Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The links between racist hate groups and anti-immigrant organizations

The Eternal Hope blog has a nice piece setting out the racist hate groups that underlay many anti-immigrant organizations. For anyone who follows these groups closely, it is very clear that their agenda is not merely tighter immigration restrictions but wholesale xenophobia and racist nativism. The mainstream media has been slow to recognize these connections and will still quote hate-groups such as FAIR - the Federation for American Immigration Reform as if they were respectable advocacy groups. In addition to prior posts on the links between hate groups and anti-immigrant groups, I highly recommend reading Eternal Hope's incisive piece, "The link between Anti-Immigrant groups and White Supremacists," at (

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Ten Myths about Immigration - Legal and Illegal

1. Immigrants don’t pay taxes

All immigrants pay taxes, whether income, property, sales, or other. As far as income tax payments go, sources vary in their accounts, but a range of studies find that immigrants pay between $90 and $140 billion a year in federal, state, and local taxes. Even undocumented immigrants pay income taxes, as evidenced by the Social Security Administration’s “suspense file” (taxes that cannot be matched to workers’ names and social security numbers), which grew $20 billion between 1990 and 1998.

Academy of
Sciences, Cato
Institute, Urban
Institute, Social Security Administration

2. Immigrants come here to take welfare1

Immigrants come to work and reunite with family members.
Immigrant labor force participation is consistently higher than native-born, and immigrant workers make up a larger share of the
U.S. labor force (12.4%) than they do the U.S. population (11.5%). Moreover, the ratio between immigrant use of public benefits and the amount of taxes they pay is consistently favorable to the U.S., unless the “study” was undertaken by an anti-immigrant group. In one estimate, immigrants earn about $240 billion a year, pay about $90 billion a year in taxes, and use about $5 billion in public benefits. In another cut of the data, immigrant tax payments total $20 to $30 billion more than the amount of government services they use.

Lawyers Association, Urban Institute

3. Immigrants send all their money back to their home countries

In addition to the consumer spending of immigrant households, immigrants and their businesses contribute $162 billion in tax revenue to U.S. federal, state, and local governments. While it is true that immigrants remit billions of dollars a year to their home countries, this is one of the most targeted and effective forms of direct foreign investment.

Cato Institute,
Development Bank

4. Immigrants take jobs and
opportunity away from Americans

The largest wave of immigration to the U.S. since the early
1900s coincided with our lowest national unemployment rate and fastest economic growth. Immigrant entrepreneurs create jobs for
U.S. and foreign workers, and foreign-born students allow many U.S. graduate programs to keep their doors open. While there has been no comprehensive study done of immigrant-owned businesses, we have countless examples: in Silicon Valley, companies begun by Chinese and Indian immigrants generated more than $19.5 billion in sales and nearly 73,000 jobs in 2000.


5. Immigrants are a drain on the U.S. economy

During the 1990s, half of all new workers were foreign-born,
filling gaps left by native-born workers in both the high- and
low-skill ends of the spectrum. Immigrants fill jobs in key
sectors, start their own businesses, and contribute to a thriving economy. The net benefit of immigration to the
U.S. is nearly $10 billion annually. As Alan Greenspan points out, 70% of immigrants arrive in prime working age. That means we haven’t spent a penny on their education, yet they are transplanted into our workforce and will contribute $500 billion toward our social security system over the next 20 years.

National Academy of
Sciences, Center for Labor Market
Studies at Northeastern
University, Federal Reserve

6. Immigrants don’t want to learn English or become

Within ten years of arrival, more than 75% of immigrants speak English well; moreover, demand for English classes at the adult level far exceeds supply. Greater than 33% of immigrants are naturalized citizens; given increased immigration in the 1990s, this figure will rise as more legal permanent residents become eligible for naturalization in the coming years. The number of immigrants naturalizing spiked sharply after two events: enactment of immigration and welfare reform laws in 1996, and the terrorist attacks in 2001.

U.S. Census
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services)

7. Today’s
immigrants are different than those of 100 years ago

The percentage of the U.S. population that is foreign-born now stands at 11.5%; in the early 20th century it was approximately 15%. Similar to accusations about today’s immigrants, those of 100 years ago initially often settled in mono-ethnic neighborhoods, spoke their native languages, and built up newspapers and businesses that catered to their fellow émigrés. They also experienced the same types of discrimination that today’s immigrants face, and integrated within American culture at a similar rate. If we view history objectively, we remember that every new wave of immigrants has been met with suspicion and doubt and yet, ultimately, every past wave of immigrants has been vindicated and saluted.

U.S. Census Bureau

8. Most immigrants cross the border illegally

Around 75% have legal permanent (immigrant) visas; of the 25% that are undocumented, 40% overstayed temporary (nonimmigrant) visas.

