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Commentary : Passions Light Up at Border Demonstration : Those Shining Lights at U.S.-Mexico Frontier Expose Their Own Racism, Not the Real Problems

<i> Al Ducheny is a free-lance writer, who lives in San Diego</i>

Late last month about 250 cars belonging to members of the Alliance for Border Control lined up near the U.S.-Mexico frontier at San Ysidro to “light up the border.” For several months, protesters have been coming to this site shining their car headlights on what they say is our nation’s inability to control its borders.

Recently, KSDO radio personality Roger Hedgecock has hyped their efforts on his daily talk show, and participation in the movement is growing.

Unlike the preceding demonstrations, April’s event was met by a counter protest of more than 250 demonstrators, who lined up with tinfoil shields opposite the car headlights to “bounce back the beams of bigotry.”

One of the first things I noticed when I arrived was the clear racial division between the two groups.

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The “Light Up the Border” group was made up almost entirely of white participants; there were only three or four people of color.

On the other side were mostly young Chicano college students with a good number of Anglo youths and some African-American participants.

The event ended when the “Light Up the Border” people were outlasted by the youthful counter-demonstrators and left to the chorus of “racists go home.”

“Light Up the Border” advocates maintain that they are not racist. They blame the influx of undocumented workers for numerous ills facing Americans, including the high cost of medical services, rising educational costs, uncontrolled drug smuggling and escalating crime. They claim to abhor the violence perpetrated by bandits on undocumented men, women and children crossing the border area.

If these advocates of law and justice are not racists, then why do they shine their lights on desperate people who have no choice but to come to this country to feed their families?

Why not shine them on employers who, rather than pay Americans a decent living wage, hire those who are forced to work for less. Why not direct their beams on farmers who avoid providing medical care and housing for their workers by hiring these desperate people?

Why not spotlight building contractors who employ Mexican and Latin-American immigrants, legal or otherwise, to avoid paying union wages? Or illuminate American families who engage domestic servants at less than minimum pay?

If these champions oppose border violence, why don’t they shine their lights on Border Patrol misconduct, on vigilante border terrorism, or on young people playing “war games” at the expense of helpless immigrants?

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But they are not likely to do any of that. If they were, they would have to shine their car headlights on themselves.


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