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Arizona's Immigration Law: Dangerous for Children

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Dr. Wendy Walsh: While lawmakers and partisan voters argue about the constitutionality of the new Arizona immigration law, no one is talking about the biggest danger: teaching racism to kids.

Kid holding american flag

We all know that children are very impressionable. Their brains are like little sponges soaking up messages about their culture and environment. Imagine the hard beliefs young people are forming as they witness families of Hispanic heritage being openly and legally harassed by authorities. Knowing that 60 percent of the adults in their state condone this kind of racial profiling sends a message to kids that judging people by the color of their skin is OK. This hurts kids.

And what about the American children of Hispanic ethnicity? The most dangerous aspect of a racist culture isn't any overt act of discrimination. Rather, it's the personal sense of feeling "less than" that's created early in life through media messages and the like. Are we teaching some American children that they are less valuable? Will a new generation of Hispanic-American children grow up not believing that they're valuable, powerful and can reach for the stars?

Lastly, this new law is creating a fear in some children that's not unlike what Jewish children experienced in Nazi Germany. They fear that a discovery of illegal status will tear their family apart. Yesterday, a second grader surprised Mrs. Obama during a school visit with this little exchange:

Girl: "My mom says Barack Obama is trying to take away all the people who don't have papers."

Michelle: "We're trying to fix that."

Girl: "But my mom doesn't have papers."

Michelle: "We're trying to fix that."

This 8-year-old girl was expressing a terrifying fear that her mother will be "taken away." C'mon, politicians! Think before you create fear, intolerance and racism in a new generation.

next: Justin Bieber Gets a Tat! Millions of Tweens to Follow?
29 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous May 20, 2010, 2:34 PM

Give me a break. How about saying that this new law teaches children that EVERYONE needs to respect the law and when people break the law, they should have to suffer the consquences. Isn’t that what we as parents are suppose to teach our children…right from wrong, following the laws and if they break our rules as parents, ought we suppose to teach them by having them deal with the consquences of that? I follow the laws that are in place for me to follow as a citizen of this country and everyone should be expected to also. I can’t just go to Mexico and live. If they found me there without my papers, I would be sent to jail. Atleast we are just sending them back to their own country (at our expense too!) I would love to pay off my house but I can’t just walk into a bank and take their money, the law calls that robbery. Same point.

Dalia May 20, 2010, 3:36 PM

I will boycott my summer vacation to the Grand Canyon and to Lake Havasu with my college buddies.

Kristen May 20, 2010, 4:42 PM

So we teach our children that just because a murderer’s child cries we should let him off for doing something wrong, oh you freaking kidding me, they are breaking the law!!!!!! I’m sorry if families are going to be torn apart but our country will be DESTROYED if we illegal immigration continues to go unchecked. We laws in our country, people have to follow them.

Problem profiling May 20, 2010, 4:51 PM

The law is the law!
we can’t break the law as Americans period! So why should foreign nationals (any) be “allowed” to continuously break the law! YOU have created this mess, “another” mess, and you want us to feel guilty for your wrong doing by using children as another distraction/ploy. How low can you go! Follow the laws of the United States and “we” wouldn’t be arguing over yet another issue of illegal immigration.

AZ here I come! May 20, 2010, 4:54 PM

I am going to visit AZ because you are the only state with guts to “get real”..Some of us will come just to support your economy!

Anonymous May 20, 2010, 5:00 PM

I fully support Arizona and wished our whole country would be as strong!!!

