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Letter to the editor
Illegal immigration has a human side
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Forsyth County News
I think Dr. [Mel] Copen makes some good points in [online column] of Aug. 11; however, there are some other thoughts on this.

First, NAFTA had the effect of taking the land away from indigenous people of Mexico for the multi-national corporations. The industries didn’t provide enough jobs for the people removed from their land and as they moved to the cities it became impossible to provide for their families; inadequate jobs, housing and poor treatment made life untenable.

Just for a minute, put yourself in that situation. You have a family, kids and aging grandparents, etc. and they are beginning to starve. When they are sick, you can’t afford to take them to the doctor. What do you do? Anything...right? Wouldn’t you cross a border illegally if that was the only way to keep your family alive? I would.

I just say this to point out the humane dimension of this problem. Illegal immigration is a problem, but we have to remember that, for the most part, these are decent human beings trying to provide for their families. They are criminals only in the sense that they have had to step over a certain legal line in order to survive.

The trouble with 1070 is that it exists in the context of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and others like him, who treat these immigrants like rabid animals. He marches them through the brutal Arizona summer heat in pink uniforms to punish and humiliate them. The Arizona law gives people like Sheriff Joe more leeway to treat these people in this manner, not to mention the violations of the civil rights of the thousands of legal immigrants that will be stopped for looking “wrong.” This isn’t the America I grew up in. I always thought we treated people as people.

I’m not denying that the border is a problem, or that criminals are all too often a part of this illegal immigration; I’m just saying that there’s a blind spot in our treatment of the problem and it results in people being treated in a way that we should be ashamed of. The big solution to this problem must include some interaction with Mexico to create jobs and suitable living conditions for the millions of poor indigenous people that have become faceless victims of the march of corporate “progress.”

Tom Colkett