In our state, ’tis the season for political mailers and at our house, we’ve been bombarded. We’re getting it from both sides, and almost all of it immediately hits the trash, but today, this ad sponsored by the Republican Party of Virginia caught my full attention:
In case your eyesight is about like mine, I’ll highlight some of the salient points. This ad is an attack on Virginia Delegate Chuck Caputo. The ad’s headline reads:
Chuck Caputo wants to use our tax dollars to pay for illegal aliens to attend Virginia’s colleges and universities even though there’s not enough space for our own students.
So, we begin with the Republican Party telling us that not only is space in the Virginia public university system rare (a fact that, in my opinion, greatly exaggerates the impenetrability of schools’ admissions criteria), but illegal aliens are taking our tax money and taking our spots at universities. Gasp!
The point is reinforced by language like:
Chuck voted for illegal aliens and against our deserving students…
This statement presumes that the “illegal aliens” had no qualifications and just walked right into class without any proof that they were competent. They were certainly less deserving than our students. Then, next to the sad white girl holding her rejection letter we read in bold green caps:
IT’S JUST NOT RIGHT.
I guess the expected response is, “You’re dang tootin’.” We are then told that despite the popular wisdom of the Republicans and Democrats in the Virginia House, Caputo remained steadfast in his support of illegal aliens in a 3 to 1 vote against his position. So now, Caputo’s fate has been sealed as an outsider, an extremist who wants to give away your money to people who broke into this country to learn.
I am consistently amazed at the lengths political operatives will go to in an effort to foster an already racist “us vs. them” mentality. We all know politics is dirty, but to create hatred toward the children of people who broke the (probably immoral and certainly un-American) law is shameful.
Several years ago, NPR featured a story on two different bills that would help undocumented students go on to college and follow a path to full-fledged citizenship. Many of these kids were brought into the U.S. by adults when they were children and had no say in whether or not they would enter this country. Imagine what life would be like for you if because of mistakes your parents made, you were barred from going to college, regardless of the work you had done academically or in your community to merit admission and affordable access to higher education.
About a week ago, some kid with a clipboard asked me (as I was trying to load wriggly children into my car) if I was voting for Mr. Caputo. I told the guy I didn’t know yet. I think I know now. I may also be keeping an eye on C-SPAN Friday to see if they cover the House and Senate briefings on the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors). It’s one of the stalled bills that the NPR report above was talking about…5 years ago.
We have to move forward here with compassion and hospitality. The vitriol and racist rhetoric in our discussions about immigration has to stop. It’s just not right.