Great Argumentation and American Immigration Reform- My Argument
I am presenting this for my Argumentation class give me feedback and be brutally honest so that I can be prepared ;-)
The conversation for immigration reform needs to change from how do we fix the problem of immigration or the "illegals" with it's racialized tone to instead acknowledging immigration in the United States as it's life blood and in being so it's escape goat. Our country was created as an ongoing work and as refuge from tyrannical law, the Constitution was based on the precept of evolutionary revolution that would be tweaked when necessary, it's fundamental process descriptions give room for this idea of change. Our choices as people dictate who we are, and at this time the American people need to stand up for the values that America is really about. Immigration reform is not about protecting our country from drug lords and terrorists or inordinate breeders and anchor babies. Drug lords and terrorist are a reality of modern times that will not change because immigration law gets stricter. Mothers are not giving birth to children because they need papers, if they were in other countries they would be having those same children there. These are myths that through a very well thought out and comprehensive process a few elite men have been able to inscribe in our hearts.
The enforcement of current laws that were created to protect our citizens and the creation of laws that will alleviate the real problems from which drugs, terrorism, and the elelevated migration of families to safe lands exist are solutions that follow and align with the real American way. Strict, and cruel immigration reform will only foment more terror with the separation of families and the objectification of communities in need in our country now. As Americans we must continue on the path of change, equality and the values that true Americans follow. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" Our golden door in modern times lies at the border with our southern neighbors. Today we must stand as true Americans and remember the past of immigration reform in American so that we can enable evolutionary change that parallels America's true values.
“People have deep thoughts about things they know very little about”- bell hooks, renown scholar and distinguished professor at Berea College. As we analyze the use of argumentation in the sphere of government and politics remember this quote. Professor Thomas Goodnight characterized the political sphere of argumentation, “A public forum is... a sphere of argument to handle disagreements transcending private and technical disputers... It inevitably limits participation to representative spokespersons and provides a tradition of argument such that its speakers would employ common language, values, and reasoning so that the disagreement could be settled.” For the purpose of this essay I used this definition of values: a person's principles or standards of behavior; one's judgment of what is important in life. I want to emphasize that the values of the true American heart are manipulated and twisted into parlance and rhetoric that has caused devastation and terror for the communities that did not fit into the agendas of the politically elite. The politics of our country in many cases do not reflect the real ideals of it's constituents, I hope that is what is received from the tone of my words. I will cover events that can cause discomfort to many white Americans but my purpose in bringing those up is to provide a background for problems that need to be radically changed today. Many Americans cringe at the idea of racializing issues of immigration policy when, in fact, immigration and race in the United States have been long time companions.
The purpose of policy claims is to receive approval for claims that are based on policy as opposed to facts. A policy claim is “building a case on sub claims of fact and value.” Values can differ from facts in many cases. A good example of a time that values differed from facts is the pre-abolition era, when humans were seen as synonymous to animals depending on the tone of their skin or their ethnic background.
In the early 1600’s, legislation passed that distinguished “between blacks and whites as a means to preserve economic interests” of the majority in the United States, white men. In 1787, the Three-Fifths compromise manifested that African Americans counted as 3/5 of a person. This policy was “a tactic to increase white southern representation in Congress”. It appealed to the values of the southern plantation owners instead of the facts and obvious truth that humans were humans. Even though, at the time the idea that people of color were humans was considered far from the truth its grounds and warrant were very unstable and were based on political claims. Even today, science has not been able to identify specific race through facts. There are groups that study race realism and make far fetched claims based on the validity of these policies but these have long been debased by common sense and real scientific proof.
Going back to immigration policy, in mid to late 1800's, Japanese migrants seeking employment in the sugar plantations of Hawaii, the newest territory of the United States, began feeling the onslaught of immigration policy and its “no facts, all values” based approach. A specific example of policy based on foundations other than facts was the Ozawa case of 1922.
