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Globalizing Americana: Part 14 – Xenophobia and Border Protection

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Xenophobia and Border Protection

Most simply stated, xenophobia refers to the fear or even hatred of foreigners. It is a protectionist stance, wherein xenophobes assume the responsibility of protecting their country from the perceived threat of foreign invasion or intrusion. For these reasons, it is common to discuss xenophobia in association with vigilantism or, within the United States, in reference to the Minutemen Project, which patrols our border with Mexico.

First, it should be noted, neither am I suggesting that all minutemen patrolling our borders are inherently xenophobic, nor am I suggesting that they operate as a vigilante organization. What I am suggesting, however, is that organizations such as these have a tendency for sympathizing with xenophobic ideals. If the ideas motivating xenophobes to protect their country is itself based in notions of fear and anger, then in their act of protecting or patrolling the borders, they are effectively acting as xenophobes.

Some have argued, though I will not, that minutemen function as a racist organization. Supporters have defended Jim Gilchrist, the founder of the minutemen project, by highlighting the facts that drug and gun traffickers readily exploit the U.S. border with Mexico as a means of smuggling both guns and drugs. In either case, irrespective of what side one may support, the protection of our nation’s border with Mexico is a very sensitive topic.

Surely there is a logical argument to be stated on behalf of those minutemen patrolling our nation’s southern borders, insofar as they are accepting the responsibility of ensuring that illegal immigrants do not enter the United States, a claim which, in itself, is certainly justifiable. They are assuming a certain amount of risk in order to protect and defend their nation, but in assuming that risk they are also presenting a risk to those illegal immigrants seeking to enter the United States. For this reason, as the levels of risk escalate, for both sides involved, the potential for violence escalates as well.

The discussion of xenophobia, however, is much larger than its tenuous relation to the minutemen, which only serves as a vague example of how this concept manifests within the United States. At its core, xenophobia is based on a perversion of patriotism. It is the assumption that foreigners, be they legal or not, fundamentally present a threat to one’s country.

This perversion extends to all foreigners as threatening to undermine Americana as such, despite the fact that American culture is itself a collective of various ethnic, social, and religious groups. The manner in which this hatred and fear manifests within the xenophobe differs from person to person. But at its root, there is a sense of the dangerous foreigner on the one hand, and the foreigner seeking to burden or infiltrate our economy on the other.

A nation’s border represents the physical boundary of a nation’s sovereignty. It is the limit of its national jurisdiction and the ultimate means of demarcating citizens from non-citizens. National borders are important for this matter, as they safeguard and define the limits of power.

As long as there are human beings, there will always be traffic, both legal and illegal, between a nation’s borders, and as such there are any number of laws and regulations defining proper modes of transit. With respect to our discussion of xenophobia and border protection, then, the first motivating fear for the xenophobe is the assumed danger — both justified and unjustified — that foreigners present.

The xenophobe’s fear of this danger is a consequence of legal culpability, which is to say, the xenophobe assumes that foreigners are not accountable to the United States government. Thus, any legal infractions, if they are serious enough, will lead to deportation. Once deported, however, it is unclear whether or not their native countries will prosecute these infractions. Thus, argues the xenophobe, we, as Americans, have the responsibility to protect our citizens and our families from this threat.

The problem, however, with this line of reasoning, is that it assumes control for actions that are essentially the responsibility of the U.S. government. If citizens think their government is not doing an adequate job of protecting them, then rather than patrolling the borders, their focus should be on protecting their homes.

If state representatives are not addressing the overwhelming concerns of their constituents, they will not get reelected. Thus, more important than self-policing borders, one should raise awareness among state residents and organize movements to have the proper legislation passed to adequately safeguard the lives of American citizens. If representatives are unable to do this, they will lose their seats in office.

Pertaining to the second motivating force behind xenophobia, that is, the economic burden foreigners present to a nation, especially illegal immigrants, the argument almost exclusively pertains to the economic problems of their immigration. Legal immigrants pay taxes and earn wages and are subject to the same employment regulations as American citizens. The illegal immigrant, however, cannot be subject to the same regulations because the employment of illegal immigrants is strictly forbidden, which almost always means they are willing to work for less than the minimum wage.

Nevertheless, each year, an unknown number of illegal immigrants gain employment within the United States, which many argue undermines the potential workforce, and thereby takes jobs away from U.S. citizens. Granted, this is a fair assessment, but the root of the problem pertains to the impoverished nature of their respective countries and the allure U.S. employment offers.

With respect to Mexico, rather than simply bemoaning the fact that Mexican laborers are illegally entering the United States and gaining employment, we should press our government to aid Mexico in building a sustainable economy and possibly restructure our trade agreements so as to promote a higher standard of living in their country.

The point being, if there is a perceived economic advantage in leaving one’s own country and fleeing to another country to gain employment, the only sensible means of curbing the influx of illegal workers is to aid in restructuring their nation’s economy. A sustainable economy has satisfied workers, and satisfied workers aren’t looking to migrate to another country.

In discussing xenophobia, then, one must assess both the fear of foreigners and the resentment that builds from their illegal employment. There are certainly justifiable instances wherein citizens should feel threatened and ought to protect themselves and their homes, but vigilantism and violence will only escalate the problems for all parties involved, which is why it is essentially a problem for government officials to solve.

