Just when you think you’ve heard it all—someone, somewhere, sets the bar even lower. It’s not an overstatement to say that the immigration debate is ripe with contention. It inspires commentary from a wide range of political spectra—from the libertarian no-border folks to the “don’t retreat, reload” tea partiers. But regardless of political leaning, nearly all groups agree that immigration is a problem that needs to be fixed, albeit with an even wider range of solutions. However, right and left aside, there are people who want to take the immigration debate in yet another direction—downward. Against the backdrop of Arizona’s harsh enforcement law, there have been a slew of anti-immigrant aftershocks posing as solutions to our immigration problems—aftershocks that are as ludicrous as they are alarming. And for the record, this is the part of ILLEGAL that people don’t understand.

Hasta Luego, Ethnic Studies Programs
If Arizona’s “watch out, suntanned Americans” law wasn’t enough already, Arizona Legislature passed a bill last week that would ban ethnic studies programs across the state. Why? Because ethnic studies—a field born out of the 1960’s civil rights movement to offset Euro-centric bias—apparently encourages “ethnic chauvinism, promotes Latinos to rise up and create a new territory out of the southwestern region of the United States and tries to intimidate conservative teachers in the school system.” Right. The bill, however, does allow courses to be taught for Native American students and for teachings on the Holocaust and other cases of genocide. (How generous!) Tom Horne, Arizona’s Superintendent for Public Instruction, explains:

“Traditionally, the American public school system has brought together students from different backgrounds and taught them to be Americans and to treat each other as individuals, and not on the basis of their ethnic backgrounds,” Horne said. “This is consistent with the fundamental American value that we are all individuals, not exemplars of whatever ethnic groups we were born into. Ethnic studies programs teach the opposite, and are designed to promote ethnic chauvinism.”

Governor Jan Brewer has yet to sign the bill. Ridiculous? Yes. Creative? No. Here’s looking at you, Texas Board of Education.

Speak American! Heavily Accented Teachers Under Fire
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported last week that the Arizona Department of Education is pushing school districts to remove teachers whose spoken English is “heavily accented” or “ungrammatical.” Arizona is leaning on the No Child Left Behind Act, which stipulates that students learning English must be taught by teachers fluent in English if the school is to receive federal funds. However, defining fluency is left up to the state—a state which will apparently identify undocumented immigrants by their shoes. According to the WSJ:

State auditors have reported to the district that some teachers pronounce words such as violet as “biolet,” think as “tink” and swallow the ending sounds of words, as they sometimes do in Spanish.

Well played, Arizona. What’s next? Ticketing people for thinking like a Latino? Believe it or not, it gets worse.

Tag, You’re Undocumented: Implanting Microchips in Immigrants
GOP candidate for Iowa’s 3rd district, physician Pat Bertroche, spoke at a forum last week about alternatives to border fencing—microchips. No joke, Bertroche suggested implanting microchips in undocumented immigrants before deporting them.

I think we should catch ’em, we should document ’em, make sure we know where they are and where they are going. I actually support microchipping them. I can microchip my dog so I can find it. Why can’t I microchip an illegal? That’s not a popular thing to say, but it’s a lot cheaper than building a fence they can tunnel under.

Unfortunately, Dr. Bertroche, immigrants are not dolphins—but way to raise the rhetoric bar in a rational and humane light.

One-Way Tickets for U.S. Tots: Deporting U.S. Citizen Children
Lastly, what would a discussion on immigration enforcement be if the Birthers didn’t have something intelligent to say? California Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) recently suggested that the federal government should deport the U.S. born children of undocumented immigrants. You heard me, “deport U.S.-born children.”

“Would you support deportation of natural-born American citizens that are the children of illegal aliens,” Hunter was asked. “I would have to, yes,” Hunter said. “… We simply cannot afford what we’re doing right now,” he said. “… It takes more than just walking across the border to become an American citizen. It’s what’s in our souls. …”

Hunter, apparently, looked deep into his soul to discover that it is, in fact, American.

While I realize that these are extreme examples, they are indicative of the overall tone of the debate—a debate which is, more often than not, fraught with anti-immigrant rhetoric. Whether they’re here legally or not, and it’s sad that this needs to be pointed out, immigrants are still human beings—not animals to be tagged or soulless border-crossers. We all acknowledge that our immigration system needs to be fixed, but shouldn’t the dialogue regarding solutions be based in, and I’m just throwing this out there, reality? Is the immigration debate really going to get worse before it gets better? Do we really have to hit rock bottom before we, as a country, legislate practical, humane and common sense solutions to our immigration problems?

Photos by demotivational.blogspot.