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'The wrong response to the losses suffered': Three takes on 9/11 and immigrants

Clever Rivas makes a rubbing of his brother Moises N. Rivas' name during memorial ceremonies for the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on lower Manhattan at the World Trade Center site, September 11, 2012.
Clever Rivas makes a rubbing of his brother Moises N. Rivas' name during memorial ceremonies for the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on lower Manhattan at the World Trade Center site, September 11, 2012.
Pool/Getty Images

Today's 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks hasn't met with the same news coverage or high-profile observances as did last year's decade anniversary, but the long-term effects of the attacks are no less relevant today. 

This includes the far-reaching effects on immigrants, especially but not limited to those from the Middle East and from Muslim-majority countries in general. There have been some interesting opinion essays published today to that effect. Here is a sampling.

On CNN's InAmerica blog, contributor and author Sumbul Ali-Karamali writes about Muslims still living in fear of being targeted 11 years after the attacks, in spite of attempts to educate the public that Islam is not "a religion preaching violence," as she writes: 

...we realized that if we didn’t explain our beliefs and traditions, then other people would write our stories for us.

Despite our efforts, that’s exactly what has happened.

Although 9/11 did compel some Americans to learn more about Islam, it also triggered a wave of anti-Islam feeling that has burgeoned.  And though there have been interfaith initiatives, books on Islam, documentaries, education efforts, and shows like "All-American Muslim," polls show that Americans’ negative views of Islam have increased since 9/11, not decreased.

Such trends cannot help but discourage even the most optimistic of American Muslims; many of us are more fearful now than a decade ago, and entire Muslim communities feel besieged.

In the Washington Post, author and editor Nathan Lean writes about "the wrong response to the losses suffered" and what has ensued for Muslims in the U.S. since:

While it is normal to still feel the pain inflicted by the merciless and misguided terrorists that, more than a decade ago, carried out their unthinkable deed, the wounds of that time have not healed. They have worsened. Instead of emerging from the darkness as a nation just as united in its determination to combat terrorism as in its commitment to unify a hurting population, the passing years have only witnessed more fracture as suspicion, anger and prejudice directed at American Muslims has grown and manifested itself in ugly and un-American ways.

Last year, in one of the most recent studies to date, the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution found that nearly half of all Americans believe that the values of Islam are incompatible with American values. The same percentage also reported that they would be uncomfortable with a mosque being built in their neighborhood and forty-one percent admitted they would be uncomfortable if a teacher at the elementary school in their community were Muslim.

The 9/11 attacks were strongly reflected in immigration policy, coloring public attitudes and inspiring a wave of enforcement-heavy measures aimed at curbing illegal immigration. Blogger Marisa Treviño got into this today on the Latina Lista site:

Because of 9/11, the progress in relations that the United States was making with Mexico ground to a halt. Instead of seeing the virtues of Mexican immigrant labor, albeit undocumented, and recognizing that Mexican workers also lost their lives when the World Trade Center collapsed, Mexican workers were vilified as being accomplices to the terrorists. So much so, that the rumor that Al Qaeda is slipping across the US-Mexico border still persists among some groups.

Because of 9/11, it seems like overnight common people felt empowered to keep the country safe from immigrants. From Long Island to Pennsylvania, undocumented immigrants were brazenly targeted with unprovoked fatal beatings. Congressional leaders regurgitated falsehoods about undocumented immigrants from the floor of the Chambers — all in the name of keeping the country safe.

All of these serve as reminders that 11 years later, many different kinds of wounds left by the attacks have yet to heal. Read more about the lasting effects of 9/11 on the nation's immigration landscape here.