THINKING LATINA with SARA INÉS CALDERON 7.01.12

IMMIGRATION IS MY MOST FAVORITE PART OF AMERICANA.

I’ve been obsessed with immigration as an issue for a long time. Back when I was in college, I used to bombard the Latino email list with stories about immigration, so much so that others complained and I was warned by the list admin about it. Of course this was before social media, and also before the “border wall” was constructed. Nonetheless, the issue of immigration was as important then as it is now.

Immigration is my favorite part of Americana. To me, immigration is an issue that is more American than either apple pie or baseball. Immigration is the lens through which we see ourselves, a way we can measure where we are in our evolution — even when it is ugly.

I’ve interviewed congressmen and activists and academics, and they all point to the same trend: when we talk about immigration these days, it’s really a cloak for talking about Latinos. Which is to say, all the anger and hatred about the masses destroying this country, means that my fellow Americans think me and my family are something akin to cockroaches.

Of course I differ. I think about the fact that most of the people I grew up with were the children of immigrants. I think about how much richness they added to my life, how much I learned from them, their parents, their grandparents, and I can’t help but focus on another viewpoint. I see the contributions of immigrants to this country — from way back before immigration laws existed — and think that those decrying immigrants’ presence here are the ones that are destroying this country.

Immigration is a foil for everything it means to be an American. It’s via this issue that we can get to the nut of who we are as a nation, and who we hope to become. I wish that immigration were discussed as such, I believe that if it were a more open topic, one that highlighted cultural and economic differences as opposed to just racial ones, we might take a step in that direction. Unfortunately, these days especially, we seem to be far from that.

Thus, my immigration obsession will not dissipate anytime soon. If, by some miracle, tomorrow, the hatred towards immigrants transitioned to either an open hatred of Latinos, or a cultural or economic discussion, perhaps I could focus my attentions elsewhere. If shouts turned to queries, if anger turned to understanding, if cloaks turned to truths, then I might feel inclined to give it up.

Until then, though, I’ll continue to bombard my social media accounts with immigration-related information, hoping that others might understand, and that I might understand as well.

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