INS Statistical Yearbook

9. Weak U.S. border enforcement has lead to high undocumented

From 1986 to 1998, the Border Patrol’s budget increased sixfold and the number of agents stationed on our southwest border doubled to 8,500. The Border Patrol also toughened its enforcement strategy, heavily fortifying typical urban entry points and pushing migrants into dangerous desert areas, in hopes of deterring crossings. Instead, the undocumented immigrant population doubled in that timeframe, to 8 million—despite the legalization of nearly 3 million immigrants after the enactment of the Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986. Insufficient legal avenues for immigrants to enter the U.S., compared with the number of jobs available to them, have created this current conundrum.

Cato Institute

10. The war on terrorism can be won through immigration

No security expert since September 11th, 2001 has said that restrictive immigration measures would have prevented the terrorist attacks—instead, they key is good use of good intelligence. Most of the 9/11 hijackers were here on legal visas. Since 9/11, the myriad of measures targeting immigrants in the name of national security have netted no terrorism prosecutions. In fact, several of these measures could have the opposite effect and actually make us less safe, as targeted communities of immigrants are afraid to come forward with information.

Newspaper articles, various security experts, and think tanks

Source: Prepared by the National Immigration Forum, June 2003


Friday, January 25, 2008

Should we treat undocumented immigrants humanely?

Should we treat undocumented aliens humanely? Asking this question today is akin to asking whether special privileges should be given to prisoners: 'no damnit, they should live on bread and water and break rocks, etc…' I particularly detest the use of the term "aliens" a political buzzword perfected by the Republican hate machine. Be that as it may, the so-called Department of Homeland Security is carrying out aggressive actions to round up undocumented workers. These actions take no regard for the fact that the person rounded up and deported may be the sole-breadwinner or caretaker to a family of children. Nativists have no problem with leaving a group of "illegal" children destitute and without parents. Most human beings feel otherwise. One need not be "pro-immigrant" to question whether families should be split up with the children remaining parent-less or father-less. I think most rational human beings believe that families should be accorded some level of respect or protection.

A recent article in the New York Times illustrates the fear and intimidation that is taking place throughout the country.

Facing Deportation but Clinging to Life in U.S.


Published: The New York Times, January 18, 2008

WAUKEGAN, Ill. — She is a homeowner, a taxpayer, a friendly neighbor and an American citizen. Yet because she is married to an illegal immigrant, these days she feels like a fugitive. …

From Illinois to Georgia to Arizona, these families are hiding in plain sight, to avoid being detected by immigration agents and deported. They do their shopping in towns distant from home, avoid parties and do not take vacations. They stay away from ethnic stores, forgo doctor’s visits and meetings at their children’s schools, and postpone girls’ normally lavish quinceañeras, or 15th birthday parties.

They avoid the police, even hesitating to report crimes.

“When we leave in the morning we know we are going to work,” said Elena G., a 47-year-old illegal Mexican immigrant and Waukegan resident of eight years who works in a factory near here. “ But we don’t know if we will be coming home.”

Last year, federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested more than 35,000 illegal immigrants, including unauthorized workers and immigration fugitives, more than double the number in 2006. They sent 276,912 immigrants back to their home countries, a record number.

Since about three-quarters of an estimated 11.3 million illegal immigrants nationwide are from Latin America, and many have spouses, children or other relatives who are legal immigrants and citizens, the sense of alarm has spread broadly among Hispanics.

A survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research group in Washington, found in December that 53 percent of Hispanics in the United States worry that they or a loved one could be deported. ….

“The raids have really spooked them in a big way,” said Douglas S. Massey, a Princeton demographer who has studied Mexican immigrants for three decades.

Based on his own surveys and recent reports from other scholars doing field research in the Southwest and in North Carolina and other states, Professor Massey said the “palpable sense of fear and of traumatization” in immigrant communities was more intense than at any other time since the mass deportations of Mexican farm workers in 1954. …

Nonetheless, for many residents fear has become a daily companion. One woman, a 37-year-old naturalized citizen who was born in Central America but grew up in Waukegan, has decided to stay away from the city even though her mother still lives here. The woman, a lawyer practicing in the Chicago area, fell in love with an illegal immigrant from Guatemala.

After they were married in 2004, she realized that under immigration law it would be difficult for him to become legal, even though she is a citizen. Because he had crossed the border illegally, seeking legal status would require him to return to Guatemala for years of separation, with no guarantee of success. She abandoned plans to move back to Waukegan. She and her husband feel safer in Chicago, with its large Hispanic population.

“I know everything about Waukegan; it’s my town,” said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous because of her husband’s status. “I know the high school, the first Mexican restaurant. I should feel free to go in and out whenever I want to. But it’s not the same freedom anymore.” …

Miriam M. and her husband, married in 2004, own a tidy house on a peaceful street and are raising four children from previous marriages, all United States citizens. He runs his own landscaping company, paying business and property taxes.

Even though Miriam M. is a citizen, it is difficult for her husband to obtain legal papers, since he entered illegally from Mexico 12 years ago. She did not focus on her husband’s illegal status when she first met him.

