Now that the process of immigration reform is in full swing (markup for the Senate bill will start next week, and a House bill is expected soon), the anti-immigrant nativists have been out and about trying to kill the bill any way they can. The Center for Immigration Studies, an anti-immigrant “think tank” started by white supremacist John Tanton, has been one such source of fear-mongering and misinformation about the bill. Just yesterday, their Executive Director Mark Krikorian gave an interview in which he encouraged Republicans to stay away from immigration reform and give up their attempts to court the Latino vote–because Latinos tend to have “a majority of the children that are born to them are illegitimate” and “very high rates of welfare use” that make them lean Democratic.
A blog post yesterday from the Immigration Policy Center (entitled “Terrified Nativists Unleash Everything They’ve Got Against Senate Bill”) does an amazing job rebuking some of these “arguments” put forth by CIS and other anti-immigrant players. Calling the arguments “devoid of logic and reason,” IPC points out that the opponents’ alternative to immigration reform is the same as its always been–mass deportation, self-deportation, sealing the border, and returning to “an idyllic and imaginary America modeled on a 1950s sitcom”.
Check out the IPC’s counter-arguments below:
- We must “secure the border” before we can even discuss “amnesty”: The billions we have already spent on border security, the hundreds of miles of fencing, the thousands of new Border Patrol agents, the surveillance drones—none of it is enough. We’ve been pouring greater and greater amounts of money and manpower into border security for two decades, but if we just keep going…How far must we go? Perhaps until the border is impermeable, which is an impossibility. Regardless, the CIS perspective ignores the fact that channeling unauthorized immigrants and future immigrants into legal pathways, where they are subject to background checks, does more to improve the nation’s security than border fencing.
- The Boston Marathon bombings are a reason to hold off on legalization: Given that the Boston bombers were not unauthorized immigrants, this position is absurd. CIS is assigning collective guilt to all foreign-born individuals because of the actions of two people who came to this country legally as children. Precisely what sort of screening allows an interviewer to determine if two children will grow up to be terrorists? More to the point, how are these two children relevant to the situation of an unauthorized Mexican gardener or an unauthorized Salvadoran nanny? CIS claims that the FBI failed in its background checks of the Boston bombers, so it would probably fail in checking the backgrounds of 11 million unauthorized immigrants. So what is the alternative? Leave them unauthorized, in which case no one even tries to check their backgrounds? Tear apart the country trying to round them up and deport them all? Wait for them to “self-deport”?
- Legalizing unauthorized immigrants will drag down the U.S. economy: Even though unauthorized immigrants are already part of the U.S. labor force, and even though granting them legal status would enable them to earn higher wages and therefore pay more in taxes, we are supposed to believe that they will somehow become more costly to the public treasury. This does not pass the sniff test. Logic suggests that workers who earn higher incomes will buy more goods and services, and start more businesses, and raise children who become productive workers and taxpayers. Moreover, under the Senate bill, legalized immigrants wouldn’t be eligible for public-benefit programs for 15 years. This amounts to a lot of pluses and very few minuses.
- The Senate bill will start a fiscally disastrous process of chain migration: The idea here is that legalized immigrants will start importing all sorts of old relatives from the homeland, who will then bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid. Those who subscribe to this fanciful belief would benefit from a look at the actual bill the Senate introduced. The point system outlined in the bill gives more points to younger applicants and none to applicants above 37. The sibling category will be eliminated after 18 months. And the married adult children category is capped at the age of 31. It seems unlikely that a system like this will provoke a tsunami of foreign-born senior citizens.