immigration tradition fallacy

Today's immigration is not the same as yesteryear's

Many claim that because the massive immigration that occurred a century or so ago worked out OK, the current massive immigration will similarly work out OK.

This argument is an instance of the logical fallacy "Appeal to Tradition". The context has changed from a century ago. While there are certainly parallels, there are many differences and it's quite a leap to claim that the current situation will work out the same.

In fact, here are just nine of the differences between then and now:

  1. Many of today's immigrants are from Mexico, and the U.S. Southwest was briefly Mexican territory. Most past sending countries never held territory inside the U.S. The belief that the Southwest was stolen from Mexico is widespread in that country; in fact, a Zogby poll conducted in Mexico had 58% saying that the U.S. Southwest rightfully belongs to Mexico. There's also an indigenous movement holding that anyone of "native" blood should be able to travel anywhere within the Americas at will. There's no elite opposition to those sentiments, and in some cases the elite supports those sentiments.
  2. Many of our current illegal aliens are from a neighboring country, meaning they don't have to make a clean break, they can go back and forth. There are families with members on both sides of the border as well as a few million mixed-status families inside the U.S. (i.e., families with some legal/citizen members and others as illegal aliens).
  3. Related to that, past immigrants came here on ships; current immigrants can and do walk over.
  4. There wasn't a far-left, Gramscian "multiculturalism" movement a century ago. The related issue of political correctness makes it difficult for some to, for instance, use the correct names for things ("illegal aliens") rather than euphemisms ("undocumented workers").
  5. There were ethnic newspapers, but nothing like today's ethnic media.
  6. Immigrants who came through Ellis Island were checked for disease and suitability. And, they were pre-screened by the cruiseship companies, who were charged if someone was rejected. Nowadays, anyone can overstay their visa or just walk across.
  7. There's been a rapid increase in dual citizenship, leading to U.S. citizens with divided loyalties. 14% of U.S. citizens are eligible to be dual citizens, and Mexico encourages dual citizenship as a way of obtaining political power inside the U.S.
  8. The welfare state hardly existed a century ago.
  9. Obvious to anyone who's been to, say, Dallas or Los Angeles, there were many fewer people here a century ago than there are now.

Note that Univision anchor Jorge Ramos agrees with me on at least part of the above. In 2008, he said ( ):

The Hispanic community has created its own cultural space within the United States. That's different than for any other group of immigrants in the past. ... It's easier for someone in New York or Chicago to talk to the family via the Internet or a cell phone, or simply to go back and forth to Mexico or El Salvador, than it was for an Italian immigrant to go from New York to Sicily.

Last modified Jul 12, 2011
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Confused GOP funder Sheldon Adelson promotes immigration amnesty, misleads - 06/19/14

The Republican billionaires are coming out of the woodwork to support amnesty. A couple of days ago it was Fox News' Rupert Murdoch, today it's casino magnate and major GOP funder Sheldon Adelson.

John Oliver misleads about immigration, helps the wealthy harm American workers (HBO, "Undocumented Opinions") - 06/16/14

John Oliver is an unfunny English comic who was previously on Jon Stewart's show and who now has his own program on HBO called Last Week Tonight.

More ways Jennifer Rubin is wrong on immigration - 05/27/14

How can you tell when Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post is wrong on immigration? When she's writing or speaking about it. See her name's link for several past examples.

Scott Walker supports mass immigration, probably including amnesty - 11/20/13

As usual for those in the Koch family sphere, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker supports large-scale immigration. That is, a system where many more people could come here legally than do so currently.

Jason Stverak misleads about immigration and the free market (Franklin Center, Koch, Krieble) - 10/04/13

In Forbes, Jason Stverak of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity offers "To Achieve Real Immigration Reform, Put The Free Market Front And Center" ( ).

Michael Barone's shallow, 2470-word logical fallacy ("A Nation Built for Immigrants", WSJ) - 09/22/13

In the Wall Street Journal, Michael Barone offers "A Nation Built for Immigrants" [1], a 2470-word article designed to make elites feel good about the mass immigration they support. The entire article is a logical fallacy: it claims that current immigration will work out just like former immigration did. That claim is hardly certain because the U.S.

Questions for Kelly Ayotte about comprehensive immigration reform (amnesty, New Hampshire) - 06/09/13

New Hampshire senator Kelly Ayotte comes out for comprehensive immigration reform (aka amnesty) in an OpEd entitled "Why I'm backing legislation to fix our broken immigration system" [1].

Crazy Rand Paul fully supports amnesty, misleading, Hispandering, and reading poetry to do it - 03/19/13

Earlier today, Kentucky senator Rand Paul gave a pro-amnesty speech at the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce that in some ways is even more shocking and more crazy than the pro-amnesty speeches George W Bush gave. In addition to being borderline nuts, Paul misleads and uses a string of pro-amnesty talking points just like his dad.

Questions for the United Methodist Church on immigration (UMC, GBCS) - 02/08/13

The United Methodist Church (through their General Board) supports comprehensive immigration reform (aka amnesty). Here are some questions about that position keyed to

At that page, they write:

Matt Yglesias' crazy libertarian immigration plan would harm hundreds of millions of people - 10/05/12

Over at Slate, Matt Yglesias continues to offer crazy, libertarians-influenced immigration ideas. His latest idea thinks big: what he's proposing would harm hundreds of millions - perhaps billions - of people around the world.

Obama misleads about immigration yet again (May 10, 2011 El Paso version) - 05/10/11

For the past three years or so, Barack Obama has been giving the same immigration speech. In fact, his speeches about the topic aren't that much different from those that George W Bush and a multitude of other hacks have read.

