May 02, 2013 - Issue 515 After The Gun Control Filibuster, The Immigration Debate Got More Complicated - Between The Lines - By Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad, PhD - BC Columnist

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The Republican’s success, in the intentional blocking of gun control legislation, has some very significant ramifications for the Obama policy agenda. It was painful to watch our president have to publicly scold Congress for failing to do something the whole nation wanted and needed, gun control legislation. When you can shoot a Congresswoman, shoot up a theater and 20 elementary school children and you still can’t get legislation out of Congress, something is wrong with the system. Government is broken. It is too simplistic to just say it’s a faction of Congress thumbing its nose up at President Obama. It’s deeper than that.
We know having war weapons circulating in our society is more than dangerous. It’s simply reckless. At the very time we’re having a national conversation about the re-emergence of terrorism with the Boston bombing, the failures of intelligence and the concern of the weaponry that was in possession of the bombers has alarmed the nation, Congress’ “gang of eight” were successful in getting more stringent background checks filibustered. The conversation went from an assault weapon bans to background checks to no legislation, at all, in four short months. 

To quote President Obama, “Shame on Congress.” 

Now the same ones that blocked gun reform have turned their attention to the immigration debate. And with the Boston bombers having been Russian immigrants, who flew completely under the radar of homeland security, the immigration debate has now become much more complicated. “It’s complicated” is now more than just a Facebook status designation.

Life is complicated enough without having interlopers and obstructionists in the mix. Nothing is our society is clearly “just black or white” anymore, gun control and immigration, included. Both represent the two biggest complications facing American society, yet we don’t know how to get at it because you have so many people seeking to twist the conversation and disrupt the mix for commonsense solutions. Mastering the politics of grand distraction make those who should be irrelevant to a process, the center of the discussion. It’s easier to block something than to make something happen. Congress has been infiltrated with “blockers.”

Just like communities have their interlopers and obstructionists (blockers) misrepresenting complicated scenarios, Congress has its interlopers and obstructionists misrepresenting already complicated policy discussions, like gun control and immigration. Ideological “radicalism” is as dangerous in Congress as religious radicalism is to the larger society. Radicalism, in and of itself, represents a grand distortion of very real issues in our society. We end up talking more about the distortions than about the underlining issues that caused the problem. Radicals become grand distractors, who often succeed at diverting attention away from the key issues to some ancillary point that collapses the focus needed to address real problems. People who should be ancillary to the process become intertwined in the conversation - not to solve the problem, but to twist the problem even further - adding unneeded and unnecessary complications to the mix.

That’s what interlopers do - distract and disrupt, not resolve. That’s where we are right now. The “gang of eight” was successful in blocking background checks. And they’re bragging about it. So guns that shouldn’t even be in our society, are still for sale and easily accessed, as the Boston bombers demonstrated. Well, how does that affect immigration reform?

The nation still hasn’t connected the dots from September 11th (12 years ago). Terrorism has been so disproportionately intermixed with war and militarism, that the focus has been on Middle Eastern and Islamic populations. So much so that domestic terrorists who “don’t fit the profile” move freely throughout society. Immigration has been disproportionately focused on keeping illegal Latinos (and Haitians) out of the country. Whether it’s a valid conversation or not, it has been the dominant discussion.

Further, the immigration debate intersects with homeland security concerns that those who migrate from the Middle East, where animus toward Americans is now at its highest. The cultural resistance toward Arabs, Iraqis, Iranians, Sihks, East Indians, Armanians has caused Americans to develop “phobias” beyond reason. Eastern Europeans have flown below the radar in the immigration debate. The alleged Boston bombers were Russian. They were documented. They were considered “acceptable immigrants.” Yet, they were radicals who moved between Russia, the U.S. and others countries quite freely, and though involved in “suspicious activity,” weren’t considered a national threat. Simply put, the government was looking in the wrong places and were profiling - not the wrong people but - people who fit the so-called “dark-skinned” theories to which terrorism has most been constructed around.

The immigration debate will now take a twist and Congress’ gang of eight stand ready to interlope themselves in the debate in a way that will sideline any pragmatic approach to immigration reform.
The border security conversation that has blocked the President’s “pathway to citizenship” policy approach on immigration reform in the past, will now reappear. They are already suggesting that the President’s bill undermines national security. How do you argue against that in the aftermath of the Boston bombings? Apples and oranges have just been mixed.

Like I said, immigration reform just became more complicated. The White House now needs to put, “It’s Complicated” on its Facebook status of its relationship on immigration reform.

Because it is. Columnist, Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad, is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum and author of REAL EYEZ: Race, Reality and Politics In 21st Century Popular Culture and Saving The Race: Empowerment Through Wisdom. His Website is Twitter @dranthonysamad. Click here to contact Dr. Samad.

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