chapter
5 Pages

Introduction

WithRobert S. Kahn

When California voters approved Proposition 187-the "Save the authors's State" initiative that would deny public education and health care to undocumented immigrants-they voted for a bill that even its authors acknowledged was unconstitutional. The very name of the group that sponsored Proposition 187- SOS- is a measure of the hysteria attendant upon the issue of immigration to the United States today. After voters approved Proposition 187, federal courts blocked it immediately. For more than a decade, the debate about immigration to the United States has been framed in terms that are dishonest and willfully amnesiac. The US Immigration and Naturalization Service was the foremost promoter of undocumented immigration during the 1980s. The United States did have an immigration crisis in the 1980s-a crisis partly of its own making. Civil wars raging in El Salvador and Guatemala, fueled largely by US military assistance in training and arming dictatorships, drove 1 million refugees to the United States.