Friday, November 07, 2014

A Few Links to Dispel Conservative Myths Part Three: Immigration

Four centuries ago, the first European colonists landed in North America. It took about five minutes for them to decide to start excluding other would-be immigrants from joining them. Catholics, Jews, Muslims, anyone not from northern Europe, no matter whom you are, at some point we've managed to come up with one reason or another why you shouldn't join us in the great melting pot of the USA.

And it doesn't look like hostility towards immigrants is going to wane any time soon. On the contrary, American conservatives are fighting any and all immigration with as much fervor as ever. Why? Because the Republican party has shown that it has no interest in trying to appeal to the interests of anyone except people who are non-Hispanic whites who practice Christianity. And those aren't the people who are going to make up America's potential immigrant population. The Republican party has enough problems with the fact that America is becoming less white and less Christian; it doesn't need any more of those same folks coming here.

I'll let a Republican explain the situation in his own words. Drew Turiano was a candidate for US House in this year's Republican primary in Montana. Mr. Turiano proposes a moratorium on all immigration because,

"Virtually all of the millions of illegal and legal immigrants who are coming into America and have come into America for decades are big-government people. They have only supported the party of big government – the Democrats. There is no evidence that most immigrants will support the party of small government today or in the future – the Republican Party."

"There is no good reason for any immigrant to support us in the GOP or tea party. They will always align themselves with the party that will give them free education, free health care, free housing, free welfare, free whatever."

So, "there is no good reason for any immigrant to support us in the GOP or tea party"? Hey, no argument here buddy. Consider though, that this means that either (1) Republicans are so bigoted that they believe that immigrants are too stupid to ever understand how voting Republican is in their interests, or (2) Republicans are aware that their message sucks.

Of course the 12 million undocumented immigrants already in the US represent an even bigger problem for Republicans. Americans overwhelmingly support immigration reform that would allow illegal immigrants an eventual path to citizenship. Even Fox News has discovered this. According to their June, 2013 poll, "74 percent (of voters) favor finding a way for the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country to remain -- and eventually become citizens." And in 2013 -astoundingly- the Senate responded, passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill, with 14 Republicans voting in support. Alas, the House refused to take up the bill, with Speaker John Boehner saying, "We’ll do our own bill, through regular order and it’ll be a bill that reflects the will of our majority and the people we represent." That of course was a lie; the House did not pass an immigration reform bill.

It's also interesting that Boehner made it clear that the House the would pass a bill, "that reflects the will of our majority and the people we represent." In other words not the will of the three-quarters of the American people who want to see immigration reform implemented. And why would the House refuse to take up a reform that most people favor? Fortunately, we have Republican Congress Steve Stockman to un-muddy the waters for us. From Matter Fuller of Roll Call:

""That’s a non-starter," Stockman said, "because they’re asking the Republicans to put a rope around their neck and hang themselves."

When President Ronald Reagan gave amnesty to some 3 million people in the country illegally in 1986, Stockman said, the Republican Party lost control of the state of California, because the newly minted Americans went on to vote for Democrats, who they saw as more supportive of their plight.

There is a "direct correlation" between amnesty for illegal aliens and an increase in Democrat voters.""

Interestingly, the Republican party is showing no hesitation to sacrifice long-term appeal for short-term gain. Never mind that that the party's actions are making their tent smaller and smaller, the Republicans in power today were put there by people totally hostile to immigration reform. Or as of Fernando Espuelas of The Hill put it,

"Politically, the GOP is like a man standing on quicksand. After killing immigration reform in Boehner's House of Representatives, voting to deport the Dreamers and urging the faster deportation of the border kids, the party's chances of attracting a sizable percentage of Latino voters needed to win national elections recedes with every acrid declaration by Republican politicos seeking to court the far-right midterm election voters they need to win the Senate in November."
And of course all of the above only covers the election-related reasons why conservatives hate and fear immigrants. I haven't even touched on the traditional reasons; those based on the prejudice that immigrants cannot be assimilated and, if allowed they are allowed to stay here they will transform our country out of recognition. John Gibson of Fox News, for example, had repeatedly expressed his fear that Muslims will be allowed into America in significant numbers, and force Americans to comply with the religious laws of Islam.

But enough with the motivations, let's get to:

Part Three. Immigration Myths
Myth: America's southern border is being flooded with illegal immigrants.
Fact: There is no net immigration to the United States from Mexico. Immigration from Mexico to the United States has fallen from nearly 700,000 in 2005 to only 140,000 in 2010.

