Call And Response: Taking the Temperature of a Nation Divided

By Hasani Gittens
|  Thursday, Jun 30, 2011  |  Updated 2:45 PM EDT
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Call And Response: Taking the Temperature of a Nation Divided

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Demonstrators take part in the National Day of Action for Immigrant Justice, or La Marcha..

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New Yorkers are not immune to the deep national divide over immigration policy and enforcement, according to the Tweets, emails and comments from readers reacting to a new NBC/MSNBC/Telemundo poll released today.

That survey brought to light a deep chasm between white and Latino respondents when it comes to the Arizona’s new anti-illegal immigrant law, which would require local and state law enforcement to question people about their immigration status: 70 percent of whites support the measure, while 58 percent of Latinos strongly oppose it.

Meanwhile, 68 percent of Latinos believe that immigration strengthens the U.S., but just 43 percent of whites believe the same.

Of course, New York often skews differently than the rest of the nation, across racial lines, so, as part of NBC’s coverage of “A Nation Divided,” NBCNewYork.com put the question out on Facebook and Twitter: what are your views on immigration?
 
The responses, which don’t break down reader and viewer demographics the way a poll can, still paint a picture of a passionate divide.

One viewer, Carolyn Ehrlich, put it this way: “Your promo for immigration said that we should remember we are a country of immigrants. True, but my family came here legally.

They also learned the language and didn't ask for or receive government help.”

That sentiment echoes many who believe that immigration is all fine and good, as long as it’s done via the proper channels – however long that takes.

As Jim Hershey wrote us on Facebook, “There are legal ways to do things [and] there are illegal ways to do things. One has to wonder why the streets are not filled with protesting bank robbers, all holding up American flags and marching against oppression by the government.”

Meanwhile @SewSister replied to us on Twitter, “a planet of people, of diff. backgrounds but humans who want better lives. #openborders will the phrase #americandream die?”

Charles Horner, was, perhaps, slightly less eloquent when he wrote to us, in all caps:  “When will your progressive network understand ‘illegal?’.  Illegal immigrants are in violation of our laws. You cannot pick and chose which laws can be broken. These Mexicans are illegal. Illegal, get it?”

So the debate rages on, it seems no one forgets that this nation was built, mostly, by people from somewhere else but many of us don’t want to do disservice to our forefathers who waited in line, got their ticket, filled out their papers and pledged to be Americans the right way.

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