The U.S. melting pot cools, and foreigners feel a chill
[Part 5 - No longer a land of immingrants] TOMBSTONE, Arizona ? Several
Americans were lying under bushes near the Mexican border about 50
kilometers south of here. The night in the desert was dark on Sept. 7,
and the faint shadows of the men were motionless for hours.
Though armed and dressed in camouflage, they were not soldiers. They
were members of Homeland Civil Defense, an organization of white
residents of Tombstone, Douglas and Bisbee, Arizona. They work as
volunteers to seize Mexican illegal immigrants and hand them over to
Another hour passed, and the ambush ended after midnight when Chris
Simcox, the leader of the group, ordered his men to withdraw.
Currently, 10 volunteer U.S. civilian groups formed after terrorist
attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, are patrolling the Mexican border. Since May,
some men from Missouri have joined the Arizona men in the border guard
Mr. Simcox, the publisher of the conservative Tombstone Daily, said
their action was inevitable. "Many Americans are losing their jobs
because of illegal Mexican immigrants. They send their kids to school
free while they don't pay taxes," he said. "If we do nothing, the United
States will collapse because of immigrants."
The land of immigrants is undergoing a major change. Since the terror
attacks, Americans have been looking at immigrants and foreigners with
cold eyes. A 46-year-old Korean resident of Los Angeles, who asked to be
identified only as Mr. Choi, said he had applied for his green card
before Sept. 11, 2001. The immigration authorities have been telling him
to wait ? for two-and-a-half years so far. His work permit expires at
the end of the year, and he must choose whether to stay illegally or
return to Korea.
Rebecca Thornton, a member of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights,
said "zero tolerance" has been applied to visa and immigration
applicants since the terrorist attacks. Foreign residents are also
facing other barriers. Getting a driver's license, registering at a
school and opening a bank account have become hassles for foreigners.
After the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services under the
Department of Homeland Security took charge of border formalities, the
priority in immigration policy has shifted from assistance to control.
Aaron Billings, 27, was adopted from Korea when he was three, and he is
still a green-card holder. Recently, he was ordered deported on charges
of selling marijuana. He speaks no Korean and has no friends or
relatives in Korea. For non-U.S. citizens, a criminal charge is a ticket
to immediate deportation.
According to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 31 million
foreigners traveled to the United States in 2000 and 33 million last
year. Last year, however, the number of deportations dropped. That drop
is largely because the number of new illegal Mexican immigrants, who
make up 70 percent of those deported, is dropping. More Asian and Arabs
are being deported. Racial conflict has been a perennial problem in the
United States, but immigrants have long symbolized the economic vitality
and cultural diversity of the country. While critics stress
immigration's costs, many scholars take a different view.
According to Jerry Hultin, dean of the Stevens Institute of Technology,
20 percent of physicians, 23 percent of doctoral degree-holders and 26
percent of patent holders in the United States are immigrants. Andrew
Sum, professor of labor market studies at Northeastern University, said
the U.S. economy would be devastated without immigration.
by Special Reporting Team <myoja@...