Obama thinks illegal aliens are Americans; forgets about massive unemployment; promotes massive immigration - 09/29/10

Yesterday, Barack Obama was asked about immigration in Albuquerque, New Mexico and:

1. He referred to illegal aliens as "us"; he's given them citizenship in his own mind or he's confused about basic American concepts...
2. He seemed not to remember that millions of Americans are unemployed...
3. And, he generally promoted massive immigration. He did that with a series of canards and at one point sounded just like George W Bush.

Video of the appearance is at and for the first, here's what he said [1]:

Now, unfortunately, right now this is getting demagogued. A lot of folks think it’s an easy way to score political points is by trying to act as if there’s a “them” and an “us,” instead of just an “us.” And I’m always suspicious of politics that is dividing people instead of bringing them together. I think now is the time for us to come together.

Obviously, there is a "them" and an "us". The "us" are U.S. citizens, including those who voted for Obama. The "them" are foreign citizens. Obama has either naturalized all 12 million or so illegal aliens in his mind, or he's unclear on the very concept of U.S. citizenship. Considering his past comments it could be either one of those or a combination; he hasn't shown that he has a fundamental grasp of American concepts in past speeches (this, this are just two examples)

For the second, as if he hadn't paid attention to what's been going on with the economy for several years, he said:

[immigration] means our economy's more vital, and we've got more people in the workforce who are gonna be out there workin' and startin' businesses and supporting us when we're retired, makin' sure Social Security is solvent, all those things are important

He sounded just like George Bush both in content and in delivery. Did he forget about the millions of unemployed, the stimulus plan, and all of that? Pretending he's speaking about long-term gains isn't going to wash since those gains can be wiped out by protracted downturns such as the one we're currently experiencing, including where we have five workers for every job opening.

Other than those two, the rest was a regular Festival of Canards.

He used, as one might expect, the nation of immigrants canard. Of course, he also hastens to remind us - as they all do - that we're a nation of laws too. Then, he uses a variant of the safe legal orderly shibboleth ("we have to make sure our immigration system is orderly, and fair.")

He then admits that allowing illegal immigration isn't fair to those in other countries waiting to come here legally. However, that follows him blaming the system for that, a variant of system is broken.

He then states we need to "affirm our immigrant traditions"; see immigration tradition fallacy.

He then states, "yes, let's secure our borders"; see secure the border.

Making a false claim about policy, he thinks if we made legal immigration easier we'd reduce illegal immigration. He ignores the fact that there are about 6.5 billion people outside the U.S. (and about 5 billion of them are poorer than Mexicans). And, a large percentage of those people would come here if they could. So many would want to come here that we could raise legal immigration from now til doomsday and it would only make illegal immigration worse.

He wants to crack down on employers, but the only reasons he mentions are from the perspective of illegal aliens: he doesn't want them to be underpaid, etc. I don't want that either, but the more relevant reason to crack down on employers is to make sure they hire Americans or legal workers. See the somewhat related immigration wage floor, although he didn't mention the impact of illegal aliens being hired on Americans at all.

He then expresses support for comprehensive immigration reform; see the link for the downsides he didn't acknowledge.

He also says "economically, immigrants can also be a huge source of strength", mentioning that we have a younger workforce than Europe or Japan. Except, their population is much more educated than most of our immigrants.


Harry Reid's skin tone fallacy; can't see how Hispanics could be Republicans - 08/11/10

It's a shame that Harry Reid's opponent is a tea parties type like Sharron Angle. A more mainstream opponent who's willing to highlight immigration issues might have something productive to say about these recent Reid remarks about how he can't find Republicans to support comprehensive immigration reform (link):

"I don't know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican, OK," Reid said, speaking to Latino supporters whose votes he needs to win re-election in November. "Do I need to say more?"

Tibi Ellis, chairwoman of the Nevada Republican Hispanic Caucus, responds that both Ronald Reagan and George W Bush pushed amnesty and that Obama hasn't been able to follow through on his amnesty promises. She doesn't point out the downsides to such plans, nor obviously does she note that sentiments like Reid's put us on the road to ethnic conflicts such as to be found in other countries. Smarter, less corrupt GOP leaders might also realize that supporting massive immigration isn't good for their party as long as most coming here are likely Democrats and those who are receptive to such race-baiting.

Just be thankful Reid didn't go as far as extremist Dolores Huerta and her "Republicans Hate Latinos" chant.


"Immigration is nothing new," Reid added, speaking to more than 50 mostly activist Hispanics who applauded his anti-GOP remarks. "We are a nation of immigrants. So because the wave of immigrants we have now -- their skin's a tone darker than ours -- doesn't make it any different."

Yes, today's immigration is different; see the immigration tradition fallacy page.


Angle's campaign seized on the comment, telling POLITICO in an e-mail that “Harry Reid cannot give any good reasons why people should vote for him, so now he is turning to race and ethnicity.”

“Reid is desperate to change the subject from the economy, which he knows is a losing issue for him,” said Angle spokesman Jarrod Agen.

But in a statement Wednesday morning, the Reid campaign doubled down on the line.

“Sen. Reid’s contention was simply that he doesn't understand how anyone, Hispanic or otherwise, would vote for Republican candidates because they oppose saving teachers’ jobs, oppose job-creating tax incentives for small businesses, oppose investments in job-creating clean energy projects, and oppose the help for struggling, unemployed Nevadans to put food on the table and stay in their homes,” read the statement.

