The Irish: the Other Illegal Immigrants

Well, at least they’re white. The “new” Irish immigrants that is. A recent BBC report provides an interesting contrast, though the BBC is apparently unaware of the potential analytic goldmine, between Irish immigrants and other… let’s say less melanin-shy immigrants.

The article details the newest wave of Irish immigrants to the New World in the wake of (yet) another round of recession in the old country (this one beginning in 2008, as we are all aware). The Central Statistics Office of Ireland estimates that almost 20,000 people emigrated to the United States between April 2010 and March 2013. This figure is double the amount of the previous three year period. What is striking to Z Geography is how the narratives change depending on the immigrant group you discuss.

Let’s face it – white westerners are all about integration and assimilation of their immigrant communities. Right?

  • “The Irish ‘stick together’, she says. ‘There’s a huge Irish community here and everyone tries to help people coming out with finding accommodation, jobs.'”
  • ‘When I’m around this area on nights out it doesn’t even feel like I’m in America. It literally feels like I’m back home because there are just so many Irish people.’
  • “Graduates in Chicago commonly go to social gatherings organised by the local Irish network on the first Friday of each month to seek out jobs.”
  • “Although Americans “accept you with open arms”, he says the Irish connection can be crucial.”

That last quote strikes me dumb. We do? Does that quote apply to restaurants in Philadelphia that “require” a customer to order in English?

And then there’s this gem:

  • “Irish immigration centres say there are an estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish living in the US, and that most of those who have arrived recently fall into this category.”

While 50,000 ILLEGAL Irish immigrants is obviously a much smaller population group than millions of undocumented migrants, it draws attention to a neglected perspective in the U.S. discussion of illegal immigration. Illegal immigrants come from anywhere, including predominantly “white countries.”

Integration? (via BBC from Getty Images)

This inconvenient truth makes the Ku Klux Klan’s anti-immigration rally (in addition to repealing the Affordable Care Act and removing President Obama from office) at Gettysburg all the more absurd. Z Geography would pay to see a hooded Klansman tell a 20-something Irish illegal immigrant with a Master’s degree to go home.

To be sure – Z Geography is NOT advocating for a return to the bad old days of the 19th century. What we’re arguing for is responsible media reporting and journalism on (obviously) important, “hot button” political topics – like immigration. For instance, the words “assimilate”/”integrate” don’t appear at all in this article. Yet in most discussions of non-white immigration these outcomes are routinely touted as politically and socially desirable.

The pictures in the BBC article say it all. Could you imagine the furor over a similar pro-identity march among Indians, Ethiopians, or Lebanese?

Immigrants (via BBC)

Moreover, why aren’t we talking about the absurdities (also known as racial-profiling) of Arizona’s illegal immigrant law? Is an Arizona cop going to stop a random white Irish girl and check to make sure she’s not an illegal alien? Nope.

Finally, Z Geography would like to remind our dear readers that racism is very much alive in the country that elected its first black president. The self-congratulating seems strangely ironic since its citizens, media, and politicians hold such a distorted view of immigration.

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