“Boyfriend and girlfriend, you don’t think much about it,” she said. “All right, maybe I didn’t want to think much about it.”

Now he stays close to home and avoids downtown Waukegan, driving around the city limits when he can.

Mr. Hyde and other city officials said they expected to wait several years before Congress adopted new laws to control illegal immigration. Meanwhile, the mayor said, he will do what he can by enforcing local law.

“Do I believe in closing the borders?” Mr. Hyde said. “Do I believe in putting troops down there? You bet your life. Illegal is illegal, and that’s the end of the conversation, really.”

Legislation has been introduced by Rep. Hilda Solis [D, CA-32] to mitigate the impact of the ICE raids on families. The bill entitled, Families First Immigration Enforcement Act, H. R. 3980, ( whose stated purpose is:

To provide for safe and humane policies and procedures pertaining to the arrest, detention, and processing of aliens in immigration enforcement operations.

Although the bill almost certainly has no chance of passing it is incumbent upon anyone who believes that all people should be treated humanely – most especially working families – to contact their representatives and immigrant advocates.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. George Santayana

A Story on the Mexican Repatriation During the Great Depression

Immigrationfeature has a story titled "Immigrants: The Last Time America Sent Her Own Packing Fueled by the Great Depression, an anti-immigrant frenzy engulfed hundreds of thousands of legal American citizens in a drive to ‘repatriate’ Mexicans to their homeland," by Steve Boisson. Click here for the full story. It truly is amazing that so much has been written on this topic in the last year or two, which has remained invisible for so long. If Congress passes a pending bill sponsored by Rep. Hilda Solis (D-California) that would create a comission to more fully investigate this history, we would have an even better idea of what happened during what Francisco Balderrama has aptly called the Decade of Betrayal. For a recent law review article on the Mexican repatriation and its parallels to the modern "war on terror," click here. (Source:

Americans have not heard of the forced removal of approximately one million persons—U.S. citizens as well as noncitizens—of Mexican ancestry from the United States during the Great Depression. This is true despite the fact that the number of repatriates dwarfed by about tenfold the number of persons of Japanese ancestry who were interned by the United States government during World War II. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness of the repatriation is consistent with the general invisibility of Latina/o civil rights deprivations throughout much of U.S. history.

An economic threat had placed the nation’s future in jeopardy, caused severe economic distress for many U.S. citizens, and effectively compelled the government to act. A discrete and insular minority, the most available and vulnerable target, suffered from the government’s policy choice.

The tragedy of the Mexican repatriation is well worth remembering as the United States continues to wage a “war on terror” in response to the horrible loss of life on September 11, 2001. This “war” has targeted Arab and Muslim noncitizens suspected of no crime and subjected them to special immigration procedures, arrest, detention, and deportation from the United States.

In criticizing the government’s responses to the tragic events of September 11, the specter of the internment of the persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II has often been invoked. The analogy is apt in important ways, with racial profiling based on statistical probabilities at the core of the governmental policies adopted in both incidents. In my estimation, however, the repatriation of the 1930s also has modern relevance in evaluating the measures taken by the U.S. government in the name of national security after September 11. This paper draws out the historic and legal parallels between these two episodes in U.S. legal history and suggests that the nation should pay heed to the excesses of the past in considering its practices and policies
in the “war on terror.”
(Kevin R. Johnson, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, School of Law, University of California at Davis, "The Forgotten “Repatriation” of Persons of Mexican Ancestry and Lessons for the “War on Terror”" PACE LAW REVIEW, Volume 26 Fall 2005 Number 1)

Immigrants: The Last Time America Sent Her Own Packing
Fueled by the Great Depression, an anti-immigrant frenzy engulfed hundreds of thousands of legal American citizens in a drive to ‘repatriate’ Mexicans to their homeland.

By Steve Boisson

A 9-year-old girl stood in the darkness of a railroad station, surrounded by tearful travelers who had gathered up their meager belongings, awaiting the train that would take her from her native home to a place she had never been. The bewildered child couldn't know she was a character in the recurring drama of America's love-hate relationship with peoples from foreign lands who, whether fleeing hardship or oppression or simply drawn to the promise of opportunity and prosperity, desperately strive to be Americans. As yet another act in the long saga of American immigration unfolds today, some U.S. citizens can recall when, during a time of anti-immigrant frenzy fueled by economic crisis and racism, they found themselves being swept out of the country of their birth.

Emilia Castañeda will never forget that 1935 morning. Along with her father and brother, she was leaving her native Los Angeles. Staying, she was warned by some adults at the station, meant she would become a ward of the state. "I had never been to Mexico," Castañeda said some six decades later. "We left with just one trunk full of belongings. No furniture. A few metal cooking utensils. A small ceramic pitcher, because it reminded me of my mother…and very little clothing. We took blankets, only the very essentials."