As much as I don't like to say it, Allahpundit is right ( ):

He’s not doubling down, he’s actually trying to weasel out of it by downplaying the racial aspect of it... Completely inane and demagogic, sure — but race-neutral! Except, of course, that’s not what he meant at all: He’s terrified that Latinos won’t turn out for him in November after he broke his promise to get an amnesty bill through (Democratic betrayal on immigration is a very hot topic these days in Spanish-language media, apparently), so now he’s going to push ye olde authenticity pander. Lest you think there’s any ambiguity about it, follow the link to McCormack and note Reid’s line about modern-day immigrants having skin that’s “a tone darker than ours.” He knew exactly what he was saying, and now that he’s been called on it, he’s inching away.

Jeb Bush, Robert Putnam mislead about immigration and assimilation - 07/03/10

Jeb Bush and Robert Putnam offer "A better welcome for our nation's immigrants" (link). It's part of a push for amnesty mentioned here about a year ago. In the piece, they mislead about assimilation and consistently fail to to be intellectually honest. They start with this:

On our national birthday, and amid an angry debate about immigration, Americans should reflect on the lessons of our shared immigrant past. We must recall that the challenges facing our nation today were felt as far back as the Founders' time. Immigrant assimilation has always been slow and contentious, with progress measured not in years but in decades. Yet there are steps communities and government should take to form a more cohesive, successful union.

Consider what one leader wrote in 1753: "Few of their children in the country learn English. The signs in our streets have inscriptions in both languages. . . . Unless the stream of their importation could be turned . . . they will soon so outnumber us that we will not preserve our language, and even our government will become precarious." Thus Ben Franklin referred to German Americans, still the largest ethnic group in America. A century later, Midwestern cities such as Cincinnati and St. Louis were mostly German-speaking. So worried were their native-born neighbors that Iowa outlawed speaking German in public and even in private conversation.

Now, see immigration tradition fallacy for what they're engaging in. Drawing lessons from the past has to be done carefully because the situations between then and now are different. For instance, it would be exceedingly difficult for Iowa to outlaw speaking Spanish in public nowadays. Bush and Putnam fail to note that one possible reason why German-speakers are confined to small pockets in the U.S. is because of such laws and because of societal pressures that don't exist anymore or that are much attenuated.

Proponents and opponents of immigration agree on one thing: Learning English is crucial to success and assimilation. Yet learning a language as an adult is hard, so first-generation immigrants often use their native tongue. Historically, English has dominated by the second or third generation in all immigrant groups. Most recent immigrants recognize that they need to learn English, and about 90 percent of the second generation speak English, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Research by sociologists Claude Fischer and Michael Hout published in 2008 suggests that English acquisition among immigrants today is faster than in previous waves.

Looking at the second study they mention is left as an exercise, but the first is available in the Pew Hispanic PDF file here. From that PDF:

Fewer immigrants of Mexican origin than of any other major origin group say they speak English very well (16%).
Nearly three-quarters of Mexican immigrants (71%) say they speak English just a little or not at all. That is also the case with 64% of immigrants from the Dominican Republic; 62% from Central America; 57% from Cuba; and 44% from South America. Among Puerto Ricans, 35% report that they speak English just a little or not at all. (Figure 10)
...One reason for the low share of Mexican-born immigrants who speak English very well is that Mexicans are the least likely among the major country-of-origin groups to have graduated from college...
...Most Mexicans (56%), Cubans (60%), Dominicans (52%) and Central Americans (51%) say they speak only Spanish at home. By contrast, 32% of Puerto Ricans and 42% of South Americans speak only Spanish at home.
...On the job, Mexican and Cuban immigrants are the most likely among the major origin groups to speak only Spanish—a third do. Half of Mexicans speak only Spanish or mainly Spanish at work, the largest share of any major group. At the opposite end, most Puerto Ricans (51%) speak only English or mainly English, the sole major origin group to do so.

The above is especially important since Mexicans and Mexican-Americans are the largest group within Hispanics. Bush and Putnam fail to ask whether we'd be doing better if most Hispanic immigrants were from South America; obviously, asking questions like that is not in any way politically correct. But, if they aren't willing to discuss that, how should we trust their opinions?

Residential integration of immigrants is even more gradual. Half a century ago, sociologist Stanley Lieberson showed that most immigrants lived in segregated enclaves, "Little Italy" or "Chinatown," for several generations. This segregation reflected discrimination by natives and the natural desire of "strangers in a strange land" to live among familiar faces with familiar customs. Only with suburbanization, encouraged by government policy in the 1950s and 1960s, did the children and grandchildren of the immigrants of the 1890s and 1900s exit those enclaves. That many of today's immigrants live in ethnic enclaves is thus entirely normal and reflects no ominous aim to separate themselves from the wider American community.

Obviously, there's a huge difference between small enclaves and the current situation in, say, Los Angeles where ethnic enclaves stretch for mile after mile. That's not "normal" if your point of reference is small ethnic enclaves.

They then discuss intermarriage; if anyone has studies that make the contrary point please leave a comment. Then:

Moreover, the aging of our population places a premium on young, productive workers, many of whom must come from immigration.

The problem is that they're lumping all types of immigration together. Speaking generally, immigrants from some countries or with some backgrounds are going to be more productive than those from other countries or with different backgrounds. Jeb Bush and Robert Putnam aren't intellectually honest enough to point that out.

Then, they offer their suggested fixes:

-- Provide low-cost English classes, in cooperation with local civic and religious groups, where immigrants build personal ties with co-ethnics and native-born Americans. These connections foster assimilation and help newcomers navigate our complex institutions.

