It is so sad that as human beings, anybody can be targeted because one doesn't look "white".
I often wonder if the USA is a place for us at all.
Angry messages, even a racist video game, darken the tone in campaign to reform residency laws.
Tyche Hendricks / San Francisco Chronicle
Americans are split
Recent polls indicate Americans are concerned about illegal immigration, but there is little consensus on what to do about it. Among the findings from an AP-Ipsos poll in March:
More than half -- 56 percent -- favored allowing illegal immigrants to apply for legal, temporary worker status. Forty-one percent were opposed.
About half said illegal immigrants "mostly make a contribution" to American society, while 42 percent said they were "mostly a drain."
Only one in three were confident that building a fence along the Mexican border would reduce the number of illegal immigrants. Sixty-seven percent said they were either not too confident or not at all confident.
Americans are evenly split on whether it should be a serious crime or a minor offense to enter and remain in the U.S. without proper documentation. Fifty-one percent favored making it a minor offense, while 47 percent said it should be a serious crime.
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Displays of anti-immigrant and anti-Latino anger across the country have increased in the six weeks since massive immigrant rights rallies began, and they're injecting a new note of vitriol into the immigration reform debate.
This ire -- in radio commentaries, a computer game, Web sites and other venues -- gained visibility last week when California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger publicized "disturbing and hateful death threats" received by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and other Latino officials.
The attacks, none physical, darkened the backdrop for boycotts and protests Monday across the country against a proposed new restrictive immigration law.
The angry messages don't sit well with many mainstream immigration restrictionists, including leaders of the Minuteman Project, whose members will depart from Los Angeles on Wednesday on a cross-country lobbying tour for tougher border control. And the elected officials on the receiving end downplayed the anonymous messages, saying they get death threats from time to time on a range of issues.
But immigrant advocates say taken all together, the hostility is an ominous intrusion as Congress grapples with the steady flow of illegal immigrants that has amounted to an estimated population of 12 million nationwide.
"It is a definite sharpening of the debate and making it much more ugly than we've seen in some time," said John Trasvina, interim president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. "It does become a dangerous situation ... I'm glad the governor raised people's sensitivities about this."
Bustamante received a pair of typed postcards early this month postmarked in Pasadena, Calif., that called him a "dirty Mexican" and other slurs and said "The only good Mexican is a dead Mexican," according to his press secretary, Stephen Green.
"That's a death threat, as far as we're concerned," Green said.
In Phoenix, a radio talk show host on KFYI lost his job this month for suggesting on air that listeners "pick one night -- every week -- where we will kill whoever crosses the border." Brian James later told the Arizona Republic that his remarks had been taken out of context. "I do not in any way advocate shooting illegal immigrants," James said.
A computer game called Border Patrol, which can be found on a white supremacist group's Web site among its "Racist Games," has alarmed Trasvina and others. Players watch crudely animated illegal immigrants, including a pregnant woman with two children in tow, run across the desert. When they shoot the figures to win points, blood splatters across the screen.