Saturday, August 14, 2010

Immigration -- Steve Urquhart, Ethan Millard and Moving Towards Intelligent Discourse

I have been following a lot of the tweets by Ethan Millard regarding illegal immigration via FB. His commentary has solicited a lot of passionate, heated, and (at times) down right nasty debate on those internet threads. I'll admit that I have engaged in some of this unproductive discourse if for no other reason to burn off my excess road rage. This is something I intend to stop -- uncivil discourse only further entrenches bad ideology in the misinformed.

Steve Urquhart (R-St. George) has taken a positive step in bringing intelligent, reasoned discussion back into the illegal immigration debate. He issued a challenge to Ethan Millard regarding his assertions (or apparent assertions) that all anti-illegal immigrants are racists, Mr. Millard accepted the challenge in the form of a blog post at

I agree with Ethan in that Rep Sandstrom's bill can (which didn't include the alleged incentive program he was collaborating on with Luz Robles) have but one outcome, that outcome is the alienation and intimidation illegal immigrants and their families in some hope that they will leave for their country of origin. Laws like the Sandstrom bill and the AZ law are not the best policy for our nation, not policy that the framers of the constitution ever intended, and it is counter-productive to the growth and prosperity of our nation. Although Sandstrom add a "anti-racial profiling" clause, the nature of the law and the nature of illegal immigration requires racial profiling in order to be successful.

I agree that the rhetoric from the anti-illegal immigrant side has become far too laced with ugly and far too often inaccurate stereotyping that in some cases include fabricated or improperly extrapolated data as evidence to back up the stereotyping. Having said that, I think the rhetoric from the pro-freer immigrant side is becoming too laced with accusations of racism. In too many corners of this debate we have passed the equilibrium between productive civil discourse and fighting for the sake of the fight.

Honestly, I believe policy like our current Federal immigration policy and the new Sandstrom bill are bred from xenophobia, cultural stereotyping, and protectionism. Therefore laws like this can be branded as nothing other than discriminatory policy. Although I don't believe states have the authority to usurp Federal jurisdiction on immigration, Utah would be better served if they used the jurisdiction that Arizona and Sandstrom assert states have to pursue policies like guest worker programs or streamlining visas for legitimately employed migrant workers. However, instead of pursuing freer immigration policies and a secure border, many on the right seem to be interested in US-Mexico Iron Curtain -- this doesn't bode well for the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Although my feelings on immigration are passionate and my dislike for the opposition's viewpoint is vehement, I believe it is important for political commentators to bring the discourse above calling everyone who disagrees with you a racist or a liberal. When epithets are loosely thrown around the public debating arena opposing viewpoints are far more likely to cement several meters from the center of compromise and positive public policy change. Conversely, when public discourse is respectful and remains in the bounds of proper decorum there is a much greater likelihood that opposing viewpoints can come together and find optimal solutions to the issues being debated. I pledge to try (it will be hard because the Sandstrom law has such a racially discriminatory nature) and keep racial arguments from my posts from here on.

I look forward to see where Millard v. Urquhart ends up.

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