In Times of economy stress is always an Enemy. Know the Enemy at this time are Latinos, Hispanics. Why Scapegoating Latinos and Hispanics?
Still, news from the US Census Bureau fans angry flames: From 2000 to 2005, the foreign-born population of the United States increased by 4.9 million people to a total of 35.7 million, or 12.4 percent of the population.
By some accounts, the country is drowning in immigrants -- including the estimated 12 million who are undocumented-- taking jobs and driving down wages. Mix anti-immigrant sentiment and overinflated rhetoric about terrorists, and false images emerge of white America being overrun by brown-skinned criminals.
Contractors and carpenters do make a legitimate argument that they are undercut by competitors who can make low bids because they underpay undocumented workers. The solution is not to demonize the workers but to aggressively enforce wage and hours laws.
It's a factual and tactical mistake to lump terrorism with unrelated issues of undocumented immigrants seeking work. Nonetheless, towns in Massachusetts and other states are piling on. Sandwich officials want to sanction businesses that hire undocumented workers. Milford officials support a proposal to limit the number of unrelated adults who can share an apartment. Hazleton, Pa., officials called for fining landlords who rent to undocumented immigrants, prompting a federal lawsuit by the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Anti-immigrant stances are shortsighted, but they suggest that many Americans themselves feel pinched, unfairly treated, and cut off from opportunities to get ahead. It's legitimate outrage -- with causes that often have little to do with immigration.
In Massachusetts, for example, the notion of young couples moving into affordable starter homes seems increasingly quaint. They might afford a starter condo -- if they have the money for a down payment.
Another problem: The rich are getting richer faster. In a January report, the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center said that for the last 20 years, incomes of the state's richest families ``have grown almost five times as fast as those for low-income families and nearly twice as fast as those for middle-income families." The income gap has grown more in Massachusetts than in 47 other states.
College and professional degrees boost incomes, and the Census ranks Massachusetts second in the nation, behind Washington D.C., in the proportion of people with bachelor's degrees. But that's still only 36.9 percent of this state's population.
Scapegoating immigrants is easy. But much of what ails ordinary Americans is a skewed economic playing field that makes it difficult to get ahead.