Charlie Rose's very weak immigration interview with Jose Antonio Vargas

In June 2012, Charlie Rose interviewed illegal alien journalist Jose Vargas on CBS News' This Morning. They discussed the Time Magazine cover story Vargas authored called "We Are Americans/Just Not Legally".

This post will discuss just some of the things that Charlie Rose didn't ask Vargas.

On the video below, Vargas claims "there isn't a process" for illegal aliens to become legal immigrants. Rose doesn't point out that Vargas is misleading.

Leaving aside smaller programs available to illegal aliens, an illegal alien can try to come here legally by returning to their home country and applying just like everyone else does. While some illegal aliens had no role in the decision to come here (i.e., those brought here by their parents as young children), that's not the case with the great majority. Why should line jumpers be given something ahead of those waiting in line?

There are 1.7 million people living in the U.S. who were born in the Philippines (Vargas' home country) [1]. So, obviously there must be a line somewhere, right?

It's certainly true that immigrating here legally isn't open to very large numbers of people and that it favors chain migration over skilled immigration. But, them's our rules. Any changes to our rules must be approved by Americans through their representatives; if we allow foreign citizens to change those rules, that undercuts U.S. sovereignty and deprives Americans of control over their own country. Imagine how citizens of the Philippines or Mexico or Russia or Sweden would feel if large numbers of Americans moved illegally into those countries and started trying to change their laws to benefit American illegal aliens. Imagine how citizens of those countries would feel if the U.S. spread propaganda in those countries designed to, for instance, force through a trade pact favorable to the U.S.

One aspect of our current immigration law makes it difficult for those with few skills and no close family connections inside the U.S. to come here legally. That wasn't some capricious choice: the goal was to keep a large number of lower-skilled people from doing what they have in fact done: hold down wages for lower-skilled Americans. In the words of Teddy Kennedy, employers being able to employ illegal aliens "undermine[s] the living standards and working conditions of all Americans". Of course, our laws haven't kept our elites from allowing massive illegal immigration. Isn't what our elites have done an example of them turning against their struggling fellow citizens?

Of course, the last paragraph doesn't apply to Vargas or the other 35 illegal aliens on the Time cover: they only represent a small part of the entire illegal alien population. The Time cover is like the Everyone a Valedictorian propaganda articles.

Needless to say, Rose doesn't go into any of that. Not even close.

But, Rose does ask Vargas this: "If there was a debate in this presidential campaign about immigration, what should the debate be?" What Vargas wants is the same old fake debate, not a real debate. Rose asked a question where the answer can be assumed, rather than asking a question Vargas might have trouble with. Instead of asking such a weak question, why didn't Rose cut to the chase and ask something like one of the questions in this post?

To his credit, Rose does ask if giving illegal aliens citizenship would be "in any way inequitable for people who have somehow paid what it was necessary to be a legal immigrant". However, as could be expected, Rose doesn't press Vargas on that point but instead just lets Vargas give a speech.

In the resulting unopposed speech, Vargas uses the living in the shadows talking point (on CBS television about a Time Magazine cover), claiming it's "counter-productive" to have people like him to "stay in the shadows".

There are various problems with that, but - of course - Rose doesn't press Vargas on them. Rose doesn't point out that the U.S. can only process so many people per year and that by granting citizenship to illegal aliens, we'd be increasing wait times for those in line for legal immigration. Wouldn't increasing such wait times be "counter-productive" too?

Rose doesn't ask Vargas what impact emigration has on sending countries. Do the Philippines have a surfeit of crusading reporters? Wouldn't Vargas help the Philippines by returning home and plying his trade there? What blowback will there be for the U.S. due to braindraining Third World countries? (See skilled immigration for much more).

Vargas discusses how he was able to get paid by Time Magazine for his cover story: by working as an independent contractor. Erica Hill looks slightly taken aback, but neither her nor Rose press the issue.

Misclassifying yourself or your employees as an independent contractor can land you in a great deal of hot water, but apparently that's only for Americans. Isn't what Time Magazine and Vargas did rather shady? Time found a loophole where they could pay an illegal alien, just like low-skilled employers do (see also the Cindy Carcamo post and note also attempts to prevent the practice). Rose, of course, didn't ask about any of that.

In addition to skirting our laws as an independent contractor, Vargas also admits to using a bogus Social Security card [2]. Isn't a subculture of millions of people who likewise have shown little regard for our laws dangerous for the U.S.? Some segment of those think that - because of U.S.-Mexico history or because of their race - our immigration laws don't apply to them. Isn't that a very dangerous situation?

Vargas wants a huge, unprecedented change in our laws, something that even its supporters must admit could negatively impact most non-elite Americans; Charlie Rose treats it with all the gravity of a zoning battle in Westchester County.

For even more questions that Charlie Rose will never ask anyone, see Question Authority.

Want to do something about this? Tweet the following people associated with CBS This Morning and ask why Charlie Rose didn't ask any of the questions above:


Alternatively, be a better journalist than Charlie Rose is and tweet the questions above to @JoseIsWriting. If you get an answer, cc @24AheadDotCom_ on your response and I'll join in.

10/3/13 UPDATE: Apparently "an illegal alien can try to come here legally by returning to their home country and applying" wasn't clear to at least one person. I'm not talking about illegal aliens who were deported, I'm talking about someone who was here illegally and then left of their own accord without being deported in one way or another. But, even those who have been deported can apply (link), with the length of time they have to wait before applying depending on various factors. Another cavil from the same source is the claim that someone would have "nowhere to go to abroad". Exactly how many stateless illegal aliens are there? Almost all of them are probably valid citizens of other countries, except for the ones that those countries don't want to return. If someone has legitimate fears of returning to their home countries, then the U.S. and other countries have programs for that. But, the vast majority of illegal aliens do in fact have somewhere to go, and for the majority of them it's not a difficult trip.

[1] 1.7 million from Philippines living in U.S. per cis . org/2012-profile-of-americas-foreign-born-population#birth