Voter Education but No Political Sense
Monday, May 07, 2007
Local elections for mayor and city council are usually sleepers. Complacent local voters think, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it”. For us outsiders looking in, who cares what happens in a little Texas town of 27,000 people? But there are quiet battle lines being drawn in the sand in Farmers Branch, Texas.
On Sunday CNN, the city was mentioned again in the national context of the immigration debate, having been one of several cities enacting anti-immigration ordinances. Come May 12, rain or shine, one of the Farmers Branch ordinances will reach a head. The results will send a quake throughout political communities around the state and across the nation.
Will undocumented immigrants be barred from living inside the city limits?
That is the question, though the referendum will be worded somewhat differently. The proposition forbids landlords from renting to undocumented immigrants. The will impact the entire Hispanic and Latino community by requiring each of them to carry “papers” at all times as proof of citizenship. Not even legal Spanish-speaking immigrants can feel immune because, without “papers”, they can be detained and incarcerated.
The city has also enacted an ordinance forbidding Hispanic and Latinos from transacting business in their native language, and made provisions in another ordinance for local law enforcement to be trained in Gestapo-style I.C.E. raids into brown communities and on to their jobs. The problem is identification, and mistakes with serious consequences have been made in the past with false arrests.
The most serious and unanticipated consequence has been its impact on Hispanic-American children that have undocumented immigrant parents. This, therefore, is more than a simple matter of who has “papers”. In case of the children, a legal birth certificate counts for naught, because their parents can arbitrarily be arrested and deported without the children's knowledge of the parents’ whereabouts. They, as legal born citizens of America, have no protectorate. But some people could care less about throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
People around the nation are watching the outcome of the Farmers Branch election, and everyone sadly predicts that the vote will be close. Unless the ordinance is soundly rejected, this will be a lose/lose situation for the city, state, and union. Even a close vote to repeal the ordinance will only signify a strong undercurrent of racial profiling, discrimination, and prejudice. A narrow defeat will not quench this hotbed of hatred.
The state legislature and U.S. Congress are watching Farmers Branch also, in order to gain a sense of which direction the political winds are blowing on the upcoming Immigration Debate. A lot of hot air has been rising out of the city, but the real debate is all about the rapidly rising in Hispanic political power, now the largest minority group in the country. The tactics being used against them are the same tactics used against African-Americans during the days of Jim Crow laws. They are using the same arguments: Hispanics and Latinos are taking over the country- taking over the school system, taking over the public healthcare system, driving down property values, not paying taxes, and possessing a threat to public safety.
These baseless allegations have become standard fodder in the national immigration debate. Public sentiments have been shifting along the fault line of race. If, perchance, the voters of Farmers Branch uphold this ordinance and force a mass exodus of Hispanics and Latinos out of their city, we need to take note that the city no longer considers itself part of the friendly global community. We would need to provide cities of refugee for these “strangers in a strange land”.
The church of Christ has been shown, by the scriptures, how to treat “strangers in a strange land”- first, because many have “entertained angels unawares”; and second, they themselves were “once strangers and pilgrims in a strange land”.
Call me a criminal for harboring a fugitive alien, I admit that I know hundreds but I will not snitch on a one, not even for a reward. If you offered me a million dollars, I would spit in your face, Judas. What man would sell out his brother to increase his property value?
If the May 12 Elections in Farmers Branch is all about majority rule at the pain and expense of the minority, let me remind the little isolated Texas town, with elitist aspirations, that the global community is also watching, and that people around the world constitutes the real majority. If the majority truly rules, then the rest of the civilized world should be able to dry Farmers Branch up like a prune, by boycotting its key industries. The city should be treated like a foreigner in its own land and as a rogue state like Iran, for violating the human rights of brown people. We are the rest of humanity that says an injury to one of us is an injury to all of us.