Sunday, February 19, 2006

Stop the Hate Rally/Workshop

I have been asked to speak at the “Stop the Hate” rally/workshop Monday, Feb. 20, 2006 at the Moline Community Center, 1515 5th Ave, Moline at 4PM. The event is being organized by Quad City residents, most of whom are native born American citizens of Mexican descent. They are concerned that in the public discussion about the proposed Triumph Foods pork processing plant some people were saying they were opposed to the plant because Mexicans would be drawn to the area to work at the plant and this would have a negative effect on the community. The most troubling aspect about these comments was how little reaction there was to them.

Note that the arguments were not that illegal immigrants or lazy people looking for a handout or poor people who would tax our social services would be attracted by these jobs. Those things could not be claimed because that would obviously be untrue.

Illegal immigrants will not be attracted by these jobs because as a result of special INS attention to the meat packing industry it is more difficult for illegal immigrants to work in the pork, beef and poultry processing plants than in, say, restaurants and hotels. People looking for a handout will obviously not be attracted by these jobs. Only people expecting to work for a living and willing to work hard would come here to work in a meat packing plant. These jobs would pay better than many jobs in this area including jobs at Walmart, McDonalds and many other jobs in the retail and service industries and so the families of people working at this plant would be less likely than many of the working poor already in our community to need financial help.

It was implied that having more non-English speaking children enroll in our schools would put an extra burden on them. I have never heard any educators worry about this. Our schools have been teaching English to immigrant children for a very long time and they are very good at it. The schools would be much more threatened by decreasing enrollments than increasing ones.

It is no longer acceptable for people to claim, as was once done, that it would be bad for a community if more Irish, Jews, Italians or blacks came there to live. Why is it seemingly acceptable to say that about Mexicans?

Immigrants from Mexico are not here to transform the United States into Mexico. They came here to become Americans and despite what you sometimes hear, they are learning English and becoming assimilated as quickly as any previous generation of non-English speaking immigrants.

If you come to the rally as a result of reading this be sure to seek me out and let me know. It will good to meet someone that reads this blog.


Anonymous said...

I don't think that you can assume that everyone who is concerned about the possibility of the meat plant attracting illegal immigrants is always racism. Perhaps people would just prefer to live with immigrants who don't break the law to get here. Ignoring the fact that it is against our laws to come into the country without permission, while crying racism whenever the discussion comes up, is getting us all nowhere.

Dave Barrett said...

Well, no, if someone opposed the meat plant solely because they were concerned about illegal immigrants then they would be more misinformed and misdirected than racist. If your sole focus is illegal immigration then you should stop talking about meat packing plants which now will only hire people with Social Security numbers which are verified as being valid and talk instead about all the local hotels, motels and restaurants which hire people without doing any checking of their Social Security numbers.

If, after being informed of these facts, someone still opposes the meat packing plants because of the kind of people they attract I suspect they are not being honest when they claim not to be either xenophobic or racist.