Letter: Bigotry distorts reality of ID card

Re: “Violence sparks rally against ID card” (April 2). We write to express our regret regarding the misguided but well-intentioned statements of the Community Watchdog Program and the Southern Connecticut Immigrant Reform in response to an incidence of rape that occurred last week.

Two representatives from the groups asserted that the Elm City ID Program is responsible for the influx of illegal immigrants, whom they claim have caused an increase in crime. This statement generalizes an entire demographic according to race and misconstrues the reality of the Elm City ID Program.

Unfortunately for political progress, groups like these do not understand how the card improves the safety of New Haven residents. Before the city positioned itself on the vanguard of immigrant rights advocacy, its citizens of illegal status were robbed and murdered while virtually invisible to the police. The two groups claim that the card protects illegal immigrants who commit crimes, when, in fact, the card aims to reduce crime. And thus far, the ID program has achieved its goals admirably. Last May, the New York Times wrote about the ID card in an editorial: “More immigrants have emerged from the shadows and are participating in city life. The streets are safer and crime has dropped because immigrants are now putting their savings in banks instead of carrying them in their pockets, reducing robberies.”

The groups criticizing the card cite one instance of violence to push their political views. Nevertheless, they ignore the fact that citizens are being robbed so often that they have earned the moniker “walking ATMs.” Furthermore, both groups are spreading their opinions and impeding other political initiatives — like the Dream Act, which will provide a path toward citizenship for children of illegal immigrant — that can only move us forward.

Frighteningly, I witnessed this perspective firsthand when, while gathering signatures for a petition to aid Junta, I requested a police officer approve of the cause by providing his signature. He declined and even attacked immigration, citing the rape incident.

Sadly, people with this mindset often don’t realize we encourage immigration when we exacerbate the state of war-torn Mexico with our spiraling drug demand and black market weapon trade. As we provide the means for the destruction of our neighbors’ homes, we deny them refuge in our country, opportunity for their children, and the basic human rights we so adamantly advocate everywhere but in our own land.

Steven Garza and Hugo Martinez Bernardino

April 14

The writers are a freshman in Timothy Dwight College and a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College, respectively.

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