10 Myths Conservative Media Will Use Against Immigration Reform
The Xenophobe Party
The xenophobia has already begun.
Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today urged him to reconsider immigration legislation because of the bombings in Boston. “The facts emerging in the Boston Marathon bombing have exposed a weakness in our current system,” Paul writes. “If we don’t use this debate as an opportunity to fix flaws in our current system, flaws made even more evident last week, then we will not be doing our jobs.”
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), senior Republican senator on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is responsible for an immigration reform bill, is using much the same language – suggesting that the investigation of two alleged Boston attackers will “help shed light on the weaknesses of our system.”
Can we just get a grip? Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a naturalized American citizen. He came to the United States when he was nine years old. He attended the public schools of Cambridge, Massachusetts, not far from where I lived.
Immigration reform is not about national security, in any event. It’s about doing what’s right, and giving the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in America — many of them here for years, working at jobs and paying withholding taxes, and many of them children — a path to citizenship.
It’s about making sure they aren’t exploited by employers and others who know they won’t complain to authorities. And giving their families the security of knowing that they can live peacefully and securely without fearing deportation.
That path shouldn’t be so easy as to invite others from abroad to abuse the system, and the nation has every right to demand that undocumented immigrants pay a penalty and move to the back of the queue when it comes to attaining citizenship. But the path should be reasonable, straightforward, and fair.
Other Republicans want President Obama to declare the surviving Boston bombing suspect an “enemy combatant,” in order to question him without any of the protections of the criminal justice system.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) says treating him as an enemy combatant is appropriate “with his radical Islamist ties and the fact that Chechens are all over the world fighting with Al Qaeda.”
Hold it. Tsarnaev was arrested on American soil for acts occurring in the United States. No known evidence links him to Al Qaeda. He is Muslim — so is Graham really saying Muslims are presumed guilty until proven otherwise?
During the Bush administration, the Supreme Court upheld the indefinite military detention of Yaser Esam Hamdi, an American citizen. But he was captured carrying a weapon on an Afghanistan battlefield, and the Court said the purpose of wartime detention was to keep captured enemies from returning to fight, and that “indefinite detention for the purpose of interrogation is not authorized.”
Memo to the Xenophobe Party: The so-called “war on terror” is a war without end. If we arrest American citizens and hold them indefinitely without trials, without lawyers, and without the protection of our system of justice, because we suspect they have ties with terrorists, where will that end?
Our civil rights and liberties lie at the core of what it means to be an American, and we have fought for over two centuries to protect and defend them.
The horror of the Boston Marathon is real. But the xenophobic fears it has aroused are not. I would have hoped United States senators felt an obligation to calm public passions than pander to them.
We need immigration reform, and we must protect our civil liberties. These goals are not incompatible with protecting America. Indeed, they are essential to it.
The Dis-Uniting of America (2): Social Issues and The Demographic Split
My first reaction on hearing of the Senate’s failure to get 60 votes for even modest measures to regulate the flow of guns into the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, such as background checks supported by 90 percent of Americans, was to be furious at the spinelessness of the four Senate Democrats who voted against the measure (Mark Begich, Max Baucus, Mark Pryor, and Heidi Heitkamp), as well as the Republicans. And also with Harry Reid, who wouldn’t lead the fight on changing the filibuster rule when he had the chance.
The deeper message here is that rural, older, white America occupies one land; younger, urban, increasingly non-white America lives in another. And the dividing line on social issues (not just guns, but also abortion, equal marriage rights, and immigration reform) runs between the two.
Yes, I know: Plenty of people who are rural, older, and white aren’t regressives on guns, abortion, equal marriage, and immigration. And plenty who are urban, younger, and non-white are. My point is that if you want to explain what’s happening in America on these non-economic issues you have to understand what’s happening to the nation demographically — and why the demographic split is important.
Begich, Baucus, Pryor, and Heitkamp may be Democrats but they’re also from rural, older, white America. That land has disproportionate political power in the Senate, and a gerrymandered House — which may not bode well for immigration reform over the next few months, and suggests continuing battles over “state’s rights” to determine who can marry and when human life begins.
Over time, though, older, rural, white America is losing ground to a nation becoming ever younger, more urban, and increasingly non-white — a fact that threatens the former so much that it’s in full backlash against the forces of change.
“When I was almost eight years old, my mother courageously brought my brother and me from Japan to Hawaii to flee my father, a compulsive gambler and alcoholic. Every immigrant has his or her own reason for coming to the United States -- but all of us, like my mother, my brother, and me, come here hoping for a better life... While immigration reform is clearly an economic issue, it is first and foremost about people. People like me. I want to make sure other families like mine have the same opportunity to come to America, work hard, play by the rules, and find a better life.”—Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
What It's Like to Grow Up American and Undocumented
Undocumented immigrants often work during high school and college to help their families financially.
By EMILY DERUY
There are millions of kids growing up undocumented in the United States, but who are they?
A new infographic based on Americans by Heart: Undocumented Latino Students and the Promise of Higher Education by Dr. William Perez provides some indication.