-- Invest in public education, including civics education and higher education. During the first half of the 20th century, schools were critical to preparing children of immigrants for success and fostering a shared national identity.

-- Assist communities experiencing rapid increases in immigration, which is traumatic for those arriving here and for receiving communities. Schools and hospitals bear disproportionate costs of immigration, while the economic and fiscal benefits from immigration accrue nationally.

The problem is, again, we aren't living a century ago: times are different. Nowadays, the far-left has more power and many of those "civic and religious groups" will oppose assimilation with a small number of them being radical. Most Hispanic organizations work to oppose immigration enforcement and, in order to obtain more power, are not keen on assimilation. Would Jeb Bush and Robert Putnam put the National Council of La Raza in charge of "foster[ing] assimilation"? Whether they would or not, that's what would happen. The same applies to the schools: there are too many examples of far-left teachers and school boards opposing immigration enforcement and assimilation. As for the economic benefits that "accrue nationally", see the immigration economics posts for what they aren't mentioning.

They end on this naive note:

But we ought not to airbrush our ancestors' difficulties in assimilation, nor fail to match our forebears' efforts to help integrate immigrants. Government, churches, libraries, civic organizations and businesses must cooperate to address this challenge, as they did a century ago.

That's great. However, far-left and racial power groups have different ideas, and they'd be in charge. And, Jeb Bush and Robert Putnam offer no clue as to how they'd do anything other than give those groups even more political power.

ADDED: Regarding assimilation and the schools, recall Arizona's recent attempt to make sure that those teaching English can speak the language. That received light pushback from the Washington Post (link), heavier pushback from the Obama-linked Center for American Progress ("Arizona Expands Its Discrimination: Teachers With Heavy Accents Can’t Teach English, Ethnic Studies Are Banned", and overall what they're trying to do wasn't presented as a no-brainer by most of the establishment. Do Bush and Putnam have a plan to overcome the inevitable pushback their assimilation plans would receive? That would be a good question to ask them at their public appearances.

Recall also that a Zogby poll done in Mexico showed that 58% of Mexicans agreed with this question: "the territory of the United States' Southwest rightfully belongs to Mexico." Other good questions to ask them would be:

1. What specifically do they intend to do about such sentiments?
2. Aren't such sentiments dangerous?
3. Should we allow people to immigrate here if they don't believe that we have a right to parts of our territory?
4. And, what are their contingency plans if things don't work out? What if we allow millions more people to come here and the Bush/Putnam assimilation plans fail?

Obama immigration speech, July 1, 2010 - 07/01/10

On Thursday, July 1, 2010, Barack Obama gave a speech in support of comprehensive immigration reform and his remarks are at

In recent days, the issue of immigration has become once more a source of fresh contention in our country, with the passage of a controversial law in Arizona and the heated reactions we’ve seen across America. Some have rallied behind this new policy. Others have protested and launched boycotts of the state. And everywhere, people have expressed frustration with a system that seems fundamentally broken.

See system is broken for why the last bit is misleading.

Of course, the tensions around immigration are not new. On the one hand, we’ve always defined ourselves as a nation of immigrants -- a nation that welcomes those willing to embrace America’s precepts. Indeed, it is this constant flow of immigrants that helped to make America what it is. The scientific breakthroughs of Albert Einstein, the inventions of Nikola Tesla, the great ventures of Andrew Carnegie’s U.S. Steel and Sergey Brin’s Google, Inc. -– all this was possible because of immigrants.

See nation of immigrants and note the shout-out to Obama's friends at Google corporate (see also Youtube corporate).

And then there are the countless names and the quiet acts that never made the history books but were no less consequential in building this country -- the generations who braved hardship and great risk to reach our shores in search of a better life for themselves and their families; the millions of people, ancestors to most of us, who believed that there was a place where they could be, at long last, free to work and worship and live their lives in peace.

The "most of us" part recalls Obama's "reconquista"-style comments before the election.

So this steady stream of hardworking and talented people has made America the engine of the global economy and a beacon of hope around the world. And it’s allowed us to adapt and thrive in the face of technological and societal change. To this day, America reaps incredible economic rewards because we remain a magnet for the best and brightest from across the globe. Folks travel here in the hopes of being a part of a culture of entrepreneurship and ingenuity, and by doing so they strengthen and enrich that culture. Immigration also means we have a younger workforce -– and a faster-growing economy -- than many of our competitors. And in an increasingly interconnected world, the diversity of our country is a powerful advantage in global competition.

Some immigration is good, some isn't so good; Obama isn't making a distinction. For a counter-example to his comments, see How immigration changed California for the worse (education, income inequality...) Obama goes on to praise immigration in general in two more paragraphs, then:

Now, we can’t forget that this process of immigration and eventual inclusion has often been painful. Each new wave of immigrants has generated fear and resentments towards newcomers, particularly in times of economic upheaval. Our founding was rooted in the notion that America was unique as a place of refuge and freedom for, in Thomas Jefferson’s words, “oppressed humanity.” But the ink on our Constitution was barely dry when, amidst conflict, Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which placed harsh restrictions of those suspected of having foreign allegiances. A century ago, immigrants from Ireland, Italy, Poland, other European countries were routinely subjected to rank discrimination and ugly stereotypes. Chinese immigrants were held in detention and deported from Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay. They didn’t even get to come in... ...So the politics of who is and who is not allowed to enter this country, and on what terms, has always been contentious. And that remains true today. And it’s made worse by a failure of those of us in Washington to fix a broken immigration system.

