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Doris Meissner misleads, downplays border security's role in terrorism, uses bogus talking points

Doris Meissner - former INS commissioner and now working for the Migration Policy Institute - takes to the pages of the Washington Post to offer "5 Myths about immigration" (link). The title is unintentionally correct: most of them have her spreading myths to varying degrees. The five are listed below in bold, followed by my comments:

1. Immigrants take jobs from American workers.
This is as misleading as most of the other entries on the immigration economics page: she's only looking at the supposed fiscal benefits of immigration without taking into account all of the costs, fiscal and non-fiscal. To her credit, she's not engaging in outrageous claims like the Center for American Progress does; as it is, the most she can say is: "economists estimate that wages for the vast majority of American workers are slightly higher than they would be without immigration". And, that's after she admits that "an influx of new workers pushes wages down" and then admits that (per her) the wages of low-skilled workers are decreased slightly. And, throughout it all, she refers simply to "immigration" and "immigrant", without acknowledging the different immigrants will have different impacts, and that a small number of high-skilled entrepreneurs are probably skewing the results and that without them the costs of massive immigration would become even more evident. Given the very slight and misleading argument she presents for massive immigration, one wonders: what exactly is the bottom line benefit to the vast majority of U.S. citizens?

2. Immigration is at an all-time high, and most new immigrants came illegally.
I'll trust her figures are correct on this.

3. Today's immigrants are not integrating into American life like past waves did.
The answer to most of that is already on the immigration tradition fallacy page. To make things worse, she doubles-down:

However, the unauthorized status of millions of foreign-born immigrants can slow integration in crucial ways. For example, illegal immigrants are ineligible for in-state tuition at most public colleges and universities, putting higher education effectively out of their reach. And laws prohibiting unauthorized immigrants from getting driver's licenses or various professional credentials can leave them stuck in jobs with a high density of other immigrants and unable to advance.

For the first, she's supporting something like the DREAM Act, and anti-American bill that would let illegal aliens take college educations from U.S. citizens. The second is related to the discussion on the immigration wage floor page: some of those "unauthorized immigrants" (in English: illegal aliens) would become competition for higher-skilled American jobs, further impacting American workers.

4. Cracking down on illegal border crossings will make us safer.
This is where she runs off the rails, saying among other things:

Still, our southwest border is more a classic law enforcement challenge than a front line in the war on terrorism. Antiterrorism measures rely heavily on intelligence gathering and clandestine efforts that are unrelated to border enforcement.

The reader should take a look at the excerpts from Chapter 3 of the 9/11 Commission Staff report, and the entries on the immigration terrorism page. Why exactly she wouldn't at least make secure the border noises isn't exactly clear. And, to compound the problem she engages in the busboys canard and based on a self-selected group of unnamed experts:

The seasoned enforcement officials I have spoken with all contend that if we provided enough visas to meet the economy's demand for workers, border agents would be freed to focus on protecting the nation from truly dangerous individuals and activities, such as drug-trafficking, smuggling and cartel violence.

5. Immigration reform cannot happen in an election year.
This is the call to action where she calls for comprehensive immigration reform. Her claim that it could happen this year seems to be belied by what amnesty supporters are actually doing.

UPDATE: In conjunction with this article, Meissner will be taking questions on 5/3/10. Here are some I submitted.

Sun, 05/02/2010 - 13:32 · Importance: 4