"Anthropologists Should Participate in the Current Immigration Debate"
"There is ample need for anthropologists and other social scientists to contribute to the immigration debate by providing greater context to the discussion and by describing the effects that immigration policies would have", JC Salyer argues in Anthropology News May 2006. Anthropologists and the AAA (American Anthropological Association) should counter the many false claims which depict immigrants as national security threats or as hoards depleting the nation’s economic, health care and educational resources, he writes:
While it is always difficult to translate anthropological work into publicly accessible statements, AAA members should support AAA taking immediate steps to assure that the knowledge gained from the valuable body of research conducted by anthropologists on the subject of immigration is not ignored during this crucial period. Whether AAA’s action should take the form of a statement, the creation of an annotated bibliography, or some more creative proposal is for AAA’s leadership to decide, but it would be a true shame if AAA chooses not to join this important public discussion at all.
Rose Wishall Ediger has attended two rallies in Washington DC — the seventh largest immigrant gateway in the US and home to immigrants from over 30 countries, she writes in another Anthropology News article:
I was struck by the religious and patriotic overtones of the rallies. Both drew on prayer and included regional religious leaders of diverse faiths. In fact, churches have been important to the movement’s organization, helping to kick it off when Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles stated that HR 4437 countered the Church’s teachings to “feed the poor and welcome the stranger.” But also there was a display of US patriotism at the second rally: a great many demonstrators wore red, white and blue—especially white, which organizers advocated as a symbol of peace. And instead of the homemade signs of the first rally, attendees at the second event overwhelmingly waved US flags.
These rallies call in , Rose Wishall Ediger's view, anthropologists to address issues of “race,” “human rights” and “engaged anthropology.”:
While rally participants and the media compare the movement to the 1960s civil rights movement, the relationship between ideas of race, racism, and immigration are still surrounded by open questions. For instance, while there is widespread agreement that those falling into the diverse category of US immigrant—legal or not—face discrimination—there are also claims that immigrants fill occupations and class positions that natives do not. And, how does the competition for resources among and within various minority groups complicate civil and human rights issues?
An even broader question about immigration that we should consider is what does it say about global inequalities and how human rights are practiced and demanded of different governments, and how do global, transnational, and national public and private policies differentially affect the movement and well-being of people, and what might that mean in terms of social justice. And, finally, on a more personal note, how do our own consumer practices play into it?