Why We Need An Anti-Racist Analysis in Multi-CultiLand (fwd)

SHAWGI TELL v600a8e6 at ubvms.cc.buffalo.edu
Sat Feb 3 09:41:25 MST 1996


Shawgi Tell
University at Buffalo
Graduate School of Education

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 03 Feb 1996 00:06:55 -0500
From: Emiliano Zapata <zapata at TOGETHER.NET>
To: Multiple recipients of list MULT-CUL <MULT-CUL at UBVM.cc.buffalo.edu>
Subject: Why We Need An Anti-Racist Analysis in Multi-CultiLand

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date:    Fri, 26 Jan 1996 10:06:43 EST
From:    Susana Hinojosa <shinojos at LIBRARY.BERKELEY.EDU>
Subject: LATINO SPECTRUM (fwd)
----------------------------Original message----------------------------
Chronicle Features, San Francisco
RELEASE DATE: On or After December 29, 1995
LATINO SPECTRUM by Roberto Rodriguez & Patrisia Gonzales
Congress Threatens to Eliminate Historic Right to Citizenship

The Citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment states that "all persons born in
the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the
United States."  Yet Congress is currently contemplating denying birthright
citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants.

Two weeks ago, Congress held hearings to consider altering the 14th
Amendment--all in the name of discouraging illegal immigration. If
successful, for the first time since slavery, children born in the United
States will be denied the right to citizenship.

This mind-numbing proposal isn't simply an acceleration of our nation's
anti-immigrant hysteria but constitutes a massive insult to our nation's

Professor Molefi Asante, one of the foremost African American scholars in the
country and chairman of the African-American Studies Department at Temple
University, says that, if enacted, the proposed change to the amendment
"would be a monumental and historical catastrophe."

The 14th Amendment was created, he says, "when it was essential that African
people just out of bondage be given some sense of citizenship."

"The proposal would mean that children [of undocumented parents] born here
would be like the enslaved," says Asante. "It's a racist monstrosity," he
says, pointing out that the children would be born without rights.

The proposal would  establish a legal precedent in which the law would
penalize the child for the actions of the parent.  It would create a
U.S.-born shadow population without rights, destined to join the ranks of an
uneducated, exploitable cheap labor force.

Georgina Verdugo, an attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and
Educational Fund (MALDEF), agrees. She says that denying birthright
citizenship would create a "permanent stateless underclass."

It would also set up a dangerous political precedent.  MALDEF attorneys say
that once the 14th Amendment is tampered with, denial of birthright
citizenship would become a subjective process that would be influenced by the
vagaries of political trends and events.

The current anti-immigrant mood of the country is specifically anti-Mexican
and anti-Central American--the groups that would be most affected by this
proposal. However, as reader Francisco Gonzalez of Mankato, Minn., observes,
given U.S. history, denying some people  birthright citizenship today could
one day also extend to other groups.

Gonzalez notes that Congress unilaterally gave Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship
in 1917 through the Jones Act.  However, "It  can also take it away," he
points out.

Citizenship has not always been sacred.  Hundreds of thousands of
Mexicans--many of whom were U.S.-born citizens--were deported in the 1930s
and 1950s, and in another infamous moment in our nation's history, Japanese
Americans were forced into internment camps during World War II.

Asante says that once the 14th Amendment is tampered with, there's nothing to
prevent Congress from also retracting the citizenship of African Americans.
Contrary to what many people believe, just as U.S. citizenship  for Puerto
Ricans had to be officially granted, so too was citizenship for African,
Native and Mexican Americans determined by acts of Congress.

While stripping citizenship from some groups may sound extreme, it is not
unprecedented in recent world history, as the world witnessed in Nazi
Germany.  In fact, present Germany denies birthright citizenship to Turks,
their children and grandchildren.

As we've noted in the past, the immigration debate was supposedly about
"illegal immigration."  Yet the budget battle has exposed it to be about
legal immigration as well.  Proposals before Congress seek to exclude legal
immigrants from health, education and social safety net programs.

Fortunately, even the fanatics who are proposing to do away with  birthright
citizenship recognize that xenophobic extremism has not yet gained full
respectability. Verdugo says that alterations to the 14th Amendment are being
considered separately from the larger immigration issue because it would doom
any other legislation.

We've said this before: the anti-immigrant mood of this country is actually
continuation of our nation's long history of removing Indians from their
ancestral lands, for, the draconian anti-immigrant initiatives target
primarily brown populations. The laws that govern the U.S./Mexico border are
different from those that govern the northern border-there are certainly no
hunter battalions searching for Canadians or other Caucasians who have
overstayed their visas.

If people actually want to deal with the issue of immigration, they should
demand that it be addressed in international, multinational forums, because
denying birthrights is not a solution.  If enacted, these changes  will
simply raise suspicion of all people with brown skin.  This is not the
society Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed about.

(Copyright Chronicle Features, 1995)

* Latino Spectrum is a nationally syndicated column, distributed by Chronicle
Features.  Rodriguez/Gonzales can be reached at (915) 593-2387, P.O. box
370394, El Paso, Texas 79937  or at XXXROBERTO at AOL.COM or PATRISIAX at AOL.COM


End of AFAS-L Digest - 25 Jan 1996 to 26 Jan 1996

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