NumbersUSA, “the leading immigration-restriction group,” is currently featuring a 20-minute video made up of a rambling patchwork of anti-immigrant activists explaining “why so many are willing to cross the border and overstay visas to remain in our country.” However, most of the video is focused on making the case against Mexican migration, despite the fact that there are also millions of undocumented immigrants from countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, the Philippines, Honduras, India, Korea, Brazil, China, and Vietnam.
The video features Michael Cutler, Mark Krikorian, and Steven Camarota of the “nativist lobby’s” Center for Immigration Studies, Dan Stein from the hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform, Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, Cuban-American “activist” Roan Garcia-Quintana, and ex-politician Starletta Hairston. The activists provide conflicting narratives which suggest that “pro-amnesty” “liberals” should be more concerned about the deplorable conditions in Mexico while simultaneously suggesting that Mexico is not as bad as people think and therefore migration to the US is unjustified, harmful, and immoral.
Stein goes as far to claim that the Mexican government is deliberately exporting its poverty:
KRIKORIAN: Compassionate pro-Amnesty people…often have a misperception about what the sending countries are like…But Mexico for instance is an upper-middle income country by world standards…it’s not poor compared to Congo or Pakistan…it’s not like they’re being consigned to Treblinka or something like that.
CUTLER: If you’re truly a liberal as I am, then you should be alarmed that people are leaving their families behind out of desperation to come here. That’s what a real liberal does. They need to be compassionate and understand the terrible situation that these people are in.
CUTLER: Mexico is one of the wealthiest nations in the world. The third wealthiest man in the world lives in Mexico.
STEIN: If the objective of the Mexican government is to try to offload potential political opposition that might challenge its one-party political system, you want to try to encourage as many people who can’t find jobs to leave the country and make it not their problem, but make it our problem.
The video itself acknowledges that Mexico’s big problem is an unequal distribution of wealth and suggests that the Mexican government should get its act together and start providing for its citizens. Fair enough. Mexican politicians need to step up to the plate and start evenly distributing the wealth — but what about the other top nine immigrant-sending countries whose GDP is below $168,580 million? Mexico may rank #13 in the world in terms of its gross domestic product, but other top immigrant-sending countries such as Honduras (#111), El Salvador (#95), Guatemala (#79), Vietnam (#60) and the Philippines (#47) are within the same range as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (#118) and Pakistan (#48).
Of course Krikorian isn’t going to argue for an increase in immigration from Pakistan, Congo, or any other poor country. In fact, he’s even opposed to accepting political refugees from war-torn countries. Furthermore, Mexico is no Treblinka, but half the population is living in poverty with one fifth in extreme poverty. Regardless of whose fault it is (some would argue the US is at least partly responsible), the fact is that their condition will not improve overnight and for those who live hand to mouth, crossing the border into the US is the best means of survival and the only hope of breaking the cycle of poverty.
A few remarks from Rector, Krikorian, and Garcia-Quintana are particularly revealing of what their real concerns are. Garcia-Quintana, who considers himself to be part of an “old wave” of immigration, makes sure people know that his “family’s roots are in Spain,” and has described Mexican and Central American immigrants as “Indo-Hispanics” who “impose” their culture on him. In the video he explains that its the “new wave of people” who come to America “to change America.” Rector warns that the US is being flooded by people who do not share the same values and who threaten the nation’s prosperity while Camarota points out that the Hispanic population is “benefiting from affirmative action,” despite the fact that they are the descendants of people who arrived after the 1970’s civil rights era.
Republished with permission from the Wonk Room/Think Progress