He isn't even acknowledging that those who might want to cut back immigration during "times of economic upheaval" might have a point. In Obama's mind, we have to keep on admitting immigrants no matter what. Which, in fact, we have been doing: hundreds of thousands more foreign citizens got work permits than any stimulus jobs "created or saved". And, many "newcomers" do in fact have foreign allegiances. Adding in all the examples here would take too long, but start at immigration march organizers have foreign links. The "they didn't even get to come in" is like something a child would say, and it seeks to deny us the right to decide who can come into our country. While some of the exclusion of Chinese might have been based on invalid reasons, other parts were based on a policy decision regarding large numbers of low-skilled workers taking jobs from Americans. Apparently in Obama's world there were enough low-skilled jobs to go around then just as - in his world - there are now. For even more on the fallacy he's engaging in, see immigration tradition fallacy.

To begin with, our borders have been porous for decades. Obviously, the problem is greatest along our Southern border, but it’s not restricted to that part of the country. In fact, because we don’t do a very good job of tracking who comes in and out of the country as visitors, large numbers avoid immigration laws simply by overstaying their visas... The result is an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. The overwhelming majority of these men and women are simply seeking a better life for themselves and their children. Many settle in low-wage sectors of the economy; they work hard, they save, they stay out of trouble. But because they live in the shadows, they’re vulnerable to unscrupulous businesses who pay them less than the minimum wage or violate worker safety rules -– thereby putting companies who follow those rules, and Americans who rightly demand the minimum wage or overtime, at an unfair [dis]advantage. Crimes go unreported as victims and witnesses fear coming forward. And this makes it harder for the police to catch violent criminals and keep neighborhoods safe. And billions in tax revenue are lost each year because many undocumented workers are paid under the table.

The reason the borders are porous isn't because Washington hasn't fixed the system, it's because Washington is too corrupt to do its job. Obama could easily secure the border if he wanted, and likewise with his predecessors. All of the negatives Obama states are ones that those like he helped bring about.

More fundamentally, the presence of so many illegal immigrants makes a mockery of all those who are going through the process of immigrating legally. Indeed, after years of patchwork fixes and ill-conceived revisions, the legal immigration system is as broken as the borders. Backlogs and bureaucracy means the process can take years. While an applicant waits for approval, he or she is often forbidden from visiting the United States –- which means even husbands and wives may be forced to spend many years apart. High fees and the need for lawyers may exclude worthy applicants. And while we provide students from around the world visas to get engineering and computer science degrees at our top universities, our laws discourage them from using those skills to start a business or power a new industry right here in the United States. Instead of training entrepreneurs to create jobs on our shores, we train our competition.

Obama's solution to the current backlog would involve either adding yet another huge backlog, or legalizing illegal aliens without doing thorough background checks. The second part of the above would involve braindraining the world.

In sum, the system is broken. And everybody knows it. Unfortunately, reform has been held hostage to political posturing and special-interest wrangling -– and to the pervasive sentiment in Washington that tackling such a thorny and emotional issue is inherently bad politics.

By "everybody" he's probably not thinking beyond the Beltway establishment. As stated above, the problem isn't with the system, it's with political corruption: politicians like Obama are simply too corrupt to enforce our laws.

Into this breach, states like Arizona have decided to take matters into their own hands. Given the levels of frustration across the country, this is understandable. But it is also ill conceived. And it’s not just that the law Arizona passed is divisive -– although it has fanned the flames of an already contentious debate. Laws like Arizona’s put huge pressures on local law enforcement to enforce rules that ultimately are unenforceable. It puts pressure on already hard-strapped state and local budgets. It makes it difficult for people here illegally to report crimes -– driving a wedge between communities and law enforcement, making our streets more dangerous and the jobs of our police officers more difficult... And you don’t have to take my word for this. You can speak to the police chiefs and others from law enforcement here today who will tell you the same thing... These laws also have the potential of violating the rights of innocent American citizens and legal residents, making them subject to possible stops or questioning because of what they look like or how they sound. And as other states and localities go their own ways, we face the prospect that different rules for immigration will apply in different parts of the country -– a patchwork of local immigration rules where we all know one clear national standard is needed.

1. Apparently Obama thinks determining legal status is "unenforceable". He should tell that to the Border Patrol and other agencies that have been successfully doing that for decades.

2. While the law might be used against those reporting crimes, the chances of that are slim; Obama isn't waiting to find out.

3. See Police chiefs who opposed Arizona immigration law in progressive PERF group; were any he referred to in that same group? How much of their opinions are based on politics?

4. All laws have "the potential of violating the rights of innocent American citizens and legal residents". Again, Obama isn't waiting to find out.

5. The Arizona law has tried to hew to federal law. To a good extent, the only "patchwork" that would exist would result from localities who decided to undercut federal law, such as sanctuary cities.

The above is only half of his speech; the rest will be covered later today.

For now, note that he's engaging in the deportations false choice and at the end of his speech he even engages in what we call the Lazarus fallacy: reading part of Emma Lazarus' poem that was tacked on to the Statue of Liberty years after it was built.

In the meantime, see , Obama immigration, Janet Napolitano, Department of Homeland Security, and the list of topics we cover.

And, if you don't want amnesty, please do see Will teaparty and rightwing bloggers stumble us into amnesty?

Doris Meissner misleads, downplays border security's role in terrorism, uses bogus talking points - 05/02/10

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).

