Stephanie Mencimer's flawed reporting on Mia Love and immigration (Mother Jones, Margaret Stock, Stuart Anderson)

A post at Forbes catches Stephanie Mencimer of Mother Jones in flawed reporting. From [1]:

The controversy over how Utah Republican Congressional candidate Mia Love's family became lawful permanent residents may have another twist - Love may be right about how her family received their green cards, which allowed them to stay in America.

The magazine Mother Jones recently argued in an article [authored by Stephanie Mencimer] that Mia Love's story of how her Haitian parents came to America doesn't add up and that her birth in America couldn't have made any difference in her family staying in America...

...Mother Jones argues [2], "It's an uplifting story, but there's one problem with this account. According to immigration lawyers and U.S. immigration officials, there doesn't appear to have been a law of the kind described in the article that would have conferred citizenship on Love's parents, let alone her siblings, by simply having a baby in the United States."

However, such a law did, in fact, exist, although it did not give citizenship to the parents of U.S.-born children but rather the ability to obtain legal residency, explains Margaret Stock, an immigration attorney with Lane Powell and author of a National Foundation for American Policy paper on birthright citizenship. (In general, an individual can apply for citizenship 5 years after becoming a legal resident.) Stock points out that the State Department's Foreign Affairs manual describes the law that Love's family may have used, which expired in 1977, a little more than a year after Mia Love's birth on U.S. soil...

...The quota system was different back then. Having a baby in the U.S. and registering for immigration as a Western Hemisphere immigrant before the deadline could allow adult parents during that time to be eligible for immigrant visas, notes Margaret Stock and the State Department Foreign Affairs manual. Stock cautions that it is not possible to know whether Mia Love's parents used this provision of the law without access to the family's immigration documents and paperwork. At this point, it does not look like Mia Love intends to make such documents available to the public (assuming they could be readily found).

Terry Feiertag, who has practiced immigration law for 40 years, told me, "Margaret Stock is correct. I did Western Hemisphere baby cases in the 1970's. The parents in a case like this would have sent the U.S. born child's birth certificate to the U.S. consulate in Haiti to register a priority date for the issuance of a visa. If this woman was born in 1975, the parents would have registered and gotten a priority date after her birth, and probably would not have been called to their immigrant visa interview before the law lapsed, which may mean that they got their visas as a result of later litigation (Silva v. Levi). Also, under the Western Hemisphere quota people had to apply for visas in their own countries; they could not adjust status in the U.S." Other attorneys who practiced during this period confirmed this was the law and procedure at the time Mia Love was born in America...

Forbes was able to get in touch with Feiertag and other lawyers, yet MotherJones was not. It's not like Margaret Stock is opposed to getting her name in the papers either. It's also very easy to find immigration lawyers who've practiced for decades through their websites and Twitter; I've briefly chatted with the current head of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and others there. Yet, somehow Mencimer was unable to find out about the law described above.

On an ironic note, this is an intramural fight: most of those listed above are on the same basic side of immigration. Stuart Anderson heads the National Foundation for American Policy; see the link. The bad policies Margaret Stock promotes are discussed at that link. And, Mother Jones vies with The Nation to see who can promote and enable illegal immigration more, despite their policies enriching the rich and harming non-rich Americans. The subtext of the MoJo article about Love is one big logical fallacy: the false belief that Love should support what would amount to open borders because of her parents doing something she had no control over. See also the birthright citizenship page for background on that topic.

As for Mia Love, she seems to be more in the camp of those who don't care that much about the immigration issue and who are under the patronage of those who are bad on the issue. She's a Tea Parties star, and that's not in any way a good thing. Her immigration votes if elected would probably lean towards the "good for business, if you know what I mean" side of things. But, that remains to be seen: she hasn't detailed her immigration policies yet.

[1] Mia Love May Be Right About Her Family's Immigration History by Anderson:

[2] GOP Rising Star Mia Love: "Anchor Baby"? by Mencimer: Mencimer offers a follow-up in GOP Star Mia Love Fires Back at "Anchor Baby" Story: