yave begnet

Latino Migrant Beaten to Death in Penn

Editor's note: This is about unintended consequences, or so we hope. The hard-line anti-immigration movement has made a strategic choice in demonizing immigrants, especially those from Latin America. They believe that they can make gains in the immigration debate by dehumanizing mostly Latino immigrants, by suggesting that they are foreign invaders. But hate speech leads to hate acts, and these kinds of incidents are a predictable outcome of their rhetorical choices.

The AP carried this article over the weekend about what appears to be the racially-motivated killing of a Latino migrant by a group of teenagers in rural Pennsylvania:



Luis Ramirez came to the U.S. from Mexico six years ago to look for work, landing in this town in Pennsylvania's coal region. Here, he found steady employment, fathered two children and, his fiancee said, occasionally endured harassment by white residents.

Now he is headed back to Mexico in a coffin.

The 25-year-old illegal immigrant was beaten over the weekend after an argument with a group of youths, including at least some players on the town's beloved high school football team, police said. Despite witness reports that the attackers yelled ethnic slurs, authorities say the beating wasn't racially motivated.

. . .

Crystal Dillman, the victim's 24-year-old fiancee, who is white and grew up here, said Ramirez was often called derogatory names, including "dirty Mexican," and told to return to his homeland.

"People in this town are very racist toward Hispanic people. They think right away if you're Mexican, you're illegal, and you're no good," said Dillman, who has two young children by Ramirez and a 3-year-old who thought of him as her father.

Scapegoating Non-citizens Produces Few Measurable National Security Gains

Recently the Washington Post and the NY Times published stories investigating 83 immigrant deaths in detention between 2003 and 2008. Some of the deaths were easily preventable. Family members told of loved ones suffering serious medical problems that went ignored and untreated until it was too late.

Via the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), I got word last week that Senators Lieberman, Brownback, Kennedy, and Hagel had introduced legislation to ensure humane treatment for asylum seekers and other detained immigrants. The "Secure and Safe Detention and Asylum Act" (S. 3114) would mandate improved medical care in detention and require careful reporting and investigation of all deaths that occur in detention facilities. Passing this act would be a helpful first step in addressing the problems that have come to light, but would represent only a beginning, not an end point.

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.