This year Congress debates immigration legislation. Though this issue has often been divisive, there is no need to demonize immigrants or those who are concerned about immigration. Of course it is simpler to get attention by vilifying people, but aside from some visceral experience, we do not get much from portraying each other as wicked. An aspect that seldom gets much attention is how global economic integration has intensified flows across borders of many nations. While immigration debates focus on federal policies, we should also use them as an opportunity to discuss underlining global factors that are transforming communities across the globe. With this in mind it might be good to ask some basic questions before coming to knee-jerk conclusions. How much control does any government have over the process? What type of communities are we going to promote? Will we allow ourselves to be more inclusive or divisive?
The young in the crowds were a source of inspiration and concern. It was encouraging to see adolescents marching in celebration and with purpose. It was worrisome to see juveniles with an oppositional stance; not those who challenged the status quo, but those who concluded that they were unwanted. It is important to recognize that all people, especially the young, look for someone to accept and value them. We can either get involved now in a constructive manner, or later in a disciplinary fashion.
Moving Millions: How Coyote Capitalism Fuels Global Immigration (here is a link to a PBS Newshour interview with the author). Jeffrey Kaye dedicates much of his book to immigration from Mexico, but he also provides a nice overview of global forces, as well as sending and receiving nations from many parts of the world.