For those who oppose the tide of humanity at the U.S. border, racist label is unfair

08/16/2014 2:48 PM

08/16/2014 2:48 PM

The residents of communities in some Southern states are seriously aggravated by the large numbers of illegal immigrants streaming into this country across the U.S.-Mexican border.

Many of the arrivals are unaccompanied children — some brought in by smugglers, hired by parents who hope it might ensure their youngsters a better life.

To characterize as unalloyed racism the objection by citizens in the destination cities to this unforeseen influx is both false and intellectually dishonest.

The desire to live among people much like themselves is common to individuals of all nationalities and linguistic groups. And in areas where economies are stressed and jobs are scarce, any added competition — never mind culture or race — can be unwelcome.

Not just in this hemisphere but across much of the world, tides of human migration are being set in motion by social and economic failure.

And often the consequences are tragic.

Last October, a boat overloaded with some 500 Somalis and Eritreans caught fire and sank in the Mediterranean while trying to reach an island off the coast of Sicily. Hundreds were lost.

Just this May, 90 others perished attempting to make the crossing to Europe. It has been estimated by Italian authorities that one of every 10 attempts ends in catastrophe.

The desperate flow of humanity out of west and north Africa has worsened with the Islamist violence and destabilization of many countries in the region.

In a single weekend, Italian sea patrols rescued 1,600 migrants from unseaworthy craft. So urgent is the desire to escape their ruined homelands that some even risk the perilous journey in fragile canoes or on primitive rafts.

Only grief results.

It has been estimated that the number of desperate individuals who attempt the crossing could reach 64,000 a year. And Italy has demanded that its European Union partners join in helping stem that flow and that they accommodate a share of the migrants.

The northbound migrants fleeing the hopelessness of failed Central and South American regimes face no such mortal hazards.

They must, however, find their way through the legal requirements of a nation that takes citizenship seriously. That can be done. But the ability to cross a river or slip past a guarded frontier post does not qualify as immigration.

In this or any modern country, the right of residence is governed by certain requirements. And to insist that the rules be met is not fairly classifiable as racism.

For more of C.W. Gusewelle, go to gusewelle.kansascity.com.

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