28 January 2013
Immigration and Fear: Should We Really Be Afraid for the State of Public Education?
I wondered into a classroom today that had a real VCR. Unbelievable. I don't think I even own a VHS tape that I could show to my students (on any topic, let alone something relevant to any of the courses that I am teaching). This experience combined with a radio story about Republican's not getting the Latino vote (no big surprise) got me thinking about immigration issues. Being a former illegal immigrant myself (of sorts) these issues are somewhat personal for me. Admittedly less so as a white, English speaking male, but still I did live through the immigration process into the United States. As well as the process of becoming an American citizen as an adult.
I bring this up because the real issue that we are going to have with immigration going forward into
the next generation in this country is not the number immigrants coming into the US, but rather the lack of opportunity in our economy. The current "recovery" is still considered mostly jobless and the wealth/inequality gap continues to grow.
Latin American immigrants are currently feared by many Caucasians in this country, just as other groups (Asian, Italian, Irish, etc.) have been in the past. This is becoming an increasingly obvious issue in the north east where I live, and I know it has been a big issue in the south western US for years.
The two big fears that people have around immigrants are that the immigrant population will steal opportunities from current Americans, or that the immigrants will bring with them an increase in crime rates. There are also those who fear the changing of culture that immigrants bring, but I will leave a discussion of this particular brand of ignorance and racism for another post.
It follows then that the solution to the immigration "problem" is not restrictions on who or how many can get into the US, better boarder security, etc. rather we should be investing large amounts of money into our public education systems.
If we can provide adequate public education for both less well off Americans as well as the children of immigrant families both of the major fears around immigration should be alleviated. Crime will not increase if immigrant populations are prepared for and can find meaningful well paying jobs. Also, immigrants will not be "stealing" jobs from American's if our own working class children receive high quality educations.
It is time to shift money away from building fences and into replacing vcr's in classrooms.