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Flipping Our Scripts about Undocumented Immigration

by Mica Pollock

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Script Flip 1: Many ancestors of today’s “white” Americans never really “stood in line.” They—“we”—actually benefited from lax immigration policy.

Script Flip 2: After immigrating freely, many “white” ancestors got citizenship pretty easily—because the government just decided they could.

Script Flip 3: Many earlier generations of European Americans came seeking refuge, just like people today. The government just let them take refuge in America.

Script Flip 4: Once here, today’s undocumented immigrants contribute to and benefit the United States, economically and socially, just like undocumented and documented immigrants always have. The difference is that the government is deciding not to offer them a path to citizenship

More of us need to check our guts and explore our families. More of us have to remember that our “undocumented” neighbors’ actual lives differ from our “documented” ones only in that the government proactively gave us the privilege of documentation and refuge. To recapture our shared humanity, it’s up to each of us to proactively clean our lenses on the issue of undocumented immigration, and decide what we think about it. Will we distort, exclude, and deport the next layer of the US? Or will we recognize our fellow humans as simply our next layer of contributors?

See also, this follow up piece published in the Des Moines Register.