Illinois Business Immigration Coalition: Republican gov. Jim Edgar joins with Mexico-linked ICIRR - 04/09/10

Former Illinois governor Jim Edgar - a Republican - has joined with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights - a group whose president is linked to the Mexican government - to form the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition [1] [2]. The links between the two groups are close: if you visit you'll be redirected to, and in the videos below you'll note the ICIRR background. And:

[The IBIC is] an iniative [sic] spearheaded by the Illinois Coailition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. The coalition includes over 200 businesses that "support comprehensive immigration reform that legalizes the current undocumented workforce, creates new legal channels for future foreign workers and implements smart and effective enforcement measures." ...While it's rare to see a high-profile Illinois Republican standing with ICIRR and the immigrant rights community, it shouldn't be surprising in this particular case. Since 2008, Edgar has been warning his GOP colleagues that they oppose immigration reform efforts at their own peril. Talking to reporters after the event today, he did the same, saying that this could be a "disastrous political issue for the Republican Party if we are viewed as anti-immigration."

Why are a Republican and over 200 businesses joining with a far-left group whose president (Juan Salgado) clearly has divided loyalties, if he has any to the U.S. at all? Shouldn't Republicans oppose such groups rather than collaborating with them?

On the video at (part of the longer version available here: )Edgar says among many other things:

“It is impractical to think that we can deport 12 million people. We have to face reality, we have to deal with those 12 million people. To deport would cost billions and billions of dollars in taxes that we don't have. And, it would cost trillions of dollars to our economy we cannot afford to lose... [the more important reason for "reform" is] this is America, this is a nation that was built on immigrants..."

See deportations false choice and immigration tradition fallacy and the posts in immigration economics for why that's wrong, and note also that Edgar seems to be parroting a highly-flawed study from the far-left Center for American Progress for his claim about the costs of mass deportations (not that anyone in a position of power is suggesting that of course; see the first link in this paragraph). Given that he's just spouting false or misleading talking points, can you trust Jim Edgar?

Just in case you do, see where he sticks up for John McCain's immigration position and for George W Bush's amnesty plan and then plays the "Whig card", claiming that it could be "disastrous" for the Republican Party if they're viewed as "anti-immigration". The only people doing that are the far-left and their helpers like Jim Edgar. If you're a Republican, he's not on your side: he's helping the Democrats and the far-left gain more political power at the same time as he's helping them falsely portray the GOP. He also says that "we need to make sure that that position [that of McCain and Bush]] becomes the majority position in the Republican Party."

[2] A quote source at that link is Billy Lawless, identified as a "business owner and board member of the Illinois Restaurant Association and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights"; he is or was the head of Chicago Celts for Immigration Reform, which were mentioned here.

Andrew Rosenthal of NYT co-opts St. Patrick's Day to support massive and illegal immigration - 03/17/10

Andrew Rosenthal - editorial page editor of the New York Times - has no concept of shame, willing to bend any and all subjects to his favorite: supporting massive and illegal immigration. Just the latest instance comes in "San Patricio" (

Newsweek "Most Overblown Fears" of decade include immigration and globalization (Ilan Stavans, Tom Friedman) - 11/22/09

Newsweek has released a list of the top 10 "Most Overblown Fears" of the decade, and most of the items are things most people have already forgotten about. However, two things on the list are those that the corrupt elites would dearly love to be overblown fears: immigration and globalization.

For the first, "Mexican-born immigrant" Ilan Stavans of Amherst College runs-down his adopted country, engages in various fallacies, and fails to offer any sort of counter-argument to his opponents' claims (

Are immigrants stealing our jobs? Are they overcrowding our schools, hospitals, and prisons, ruining our language and endangering our children? Such questions have always been with us, but they gained a hostile edge in the 1930s, when the so-called Third World— the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Oceania—replaced Europe as the place where the vast majority of immigrants came from. With a different color skin, different tongues, and different customs, the new breed of immigrant stretched the nation’s idea of a melting pot, and met with sometimes hateful resistance that continues to this day. (As a Mexican-born immigrant, I should know.) But in resisting us, the country is resisting its future. Our uniqueness is based on our openness "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," says Lady Liberty, borrowing a line from Emma Lazarus. Our power is based on an ability to attract the world’s best and the brightest. But do we still give newcomers a chance to prove their worth? Judging by the hostile reaction to immigrants during the past decade, America has replaced its compassionate, welcoming smile and open arms with a menacing bark. “Get away, leave me alone, I live by and for myself and don’t need you,” Lady Liberty says now. People still dream of coming to America because this is the land of freedom, equality, and justice. Yet those very principles have not been evident recently. As a result, we have begun to undermine the very foundation on which we stand.

1. He's conflating all forms of immigration, the various types of legal and the illegal. A valid discussion should break them out by status, country of origin, and other factors.
2. Illegal aliens and other low-wage immigrants are indeed driving down wages for low-wage U.S. workers and they are indeed taking jobs that Americans could and should be doing. In Stavans' case, Amherst College can only employ so many academics, and if they chose him instead of a more qualified American, then I guess we've got another example.
3. A poem that was later tacked on to the Statue of Liberty is not, as far as I know, the rule of law. It's a poem; the many others using this same hoary talking point will be listed on the Lazarus fallacy page.
4. He says all of the above ignoring the fact that we currently have one of the highest immigration rates in the world; we currently admit over 1,000,000 people each year.
5. For the rest, see the immigration tradition fallacy page.

The other "overblown" fear - globalization - is discussed by Thomas Friedman of the New York Times ( Showing how he's wrong is left as an exercise.