As momentous as that morning seemed to the 9-year-old Castañeda, such departures were part of a routine and roundly accepted movement to send Mexicans and Mexican-Americans back to their ancestral home. Los Angeles County–sponsored repatriation trains had been leaving the station bound for Mexico since 1931, when, in the wake of the Wall Street crash of 1929 and the economic collapse and dislocation that followed, welfare cases skyrocketed. The county Board of Supervisors, other county and municipal agencies and the Chamber of Commerce proclaimed repatriation of Mexicans as a humane and utilitarian solution to the area's growing joblessness and dwindling resources. Even the Mexican consul stationed in Los Angeles praised the effort, at least at the outset, thanking the welfare department for its work "among my countrymen, in helping them return to Mexico." The Mexican government, still warmed by the rhetoric of the 1910 revolution, was touting the development of agricultural colonies and irrigation projects that would provide work for the displaced compatriots from the north.

By 1935, however, it was hard to detect much benevolence driving the government-sponsored train rides to Mexico. For young Castañeda's father, Mexico was the last resort, a final defeat after 20 years of legal residence in America. His work as a union bricklayer had enabled him to buy a house, but -- like millions of other Americans -- his house and job were lost to the Depression. His wife, who had worked as a maid, contracted tuberculosis in 1933 and died the following year. "My father told us that he was returning to Mexico because he couldn't find work in Los Angeles," Castañeda said. "He wasn't going to abandon us. We were going with him. When L.A. County arranged for our trip to Mexico, he and other Mexicans had no choice but to go."

Francisco Balderrama and Raymond Rodríguez, the authors of Decade of Betrayal, the first expansive study of Mexican repatriation with perspectives from both sides of the border, claim that 1 million people of Mexican descent were driven from the United States during the 1930s due to raids, scare tactics, deportation, repatriation and public pressure. Of that conservative estimate, approximately 60 percent of those leaving were legal American citizens. Mexicans comprised nearly half of all those deported during the decade, although they made up less than 1 percent of the country's population. "Americans, reeling from the economic disorientation of the depression, sought a convenient scapegoat," Balderrama and Rodríguez wrote. "They found it in the Mexican community."

During the early years of the 20th century, the U.S. Immigration Service paid scant attention to Mexican nationals crossing the border. The disfavored groups among border watchers at the time were the Chinese, who had been explicitly barred by the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, criminals, lunatics, prostitutes, paupers and those suffering from loathsome and contagious diseases. In actuality, the Mexican immigrant was often a pauper, but he was not, in the law's language, "likely to become a public charge." Cheap Mexican labor was in great demand by a host of America's burgeoning industries. The railroads, mining companies and agribusinesses sent agents to greet immigrants at the border, where they extolled the rewards of their respective enterprises. Border officials felt no duty to impede the labor flow into the Southwest.

The Mexican population in the United States escalated during the years following 1910. By 1914, according to author Matt S. Meier, the chaos and bloodshed of the Mexican revolution had driven as many as 100,000 Mexican nationals into the United States, and they would continue to cross the border in large numbers legally and illegally. Immigration laws were tightened in 1917, but their enforcement at the border remained lax. While laws enacted in 1921 and 1924 imposed quotas on immigrants from Europe and other parts of the Eastern Hemisphere, quotas were not applied to Mexico or other Western nations. This disparity found its detractors, particularly East Texas congressman John C. Box, who was a vocal proponent of curtailing the influx from the south.

Though none of Box's proposals became law, his efforts drew favorable coverage in the Saturday Evening Post and other journals that editorialized against the "Mexicanization" of the United States. When a Midwestern beet grower who hired Mexican immigrants appeared at a House Immigration Committee hearing, Box suggested that the man's ideal farm workers were "a class of people who have not the ability to rise, who have not the initiative, who are children, who do not want to own land, who can be directed by men in the upper stratum of society. That is what you want, is it?"

"I believe that is about it," replied the grower.

Those who exploited cheap Mexican labor, argued Box and his adherents, betrayed American workers and imperiled American cities with invading hordes of mixed-blood foreigners. Those who railed against quotas should visit the barrios in Los Angeles, wrote Kenneth L. Roberts in the Saturday Evening Post, "and see endless streets crowded with the shacks of illiterate, diseased, pauperized Mexicans, taking no interest whatever in the community, living constantly on the ragged edge of starvation, bringing countless numbers of American citizens into the world with the reckless prodigality of rabbits."


