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Illegal immigration debate dominated by provocative rhetoric

by Christopher A. Guzman, published

Vitriolic rhetoric is nothing new to the illegal immigration conversation, but every now and then there's an event that takes place in the public square that reminds moderate sides of the issue to guard their message from proceeding down the path of divisive dialogue.

According to a report from the Los Angeles affiliate of ABC News, members of the National Socialist Movement staged an anti-illegal immigration protest in the city of Claremont. The group, the largest neo-Nazi organization in the United States, says that its mission is about preserving and defending white culture. One of its supporters equated their efforts to those who espouse pride in their Hispanic or Latino identity, or "brown pride."  Given the timing about the matter, the liberal Center for American Progress seemed to subtly imply the group's close alignment with the current immigration enforcement policies espoused by Republicans.

Similar immigration rhetoric on the opposite end of the spectrum surfaced in a video involving the Brown Berrets back in the summer that Arizona's controversial SB 1070 was passed. In that particular incident outside the 2010 MLB All Star Game in Anaheim, a member of the Brown Berrets directed a number of provocative statements against European Americans currently in the United States, even invoking their own superiority.

In this similar situation, it would be completely unfair to characterize such rhetoric as an overall reflection of the broader Hispanic and Latino communities. Although unlawful in the eyes of federal law, not everyone who comes here illegally is out to reconquer land lost to the United States in the Mexican American War or is even from Mexico for that matter.

In contrasting these two events, they should prompt more moderate supporters on both sides to keep their messaging refined to ensure that they aren't proceeding down the same provocative path as the two aforementioned groups. While there is a need to enforce existing immigration laws, it also needs to be ensured that such arguments for and against such policies will not lead to inciting physical and verbal violence against one another as American citizens.

Protests like these should prompt us to approach the immigration debate in a way that doesn't add to an already hostile environment in the country. Whatever the diverse political persuasions may be on immigration enforcement for Independent voters, they can lead the charge on having a constructive conversation on the matter.

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