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We often hear these days that the immigration system is broken.
I want to make the case today that our immigration conversation is broken
and to suggest some ways that, together, we might build a better one.
In order to do that, I'm going to propose some new questions
about immigration,
the United States
and the world,
questions that might move the borders of the immigration debate.
I'm not going to begin with the feverish argument that we're currently having,
even as the lives and well-being of immigrants are being put at risk
at the US border and far beyond it.
Instead, I'm going to begin with me in graduate school
in New Jersey in the mid-1990s, earnestly studying US history,
which is what I currently teach as a professor at Vanderbilt University
in Nashville, Tennessee.
And when I wasn't studying,
sometimes to avoid writing my dissertation,
my friends and I would go into town
to hand out neon-colored flyers, protesting legislation
that was threatening to take away immigrants' rights.
Our flyers were sincere, they were well-meaning,
they were factually accurate ...
But I realize now, they were also kind of a problem.
Here's what they said:
"Don't take away immigrant rights to public education,
to medical services, to the social safety net.
They work hard.
They pay taxes.
They're law-abiding.
They use social services less than Americans do.
They're eager to learn English,
and their children serve in the US military all over the world."
Now, these are, of course, arguments that we hear every day.
Immigrants and their advocates use them
as they confront those who would deny immigrants their rights
or even exclude them from society.
And up to a certain point, it makes perfect sense
that these would be the kinds of claims that immigrants' defenders would turn to.
But in the long term, and maybe even in the short term,
I think these arguments can be counterproductive.
Why?
Because it's always an uphill battle
to defend yourself on your opponent's terrain.
And, unwittingly, the handouts my friends and I were handing out
and the versions of these arguments that we hear today
were actually playing the anti-immigrants game.
We were playing that game in part by envisioning
that immigrants were outsiders,
rather than, as I'm hoping to suggest in a few minutes,
people that are already, in important ways, on the inside.
It's those who are hostile to immigrants, the nativists,
who have succeeded in framing the immigration debate
around three main questions.
First, there's the question of whether immigrants can be useful tools.
How can we use immigrants?
Will they make us richer and stronger?
The nativist answer to this question is no,
immigrants have little or nothing to offer.
The second question is whether immigrants are others.
Can immigrants become more like us?
Are they capable of becoming more like us?
Are they capable of assimilating?
Are they willing to assimilate?
Here, again, the nativist answer is no,
immigrants are permanently different from us and inferior to us.
And the third question is whether immigrants are parasites.
Are they dangerous to us? And will they drain our resources?
Here, the nativist answer is yes and yes,
immigrants pose a threat and they sap our wealth.
I would suggest that these three questions and the nativist animus behind them
have succeeded in framing the larger contours of the immigration debate.
These questions are anti-immigrant and nativist at their core,
built around a kind of hierarchical division of insiders and outsiders,
us and them,
in which only we matter,
and they don't.
And what gives these questions traction and power
beyond the circle of committed nativists
is the way they tap into an everyday, seemingly harmless sense
of national belonging
and activate it, heighten it
and inflame it.
Nativists commit themselves to making stark distinctions
between insiders and outsiders.
But the distinction itself is at the heart of the way nations define themselves.
The fissures between inside and outside,
which often run deepest along lines of race and religion,
are always there to be deepened and exploited.
And that potentially gives nativist approaches resonance
far beyond those who consider themselves anti-immigrant,
and remarkably, even among some who consider themselves pro-immigrant.
So, for example, when Immigrants Act allies
answer these questions the nativists are posing,
they take them seriously.
They legitimate those questions and, to some extent,
the anti-immigrant assumptions that are behind them.
When we take these questions seriously without even knowing it,
we're reinforcing the closed, exclusionary borders
of the immigration conversation.
So how did we get here?
How did these become the leading ways that we talk about immigration?
Here, we need some backstory,
which is where my history training comes in.
During the first century of the US's status as an independent nation,
it did very little to restrict immigration at the national level.
In fact, many policymakers and employers worked hard
to recruit immigrants
to build up industry
and to serve as settlers, to seize the continent.
But after the Civil War,
nativist voices rose in volume and in power.
The Asian, Latin American, Caribbean and European immigrants
who dug Americans' canals,
cooked their dinners,
fought their wars
and put their children to bed at night
were met with a new and intense xenophobia,
which cast immigrants as permanent outsiders
who should never be allowed to become insiders.
By the mid-1920s, the nativists had won,
erecting racist laws
that closed out untold numbers of vulnerable immigrants and refugees.
Immigrants and their allies did their best to fight back,
but they found themselves on the defensive,
caught in some ways in the nativists' frames.
When nativists said that immigrants weren't useful,
their allies said yes, they are.
When nativists accused immigrants of being others,
their allies promised that they would assimilate.
When nativists charged that immigrants were dangerous parasites,
their allies emphasized their loyalty, their obedience,
their hard work and their thrift.
Even as advocates welcomed immigrants,
many still regarded immigrants as outsiders to be pitied, to be rescued,
to be uplifted
and to be tolerated,
but never fully brought inside as equals in rights and respect.
After World War II, and especially from the mid-1960s until really recently,
immigrants and their allies turned the tide,
overthrowing mid-20th century restriction
and winning instead a new system that prioritized family reunification,
the admission of refugees
and the admission of those with special skills.
