SOME FACTS AND FICTIONS ABOUT IMMIGRATION
THERE IS A REALITY BEHIND ALL THE RECKLESS RHETORIC
The Supreme Court’s 4 to 4 deadlock over Obama’s executive action in protecting 4 million undocumented illegal immigrants (mainly the children of illegals) leaves the case to the lower courts to work out. Or not. Since immigration seems to have become the third rail of this year’s U.S. presidential election and the prime impetus for Great Britain’s Brexit decision, let’s take a look at what’s fomenting such anti-immigrant hostility. In Europe, the flood of refugees from the Middle East is probably the most rational motivation for Brexit even though the population of Great Britain is 81% lily white. That’s not the case here where whites (the “non-Hispanic white” variety as the Census calls us) make up slightly more than 60% of the total U.S. population. But just how much are illegals “taking jobs away from Americans” which is the prime motivation for anti-immigrant sentiment here and Great Britain. (Discounting, if you will, The Donald’s cries that Obama and Hillary are flooding the country with Muslims who might be terrorists because: Stupid.)
I confess that I was and am supportive of Obama’s executive actions in protecting illegals who were brought here as infants and children by their parents. I see no reason to punish them for the illegal actions of their parents. But looking at Obama’s immigration record, we find some justification for many immigrant groups who label him the “Deporter In Chief,” at least when compared to previous administrations. Here’s some data:
In 2013 the Obama Administration deported some 438,421 illegals, an all time record. Between 2003 and 2013, an estimated 3.7 million illegals have been deported, and a whopping 2 million - 54% - have been deported by the Obama Administration. This is 23% more illegals than were deported under the Bush Administration. Today, the Obama Administration is on target to deport more people than all administrations between 1892 and 2000 combined.
Now let’s turn to incoming illegals. In fact, between 1990 and 2008, the number of illegals entering the U.S. climbed steadily from around 3.5 million in 1990 to 12.2 million in 2009 when Obama took office. Since then the rate of illegals entering the United Stats it has declined steadily each year. Yes, the Crash of 2008 had a great impact on illegals entering the country (there were scant job opportunities) but deportations of already residing illegals climbed during the Obama administration. This is the record. These are the facts.
So when The Donald cries that Obama/Hillary Clinton is/will be allowing illegals to flood the country (not that she has or ever had the power to do anything about it) he’s just plain wrong. Not, of course, that facts have anything to do with his campaign as we have seen time and time again. The Obama Administration’s proposal to resettle 10,000 Syrian refuges here in the United Sates hasn’t taken off. Thus far only some 1,700 such refugees have been resettled here far less than in Canada or in several European countries. So when Donald Trump and Republicans wax apoplectic over the Obama’s loose immigration policies, they are basically making shit up.
Yet all of this angst, anger, bigotry and fear-mongering rhetoric might have been avoided if the House of Representatives had taken up the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” Comprehensive Immigration Plan that was passed by the Senate in 2013. But they did not. Surprisingly, the Republican side of the “Gang of Eight” included Marco Rubio (R-TX), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) all of whom have pretty much bailed on the entire concept even though polls consistently show that a solid majority of us really do want immigration reform. See the chart below.
So even though Great Britain is 80% white and here in the U.S. illegal immigration has declined while deportations of illegals have skyrocketed, immigration is in both countries some hot button, third rail, atomic bomb trigger issue. One could cite Trump’s calls for banning Muslims from entering the country as a way to stop terrorist attacks, but that too flies in the face of facts when the vast majority of mass shootings over the past twenty years have ben perpetrated by good old fashioned American citizens. Huh. How odd. Well, not really.
So just what the fuck is going on? Well, it’s sort of similar to the vast gulf between Trump and Bernie supporters. The Trumpettes are all enraged over illegal immigrants taking American jobs. But the jobs they are talking about are mainly in the agriculture and service industries. Now, with an annual average income of $70,000 – nearly twice the national average – I rather doubt that the Trumpettes would be willing to move them and their families into un-air conditioned shacks in the middle of a California desert, pick grapes and lettuce under the blazing sun for 9 or 10 hours a day for the magnificent wage of $7.02 an hour before food and lodging costs are deducted from their paychecks. Call me crazy but I just don’t see this happening. Now, perhaps they are referring to the import of professional non-citizens under the non-immigrant H-1-B visa program, such program, by the way, much loved by our corporate life partners since they can pay H-1-B folks less than their American counterparts. Here’s pretty much solid proof about how much American businesses support this program, like the top 25 employers of non-citizens under the program below:
But the reason why immigrants – illegal, legal, in limbo – come in for so much hostility, anger and approbation is because they are easy targets, unable to defend themselves (without risking Obama deportation) and are vulnerable. This situation is pretty similar to the situation that gay men and woman found themselves in back in the day. We were easy targets for the American Family Association, Jerry Falwell, The Moral Majority, Lindsay Graham, Evangelicals, and every right wing Nazi groups in existence. But we fought back. Illegals cannot. Therefore, glomming onto “illegal immigrants are destroying America” is simply the same kind of scapegoating that gay men used to face (and still do) as pedophiles.
Me? I caught on to the right wing immigration follies back in the summer of 2015 when Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage were ablaze with righteous condemnation of Obama for allowing “rapists, murderers, drug lords and Latin thugs” into the country by the millions. I hadn’t seen such reports on CNN or ABC or Huffington or MSNBC so I decided to check it out. Googling something like “US allowing drug dealers from Central America in as child refugees” or something similar, there were the usual 2.5 million hits. But on the first four pages of these hits, at let’s call it 12 per page, the first two pages were full of radical right wing tomes that supported this proposition. It wasn’t until the middle of page three that even the Fox News “Breaking News Headlines” report that I’d seen came up. There was not a single reputable news operation – Reuters, AP, UPI, Univision, ITN, Al Jazeera, The New York Times, Washington Post – who was reporting this onslaught of thugs, rapists and criminals into the U.S.
Apparently Fox, Rush and Michael were being told this from one of their underground, anonymous sources, the “someone told me” person, the very same one I’ll posit who’s telling Trump that the Mexican government is sending Mexican rapists and murderers across the Rio Grande.
If Donald Trump wins the Presidency it will be accomplished on the basis of fiction and fantasies that while popular among his populist base, have no basis in reality. But then just the other day we witnessed what fact-less propaganda and wild rhetoric about immigrants can achieve:
Great Britain votes to leave the European Union.
And this folks, is the danger we all face in The Donald’s run for the Presidency.
Have a good day and don’t forget to VOTE BLUE this November as if the future of America depended on it.