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Mea CulpaLessons on Law and Regret from U.S. History$
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Steven W. Bender

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781479899623

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479899623.001.0001

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date: 30 May 2020

Aliens, Illegals, Wetbacks, and Anchor Babies

Aliens, Illegals, Wetbacks, and Anchor Babies

The Dehumanization of Immigrant Workers and Their Families

(p.35) 3 Aliens, Illegals, Wetbacks, and Anchor Babies
Mea Culpa

Steven W. Bender

NYU Press

Chapter 3 details how we regard undocumented immigrants as menacing subhumans and accordingly imperil them through restrictive immigration laws and practices that aim to repel and intercept these interlopers. Justifications abound for the hostile treatment of undocumented immigrants specifically and of immigrants, regardless of their legal status, more generally. We tend to conflate undocumented migrant workers with criminals, drug dealers, welfare cheats, and even terrorists, thus positioning them as a danger to public safety and our economic well-being. We regard them as inassimilable threats to a Eurocentric vision of U.S. culture. We view them as taking jobs from U.S. citizens while not paying their fair share of taxes. We designate them as “illegals” for their original sin of unlawful passage or presence in the United States, and once we see them as illegal, we perceive them as inclined to commit any crimes against humanity they may happen upon. Our current and past laws and practices mirror and match the fervor of these perceived threats, but this chapter imagines what immigration policies would look like if we valued the human rights and humanity of immigrants to the United States.

Keywords:   immigrants, immigration, migrant workers, subhumans

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