Editorial: A Day With Too Many Ignorant Nativists

    Like other supporters of immigrant rights who have embraced the globalization of our world, this board was at first very ambivalent about the protests that rocked the country earlier this week.

    More than 1 million foreign-born residents and their allies participated in the “Day Without an Immigrant,” a coordinated set of rallies and a nationwide economic boycott; protestors blocked all but one lane of Interstate 5 at the Mexican border.

    Such drama, we feared, would alienate the very citizens immigrants hope to rally in their attempt to block the draconian immigration overhaul passed by the House of Representatives: Nothing rocks white suburbia more than social unrest.

    At the end, however, we come down on the side of the protestors. When residents of a state like California, where immigrant labor makes an integral contribution to the economy, complain about the evils of illegal immigration, and when its governor endorses a sequel to the Berlin Wall at the border, the time for drastic action has arrived.

    As with Proposition 187, a 1994 California ballot measure forbidding illegal immigrants from using state social services (since blocked by the courts), most of the debate over immigration has lately focused on the cost society must bear for the migrants. The boycott showed us the benefits. After all, what better way to respond to someone who grumbles about rising healthcare costs (caused by uninsured immigrants relying on emergency room visits) and failing schools (result of too many Spanish-speaking kids) than to let bathrooms go uncleaned, strawberries go unpicked and breakfasts go unprepared?

    For many protestors, participation in the rallies was worth sacrificing a day of already meager wages. Hopefully, they showed America that its meager investment in services for immigrants is similarly paying dividends.

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