Denying the Profile
The ways in which communities congeal are comprehensible, and although we should lament the development unto primacy of identity politics, it is understandable that people get sucked into them. That said, I still have difficulty empathizing with this sort of thing, said (this time) in response to the governor’s recent moves against illegal immigration:
“Are people now going to take the law into their own hands? He didn’t answer that when he was asked,” said Pichardo. Rather than tamping “the heated rhetoric” on this issue, the governor “has increased the fear among the immigrant community — among both documented and undocumented immigrants,” and served to “more deeply entrench the encampments on both sides of this issue.”
Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, predicted that the governor’s executive order “is only going to increase the problem of racial profiling in the state. The governor can ignore all the data and statistics out there that document the problem that already exists, but this executive order will only exacerbate it, to the detriment of any person in Rhode Island who looks and speaks a certain way. This has nothing to do with whether anyone is legal or illegal — his order is going to affect everyone based on their national origin, color of their skin and their accent and it’s very unfortunate.”
Racial profiling is certainly wrong and ought to be addressed, but that would be easier to do if legal immigrants were more clearly interested in establishing a distinct profile from illegal immigrants. A central reason for the us-versus-them nature of this dispute is that, no matter how clear citizens with legitimate concerns and complaints about our poorly enforced immigration laws are about whom they see as the “them,” the immigrant community — or at least their public-square representatives — seems only more tightly to wrap its arms around the subset intended.