Obama at Hispanic Prayer Breakfast: same old immigration speech (+sounds like McCain) - 06/19/09

Earlier today, Barack Obama spoke at the Esperanza National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast [1]. Others in attendance included Cecilia Munoz, Ed Rendell, and Janet Napolitano; the event was organized by Rev.

Michael Dukakis mindlessly spouts massive immigration talking points (Michael Bendetson) - 05/24/09

Remember Michael Dukakis? You know, former Massachusetts governor? The tank photo you see to the right? Ran for president in 1988? In case no one still remembers, raid a game of Trivial Pursuit, he's probably in there somewhere.

Mike Kingsbury /SEIU offers bad economics, bad logic (legalization as a "wage floor") - 05/04/09

Mike Kingsbury of the Service Employees International Union offers the exclamation point-rich blog post "What a week for immigration reform!" ( He's so excited he forgot to think things through, saying this about the recent immigration marches:

Why we as citizens don't do this more often, I don't know. I do know that putting a floor under the most vulnerable workers in this country will help maintain a standard of living for all of us. And this year's May Day theme emphasizing America's immigrant history - immigrant roots, immigrant rights -- couldn't have been more on target.

1. The last part engages in the stock immigration tradition fallacy.

2. The first part engages in a new talking point noted recently here which will be called the immigration wage floor fallacy.

3. He continues with the immigration vulnerable fallacy.

4. His use of "citizens" is open to interpretation. Perhaps he realizes that many or most of those marching are not citizens and that most citizens aren't great supporters of illegal activity. Or, perhaps he's just confused.

NCLR conducting "National Call-In for Immigration Reform" April 27 to May 1 - 04/23/09

The National Council of La Raza is conducting "Reflection and Action: A National Call-In for Immigration Reform" (

From house call-in parties to community center and church gatherings, the goal is for participants to come together between April 27 and May 1 to reflect on immigration reform and call their members of Congress to continue the push for immigration reform. The video America’s Immigration Legacy offers reflection to advocates participating in call-ins... ..."We are part of the steady drumbeat of support for workable immigration reform, and we can no longer let a bully minority stand in the way of solutions," said Janet Murguia, NCLR President and CEO...

They can only get a majority of support using extremely biased polls; the great majority of Ameericans would oppose "reform" if they were informed of everything that it involved, including giving the NCLR even more power.

The "bully" comment is part of their passive-aggressive smear campaign against their opponents; the video mentioned (link) is from a coalition (We Can Stop The Hate) that's part of that campaign. And, as discussed at the last link, some members of that coalition have indirect links to the Mexican government. The video features Wade Henderson of the Leadership Council on Civil Rights; more on that later.

UPDATE: As suspected, Henderson engages in the immigration tradition fallacy and disreputably compares the Civil Rights Movement to giving illegal alien Hispanics rights to which they aren't entitled.

Nancy Pelosi: immigration enforcement separating families is "un-American" (Luis Gutierrez, Kelly Zito) - 03/08/09

Kelly Zito of the San Francisco Chronicle offers a heavily-biased, untrustworthy article ("Pelosi: End raids splitting immigrant families", link) about yesterday's "National Family Unity" event in San Francisco. That's part of a national tour designed to press for comprehensive immigration reform that's sponsored by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and led by Luis Gutierrez.

Because Zito doesn't provide full quotes and because she doesn't even once use the word "illegal" or even "undocumented", it's not clear just how stupid the remarks from Nancy Pelosi were:
"Our future is about our children," Pelosi told a crowd of mostly Latino families at St. Anthony's Church.

No matter if those families arrived two days ago or centuries ago, Pelosi said "that opportunity, that determination, that hope has made American more American."

She said, "Taking parents from their children ... that's un-American."
The easy way to show how Pelosi is wrong is to point out to her that the parents put themselves in the situation with their eyes open. They broke our laws and put their children at risk. Pelosi should ask those parents what they were thinking instead of blaming our laws. And, someone could point out to her that the "taking" is easily cured by the whole family returning to their country where at least the parents are citizens. And, someone could point out that it's horrific public policy to encourage mixed-status families, which her policy would do. Someone could present to her the example of a parent who's sent to jail making knock-off jeans. Is enforcing our laws against making knock-offs "un-American" as well?

What most people don't seem to realize is that Pelosi could have been easily discredited over this issue if someone had been there to ask her questions like that. An illegal immigration-supporting hack like Kelly Zitto isn't going to ask those questions; she's too busy trying to mislead people into thinking that we're dealing with legal immigrants. That leaves it up to us to ask those questions. I've been posting things like that for over two years, so maybe eventually others will take notice and do something.

3/18/09 UPDATE: This story is now getting some attention due to a Fox News story (link). There's a transcript of some of her remarks here; those remarks are on this video.

On this video she says, "The raids must end... the raids must end". She mentions SCHIP, which results in a loud cheer; another loud cheer follows when she discusses fighting to lift the five-year wait to receive benefits. She promotes them repeating their sob stories to the president and in the halls of congress.

On this, Walter Coleman (aka "Slim", protector of Elvira Arellano) wants people to fill out petitions listing their problems to be given to Obama. He, of course, hides his support for illegal activity behind a religious veneer.

Gutierrez takes an ahistorical swipe at WASPs and engages in the immigration tradition fallacy on this video.

Note that back in October 2003, Pelosi traveled to Mexico and accused her own government of conducting "terrorizing" immigration raids.

If you want to learn about immigration-related matters before Fox News gets around to them, subscribe to our feed.