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Hate Crimes Grow Against Latinos as Racist Groups Exploit the Immigration Debate

As we have noted in prior postings, the anti-immigrant/nativist movement is animated as much, if not wholly, by hatred against Latinos (whether legal or undocumented) as any regard for the integrity of our borders. This is plainly evident in the racist rants of nativists such as Michelle Malkin, Lou Dobbs, Tom Tancredo and more respectable spokesmen such as Harvard’s Samuel Huntington. Now, the Southern Poverty Law Center which has a long and honorable tradition of exposing hate groups has documented the increase of hate crimes against Latinos masquerading as anti-immigrant cant. In a recently published article by Brentin Mock, entitled, “Immigration Backlash: Violence Engulfs Latinos,” SPLC documents this wave of hatred and violence:

The results are no less tragic for being predictable: Although hate crime statistics are highly unreliable, numbers that are available strongly suggest a marked upswing in racially motivated violence against all Latinos, regardless of immigration status. According to hate crime statistics published annually by the FBI, anti-Latino hate crimes rose by almost 35% between 2003 and 2006, the latest year for which statistics are available. In California, the state with the largest population of Latinos in the country, anti-Latino hate crimes almost doubled in the same period.

What follows is a representative sampling of some of the more egregious examples of physical and psychological violence waged against Latinos over the past two-and-a-half years. The perpetrators range from racist skinheads to rogue Border Patrol agents to otherwise everyday citizens who took it upon themselves to repel an "invader," terrorize a "criminal alien," or exterminate a "cockroach."

The full article can be found at:

It is time for principled Americans to step up and speak against this wave of anti-Latino violence.

Friday, January 18, 2008

American Apparel Takes Principled Stance on Immigration

Cutting Edge Apparel Company, American Apparel, attracted a lot of attention when it posted an ad in favor of comprehensive and fair immigration reform. Many companies have taken positions on issues, mostly on the right of the political spectrum, and hence have gotten no flack from the chattering classes. Kudos to American Apparel for taking on a controversial issue! In case you are curious here is the ad. ( From Daily Kos:

Through a major public education and media advocacy campaign called ‘Legalize LA’, the trendy clothing company, the largest garment factory in the US, has been taking out ads in major national newspapers like The New York Times to make the case for legalizing the nation’s undocumented workers. (Click here to check out their ads – no worries, their usually racy look's been toned down to discuss this serious topic.) The purveyor of porn, which just went public last month, has been featuring profiles of its workers – all of them with legal status – and what they and their families bring to the company and the economy. Given American Apparel is based in Los Angeles, the city with the nation’s highest number of undocumented residents, the firm’s principled and practical stance on what to do with the nation’s undocumented folks – allow them to earn legal status so they can participate in the nation’s economy and exercise their rights as workers to the fullest - works for me.

The Creative Class and the Value of Tolerance and Diversity

While eristic-ragemail has focused on exploring the flawed and racist thinking behind nativist and anti-immigrant commentators there is a flip side to this coin. Namely, commentators have pointed out that cosmopolitan and tolerant centers are more vital economically and culturally than less-tolerant places. The most well-known proponent of this theory is Richard Florida, Professor of Business and Creativity at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, and author two national bestsellers, The Rise of the Creative Class and The Flight of the Creative Class. His books before that, especially The Breakthrough Illusion and Beyond Mass Production, paved the way for his provocative looks at how creativity is revolutionizing the global economy. Florida basically posits that cities with greater tolerance and diverse environments advance while those that are intolerant and narrow-minded will wilt. It is a provocative idea.

Florida maintains a blog where he sets forth many of his ideas. ( Of most interest to this site is a view that pro-diversity and a pro-immigration stance is good for the country and serves as an antidote to the daily harangues set out by the nativist crowd. See for example, Great video of Google's VP for People Operations Laszlo Bock -- a Romanian immigrant -- testifying on Capitol Hill regarding the practical benefits of immigration to Google and the US. It is a great testimony and confirms much of what we know on immigration and talent. ( Florida posits a host of provocative ideas which run counter to so much established anti-urbanist and anti-immigrant cant, so pushed on Americans by right-wing radio and cable-vision “news shows.” One article that I found especially intriguing was his analysis of how the neo-cons actually started as anti-urbanists and only later became associated with a hawkish foreign policy. (; “Tearing Down the Towers: The Right's Vision of an America Without Cities,” By Jeremy Adam Smith, (The Public Eye Magazine - Winter 2006) One Nation, Two Futures? ( For those looking to affirm a progressive and more humanitarian view on immigration and other issues, I strongly advocate giving his articles a read.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Cadillac Queens and Crackers: The Nativist Missives of Alan Wall in Mexico

Ronald Reagan would often support his policies with anecdotes that were patently untrue. One of his favorite fictional quips was the “Chicago welfare queen,” who Reagan alleged had 80 names, 30 addresses, 12 Social Security cards, and had collected benefits for "four non-existing deceased husbands," bilking the government out of "over $150,000." The real welfare recipient to whom Reagan referred was actually convicted for using two different aliases to collect a total of $8,000. Reagan continued to use his version of the story even after the press pointed out the actual facts of the case to him. The reason he was able to continue to use this clearly false story was that it played to the bigotries and the biases of his audience. Even if it was untrue, in the minds of his followers it was consistent with their view of reality.

