PERRY: Two-thirds of U.S fear immigrants will force us to be like them, which we already are

FILE – DPS Director Steve McCraw, from left, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Chef of the Texas Division of Emergency Management W. Nim Kidd, listen to a question a press conference at the Texas Department of Public Safety Weslaco Regional Office, April 6, 2022, in Weslaco, Texas. About 3 in 10 also worry that more immigration can cause native-born Americans to lose their economic, political and cultural influence, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. (Joel Martinez/The Monitor via AP, File)

So, you’re standing in line at the store, the bank or gathered in the produce department at the supermarket, among 10 other people.

According to an Associated Press poll released this week, six of those people around you are afraid that immigrants are somehow being enlisted to sway elections, steal their jobs or end “American” culture to supplant it with their own.

You might even be one of those fearful people.

I hear you in stores, restaurants and read your Facebook posts all the time.

The fears are stoked by people like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, or like Tucker Carlson on Fox News, who claims Democrats are trying to flood the country with immigrants as a way of consolidating political power and “diluting” “American culture,” according to an AP story this week.

We’re living with the results of this constant message from conservatives.

A recent AP-NORC poll finds that U.S. adults most prone to belief in conspiracy theories are especially likely to say they are extremely or very worried about losing influence due to a growing population of immigrants.

A kindly-seeming older guy at a hardware store the other day on the west side of the metroplex was telling his apparent friend about work he’d recently had done at his house by “Mexicans” and how a problem arose. “I wasn’t about to let a Mexican pull one over on me,” the guy said, bragging.

As unsettling as the comment was, even more worrisome was that this guy felt comfortable in loudly announcing his naked racism in the middle of a busy hardware store.

“Wow. Bigotry robs you of a lot of things,” I told the guys, visibly shocked not that I was listening, but that I pushed back.

Just as surprising to me, the bigot tried to explain that he wasn’t a bigot, but that it’s important for “Americans” to “draw the line” so “Mexicans know what they can and can’t get away with…or else it’s all over.”

He clearly didn’t see his bigotry as a personal defect but as something necessary to his survival.

I’ve heard and overheard this kind of talk, almost always in matter-of-fact or sometimes almost apologetic tones, my entire life. As a white guy, other white people often just assume supremacy, racism and bigotry are a shared experience and common value.

Besides being white, discussing what’s what with our safe-sounding, bland Western drawl is another privileged perk where members often feel free to slur “others” without reprisal.

I grew up in Colorado when detectable lilts even from New England or Texas raised eyebrows and suspicions. 

It’s both encouraging and depressing that after so many generations of immigrants in a nation created by immigrants, that the fears of “others” still persist and sometimes change.

My own family, the Nesselhufs, emigrated here from Freiburg, Germany in the late 1800s, among millions of German immigrants. They settled in Manzanola in southeast Colorado, because it was so much like the region they’d left for a new and better life here, away from meddling kaisers.

My grandmother told me distrust of the Nesselhufs by some turned to hatred by many as World War I erupted. German immigrants were suspected and frequently accused of being spies, even in Manzanola of all places. No one spoke German outside the house after that. Neighbors slurred them as “Huns.”

What was once the post-Victorian language of enlightenment, art, music and fun became a shameful moniker of treachery.

German books were removed from the libraries. Germans were unwelcome everywhere. 

Despite decades of demonization, however, “they” eventually became “us.”

I point this out only because endless other immigrant groups have suffered the same or far worse. Immigrants from Italy, Poland, Ireland and Russia have long been considered “others,” worthy of suspicion and distrust, until they’re not, for the most part, because they’re white.

Brown immigrant groups have never been so lucky. In the eyes of American bigots, they’re doubly cursed with fostering an alien culture and an alien race. 

On one end of the racism spectrum, are people who note the race or culture of people in retelling a story when it has nothing to do with what they’re talking about. “I was outside and this Black guy came by walking two yappy dogs who hated being out in…” Or it was a “Hispanic lady” or an “Asian guy.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard a white person retell a story about “some white guy,” where his race wasn’t germain to the story.

On the other end of the spectrum was this guy at the hardware store. He clearly thinks that brown people, especially brown people speaking another language, want to change alter his suburban community, the state and the nation.

What I’ve never been able to figure out, and I’ve asked, is “how” immigrants and “others” would change our world if they could, according to all these fears.

If you’ve spent any time out and about in Aurora, you quickly get the fact that “them” is “us.” If you shop at Arash, an amazing international market on Parker Road, you can mingle among Muslims in bluejeans or burqas shopping with Jews and Latinos and East Africans, Eastern Europeans and even old guys like me who appreciate the amazing cured olives, flatbreads from every culture in the world and the only place I know of where you can get French feta cheese. It’s the same at H-mart, across the street, where everybody there from cultures across the world or across the city can paw through every kind of pepper on the planet. Just a little farther east is a King Soopers store filled with employees and shoppers who look like everyone in the neighborhood, from everywhere.

They aren’t looking for socialism or forcing people to speak Farsi. They drive Toyotas and Fords to pick up their kids from schools they depend on to do a good job teaching their kids. They want the city to fix the potholes and the Costco to not run out of toilet paper before they get there. They want the price of gas to go down and to see their favorite show on TV without someone telling them the dog got out of the backyard again. They want to be recognized and respected for their hard work on the job and at home.

In every way that matters, they are us, and we are them.

If you’re going to be afraid of something, fear that you’ll get to the end of your life never realizing that and enjoying it.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]

1.9 7 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
5 days ago

A 30 second overheard conversation, a journalist interjecting his opinion into that conversation, then a poll of conspiracy theorists and now the implication that I’m a fearful white skinned immigrant hater because they may change my lifestyle.

