61% Of Northwest Residents Support Xenophobia?

I am thankful to be in dialogue with a new online friend, Jennifer - a Latina in Arizona.  She's been talking about the pain, hardship and frustration within her community with recent Arizona immigration legislation, and more broadly, throughout her entire life.  It's always been hard there...

I imagine, it's always been hard, everywhere... especially with a very sad report recently through Oregon Public Broadcasting: apparently 61% of Oregonians agree with Arizona's immigration law (http://news.opb.org/article/7619-61-northwest-residents-support-arizona-immigration-law).  

I was completely shocked!  

I think of Oregon as generally progressive, politically Democratic, and liberal.  But Oregon is far from diverse.  I recently had a woman told me about her brother who owns an orchard: "with all the laws they have protecting migrant workers, the housing they require makes it nicer than than our own homes!"   Umm... that's right: having functional plumbing, electricity and insulation means your brother's migrant workers are living better than he is.


In states like Oregon, white liberals love to talk the talk about acceptance, compassion and multiculturalism.  But we get very uncomfortable when that starts to hit our own homogenous neighborhoods.  The "novelty" of diversity rapidly becomes a "problem."  Very sad.


Your Mom said...

I think that equating "xenophobia" with an agreement of the Arizona law SB1070 is an ignorant view of the facts. The fact is that SB1070 was put into effect to protect ALL citizens...including those Latinos that are here in this country LEGALLY. Arizona is putting into effect a law that will help them to take back control of their own state. The people of Arizona are tired of having to deal with Mexican gang members and drug cartels and have passed this law to help them cut through the red tape involved in deporting those people.
I 100% agree with the SB1070 law and do not agree AT ALL that I am a "xenophobe." That is completely unfair. The bottom line is that if you are here in this country LEGALLY, you will have no problems with the law.
If and when we start deporting citizens by accident, then come back and let me know and I'll agree with your side...but until that happens, you don't have my support of your viewpoint.

Peter said...

It's hard to respond to "Your Mom." I want to say, "Buuuuuuuut Mooooooooom..."

Point taken.

But when my friends - who are Latino - are telling me they are experiencing xenophobia, as marginalized people, I defer to their experience, not the experience of the privileged (a.k.a. me). I believe God's preferential option - as outlined in the person of Jesus, and in particular, the Beatitudes - lies with the poor and marginalized, as characterized by Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez.

As Christians, I believe our allegiance to the "least of these" supersedes our obligation of the enforcement of nation-state borders.

Peter said...

Exodus 22:21
Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.

Leviticus 19:10
Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 19:33
When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him.

Numbers 15:15
The community is to have the same rules for you and for the alien living among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the alien shall be the same before the LORD

Deuteronomy 24:14
Do not take advantage of a hired man who is poor and needy, whether he is a brother Israelite or an alien living in one of your towns.

Psalm 146:9
The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

Jeremiah 22:3
This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.

Ezekiel 22:29
The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the alien, denying them justice.

Ah, and here is some reconciliation:

Ephesians 2:19
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household

Becca said...

I just wanted to respond, a bit, to Your Mom...

Many of us who have issues with this law are not arguing at all with the idea that the current status of immigration is not working. I don't live in AZ, and can have no idea of the difficulties faced there. I have to be awayre of that...issues are often far more complicated up close than they are from far away.

Having said that, my opinion is that this isn't the law to fix those problems. It sets up situations that force those enforcing it to act like/ think like racists whether or not they are.

It's hard for me to understand how being okay with a law that forces police officers to inspect the papers of anyone they "think" might be illegal isn't xenophobic...

The historic, moral and social issues surrounding all of this are endless and painful. This is not the law to deal with them in a rational, justifiable way. In my opinion, it is simply...unAmerican.

Geoff said...

You nay sayers need to actually read the Arizona law. It does not allow officers of the law to ask questions about "legality" unless there is cause, meaning, suspicious behaviour that may indicate something bad. Also, police cannot "profile", i.e. pull over a vehicle simply because the officer might think the occupants are illegals. It is a clearly written piece of legislation that, in practical terms, reasserts existing laws and establishes that States Rights supercede Federal laws that are not in conflict. The Federal laws state that illegal immigration is illegal and so punishable.

As regards the following:

Numbers 15:15
The community is to have the same rules for you and for the alien living among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the alien shall be the same before the LORD

One could and should say this: if I, as a citizen, break the law I will be prosecuted. If a person is here illegally and gets arrested and found out to be here illegally, then they should bear the consequences, just as I would for breaking the law - no matter what law it is. That is equal treatment, the same rules that apply to both citizen and alien alike. You may not like it, but that is what that passage says. All other passages cited would fall under this one as secondary to fair treatment covered here.

It has nothing to do with xenophobia or racism, neither of which apply to me.

Peter said...

It has a lot to do with hospitality, Geoff, which doesn't seem to apply to you, either - based on the consistent tone and spirit of your comments here.

Geoff said...

I welcome visitors of all stripes, many into my own home. I don't see that my comments suggest I am inhospitable to anyone.. I am simply stating that Num. 15:15 speaks of equal treatment. You didn't disagree with my example because it is valid.

You have called me an angry man. I am not angry. But when people speak in ignorance on a subject, such as hating the Arizona law, yet never having read it or knowing anything about what is going on there, I do respond with rather direct language which some interpret as anger.

Being direct has nothing to do with hostility or inhospitable attitudes. I speak to the subject at hand. If you choose to use that as some kind of medium to decide what kind of person I am, you do yourself a disservice.

Quite frankly, while there are areas in which we disagree - as you will find with everyone you know - I believe you will find there are many areas in which we quite agree (like your newer post on the house and the car - love that... been there, too).

Were you to take the time to sit down and actually talk with me, you would find me to be a considerate, thoughtful and deliberate man. My views are not arrived at in an arbitrary fashion, nor without doing my homework, such as on the Arizona issue.

Truth be told, it is a heart rending situation we've allowed this nation to sink into that we have to draw such lines that become so divisive that we must now take what, to many, seems unfair and morally reprehensible action to deal with a serious social and legal issue.

I continue to pray about this issue. And if fair is fair, via Num. 15:15, then we have to implement and execute the law as it stands until that law is either stricken down or further re enforced. Otherwise, we could just as easily say that no law we personally like should be forced upon us. Silly analogy? No, not really. But when you think of the ramifications of excusing illegal behaviour in some, others will seek to be excused from their illegal behaviour. Where do we draw the line?

Would that we had been more judicious and not allowed the situation to descend into the mess it has become.

Peter J Walker said...

Aha! Geoff, thanks for this most recent comment. Up till now, I've come to dread your comments when I see them in my inbox, because I have read them (however unfairly) as sort of "dive-bombs" - quick, negative soundbytes that probably do not do your own opinions justice.

You do sound like a thoughtful, deliberate person here.

And I'm sure there are posts I have made that don't demonstrate my own character well, either.

So while we may disagree fundamentally in what our role is as individuals and as a religious community, I appreciate what you've said here.

"Would that we had been more judicious and not allowed the situation to descend into the mess it has become." Very well said. Would that we had done the same, sooner, between us, online.


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