The national debate over illegal immigration has been dramatically altered since 9/11. In his book The Latino Threat, Leo R. Chavez argues that Latina/o immigrants—including those U.S. populations that physically resemble them—have been socially constructed as grave risks to the United States. Arizona Senate Bill 1070 (hereinafter “S.B. 1070”) typifies the aggressive backlash that recently occurred in response to this perceived threat. Themes such as immigrant sloth or vice, communicable diseases, reproductive capacity, and criminal “tendencies” are routinely used to drive a wedge between the white majority and non-white immigrants—
especially Latina/o immigrants from places like Mexico and Central America. Many of these arguments appear to have their roots in how Latina/o immigrants have been constructed as both exotic and menacing—especially those immigrant populations whose indigenous ancestries are illustrated morphologically. In fact, I believe that the “Latina/o Threat narrative” that Chavez
describes is intimately connected to the notion of a “savage alien” vis-à-vis anti-Indian sentiments.

In this article, I discuss how imageries based on the historical typification of Indians have been projected onto Latina/o immigrant populations that are in the United States without proper documentation. I also explore the risk such a typification poses to native-born Latina/o populations who are oftentimes unfairly implicated in surging anti-immigrant backlashes. Key questions this article addresses include: Is the idea of the “Latina/o Threat” materially connected to historical ideas concerning Indian savagery? If so, to what extent is this threat narrative connected to anti-Indian sentiment? How have historical representations of American Indians framed modern debates over the kinds of risks posed by Latina/o immigrants to the U.S.? How have these debates affected recent immigration policy?

In section I, I discuss how S.B. 1070, as amended by Arizona House Bill 2162, frames the Latina/o Threat narrative in subtle racialized terms. Specifically, I evaluate whether Arizona’s newly authorized alienage investigations are likely to function in ways that implicate
race in a constitutionally impermissible manner. In section II, I demonstrate how the idea of Indian savagery animated the way Americans typically perceived Indian societies. Further, I assert that the savagery that was often associated with Indians was seamlessly grafted onto Mexican immigrants and ultimately sparked an expansive xenophobic fear that drove the development of restrictive immigration laws along racialized lines. In section III, I demonstrate how the mixed-blood descendents (e.g. immigrants) of early indigenous Latina/o populations have been racialized consistent with that of their Indian forbearers. Throughout, I aim to show
how the Latina/o Threat narrative has its origins in anti-Indian sentiments which are themselves grounded in a deep-seated fear of a savage alien.

Read the full article here.

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  1. John Randolph says:

    Immigration Propaganda – Fueled by Myopic Ignorance

    Do you ever wonder why US politicians seldom if ever criticize the Mexican government for anything? You know, that infamously corrupt Government to the south that in 2006 started a drug war that has murdered close to 40,000 of its own citizens?

    Why do we rarely hear Washington criticize the Mexican Government for its failure to adequately provide for its own Mexican citizens? How about for its shared responsibility for the immigration nightmare that we face in the US today?

    There is a reason that half of the people in Mexico are in poverty. It is about greed. There is a reason that Washington coddles the Mexican government. It is about greed. There is a reason that the Mexican undocumented cross our border. It is about greed. There is a reason that US taxpayers foot the bill for this failed immigration. It is about greed. There is a reason that Washington turns a blind eye to the entire situation. It is about greed.

    Oil, trade, NAFTA and cheap labor are real important to the rich on both sides of the fence. It is so important that those rich (who run both governments) could care less about the average citizens of either country, let alone the Mexican poor or undocumented who are here.

    Those very rich have us average Americans fighting about immigration. It is by design that we are fighting. The rich are extremely happy when we fight. As long as we are at each other’s throats and blaming the symptom (the undocumented) and not the cause (their greed) nothing will ever improve. Actually that is with the exception of their profit margins.

    Their immigration propaganda is fueled by ignorance. They depend upon our ignorance to continue the status quo. The status quo is the decades of continuous fighting of the immigration left and immigration right. All that fighting, and lo and behold, little in Washington is ever done about it.

    This form of the raping of the US taxpayers is no different than failed mortgages, failed health care, and our failing economy. The rich profit from these failures, and we pay the price.

    Actually it is much more insidious because it involves the greed of the elite of two nations. It involves the raping of the good citizens of both nations. Most insidious of all is that it involves the purposeful use of propaganda to coerce the darkest anger of our country’s victims against the equally victimized citizens of our good neighbors to the south.

    They and their propaganda have built and militarized a border wall between the good people of both countries. It is a wall built to protect their greed and to fortify their lies. It is wall built to keep the good people of both countries from knowing and loving each other.

    This is lie that the rich hide behind. This is what puts their cronies into office. This is just as threatening to our country’s humanity as any terrorist’s plot.

    We could bring the bi – national immigration scam to a halt if we can overcome our own ignorance.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-randolph/from-border-patrol-agent-to-immigration-reform-activist_b_943799.html

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