By Angela Trudell Vasquez

The scapegoating of immigrants must stop.

In times of economic discontent, immigrants have often faced a backlash. But immigrants have been crucial to our country since its founding and often do work that no one else would.

Still, the push against immigrants is gaining strength.

Following on the heels of Arizona's attempt to make police question anyone they suspect is illegal, 25 other states are considering similar bills. These are likely to pass in Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma and South Carolina, and they could pass in a dozen or so other states.

What's more, several states -- Arizona, Georgia, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Carolina -- are trying to enact laws that would deny citizenship to children of immigrants who came here illegally.

Dismayingly, some members of Congress are taking aim at the Constitution itself. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., introduced legislation in late January to amend the 14th Amendment to deny the birthright of citizenship. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, from my home state also favors such legislation, I was horrified to discover.

Ours is a nation of immigrants. We should honor our openness and diversity, not curse it.

And we should not be in the business of breaking up families. The drive to inspect everybody's papers who might "look" like an immigrant will end up not only violating a lot of people's civil liberties, it will also end up needlessly separating parents from their children.

Finally, states can't afford to follow Arizona's lead on immigration or they too will be facing costly lawsuits and economic sanctions from people who would otherwise spend time or money in their state.

Growing up, I thought this was the land of opportunity. I thought that if you just worked hard enough, you could achieve anything.

But years ago, when some undocumented English students of mine asked me if I thought they would be able to achieve the American Dream, I replied that with lots of hard work and some luck ... maybe.

Today, I couldn't give them even that much hope. And that's a shame.

We, as a country, cannot turn our backs on who we are.

Angela Trudell Vasquez is a Latina activist and poet currently living in Milwaukee. She can be reached at

You can read more pieces from The Progressive Media Project by clicking here.


Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.


The beauty and the tragedy of everyday life in a war zone.

Maybe I should only be shocked that I wasn’t shocked a long time ago.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

Public School Shakedown

Progressive Media Project