Myth: The Obama administration has a lax attitude towards deporting illegal immigrants.
Fact: The Obama administration has deported more illegal immigrants than any previous administration. Between 2009 and 2013, it deported more than 2 million persons - more than President George W. Bush did in eight years in office.

Myth: In 2014, America experienced an immigration crisis in which more than 50,000 children from Central American attempted to enter the United States illegally. President Obama deliberately encouraged them to do so.
Fact: Obama expressly warned Central American families not to send their children across the border. Furthermore, persons presenting themselves at the border and seeking refugee status are not "illegal immigrants." What encouraged Central American families to send their children north? US law.  Unaccompanied minors fall under the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, which passed the House and Senate unanimously and was signed into law by President George W. Bush. As Amy Campoy of the Wall Street Journal explained last month, those children, "who say they are scared to go back to their home country are screened to determine if they have "credible fear" of persecution or torture. In July, the most recent month available, 63% of those who claimed they were afraid to return were found to have met that criterion, down from 83% six months earlier, according to a report released to immigrant-rights groups by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services." Those granted asylum are released to family members in this country.

Myth: Illegal immigration is a huge cost to American taxpayers.
Fact: From the Hill: "An open letter to President George W. Bush in 2006, signed by around five hundred economists (including five Nobel laureates) stated the following:  "While a small percentage of native-born Americans may be harmed by immigration, vastly more Americans benefit from the contributions that immigrants make to our economy, including lower consumer prices.""

From Policy.Mic: "Undocumented immigrants pay taxes every time they buy gas, clothes, or new appliances. They also contribute to property taxes — a main source of school funding — when they buy or rent a house or apartment. In addition, the Social Security Administration estimates that half to three-quarters of undocumented immigrants pay federal, state, and local taxes, including $6 billion to $7 billion in Social Security taxes for benefits they will never get using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number issued to them by the IRS. They can receive schooling and emergency medical care, but not welfare or food stamps as they lack the documents needed for those benefits."

Undocumented workers contribute about $13 billion per year to the Social Security Trust Fund, and only get back a small fraction.

Myth: Illegal immigrants increase violent crime.
Fact: Policy.Mic: "Nationally, since 1994, the violent crime rate has declined 34% and the property crime rate has fallen 26%, even as the number of undocumented immigrants has doubled. According to the conservative Americas Majority Foundation, crime rates during the period 1999–2006 were lowest in states with the highest immigration growth rates. During that period the total crime rate fell 14% in the 19 top immigration states, compared to only 7% in the other 31. Truth is, foreign-born people in America — whether they are naturalized citizens, permanent residents, or undocumented — are incarcerated at a much lower rate than native-born Americans, according to the National Institute of Corrections." 

Myth: "The current practice of extending U.S. citizenship to hundreds of thousands of 'anchor babies' must end because it creates a magnet for illegal immigration into our country." - insane Congressman Steve King (R) of Iowa
Fact: The birth of a child in North America does not guarantee the child nor their parents the right to live in the United States. In the decade that ended with President Obama's first term in office, more than 100,000 parents of U.S.-born children were deported.

Myth: Illegal immigrants take jobs from Americans.
Fact: Studies overwhelmingly indicate that immigrants and American-born workers do not compete for the same jobs.

Myth: "Reports of illegal migrants carrying deadly diseases such as swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus and tuberculosis are particularly concerning. Many of the children who are coming across the border also lack basic vaccinations such as those to prevent chicken pox or measles." - Congressman Phil Gingrey (R) of Georgia
Fact: Ebola has never been reported in Latin America. And ironically, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico – the four countries sending the largest numbers of unaccompanied minors to the US, all have higher measles vaccination rates than the US.

Myth: "The majority of the people that are coming to Arizona and trespassing are now becoming drug mules." - Arizona Governor Jan Brewer
Regarding undocumented immigrants brought to the US as young children, "For every one who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there who weighs 130 pounds — and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert." - insane Congressman Steve King (R) of Iowa

(Do I really have to address this one? How do these people get elected?)
Fact: Illegal immigrants are rarely involved in drug trafficking. From Politifact: "Prosecutions stemming from immigrations and customs activities by the Department of Homeland that "immigration" charges accounted for almost 89 percent of cases, while drug and drug-trafficking charges accounted for just over 5 percent."

"The lesson of these 236 years is clear – immigration makes America stronger. Immigration makes us more prosperous. And immigration positions America to lead in the 21st century."- President Obama, July 4, 2012

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