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About Jason J. Campbell

  • Stephen

    This is typical pro illegal alien propaganda. When you can’t defend illegal immigration, just cry racism, xenophobe or nativist. I notice you don’t mention that all nations have immigration laws they enforce. Mexico’s immigration laws are the toughest in all latin America. The US accepts over 2 million legal immigrants annually. That’s more than the rest of the world combined! Add to that another million illegal aliens and you have an unsustainable population explosion. We currently have 12 million American citizens that can’t find work. We don’t need to import more foreign workers. The US is in a deep recession. Americans are losing their jobs and homes. Illegal aliens displace American workers, drive down wages, and use precious resources meant for citizens. Over 48,000 American citizens have been killed by illegal alien drunk drivers and murderers since 9/11. a quarter of all inmates in prison are illegal aliens. Our nation is bankrupt and our states are running budget deficits in the billions. You have the nerve to talk to Americans about being xenophobes? How dare you! We are being invaded by foreign nationals that we can’t support or sustain in our country. ILLEGAL ALIENS GO HOME! WE’RE FULL!

  • Cindy

    Stephen, nice of you to pop in and provide a real life example. It gives the article more impact.

  • http://jasonjcampbell.org/blog.php Jason J. Campbell

    Stephen,

    What you’ll notice is that I offer both the pros and cons of border protection. I’m not here to lay blame or deny that illegal immigration isn’t a problem that needs reconciliation. I think most agree with that. How we reconcile that problem is the debate. So you’re right, some illegal immigrants – though not all – present a burden and challenge to the US economy when they arrive, but, as I said in the article, if we can aid in solving some of the problems they face at home, maybe then fleeing to the US won’t look so appealing. As far as the dangers presented, I also addressed the problems of both gun and drug smuggling…so I think I was fair in my assessment. Sure you’re justified in your anger Stephen, but we as a nation have to get beyond that anger and start looking for solutions…Anger will only escalate the problem. Both you and I face the same problems with illegal immigration. Trust me the answer isn’t in anger it’s in making their respective countries more appealing. Not sure if that helps but that’s my 2 cents.

  • Stephen

    Jason,

    How very diplomatic of you. Why should Americans help foreign countries when we have enough problems right here. There are 35 million Americans struggling with hunger. The US gives 100 billion annually in foreign aid to over 150 countries. I don’t understand it, it’s not like these countries don’t have wealth or resources, they do. They just don’t want to spend it on their poor, uneducated and undesired. It’s much easier to encourage them to immigrate to the US. Just remain loyal to your homeland and keep sending those remittances. One thing you don’t see in these countries is politicians pandering to foriegners that have broken their laws. Why don’t you write a nice feel good article about the jobless and homelss in this country that are US citizens? Why don’t you write an article about Microsoft requesting more H-1B Visas while they lay off American citizens? Mentioning both sides of the issue doesn’t excuse the sentiment of the article. Next time publish it in spanish, you’ll get the response you’re looking for.

  • Cindy

    Stephen,

    1) In order to pave the way for Nafta, the U.S. government went in and made deals with Mexico that required changing their constitution so that it deprived their citizens of rights to land they used by constitutional law, making it so they no longer support themselves through subsistence farming, and forcing them to make the choice of working under slavery conditions or flee across the border.

    2) The U.S. needed “illegal” workers in order to support its economy. Why not legal you say? Well, because legal immigrants have rights. “Illegal” ones do not. When there are more than is needed, they are locked up.

    Now that those workers have settled in
    You said that you don’t understand. So, let me know if you’d like more information.

  • http://jasonjcampbell.org/blog.php Jason J. Campbell

    Stephen,

    Believe it or not I’m getting exactly the response I need and want. Where there are legitimate weaknesses I appreciate healthy debate. And you’re debating pretty well. Usually on BC it degrades to good ol’ finger pointing, but you raise a number of good points. You’re right, there needs to be some accountability on part of foreign governments to their own people. I can’t even argue with you on that point. So I’ll concede that point. But there is still the problem of their illegal immigration. What other way is there to curb the exodus than helping getting their country better. Granted, I also agree that we have problems at home, your Microsoft example is well pointed (if you have a link please share). We both agree something needs to be done but how do we do that without spending money? It’s a huge problem. I’m not one of those guys that pick a point and defend it till the death. If you’ve got serious suggestions, I’m all ears.

  • Stephen

    Cindy,

    NAFTA isn’t good for anyone but those pushing the globalist agenda out of greed. What does it say about Mexico, if they must export their citizens in order to prosper?

    Jason,

    Since you asked for a link I’ll give you one. If you need more just Google the subject, there’s plenty of them.

  • http://jasonjcampbell.org/blog.php Jason J. Campbell

    Thanks Stephen…I’ll have to think this one over…

  • WESLEY FRANKLIN

    Food For Thought: A car engine is made & tuned to accomplish a specific purpose. A great deal of precision is required to reach its goal.
    Someone has tuned our system for a specific purpose.
    It will serve its purpose. Most likely Globalism, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
    In progress an soon to become a third world county.
    Nothing personal others just want what you used to have.