For years much of the news and analysis about Latin America has been distorted by a similar prism of logic. To read textbooks or even academic books written in the 50s, 60s, and 70s about Latin America and Latin Americans is like reading about African-Americans in the 20s, 30s and 40s. There is an underlying – and really quite smug – condescension that pervades such works. They are, by today’s standards, embarrassing. What changed in the intervening years was the growth of a Latin American scholarship to counter the caricatured reality that North Americans were being fed by so-called analysts, journalist and academics. Much of the information we get today is still informed by this sensibility, but at least now we have recourse to alternative sources of information.

The Mexican intellectual community presents a rich array of views on the issue of immigration as it does on many issues dealing with the United States. See for example:

Politics by Other Means: The “Why” of Immigration to the United States, Fredo Arias-King (Center for Immigration Studies, December 2003) (

“[Carlos] Monsivais speaks out on Latinos” (El Universal, April 10, 2004) (

Mexican Intellectuals' Perceptions of Mexican Americans and Chicanos, 1920-Present, Richard Griswold del Castillo, (Aztlan: A Journal of Chicano Studies, v27 n2 p33 74 Fall 2002)

“Whatever the Outcome: The Proposed U.S. Immigration Bill: A Challenge for Calderon to Practice Self-Help in Mexico,” Jenna Schaeffer, (Council on Hemispheric Affairs, June 14, 2007) (

“Interview with Jorge Castañeda, Former Foreign Minister of Mexico,” (Council of the Americas, November 29, 2007) (

What I find most disturbing about the so-called immigration debate is that it is animated as much by anti-Latino animus as by any concern for U.S. workers and the so-called integrity of “our borders.” The most glaring example of this animus is the writing of Harvard professor, Samuel P. Huntington, who makes little secret of his disdain for Latin American culture. (See my piece, “Nativism’s Apologist,” December 20, 2007, The web is awash with ant-immigrant sites that trade as much on hatred as they do on policy. I was challenged by one such site written by a gringo living in Mexico and married to a Mexican woman.

Allan Wall publishes a blog and website about Mexico, immigration and Mexican society on a number of websites, the most prominent being As explained by Wall, the site was named after the first white girl to be born in the New World. What this says about Mexico is as telling as what it says about Wall. Clearly, we have a person anchored in, and in love with, Anglo-America. This bias informs everything that Wall writes. And Wall writes prodigiously.

Wall, who hails from Oklahoma, often features pictures of himself in the battle fatigues and helmet that he wore while stationed in Iraq. I doubt that Wall sees the irony in writing about Latin America while picturing himself in a soldier’s battle uniform. Given the long history of imperialism, gunboat diplomacy, and CIA shenanigans in Latin America one would think that any informed and astute U.S. commentator on Latin America would foreswear such images. Again, Wall is merely reflecting his paradigm, biases and preconceptions.

It is therefore, no surprise that most of his commentary is little more than one long anti-Mexican rant. Wall uses myriad anecdotes to express his ideas. Rarely, if ever, are any of these anecdotes supported by citations to supporting material. “For Mexico's Elite, It's Open Season On Samuel Huntington” April 22, 2004 (; “You Say You Want A Reconquista?,” July 5, 2007 (; “Allan Wall Articles” (comprehensive index of Wall’s articles) ( As well, Wall makes sweeping generalizations that also go unsupported. He imputes motives to whole classes of people, “Mexicans believe…” “The Mexican upper class is motivated by X factor…” Almost any policy move by the Mexican government is viewed as proof of its mendacity. All this makes for good reading to many of his compatriots in the United States, but does little to inform us about Mexico. As Rosalyn Carter once said of President Reagan, “He makes us comfortable with our prejudices.” The same could be said about Wall.

What is most disturbing is that Wall gives credence to a range of crackpot theories. For example, Wall subscribes to the “reconquest” theory. You Say You Want A Reconquista?, The “reconquista” theory is a crackpot theory, advanced prominently by Samuel Huntington, holds that Mexico has designs on the U.S. Southwest—land lost the U.S. in the Mexican War of 1848. No respectable commentator, politician or journalist, either Mexican or Chicano, advances such a nutty idea. But people like Wall and many of his kind, impute this motive as if it were real. Every crackpot can feel comfortable in his resentment of Latinos part of a “fifth column,” waiting to undermine “our society.”

A typical column by Wall deals with the issue of Aztec human sacrifice. Again this is told anecdotally, with Wall mentioning some conversation where Mexicans allegedly defended the practice as advanced medical techniques. Wall imputes nonsense into the monolithic Mexican mouth and then sets out to dethrone it. According to him, Mexicans are in denial about their barbaric past. Never mind the ongoing scientific debate among archeologists regarding which Meso-American cultures practiced human sacrifice and to what extent; the reality is of little consequence to Wall. It’s the fact that Mexican’s refuse to face this “fact.” The implicit message is that Mexicans are barbarous.