Cowards way out May 20, 2010, 5:06 PM

This isn’t about racial profiling. Its about breaking the law! Stop blaming others for your wrong doing. Illigals can’t even stand up and say “Yes, I broke the law now how do I make it right?” Instead, you look for other ways “racial, psycholigical, political and emotional to take all responsibility off of your law breaking behaviors.

estella miller May 20, 2010, 5:16 PM

Completely disagree! The AZ law has nothing to do with racism. It has to do with what is legal and illegal. If you come into this country w/o proper papers ( as is required by every other country in the world )you are here illegally no matter where you are from. That is federal law. Our children will only consider these laws racist if that is what they are being taught by their parents. By the way, my father is Mexican & agrees with the AZ law. He believes that those crying racism & Calderon are giving all Mexicans a bad name. He is quite ashamed about all this!

ag May 20, 2010, 9:36 PM

Have any of you actually attempted to get these papers? Or even REALLY investigated the process to become a legal citizen from Mexico? It takes YEARS. If you were fearing for your families well being could YOU wait that long. Pick up any newspaper and you will find many articles about the drug cartels, kidnapping, poverty and violence that is rampant throughout Mexico. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” Ring a bell anyone?
The system is broken and needs to be fixed, there’s no denying that but the new AZ law does nothing to fix the broken process.

chris May 21, 2010, 4:01 AM

AG - in case you haven’t heard, all of those crimes, kidnapping, drugs, volience and of course poverty is now in our country along with all of the illegal immigrants. My father came over in 1956 thru Ellis Island and had to be sponsered by a family member and paid at that time over $5000.00 (a lot at that time)so our government knew it would not be responsible for his needs. Yes it can be a hard process but that doesn’t excuse breaking the law. As I stated before, I have a 30 yr mortage on my house, since I don’t want to make payments for 30 yrs, should I be able to go into a bank and steal the money? Breaking the law is breaking the law.

Lovey's Mom May 21, 2010, 6:04 AM

HOW DARE YOU compare these children to the children of the Holocaust! No one is trying to exterminate their families in gas chambers! This was an asinine and ignorant comment from Dr. Walsh. If the parents in AZ are deported, they can take their kids with them and they’ll still be alive. There is no way this can be as traumatic and devastating as it was to those poor children who lost entire families in death camps. I am completely disgusted.

Rob G May 21, 2010, 7:47 AM

The problem here is that this law isn’t about “racial profiling,” it’s about identifying and dealing with criminals. (Being an illegal immigrant is a criminal offense, hence the ILLEGAL part) And as hard as it is to see the children of these people hurt you have to remember, we didn’t force their parents to commit criminal acts. They did that on their own, they’re the ones who are hurting their children. As for our own children? Teach them the truth about what’s happening and make sure you include the fact that anybody, of any ethnicity could be an illegal immigrant.

michelle May 21, 2010, 8:44 AM

Being here illegally is a misdemeanor. It is hardly the felony that murder or bank robbery are, as people here seem to think. And even if you can show that someone committed that misdemeanor, why would you be so cruel as to hold their children responsible for it? I’m calling BS on all of you. You don’t really care about the “criminal act,” you just think these people are taking something away from you and you don’t like it. Even though the facts show that illegal immigrants contribute as much to the economy as legal immigrants and citizens do, and that the economy cannot function without illegal immigrants. Maybe we should take a less criminal and more practical approach to immigration. What then? What will you do when you don’t have “crime” as your excuse to hate others?

Dennis May 21, 2010, 10:39 AM

Dr. Wendy Walsha Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist, I wonder how many lives you have mixed up with your lack of knowledge related to the United States immigration laws verses other Countries. Have you even read the US Federal Governments law on immigration verses Arizona’s version (which is less strict and certainly not as old)? You should, PhDs should know what they are talking about before acting like a professor……….check Supreme Laws of 2005 and 1983 related to Arizona’s new immigration law and you will find they are well within their rights!!!!

Read more:

Anonymous May 21, 2010, 11:10 AM

I FULLY support the AZ law!!

