Reason Over Hysteria: Keynote Essay

Loyola University Journal of Public Interest Law, 2011

Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper No. 2011-18

20 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2011 Last revised: 18 Jul 2011

See all articles by Bill Ong Hing

Bill Ong Hing

University of San Francisco - School of Law

Date Written: 2011


We are a nation of immigrants, but we also are a nation that loves to debate immigration policy, and that debate reflects the battle over how we define who is an American. The anti-immigrant movement in the United States is as strong as ever. Immigrant bashing is popular among politicians, talk radio hosts, private militiamen, and xenophobic grassroots organizations. They take full advantage of the high-tech era in which we live, as they complain about the "illegal alien invasion." Their common thread is the rhetoric of fear. This hysteria leads to tragic policies that challenge us as a moral society. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids, enormous funding for border enforcement, anti-immigrant ordinances and state laws, and record levels of detention are manifestations of the venom, while immigrants and citizen relatives are forced to suffer.

Arizona’s SB 1070 is an example of the hysteria-driven results. The controversial law would make it a state crime for an alien to be in Arizona without carrying the required documents, bar state and local officials from enacting sanctuary laws, and crack down on those sheltering, hiring, and transporting undocumented aliens. The intent of the legislation is to make life miserable for the undocumented in Arizona in hopes of achieving "attrition through enforcement." Critics charge that the law invites racial profiling and exceeds state authority.

In this keynote essay, delivered at Loyola University New Orleans on November 5, 2010, Professor Hing provides an overview of the background on local and state laws that attempt to regulate immigration, how much of the racist attitudes toward immigrants have become institutionalized within the current immigration system, and current enforcement strategies that prey heavily on immigrant workers who are victims of trade policies and globalization. I argue that given an understanding of how our nation’s immigration laws have evolved in the context of globalization we should calm down and stop the anti-immigrant rhetoric. We should gather ourselves and use our collective wisdom to address immigration policy and the need for reform in a thoughtful, reasoned manner.

Keywords: immigration law, globalization, Arizona, SB 1070

Suggested Citation

Hing, Bill Ong, Reason Over Hysteria: Keynote Essay (2011). Loyola University Journal of Public Interest Law, 2011, Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper No. 2011-18, Available at SSRN:

Bill Ong Hing (Contact Author)

University of San Francisco - School of Law ( email )

2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
United States

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