North Carolina’s 11th District congressional race between Heath Shuler and Carl Mumpower has become a showdown of anti-immigrant rhetoric. Both candidates are attempting to ride the national wave of racism and jingoism to victory.
Carl Mumpower protested the Mexican consulate’s Saturday visit to Hendersonville after sending out trash bins full of junk e-mail decrying the consulate’s distribution of I.D. cards that help immigrants get driver’s licenses.
In March, Mumpower wrote a letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Charlotte and called for an immigration bust of construction sites in Asheville after he listened to Spanish conversations at the College Street construction site and concluded that “50-plus illegal aliens (work) within this concentrated area of downtown Asheville.”
Mumpower used overheard Spanish-language conversations to assume these people’s guilt as illegal immigrants.
Heath Shuler fronted the Secure America Through Verification and Enforcement Act, or “SAVE Act,” as the answer to the immigration problems that the failure of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 left open. Unlike the 2007 bill, the SAVE Act did not provide any pathways to citizenship for immigrants who already work and reside in the United States. Instead, it proposed increased enforcement in the form of 8,000 additional Border Patrol agents. Thankfully the bill did not garner enough signatures to force a vote on the U.S. House floor and fell dead in March.
These measures are political stunts designed to rally voters behind the most outspoken anti-“illegal” candidate. They completely ignore the fact that immigration is not a question “simply about one word—illegal,” as one of Mumpower’s press releases claims. Immigration is a profoundly moral question that deals with the lives of human beings. Increasing enforcement without providing paths to citizenship damages the lives of hardworking immigrants who want to become citizens but can’t because of the shortcomings of our country’s immigration system.
I want a congressman who provides real solutions to our country’s immigration problem, not ridiculous racists rhetoric. This November I won’t be voting for either candidate; I urge all rationally-minded WNC to do the same.
— Ben Smith
The Blue Banner
UNC-Asheville’s student newspaper