Immigration Insights: Viewers Respond

NBC has asked its viewers and readers to weigh in the immigration debate

By Andrew Greiner
|  Thursday, Jun 30, 2011  |  Updated 1:45 PM CDT
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PHOTOS: Priest, Others Arrested at Immigration Protest

Christy Orgeta

However, the president and Congress could address related issues, like boosting personnel and resources for border security, in spending bills this year.

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What do you think about the immigration debate?

A recent NBC/MSNBC/Telemundo poll found deep divisions about the state of the country’s immigration policy -- divisions highlighted by Arizona's new and controversial immigration law.

The debate over that law has reached all the way to Chicago. Witness, for example, the protests outside Wrigley Field, Federal Plaza, and the U.S. Customs office -- not to mention in Highland Park, where the suburb became a flash point when Sarah Palin took up the issue of its high school basketball team canceling a trip to Arizona.

We asked our viewers and readers to weigh in on the poll results, and the comments are as just as wide-ranging and nuanced as the poll results suggest.

“As a son of Mexican, immigrant parents, I'm divided,” wrote @Moemonty in response to a Twitter message sent out by NBCChicago asking for reaction to the immigration debate. “My parents became citizens the hard way, and I expect others ought as well.”

Moemonty reflects on a common theme, that opinions are shaped by personal history including the stories of our parents.  Chicagoans, especially immigrants, color their interpretation through the experiences of those close to them.

Others, who try to interpret the letter of Arizona’s immigration, seem to be more passionate about the topic.

Take this exchange on the NBCChicago Facebook page, for an example: 

“I think more people need to read the AZ law,” writes Facebook user Karina Dolehide. “It is similar to the one they passed in CA in 2001. Where was the protesting in Chicago then? The AZ law simply says, if you are arrested you need to show your ID to prove you live here. This is not an unreasonable request. What is their counter point? What do they believe should happen? I hear protesting, they say things should change...how?”

Facebook user Liz Sanchez joined the conversation with an alternative view.

“The counter point is this: police can act as immigration officers and stop people on the street because they suspect that they look ‘illegal’ and what does that mean... that they look Hispanic!! Its called racial profiling,” Sanchez wrote.

And Facebook user Jackie L.Tajiri wrapped it up with the following post.

“Those individuals who entered the U.S. through illegal means, must be sent back to their country of origin and, if they REALLY seek U.S. citizenship, go through the LEGAL process to achieve that status. While I do not condone Arizona's method of ridding itself of illegals, I do not fault them for taking action to solve this problem. Which is more than I can say for the White House.”

The exchange between Dolehide, Sanchez and Tajiri appears to mirror the national conversation about the Arizona law. Not everyone understands it completely, but many fear that it could lead to insensitivity and profiling.

Other comments across the NBCChicago twitter page and other social media outlets range from macro-economic, to historical to personal. 

“It’s not fair to the hard working Americans. If they want to be here and do there (sic) part welcome!! Otherwise send them back!! Do you realize if you enter other countries illegally you are imprisoned, can be killed. But everyone wants to come here for a free ride!!,” wrote WorkingAmerican on NBCChicago’s Sound Off.

But America asked for the poor, and huddled masses.

Twitterer @ChitownSpeedy wrote: “while I do believe we need to address the issue as a country. I'm reminded by this issue that we are all immigrants to the USA!”

Along the same lines @pavignettes chimed in with a historical comment.

“This country was built by immigrants, so there should be no law to single just one group out,” says pavignettes.

Some viewers tackled the semantic differences between illegal and undocumented that seem to fuel fears.

@mattytron writes: “no human is illegal.”

Others put the onus for coming to the country legally directly on immigrants.

And @fyrtwit says: “immigration good: ILLEGAL immigration not so good.”

And

“People should immigrate legally and if they don't they should be sent back to the country they came from,” writes @plewbel.

Still others demonstrate the more hateful rhetoric that makes many uncomfortable ...

“Please start reporting the news accurately ok. People want Illegals out They don't like Obama and his band of freaks.These polls dont lie,Have some pride man!,” said an anonymous user on NBCChicago’s Show Off.

… by pointing toward the president and his origins.

“I believe Obama is part of a Muslim conspiracy to ruin America Just look at what is going on .He is ruining our economy, allowing our waters to be polluted beyond repair, and has allowed illegals free reign even though 80 % of Americans think otherwise!” writes Canno on NBCChicago’s Show Off.

Clearly there’s a lot of work to be done.

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