Real stretch, Dave. The Sentinel actually pays you for this? I may one day send you some cash. You are so entertaining in so many ways.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
5 days ago

We are not required to lower our standards, but we will because it is the easy thing to do.

I think what people are thinking is that, in earlier days, immigrants elevated their lifestyle to assimilate, while today, we lower ours to dissimilate. My Italian grandparents out-americaned most Americans once they reached this country.

But I fail to see the conservatives’ worry. Immigrants don’t generally get involved in American politics and can’t even vote. Remember, they’d have to become citizens first, a step that conservatives miss. They’d like us to believe people come here and immediately start voting. But it makes for a good story line to get people worked up, as with most of the things they contrive. Personally, I like the one that teachers are going to teach people how to be gay or transsexual or even worse, make people gay. It seems we’ll never get a break.

Don Black
Don Black
4 days ago

The Europeans have a significant problem with immigration. There is a large right wing movement due to what massive immigration has done to their countries. Many of them will tell you that America should learn a lesson from what has happened to their countries. When I visited Germany, I found many people bitter over what immigration has done. They complain of their cities becoming dirty and dangerous. People I know who have relatives in Germany, tell me that their families are telling them the same thing. I had two Norwegian police officers in my classes. They told gave me a litany of horror stories about what immigration has done to their country. They said that Armenians with automatic weapons were robbing banks while the police were required to keep their guns in the trunk of their car. They said that they could not go into the Muslim areas and that officers were attacked with knives. Their politicians will not acknowledge any of these problems.

Now, let us address the US. A recent Smithsonian program where they interviewed the gangs and the police in Houston revealed the following facts. There are about 20,000 gangs members of all different persuasions in Houston. The gangs, black, white, hispanic, and asian all said the same thing. Two Mexican drug cartels supply their drugs and give them orders. They said that they were afraid of the cartels because the cartels would kill them and their families. These same Mexican gang members are showing up in small towns all over the US. The cartel members are able to hide in Houston because there are 400,000 illegal immigrants in Houston. The cartels can get all the cooperation they need by simply threatening to kill family members in Mexico. While working at APD, I had an opportunity to deal with the hispanic community quite a bit. Most were hard working people seeking a better life. However, culturally, theft was viewed as okay by a significant number and thefts were a way of making a living. Further, we dealt with a significant number of traffic fatalities caused by drunken hispanic drivers who ran from the scene. We dealt with a number of murders committed by hispanics who scooted back into Mexico. In some cases the families and friends were trying to help cover up the murders.

We have a significant problem with our congress. They should have enacted comprehensive, fair immigration policies long ago. Instead, both parties squabble like children and disregard the future of the American people. There are many good people from all countries who should be admitted to our country. A Pollyanna approach like the author is taking does not help. The complete lack of any border control and the influx of countless unvetted people is a danger to our country. It is nice that people want to simplify it by saying that you are racist if you don’t want that massive influx of unvetted people. It is nice that politicians simply choose to ignore the influx or use it just as a tool for election. The reality is that when it becomes obvious to the average person it will be too late to fix. We need congress to act and to compromise.

So, I don’t agree with the generalization about Mexicans. I do, however, realize that different cultures have different standards that have resulted in situations that make it intolerable in their own countries. I do not want that same environment created here. Simply throwing our country open to anyone by claiming otherwise is racist is not a path to successful integration of the new comers.

A Mexican friend who was staying with me asked me if it was safe to go jogging. He said that in Mexico City, you could only jog inside gym. He said that on the street you would be robbed for your running shoes. He also told me stories about the cartels calling people and telling them to bring their TV and car title to them to reclaim their kidnapped relative. These were ordinary people, not the rich. He also told me that when the police stopped you they expected money. I had that confirmed when I rode my motorcycle from Colorado to the southern tip of South America. Much different standards.

So, let us be realistic and not extreme. We should be admitting deserving people from all countries who have gone through a process that hopefully can be streamlined. We should not be naively admitting everyone with the attitude that everyone is just good and disadvantaged. There are legitimate reasons to fear unregulated immigration.

1 day ago
Reply to  Don Black

Don, please find a trusted friend or, if you really do teach at the college level, an English teacher colleague. Let him or her edit your diatribes for brevity and clarity.

When you were an APD officer, how long did it take you to give a Miranda advisement?

Don Black
Don Black
1 day ago
Reply to  GeneD

Sorry, realize that many people simply want a quick headline, generalization, or a label that doesn’t deal with anything that takes thought.

10 hours ago
Reply to  Don Black

Notice how people’s eyes glaze over while you’re speaking? Or folk moving away from you and your blather? Old Bill S. tells us that ‘Brevity is the soul of wit.’ Thomas Jefferson cautioned to ‘…never use two words when one will do.’

Worth considering.

1 day ago

I don’t get this I didn’t find the answers to what I was looking for

1 day ago

t…..this is the b……best ever “Totally hehehehehehehehehehehehehehe……..” yeah don’t use this website. JK is the best website ever *shakes head no*

1 day ago

Glitchtrap stop being rude “hehe sorry about him this is the best website ever!

22 hours ago

French feta cheese is so overrated and not hard to find in this area. Forage just a bit further to the west (OK S. Holly St. & E. Cedar Ave.) and try especially the Bulgarian. Maybe it’s partly due to the lower price, but I like it better than all the rest. I refuse to knowingly consume feta made from cows milk.