But even then,
they didn't succeed in fundamentally changing the terms of the debate,
and so that framework endured,
ready to be taken up again in our own convulsive moment.
That conversation is broken.
The old questions are harmful and divisive.
So how do we get from that conversation
to one that's more likely to get us closer to a world that is fairer,
that is more just,
that's more secure?
I want to suggest that what we have to do
is one of the hardest things that any society can do:
to redraw the boundaries of who counts,
of whose life, whose rights
and whose thriving matters.
We need to redraw the boundaries.
We need to redraw the borders of us.
In order to do that, we need to first take on a worldview that's widely held
but also seriously flawed.
According to that worldview,
there's the inside of the national boundaries, inside the nation,
which is where we live, work and mind our own business.
And then there's the outside; there's everywhere else.
According to this worldview, when immigrants cross into the nation,
they're moving from the outside to the inside,
but they remain outsiders.
Any power or resources they receive
are gifts from us rather than rights.
Now, it's not hard to see why this is such a commonly held worldview.
It's reinforced in everyday ways that we talk and act and behave,
down to the bordered maps that we hang up in our schoolrooms.
The problem with this worldview is that it just doesn't correspond
to the way the world actually works,
and the way it has worked in the past.
Of course, American workers have built up wealth in society.
But so have immigrants,
particularly in parts of the American economy that are indispensable
and where few Americans work, like agriculture.
Since the nation's founding,
Americans have been inside the American workforce.
Of course, Americans have built up institutions in society
that guarantee rights.
But so have immigrants.
They've been there during every major social movement,
like civil rights and organized labor,
that have fought to expand rights in society for everyone.
So immigrants are already inside the struggle
for rights, democracy and freedom.
And finally, Americans and other citizens of the Global North
haven't minded their own business,
and they haven't stayed within their own borders.
They haven't respected other nations' borders.
They've gone out into the world with their armies,
they've taken over territories and resources,
and they've extracted enormous profits from many of the countries
that immigrants are from.
In this sense, many immigrants are actually already inside American power.
With this different map of inside and outside in mind,
the question isn't whether receiving countries
are going to let immigrants in.
They're already in.
The question is whether the United States and other countries
are going to give immigrants access to the rights and resources
that their work, their activism and their home countries
have already played a fundamental role in creating.
With this new map in mind,
we can turn to a set of tough, new, urgently needed questions,
radically different from the ones we've asked before --
questions that might change the borders of the immigration debate.
Our three questions are about workers' rights,
about responsibility
and about equality.
First, we need to be asking about workers' rights.
How do existing policies make it harder for immigrants to defend themselves
and easier for them to be exploited,
driving down wages, rights and protections for everyone?
When immigrants are threatened with roundups, detention and deportations,
their employers know that they can be abused,
that they can be told that if they fight back,
they'll be turned over to ICE.
When employers know
that they can terrorize an immigrant with his lack of papers,
it makes that worker hyper-exploitable,
and that has impacts not only for immigrant workers
but for all workers.
Second, we need to ask questions about responsibility.
What role have rich, powerful countries like the United States
played in making it hard or impossible
for immigrants to stay in their home countries?
Picking up and moving from your country is difficult and dangerous,
but many immigrants simply do not have the option of staying home
if they want to survive.
Wars, trade agreements
and consumer habits rooted in the Global North
play a major and devastating role here.
What responsibilities do the United States,
the European Union and China --
the world's leading carbon emitters --
have to the millions of people already uprooted by global warming?
And third, we need to ask questions about equality.
Global inequality is a wrenching, intensifying problem.
Income and wealth gaps are widening around the world.
Increasingly, what determines whether you're rich or poor,
more than anything else,
is what country you're born in,
which might seem great if you're from a prosperous country.
But it actually means a profoundly unjust distribution
of the chances for a long, healthy, fulfilling life.
When immigrants send money or goods home to their family,
it plays a significant role in narrowing these gaps,
if a very incomplete one.
It does more than all of the foreign aid programs
in the world combined.
We began with the nativist questions,
about immigrants as tools,
as others
and as parasites.
Where might these new questions about worker rights,
about responsibility
and about equality
take us?
These questions reject pity, and they embrace justice.
These questions reject the nativist and nationalist division
of us versus them.
They're going to help prepare us for problems that are coming
and problems like global warming that are already upon us.
It's not going to be easy to turn away from the questions that we've been asking
towards this new set of questions.
It's no small challenge
to take on and broaden the borders of us.
It will take wit, inventiveness and courage.
The old questions have been with us for a long time,
and they're not going to give way on their own,
and they're not going to give way overnight.
And even if we manage to change the questions,
the answers are going to be complicated,
and they're going to require sacrifices and tradeoffs.
And in an unequal world, we're always going to have to pay attention
to the question of who has the power to join the conversation
and who doesn't.
But the borders of the immigration debate
can be moved.
It's up to all of us to move them.
Thank you.
(Applause)
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【TED】Our immigration conversation is broken -- here's how to have a better one | Paul A. Kramer

210 タグ追加 保存
林峰生 2019 年 12 月 3 日 に公開
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