NYT: illegal immigration is "New York's special gift to America" (unhinged anti-Gillibrand editorial) - 01/31/09

The part Mexican-owned New York Times offers the editorial "Listening to Ms. Gillibrand" (link). They're wrong as usual, and they're even more unhinged than usual too. Red-faced with anger at country mouse Kirsten Gillibrand's Upstate ways, they lose it right about here:

John McCain promotes illegal alien amnesty to Irish group; Irish government link; no Barletta - 09/22/08

Speaking at the Irish-American Presidential Forum earlier today in Scranton PA, John McCain promoted giving an amnesty to not just the supposed 50,000 Irish illegal aliens in the U.S., but others as well. The video is below, and per this he said:

"[There are] 50,000 Irish men and women in this country illegally who want to become citizens... we have to give them a path to citizenship... [My previous support for McCain-Kennedy] didn't make me the most popular member of my own party and it almost cost me the nomination of my party... To preserve that fragile coalition, I had to sometime take votes which were not popular... Senator Kennedy took votes that were not popular. Senator Obama took a hike... This nation is all the stronger -- this nation is stronger, this nation is stronger -- for the infusion of fresh blood and vitality that has come to this nation wave after wave: Irish, Italian, Poles, everybody who's come to this nation has enriched our nation, including our Hispanic citizenry. OK? That's what America's all about...

America is all about support for massive illegal activity and public corruption?

But, wait, it gets worse. According to this, there was no support evident for fellow Republican Lou Barletta, apparently due to his opposition to illegal activity. Instead, one of the other speakers at the event heads a group that's partly funded by the Irish government:

"Most of your parents and grandparents came here as poor immigrants and were welcomed here," said Ciaran Staunton of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform. "Immigration is not a dirty word. Immigration is our fathers' word."

Of course, the report from Sasha Issenberg of the Boston Globe doesn't indicate where ILIR gets their money.

If anyone wants to do something about this, go ask McCain a tough question about this topic and upload his response to Youtube. If he's forced to foreswear against pushing amnesty it would actually help him, and if he or his surrogates were then able to attack Obama on this issue in a pro-American way it would help McCain and have a very negative impact on the BHO campaign.

Melinda Zosh lets Jason Riley/WSJ engage in logical fallacy, Michael Barone spout nonsense - 06/23/08

Melinda Zosh is an "intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia", and she offers "Today's Illegals 'Not Different, Just Newer'" about a talk that Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal (author of "The Case for Open Borders") gave at the CATO Institute (link

Diana Furchtgott-Roth vs. George Borjas - 10/15/06

Diana Furchtgott Roth - "a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, where she directs the Center for Employment Policy. From 2003 to 2005 she was chief economist of the U.S.

The childlike Dave Weigel - 08/22/06

David Weigel of Reason is guest posting at Andrew Sullivan's blog and offers a discussion of Pat Buchanan's latest book that's even dumber than that that Sully would have provided.
Can anyone point me to the border towns where democracy has collapsed, supplanted by Latin American-style caudillos?
We can come close: "Mexican drug cartels take over U.S. cities", colonias, "Task force targets cross-border violence", "Combating Southwest border violence" (and as pointed out below, Maywood CA)
Have Arizona, California, and the rest of the Southwest become less American or less loyal?
Apparently he missed all those Mexican flags when all those hundreds of thousands of foreign citizens were marching in our streets demanding rights to which they aren't entitled, and all those politicians who act more like Mexican agents than elected U.S. representatives.
Restrictionists are too quick to compare America's immigration with that of Europe or of collapsed empires of the past. But it's a false comparison between, say, Muslim immigrants who settle in Rotterdam and refuse to integrate with Dutch society, and Mexican immigrants who go to Catholic mass and long to become American citizens.
What an idiotic comment. Why does he bring up issues that no one is complaining about, other than that he's either trying to religion-bait or he has no clue about this issue?

A hypothetical that is probably beyond the capabilities of Weigel, Sully, Reason Magazine, or all the rest was provided in the previous entry. It is truly pathetic that so many so-called pundits are simply not serious about such a vital issue. UPDATE: He prints a letter from a reader here:
...there is a very real undercurrent to the present political Chicano advocacy groups that believe (and are teaching their progeny) the notion that since the American southwest was stolen from Mexico, they have a right to the land including repatriating at a future date. Many of them understand the slow political process required to leverage our democracy to accomplish it. But make no mistake: repopulating the southwest and registering voters for this eventuality is the first step.

There are places in California where if you don't speak Spanish, you're SOL as far as communication goes. I have lived in SoCal for thirty years and this wasn't the case in these places 20 years ago. Take the LA suburb of Maywood, CA, (hardly a "border town"). According to the March 29, 2006 CBS Evening News, more than 50% of the city's population are illegal aliens, and the mayor has declared that the city will refuse to cooperate with any enforcement of U.S. immigration law, declaring the city a "haven for Illegals. This mayor and his city council were swept into office during last November's election. My God, they even demanded that all city proceedings be held in Spanish when they were debating this declaration last April!
Weigel is making a fool out of himself and by extension Andrew Sullivan.

Dear Washington Post: Appeal to Tradition is a logical fallacy - 05/08/06

The Washington Post prints (washingtonpost . com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/07/AR2006050700721.htm) "U.S. Immigration Debate Is a Road Well Traveled" by staff writer Michael Powell. Apparently he's unfamiliar with logical fallacies, because the whole article is one long example of "Appeal to Tradition" (en . wikipedia . org / wiki / Appeal_to_tradition).