Japanese were banned from becoming citizens on the sole basis of race. The constitutionality of the original Naturalization Act of 1906 which allowed white persons and persons of African descent to naturalize was not questioned at this time. And later this same group of Japanese Americans were considered “dangerous” during the second World War. The military was given permission to use their own judgement in reasoning and 120,000 Japanese Americans were interned to portray safety to the citizens of the United States who assumed this group of migrants were dangerous. It was a tactic to calm fear and superficially show solidarity against a group of people in order to build patriotism, both characteristics of political claims and argumentation.
After the World War an influx of refugee immigrants fueled the reintegration of hate groups and anti-semitism as a direct effect of the immigration of the Jewish to America. This is undeniable as we flashback to a time where photography and video production captured stories that had previously been unworthy of this attention. We denounced the KKK and racism and vowed to champion human rights and equality, but shortly after this sentiment was overshadowed.
During these times and leaking through to the present times “good stories” and narratives have been given to enforce the values of political agendas and rhetoric. Stories depicting the immigrant as the outsider who comes to harm, not the immigrant who comes to work and build up the nation, which is closer to the truth. Instead we see the immigrant who seeks to destroy and conquer. The latter being the story that has the least facts to back it up still continues to have the most powerful tone in our nation even today.
Most immigration policies can be easily identified within the five categories of argumentation of government and politics: finances, war and peace, national defense, imports and exports and the framing of laws. The Guadalupe Hidalgo treaty and the North American Free Trade Agreement(NAFTA) are included among these. Both of these stipulated relations between the United States and its neighbor to the south. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which was ratified on May 19th 1848, was the treaty that effectively ended the Mexican American War and gave the United States the control of the lands west of the Mississippi and north of the Rio Grande. The treaty was pushed as “americas destiny” to own all the land in the area. One of the provisions in the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Article VIII, stated that all Mexican nationals that decided to stay in the newly seceded territory would attain full fledge American citizenship and they would be able to keep their lands. This provision was subsequently ratified to meet the interests of the American community instead, going against its original promise. The changes said Mexican nationals living in the area would “be admitted at the proper time (to be judged of by the Congress of the United States)” differing from the original signed agreement negotiated said they would be “admitted as soon as possible.” The changes were broadened to allow freedom in enforcement. The development of political claims as they are discussed or revised is very common. Politicians are known to offer a basket of apples and later rearrange the apples and even throw out the ones that didn’t land them consensus with the crowd they feel will help their political cause.
It wasn’t until 1965, with the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1965 that the system of national-origin quotas was abolished. At the time Senator Edward Kennedy calmed the public’s fear by saying, this change would “not cause American workers to lose their jobs.” Sentiments so familiar when addressing the migration of immigrant communities to the United States. They are here to take our work.
In the rhetoric of argumentation, arguments are developed as questions designed to “build a record that can be used in subsequent hearings and legislative debates.” The objective of this process of asking questions, record building, and refutation “is to tell a good story that will stand up to critism.” The story we hear over and over. Immigrants take our jobs, they bring crime and terrorism. They don’t care about education, family, or American values. Once this story has been created the action to be taken against the problem become s an easier question to answer.
In the 1990s, the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, decided that family reunification would be retained as the main immigration criteria. Around the same time, the NAFTA was signed. The grounds for the NAFTA argument were the capitalistic ideals of trading with other countries to acquire the most wealth for the United States. In this argument, we assumed that other countries had the same political and financial maturity that the United States had, a country whose economic development had surpassed the rest of the world in a relatively short period of time. It failed to think and analyze the world critically and to understand the repercussions of globalizing national product that could be mass produced as opposed to the markets of the third world.
In political argumentation these type of policies slide because the benefits are highlighted and paralleled with the majority of the peoples values. The values of American families, the benefits they would receive from globalization and ignored the economic disparity of the crippled markets of our neighbors down south. During the argumentation process, these are the tactics and the basis of the narratives that are provided as grounds and warra nt for claims.
