From Bad to Worse: Immigrant Smearing in a Time of Midterm Cholera

MudslingingWell it’s finally here—open season on immigrants. You don’t even have to stare into the headlights of campaign politics to observe how blithely some candidates have taken aim at their opponents and managed to catch immigrants in their crosshairs. Two recent campaign ads portray undocumented immigrants as darkly-clothed thieves—like in one of those overly-dramatized alarm system commercials where just when you turn your back, Hispanic immigrants apparently come sneaking across the border, receive over-sized checks, and steal your children’s college tuition. Right.

Aside from the blatant racial stereotyping, the authors of these ads don’t even get their twisted “facts” straight. But even more troubling is the ubiquity of immigrant-bashing in the run up to midterms. Ever since Arizona’s SB 1070—and some would correctly argue well before—demonizing immigrants has evolved into the latest political strategy in campaign warfare. At least we’d expect this from restrictionsist groups, who by the way, are still hard at work scapegoating immigrants with their usual broken logicloose facts and ludicrous conclusions. But now it’s going mainstream.

So in the first video we have tax breaks, Social Security benefits and preferred college tuition rates for undocumented immigrants—and footage of Latino immigrants sneaking across the border. The second video features, footage of immigrants sneaking across the border (with flashlights, mind you), welcoming marching bands, and this is my favorite, undocumented immigrants receiving a Publishers Clearing House-sized check, riding away in a limo, as the band plays and fireworks burst overhead. There may also have been a high five, but you’ll have to check.

Clearly, as America’s Voice references in a blog post, fact-checkers and journalists have dissected these spurious claims and found them to be terribly misleading, if not untrue. But what did we expect? Facts often end up on the cutting room floor, especially when political gains are possible by ignoring them. It is, as Adam Sewer of the American Prospect points out, “a transparent attempt to gain political support by demonizing Latinos.” Which gets us where exactly? Sure, some candidates will likely ride the anti-immigrant wave into office, but what happens when we DO eventually decide to tackle immigration once and for all? It’s not like our broken immigration system is going anywhere and it’s clearly not feasible to deport nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants? Are we really going to begin a serious policy debate with race-baiting and immigrant-bashing?

seth hoyPractical policy solutions to our immigration problems won’t be found by exploiting and distorting an emotional issue. All politicians need to move out of a framework of “who’s the toughest on immigration” and into “what are the problems and how do we fix them,” or our immigration problems, much like television campaign ads, will only get worse.

Seth Hoy

Republished with permission from Immigration Impact.

Photo by sayanythingblog


  1. Annette says

    Seth, YOU need to get your facts straight.

    Illegal aliens, people you like to call “undocumented immigrants,” ABSOLUTELY DO get the public services you claim they can’t access. If a woman from another country enters this country (either illegally or legally) and manages to have a baby here, that baby is instantly an American citizen who can access all the US social service programs that US taxpayers fund. That means if the kid is disabled in any way, he or she is entitled to 100% complete Social Security Disability for the rest of his or her life. Even if the parent never even paid anything into the Social Security system, their kid can help suck the life out of it just because they managed to have the birth in our country.

    Modifying the US Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment would help in this area. As long as we have a policy that allows birthright citizenship, we have an enticement for women to come here to give birth to children that are “instant citizens” who can utilize all of the public resources American taxpayers fund. Birthright citizenship is common law from centuries ago when people couldn’t travel easily from country to country. It was written into the Fourteenth Amendment in this country to ensure that children of newly freed slaves (from the Thirteenth Amendment) would be citizens. It’s not appropriate for today’s world where you can fly to the US, pop out a baby, and instantly access all benefits of citizenship. There is no good reason for keeping the birthright citizenship rule in place anymore. It’s archaic, outdated and a terrible enticement for abuse by people all around the world. It also allows people to jump ahead of the immigration line because all those babies and kids are automatically a priority over potential adult workers who could come here and actually help our country. And each one of those “instant citizens” can sponsor the immigration of all of their family members. This policy, and amnesty for illegal immigration is just not fair to those immigrants who abided by the laws, nor is it fair to those who are still waiting to come here. Furthermore, it does not solve the world’s problems to let the rich masters of overpopulated countries off the hook for the extreme economic hardship they’ve created for the poor in their countries. Instead, it enables those who benefit from Mexico’s poverty to keep ripping off citizens of both Mexico and the US.

    We have millions of poor and uneducated people flooding our gates to escape poverty, crime and other problems in their own countries, and those people are a drain on our system much more than a benefit to our country. We can continue to “clean up” other countries problems by taking in their poor, or we can focus on getting those countries to change their policies that continue to create such abject poverty. Mexico is a prime example where the disparity of income between the rich and the poor will continue to create problems for the US until we demand change that allows a strong middle class to develop there. It would be nice if we can help struggling people from other countries, but when they come here illegally and FORCE us to give them our resources, of course hard working American taxpayers are going to resent that. That’s why we’re having another backlash from the voters right now. People are tired of being taken advantage of, especially during a down economy.

    If we’re going to solve the immigration problems we face, the first thing we need to do is to stop allowing “birth tourism” and birthright citizenship. Then we can look at more reasonable ways to increase immigration based on our country’s needs, not on the needs of the lawbreakers who sneak into our country and drain our public resources.

    By the way Seth, this has NOTHING to do with race or racism. It’s not about Latinos. Our country has plenty of Latino immigrants who are hurt by illegal immigration just like the rest of us. But your argument is false, so perhaps it’s just easier for you to point fingers and call those who disagree with you a bunch of racists. That’s why most people don’t bother talking anymore with illegal alien supporters like Seth. They just go to the polls and vote for Republicans instead.

    If you want to solve these issues, stop falsely claiming it’s about racism when it’s really about legal vs ILLEGAL immigration.

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