Wall rails on like a redneck high on moonshine. He bemoans the rate of welfare use by Hispanics. The Hispanic rate of welfare dependency is higher than [that of] whites and almost as high as [that of] blacks,” he claims in a recent posting. Contradictions don’t matter: Hispanics come only to enrich themselves and return to Mexico but they are also migrating in droves to reclaim the Southwest. Nativist claptrap flows constantly from Wall’s keyboard:

Mexican society as a whole does not respect the sovereignty of the United States of America - and it's ridiculous to expect it to. By "Mexican Society", I refer to the chattering classes (politicians, media, intellectuals) and also to the conventional wisdom on the street. Certainly, in conversations with individual Mexicans, I have heard sympathy for the American side of the problem and even bemusement that the gringos could allow themselves to be so abused by immigrants.

Notice how nobody in Mexico is left out this generalization: all Mexicans – from the chattering classes to the man on the street -- disrespect US sovereignty.

Wall makes no bones about his nativist ideology; he states forwardly that he subscribes to the nativist writings of Peter Brimelow (who wrote Alien Nation). His postings are linked to a variety of nativist and anti-immigrant sites and he is regularly featured on such websites and radio broadcasts. So why worry about one more nut on the Web? Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), called VDARE a "hate group," that was "once a relatively mainstream anti-immigration page," but by 2003 became "a meeting place for many on the radical right." The group also criticized VDARE for publishing articles by Jared Taylor and Sam Francis, along with other authors who deal with race and intelligence.

Once a relatively mainstream anti-immigration page, VDARE has now become a meeting place for many on the radical right.

One essay complains about how the government encourages "the garbage of Africa" to come to the United States. The same writer says once the "Mexican invasion" engulfs the country, "high teenage birthrates, poverty, ignorance and disease will be what remains."

Another says that Hispanics have a "significantly higher level of social pathology than American whites. ... In other words, some immigrants are better than others." Yet another complains that a Jewish immigrant rights group is helping "African Muslim refugees" come to America.

Brimelow's site carries archives of columns from men like Sam Francis, who is the editor of the newspaper of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens, a group whose Web page recently described blacks as "a retrograde species of humanity."

It has run articles by Jared Taylor, the editor of the white supremacist American Renaissance magazine, which specializes in dubious race and IQ studies and eugenics, the "science" of "race betterment" through selective breeding.

( "Based on evidence compiled by the Intelligence Report, the Southern Poverty Law Center is adding VDARE to its list of hate sites on the Web. "

As a full-time resident of Mexico,Wall may have somewhat more credibility, when speaking of Mexican attitudes towards the U.S. than say, Tom Tancredo. But this doesn’t entitle him to a free pass when it comes to immigration issues. Wall like most nativists, is a racist at heart—even though he may not consider himself one. And when he speaks, it should be noted that he spouts the same ideology put forward by the racists at the Federation for American Immigration Reform ("FAIR"). See Heidie Beirich (Where Anti-Immigrant Zealots Like Lou Dobbs Get Their 'Facts' - Wall may be a gringo in Mexico, but he remains a true nativist in league with his racist supporters north of the border.

Keeping America White
At a meeting of 'paleoconservatives,' former Forbes editor Peter Brimelow and others sound the alarm on non-white immigration
Southern Poverty Law Center
By Heidi Beirich and Mark Potok

Friday, January 4, 2008

Viva Barack Obama!!

Floor Statement of Senator Barack Obama on Immigration Reform

Monday, April 3, 2006

Mr. President, I come to the floor today to enter the debate on comprehensive immigration reform. It is a debate that will touch on the basic questions of morality, the law, and what it means to be an American.

I know that this debate evokes strong passions on all sides. The recent peaceful but passionate protests that we saw all across the country--500,000 in Los Angeles and 100,000 in my hometown of Chicago--are a testament to this fact, as are the concerns of millions of Americans about the security of our borders.

But I believe we can work together to pass immigration reform in a way that unites the people in this country, not in a way that divides us by playing on our worst instincts and fears.

Like millions of Americans, the immigrant story is also my story. My father came here from Kenya, and I represent a State where vibrant immigrant communities ranging from Mexican to Polish to Irish enrich our cities and neighborhoods. So I understand the allure of freedom and opportunity that fuels the dream of a life in the United States. But I also understand the need to fix a broken system.

When Congress last addressed this issue comprehensively in 1986, there were approximately 4 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. That number had grown substantially when Congress again addressed the issue in 1996. Today, it is estimated that there are more than 11 million undocumented aliens living in our country.

The American people are a welcoming and generous people. But those who enter our country illegally, and those who employ them, disrespect the rule of law. And because we live in an age where terrorists are challenging our borders, we simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States undetected, undocumented, and unchecked. Americans are right to demand better border security and better enforcement of the immigration laws.

The bill the Judiciary Committee has passed would clearly strengthen enforcement. I will repeat that, because those arguing against the Judiciary Committee bill contrast that bill with a strong enforcement bill. The bill the Judiciary Committee passed clearly strengthens enforcement.

