“Immigrants are not like puppies.”
That may seem like an odd statement, but to Marion Davis, it’s a sentiment worth repeating.
To be sure, there are complex policy questions around how governments handle both legal and illegal immigration that need to be hashed out. But too often the conversation revolves around stereotypical views of immigrants as either opportunistic drains on society or helpless individuals deserving of pity, says Ms. Davis, communications director for the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition.
There’s a tendency, she says, to talk about the plight of immigrants and refugees in the same tone that singer Sarah McLachlan uses to advocate for shelter animals.
That likely comes from a place of compassion, adds community organizer Damaris Velasquez, but what newcomers to the United States really need is to be viewed as equals.
Davis and Ms. Velasquez recently sat down with Monitor staffers to share their perspectives on the portrayal of immigrants and refugees in American media.
What gets lost in conversations around illegal immigration, Velasquez and Davis say, is the number of legal immigrants who have become thriving members of our communities.
Amid policy discussions and debates, it is important to remember that “we were all created equally,” says Velasquez. “We are all the same.”
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