Since 2001, the emphasis on the immigration and ethnic status of the terrorist responsible for the 9/11 attacks created the stories Americans needed to hear to crack down on immigration reform. Many Americans forgot the acts of terror of the late nineties that were committed by very American non-immigrant citizens. Timothy McVeigh, Columbine, Waco just to name a few. Many of the immigration enforcement tactics and fears of the past have resurfaced. Or as Ms. bell hooks, put it, “History isn’t repeating itself, white supremacy never changed.”
The immigration debate today, including anti-immigration laws passed in Arizona and Utah recently, are a direct representation of the history of immigration politics in the United States. The laws that have passed are a result of good argumentation tactics that “tell the right story” and maintain it, even if the means to maintain it are sketchy or outright lies. The politicians pushing these stories play on their credibility and their appeal to American values like the family structure, individuality, work ethic, etc.
As Abraham Foxman says in “A Nation of Immigrants”, “While racial superiority is no longer the parlance of our time, today hate groups rail against the perceived ‘invasion’ of the ‘white’ United States by Hispanics from Mexico” and South America.” He goes on to explain the tactic for gaining adherence and credibility with this argument by expressing his concern with “a handful of groups positioning themselves as legitimate, mainstream advocates against illegal-immigration in America. Unlike the Ku-Klux-Klan, neo-Nazis, and other white extremist groups who make no attempt to hide their racism and bigotry, these anti-immigrant groups often use more subtle language to demonize immigrants and foreigners. They are frequently quoted in the media, have been called to testify before Congress, and often hold meetings with lawmakers other public figures.”
In his foreword to the JFK book “A Nation of Immigrants”, Foxman emphasizes the concern of the rhetoric of the racists who hide under the disguise of the impact of immigration but in reality advance the same dehumanization and racism as publicly and overt hate groups.
The help of the media in advancing the ideas and structure behind the reasoning for strict immigration policy is vital. With modern mediums of communication, the rooted biased rhetoric of immigration is more easily disseminated. The mixture of activities that political campaigns against immigration have: the speeches, debates, television and radio ads, feature documentaries, news stories, and books, among others, are sparked from conversations that are pungent with sentiment and emotion because of the history and policy behind these topics.
The topics are linked to feelings and history that people have been embedded with. Immigration reform in the United States is threaded with it’s history. Maybe the reason Americans cringe at the idea of a racially charged immigration debate is that the facts portray a picture of a modern American we don’t want to see, but as our country’s Founding Fathers eternalized in the Declaration of Independence, if there is something we don’t like the only reasonable action is to change it. When we fail to address this history and link it to the modern debate we enable its roots. We enable the idea that we are not a country of change and equality for people who are not white.
True immigration reform and policy should have nothing to do with the way we look, act or where we are from. The realistic immigration reform that debases and uproots this undeniable past moves past these barriers and makes solutions based on real problems. It asks critical questions and provides diverse solutions. Real solutions like the true regulation of illicit drugs and the detoxification of corrupt drug enforcement. We need laws that protect and help our continental neighbors find solutions to poverty so that migration to the United States is not the only recourse. We need to enforce anti- terrorism law, but at the same time we need to stop creating problems with the rest of the world in believing we are the ultimate super power, the global world is changing. We need to work on creating solidarity within our country through respect, tolerance and love for our American family. These are changes that would create and alleviate migration to our country.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness... That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.” Because I still believe the Constitution was a document inspired of God to guide our country into its ultimate potential of true equality I know that it is the responsibility of just citizens to create the change necessary to endure and continue the history of change, reform and compassion that is also unquestionably intertwined with the heart of America.
Real solutions like:
The true regulation of illicit drugs and the detoxification of corrupt drug enforcement.
We need laws that protect and help our continental neighbors find solutions to poverty so that migration to the United States is not the only recourse.
We need to enforce anti- terrorism law, but at the same time we need to stop creating problems with the rest of the world in believing we are the ultimate super power, the global world is changing.
We need to work on creating solidarity within our country through respect, tolerance and love for our American family.