Fire in North Chicago sheds light on American’s views of “illegals”


A fire broke out in a strip mall in West Rogers Park in Chicago on Friday. After investigation, it has been said that the fire was started by a blow torch being used by roofers. The roofers allegedly left the scene and did not return once the fire broke out. An extremely unfortunate situation that put many in danger and led to vast destruction of local businesses. A mistake, indeed, to not stay at the scene of a fire if actions taken by the roofers were the cause (intentional or not). Certainly, we can all agree.

But what I can’t agree with are the comments that readers of articles covering this story were saying.

I’ll bet $1,000 they’re illegal immigrants and will never be found or come forward.- iuriggs6


I agree. My guess, and I think it’s a damn good one, they were indeed illegal aliens. Maybe they were hired to torch this place, maybe not. In any case they need to be tracked down like the mad dogs they are and arrested. -CamelPaw357


Those roofers are already back in Guadalajara by now…. – fefifo2466

In my last post, I discussed the idea of viewing through particularities and not generalities. The readers (which by the way, these comments were on an article written by the Huffington Post) of this story demonstrated that they view the world through generalities. No where in the news story does it mention the race of the roofing crew that were working on the American Matress Store. Readers jumped to his extremely racist conclusion. Even so, if the roofers are Mexican, readers also jumped to the conclusion that they are “illegal” and deserve to be arrested. I find it both fascinating and sad how quickly Americans jump to judgmental conclusions regarding  scenario they, quite frankly, know nothing about.

In a country where we are battling immigration reform, Americans are so incredibly misinformed about the reality of immigrants in this country. Sweeping numbers — 11 million illegal aliens — are often cited when talking about immigration reform. Through media representation of this issue and commentary by readers, immigrants (illegal or not) are quickly categorized as undeserving, lazy, and criminal. But what Americans refuse to admit is that these “illegal aliens” are taking jobs American’s do not want. A large majority of Mexican immigrants in this country are working the fields growing, picking, harvesting, and distributing food to dinner tables across America. Indeed, slavery in America never ended, it just shifted to a different race. Many immigrants are working in the back of restaurants ensuring your meal is brought to you fresh, warm, and on clean dishes.  Many of these workers are struggling to support their families because our welfare system is built to only support those who aren’t working. For those that are, their benefits are cut and still their wages are not enough to feed their families.

The readers who made these ignorant, offensive comments likely won’t give up the food they eat, the clothes they wear, or the products they use because they were made by “illegals” — because of course, these readers are far more deserving of life’s necessities than these workers, right? Give me a break.

Until readers of these sorts of articles can read it with a empathetic heart, a critical lens, and a moral compass that isn’t pointed only at the well-being of themselves, we are never going to achieve equality and humanity will never witness ultimate dignity and respect.