The current immigration laws, more properly termed anti-immigration laws, are regressive and anti-human. Anything that causes human beings to consider other human beings as inferior, or to adopt an "Us versus Them" mentality, diminishes us because it reduces our ability to feel compassion for others. By excluding some from our circle of compassion, we make it much easier to exclude others and diminish our capacity to feel, to care, and to act for others’ benefit.
Here’s a simple scenario. Imagine that you take your 7 year old son to a public park. He quickly befriends another boy and they spend an hour running around, playing games, and otherwise doing what kids do when they are free to explore the world together. Your son promises to meet the boy at the park again the next day. You are happy that your son has found someone new to play with.
The next day comes and at the appointed hour, you take your son back to the park, but his friend is not there. You wait awhile and then ask one of the other parents if they’ve seen the boy today. They tell you they live near the boy and that the boy’s family was in the country illegally. There was a raid the night before and the boy and his parents are now in a detention center waiting to be deported.
Now you have to explain to your son that his new friend will not be at the park today, or probably ever again, and why.
Children have a natural sense of fairness and easily see through adult attempts to explain away something bad as good. (That’s why ideas such as racism must be inculcated by steeping a child in an environment that promotes the idea until it becomes part of the child’s subconscious world view.) No matter how you explain it, your son is not going to accept that being jailed and deported just because you were born in another country is fair. He won’t accept it … not because it’s complicated, but because it’s wrong.
Anti-immigration groups get a free ride from most of the public. The Minutemen and other anti-immigration activists wrap themselves in the flag and claim to be protecting us, ridding the country of bad elements who "degrade the environment", but in reality these are angry and hateful people who in previous generations would have been members of the KKK and similar groups and oppressed Blacks, Hispanics, Catholics or Jews. These people have to hate someone, be against something, and since they can no longer openly target those whose skin color, ethnicity, or beliefs differ from theirs, they go after one of the only non-protected (and hence largely defenseless) groups remaining in this country, illegal immigrants.
I will address some of the currently popular anti-immigrant arguments and ideas in a follow-up article.