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[PAST] “They Take Our Jobs: And 20 Other Myths About Immigration”

Thursday, October 4th, 2007
7:00pm reading and discussion with Aviva Chomsky
First Church in Jamaica Plain, Unitarian Universalist Parish Hall
6 Eliot Street (off Centre Street), Jamaica Plain

With walls being built on our borders and heated debate this summer around the Immigration Reform Bill, our nation acts as if immigrants destroy the social, economic and cultural fabric of the United States. People hold firm beliefs that immigrants take American jobs, drain the American economy, contribute to poverty and inequality, destroy the social fabric, challenge American identity, and contribute to a host of social ills are openly discussed and debated at all levels of U.S. society.

However, according to Aviva Chomsky the current immigration debate is “rife with myths, stereotypes and unquestioned assumptions” about the history of immigration and how American society, economy and laws function. Chomsky argues that many opinions about immigration are based on a distorted and sanitized version of American history that is reinforced by textbooks, politicians and the media—and rarely questioned. While most Americans believe the country was founded on the principles of equal rights and a generous immigration policy, Chomsky illustrates how a legacy of racial and ethnic discrimination has long-fueled social, economic and legal inequality in the United States.

This legacy of discrimination and the role of the U.S. in a system of global inequality, she argues, are the true undercurrents of today’s immigration debate. Chomsky argues that the historical structures that privileged white people in the U.S. continue to shape social realities and immigration policy today.

In addition to race, Chomsky asserts that today, immigration is structured by a complex global web that depends upon an economic system privileging few at the expense of many. As long as resources as unequally distributed in the world, she notes, people will look to escape regions deliberately kept poor and violent and seek freedom where the world’s wealth has been concentrated.

Chomsky’s new book, “They Take Our Jobs: And 20 Other Myths About Immigration” will be available for purchase.

Aviva Chomsky is professor of history and coordinator of Latin American Studies at Salem State College. The daughter of noted activist and linguist Noam Chomsky, Aviva is the author of several books including Linked Labor Histories: New England and Columbia. She has been active in Latin American solidarity and immigrants’ rights issues from more than 25 years. Aviva Chomsky lives in Salem, MA.

More information: www.jamaicaplainforum.org