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You Choose '08: Immigration

By Steve Grove

Head of News and Politics

Few issues in the public dialogue inspire as much passion as the issue of immigration. While most Americans recognize the importance of protecting the country's borders, there is still enormous debate about how we should treat the roughly 12 million undocumented workers currently living in the United States. The questions around immigration cut to the core of American identity, and the debate often finds itself at the nexus of politics, culture, geography, and security. Immigration isn't merely a political issue - it's a personal issue.

One of the most poignant examples we've seen of the immigration debate on YouTube has come from 9500Liberty, a channel started by Eric Byler to highlight the immigration battle taking place in Prince William County, Virginia. 9500 Liberty is the address of an intersection where immigration protests became heated after local policy makers debated an ordinance denying certain rights to local immigrants.

Most famously, Rep. Tom Tancredo brought the issue of immigration into the primary presidential race. In this video, he asked YouTubers if they've been impacted by immigration. He received quite a number of video responses, like this one from hccowboy, who shares a personal story of how immigration has affected his workplace — in his opinion, for the worse. In a very different video response, tonymynd, whose parents came from Mexico to the United States illegally, argues in favor of treating all immigrants, regardless of their status, with respect.

The Courage Campaign has produced a series of videos in which people recount their immigrant stories. In this one, writer Arianna Huffington talks about her experience as an immigrant — and why she believes immigrants are sometimes used as political scapegoats. Meanwhile, this video from kocotv of a recent immigration protest in Oklahoma captures the raw emotional intensity of this debate.

And finally, as divisive as this issue is, some YouTubers have nevertheless been able to approach it from a comedic perspective. In this video from LatinoComedyProject, the popular "I'm a Mac/I'm a PC" campaign becomes the set-up for a rather "un-PC" sketch about immigration.
To watch and hear more about this issue, check out our playlist below and of course feel free to join in on the conversation yourself.
Steve G.