To begin with, the agencies charged with border security would receive new technology, new facilities, and more people to stop, process, and deport illegal immigrants.
But while security might start at our borders, it doesn't end there. Millions of undocumented immigrants live and work here without our knowing their identity or their background. We need to strike a workable bargain with them. They have to acknowledge that breaking our immigration laws was wrong. They must pay a penalty, and abide by all of our laws going forward. They must earn the right to stay over a 6-year period, and then they must wait another 5 years as legal permanent residents before they become citizens.

But in exchange for accepting those penalties, we must allow undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows and step on a path toward full participation in our society. In fact, I will not support any bill that does not provide this earned path to citizenship for the undocumented population--not just for humanitarian reasons; not just because these people, having broken the law, did so for the best of motives, to try and provide a better life for their children and their grandchildren; but also because this is the only practical way we can get a handle on the population that is within our borders right now.

To keep from having to go through this difficult process again in the future, we must also replace the flow of undocumented immigrants coming to work here with a new flow of guestworkers. Illegal immigration is bad for illegal immigrants and bad for the workers against whom they compete.

Replacing the flood of illegals with a regulated stream of legal immigrants who enter the United States after background checks and who are provided labor rights would enhance our security, raise wages, and improve working conditions for all Americans.

But I fully appreciate that we cannot create a new guestworker program without making it as close to impossible as we can for illegal workers to find employment. We do not need new guestworkers plus future undocumented immigrants. We need guestworkers instead of undocumented immigrants.

Toward that end, American employers need to take responsibility. Too often illegal immigrants are lured here with a promise of a job, only to receive unconscionably low wages. In the interest of cheap labor, unscrupulous employers look the other way when employees provide fraudulent U.S. citizenship documents. Some actually call and place orders for undocumented workers because they don't want to pay minimum wages to American workers in surrounding communities. These acts hurt both American workers and immigrants whose sole aim is to work hard and get ahead. That is why we need a simple, foolproof, and mandatory mechanism for all employers to check the legal status of new hires. Such a mechanism is in the Judiciary Committee bill.

And before any guestworker is hired, the job must be made available to Americans at a decent wage with benefits. Employers then need to show that there are no Americans to take these jobs. I am not willing to take it on faith that there are jobs that Americans will not take. There has to be a showing. If this guestworker program is to succeed, it must be properly calibrated to make certain that these are jobs that cannot be filled by Americans, or that the guestworkers provide particular skills we can't find in this country.

I know that dealing with the undocumented population is difficult, for practical and political reasons. But we simply cannot claim to have dealt with the problems of illegal immigration if we ignore the illegal resident population or pretend they will leave voluntarily. Some of the proposed ideas in Congress provide a temporary legal status and call for deportation, but fail to answer how the government would deport 11 million people. I don't know how it would be done. I don't know how we would line up all the buses and trains and airplanes and send 11 million people back to their countries of origin. I don't know why it is that we expect they would voluntarily leave after having taken the risk of coming to this country without proper documentation.

I don't know many police officers across the country who would go along with the bill that came out of the House, a bill that would, if enacted, charge undocumented immigrants with felonies, and arrest priests who are providing meals to hungry immigrants, or people who are running shelters for women who have been subject to domestic abuse. I cannot imagine that we would be serious about making illegal immigrants into felons, and going after those who would aid such persons.

That approach is not serious. That is symbolism, that is demagoguery. It is important that if we are going to deal with this problem, we deal with it in a practical, commonsense way. If temporary legal status is granted but the policy says these immigrants are never good enough to become Americans, then the policy that makes little sense.

I believe successful, comprehensive immigration reform can be achieved by building on the work of the Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Committee bill combines some of the strongest elements of Senator Hagel's border security proposals with the realistic workplace and earned-citizenship program proposed by Senators McCain and Kennedy.

Mr. President, I will come to the floor over the next week to offer some amendments of my own, and to support amendments my colleagues will offer. I will also come to the floor to argue against amendments that contradict our tradition as a nation of immigrants and as a nation of laws.

As FDR reminded the Nation at the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the Statue of Liberty, those who landed at Ellis Island ``were the men and women who had the supreme courage to strike out for themselves, to abandon language and relatives, to start at the bottom without influence, without money, and without knowledge of life in a very young civilization.''

It behooves us to remember that not every single immigrant who came into the United States through Ellis Island had proper documentation. Not every one of our grandparents or great-grandparents would have necessarily qualified for legal immigration. But they came here in search of a dream, in search of hope. Americans understand that, and they are willing to give an opportunity to those who are already here, as long as we get serious about making sure that our borders actually mean something.

Today's immigrants seek to follow in the same tradition of immigration that has built this country. We do ourselves and them a disservice if we do not recognize the contributions of these individuals. And we fail to protect our Nation if we do not regain control over our immigration system immediately.