Bizarro World and Immigration Reform

Kansas Secretary of State. His website describes him as a “Defender of Cities and States that Fight Illegal Immigration.” Newsweek calls him the “America’s Deporter in Chief.”

I read this today in The New York Times and it gave me pause:

“Without question, Alabama’s H.B. 56 is the most comprehensive anti-illegal immigration state law ever drafted,” said Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state and intellectual author of both the Arizona and Alabama laws, who has consulted with 10 other states on immigration legislation. “It includes just about everything a state can do to discourage illegal immigration.”

Kobach, an informal adviser to presumed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, is a proponent of “self-deportation,” creating conditions so unwelcome that undocumented immigrants leave voluntarily.

The idea that people are working towards the goal of being uninviting and inhospitable is an ugly goal. Americans ostensibly love the practice of creating home. Martha Stewart’s financial success comes from her ability to tap into this desire of creating a beautiful environment and extending that place to friends and family. Creating unwelcome conditions for guests is like experiencing the Martha Stewart ideal in Bizarro World. The Bizarro Code states: “Us do opposite of all Earthly things! Us hate beauty! Us love ugliness! Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World!” It looks like we’re well on our way towards having our immigration laws exemplify this code.

I don’t understand why our national conversations around bullying aren’t connected to our conversations about immigration–or to our conversations about the environment. From the Times discussion of Kris Kobach’s role as the author of both the Arizona and Alabama “comprehensive anti-illegal immigration state law” he seems to be a professional bully. His notion of “self-deportation” attempts to divert attention away from those who actually create “conditions so unwelcome that undocumented immigrants leave voluntarily” and make it appear to be about the immigrant’s choice. Well, how much choice does incivility leave? Policies promoting inhospitality force departure.

While the Bizarro reference might be dismissed because of its relationship to the comic book world, Kobach casts himself as a superhero through the articles on his website. He’s the “Defender of cities and states that fight illegal immigration.” Newsweek calls him the “Defender in Chief.” Kobach is certainly no vigilante. He definitely wants to work within the law, but I don’t feel safe because of the work he’s doing. Instead, I think the work he’s doing poisons the environment. When I think about the environment, I think about the reservoirs that we’re able to draw sustenance from in physical, psychic, and spiritual terms. Promoting hostility towards guests and strangers pollutes the environment because it creates fertile conditions for planting and then reaping harvests of contempt. Making a world unwelcome for immigrants is the same as making it unwelcome for children who are targets of bullies. Making our world more inhospitable is an ecological crime.

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