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for people who care about the West

Empower immigrants — don't knock them out

  Dear HCN,
As the saying goes, there are none so blind as those who will not see. Such blindness must be willful indeed, when the impaired need look no further than nine pages away to sees the light.

In his essay, "A son of immigrants has a change of heart" (HCN, 2/3/03: The son of immigrants has a change of heart), Ed Marston sounds his alarm against the threatening wave of Mexicans teeming toward him from la frontera. Nine pages into the same issue, Paolo Bacigalupi reports on the results of this type of racism — open season on anyone with brown skin (whether actually Mexican or only appearing to be Mexican).

In his blindness, Ed Marston ignores decades of U.S. political and economic policies that have triggered immigration from Mexico, both intentionally and inadvertently. He also sidesteps the legacies of numerous U.S. administrations that have sought to prevent women’s reproductive control over their own bodies in countries around the world.

Answers to our problems will come not from the exclusionary mentality of "immigrants vs. the rest of us." They will come instead from an inclusive understanding that all immigrants and all descendants of immigrants must work together, wherever we find ourselves, to create a common voice and a powerful hand. With both of these democratic essentials, we can build sustainable, self-sufficient communities in which our love of the land informs every decision we make.

I do agree with Ed on one thing: It would be good for those of us in the U.S. to clean our own toilets, slaughter our own chickens and cattle, and pick our own strawberries. Many in the U.S., of course, already do these things. Perhaps the rest of us can learn from our compañeros.

Kenya Hart
Missoula, Montana