Charlene May 21, 2010, 11:55 AM

What a bunch of bs!!!! Dr. Walsh is really out of line here. This law is not about what color your skin is. This law is about entering this country illegally. And I think it is very important that children know whether or not their parents obey the law. I am very sorry that some children will be sent back to Mexico but they should have entered the country legally. When my grandparents came over from Sicily in the early 1900s, they paid money, had a U.S. citizen as a sponsor and worked hard for the right to be called a citizen. Now, these illegals come over here and disrespect our country and its flag, as well as our laws. Send the law-breakers back where they came from!!!!

rob May 21, 2010, 2:20 PM

Supporters of this law say that it’s not about racial profiling. They say it’s about being here illegally, thus breaking a law. When the europeans came here in the 1400s,and 1500s not only did they come here illegally, they murdered the people who were already here and took the land away from them. You might say that was different, but it’s not. Just because there was no bureaucracy in place to register their names, doesn’t make it different and it doesn’t make it okay. The new law makes it a crime to be here in this country illegally, just like when the europeans first immigrated here. Even so, why all the HATE? To demonize children and perceive them as criminals just because their parents broke a law, although their parents did not murder entire tribes to get their land, is morally detestable, unchristian, and inhuman. Where are all the christians? Where are the supporters of humansim and human rights? If a law can make you hate a child who has NOT broken a law, what does that say about your mindset? What does that say about your politicians who are willing to set us against each other just for a few votes? Just as important, if all illegal migrants are deported, who’s going to go out to the fields to pick our crops? The price of all agricultural goods will go way up. Are you ready to spend $12.00 for a loaf of bread? $8.00 for fives tomatoes. Oranges, cabbages, etc. How many white college kids, or even high school kids are lining up to work in the fields in 110 degree heat? One of the main components of this issue is that it’s another alarmist scare tactic. Divide and conquer. Or control, in this case. Some see it for what it is, but others jump right onto the hate bandwagon. Be careful what you ask for because you might just get it. Anyway, the haters have won this one and just watch the prices in the next year. The idiots have screwed us all.

Roxy May 22, 2010, 6:45 AM

This article is spot-on.
Undocumented migrants are not a burden on US society any more than any of our forefather were… in fact, they pay taxes, spend a LOT of money on local industry, and the jobs they “take” are often those people don’t want (sweatshop labor and agricultural exploitation.)

When you buy cheap groceries to save money during this recession, they were likely farmed by “illegals.” When you buy cheap clothing “Made in the USA,” chances are it was made by “illegals” working in an LA sweatshop. They are doing the same work German, Irish, and Japanese immigrants did during 19th and 20th Centuries. Is it so wrong that many of them don’t want to spend the rest of their lives in this deadly, back-breaking profession, and want the same opportunities for themselves and their children that we do?

Let’s NOT support a law that legitimizes racial profiling and the criminalization of hard-working, tax-paying people who come here to get what many of us take for granted: Hope.

Traci May 22, 2010, 7:03 AM

This law isn’t about racial profiling? It sure is. Are the people who are going to be targeted by this law are going to be Hispanic or have an accent of some sort. Just watch. That is racial profiling, when you look for certain types of people based upon how they look or an aspect of them that is determined by their race or origin. They are not going to be stopping white people with American accents and asking if they have proof of citizenship. They probably aren’t going to stop black people, either, for this purpose unless they overhear a Jamaican or Haitian accent or something like that. But, I’m rather sure this law is enacted ONLY for Mexicans, even if it doesn’t specify JUST Mexican illegal immigrants. So yeah. Racial profiling. I don’t care how you slice it. The only people they’re going to be looking for on this are going to be people who are Hispanic.

tennmom May 22, 2010, 5:17 PM

I suport Arizona and every other state in the U.S. that decides to stop allowing illegal immigrants to live there.
A German or an Australian would have to come over on a plane. Of course they should question a Mexican, ask for papers. They can walk across our border.
It is unfair. We, as U.S. citizens, pay a price for breaking laws. As a reward for coming to our counry “without papers”, the mother of that child was rewarded by automatic citizenship for her child, with food stamps, free school lunches, etc.
I vote that a child of a parent living in the U.S. “without papers” not be a citizen automatically just because they were born in our country.
Breaking the law is breaking the law, period.

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