and friends, even for minor infractions? The same government many conservatives fear has too much power and threatens our essential liberties?

What if the Democrats retake the White House and Congress (yes, it’s possible) and you forgot to renew your conceal-carry permit so the authorities have an excuse to come for your guns?

After all, the law is the law.

Or do you believe immigrants should face a higher standard, stricter enforcement, less privacy, more fear, and unique treatment as guilty until proven innocent — and perhaps punished on a technicality?

This is not to dump on Trump and supporters. Reasonable people can disagree about the optimal policy for a modernized, orderly system that avoids victimizing innocent people and benefits our nation, economy, society and pride in the melting pot and liberty beacon we are, Emma Lazarus-style.

GOP patron saint Ronald Reagan relaxed immigration laws in his time. Many wool-dyed Republicans favor immigration reforms that make it easier for people to come and stay, and — my point — forgive those who trespass (as we ask our trespasses to be forgiven).

We can quibble about the policy details. But I have to wonder if the harsh Trumpster immigration extremism, hardcore obsession with “the law is the law,” and enforcement double-standard arises most from a nativistic, tribal fear and loathing.

You hear it in comments like, “I feel like a stranger in my own town.”

Or, “those people stick to their own kind instead of assimilating with us.”

Or, “why can’t they learn English?”

Or, “they’re taking all the construction jobs cheap and driving down wages.”

Or people believe the Trump/Fox/alt-right claims and fear “illegals” are smuggling drugs, raping, voting illegally and committing other heinous crimes that must be happening somewhere. Including doing the Macarena without copyright permission.

Some with family rooted in Ireland, Italy and other familiar Western European countries might be bewildered by how the new wave of immigrants, from places like Somalia, are edging out Valentino’s Little Rome Italian Ristorante and Tipsy McStaggers Irish pub with restaurants like Quruxlow (serving the best gajar ka halwa in the Twin Cities). When all nana wants is a little scungilli or colcannin.

I can’t say what’s driving the anti-immigrant obsession. Or why Trump’s base still clings to the greatest myths about immigrants and rejects the facts.

Yes, I know, “facts” are in the eye of the beholder now, but at least consider these from a reliable source:

1. Immigrants typically do not compete for jobs with native-born workers. They create jobs as entrepreneurs, consumers, and taxpayers, and even give a slight boost to the average wages of Americans by increasing their productivity and stimulating investment.

2. Immigrants are needed to replenish the U.S. labor force as millions of Baby Boomers retire. They’ve also economically revitalized many communities throughout the country.

3. Immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than our native-born citizens.

4. Immigrants are assimilating quickly, buying homes, becoming U.S. citizens, and learning English.

Ok, what about undocumented, illegal immigrants?

One big myth is they don’t pay taxes but feed on welfare.

The facts: Even “illegals” pay sales taxes, just like every other U.S. consumer does. They pay property taxes even if they rent. More than half have federal and state income, Social Security, and Medicare taxes automatically deducted from their paychecks.

And no, they’re not eligible for any federal or state benefits that their tax dollars help to fund. Seeking those benefits demands documents, and forging is criminal and ensures deportation. So they pay into Medicare and Social Security without taking out.

You might be thinking: Yep, more fake facts from anti-Trump liberals. Nope. These assertions are almost verbatim from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce 2016 update of its Immigration: Myths and Facts report.

The Chamber, most know, is a favorite liberal target for being a shill for Republican and big corporate interests and virtually everything the progressive left is against.

So you can confirm your bias by drinking from the fountain of Trump/Fox/alt-right anti-immigration hysteria. Or see the Chamber’s more sober, thoughtful immigration report for yourself:

https://www.uschamber.com/sites/default/files/documents/files/022851_mythsfacts_2016_report_final.pdf

Why does the Trump attack on immigrants trouble me?

My mother, Ida, as an early ‘tween, emigrated from the rubble of post-war Europe in the early 1950s with her parents, Anton and Stephanie, and siblings Heinz, Gertrude and Siegfried. They were sponsored by the local Catholic archdiocese and I imagine legalized under our immigration system at the time. The family most likely was tired, poor, huddled and tempest-tost, but I suspect didn’t regard themselves as “wretched refuse.”

I’m still learning about how the family got here, and what happened then. Anton and Stephanie passed away long ago, and my mother and her siblings don’t share much. Emigre kids — especially from old war-torn countries — often can’t or don’t remember, or don’t want to. We have to respect that, and maybe tease out the history bit by bit.

The early ’50s were not the best days for immigrants, either, amid rising anti-communist hysteria that led to tighter quotas on people from countries with communist regimes, especially Asians. Worse — including the racist name — was Eisenhower’s disgraceful “Operation Wetback” targeting Mexican immigrants.

While not from Asia or Mexico, I suspect Anton and Stephanie and their kids felt less than completely accepted here with their odd, raggedy clothes, Polish last name (when “Polack” jokes were popular) and German accents (especially so soon after the war).

But I hope that while my family went through the process of becoming American citizens, they didn’t need to live in daily fear of being arrested, detained and kicked back to Europe if the police happened to stop them for a broken taillight and found their license or registration had expired. Or their immigration papers were not completely in order due to an honest misunderstanding, innocent error or bureaucratic snafu.

Having your papers in order for the police, and fearing the worst, is the life many people back then left to come to America. As many still do.

Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.

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