From the capital of illusion, Tinseltown, comes journalist Gregory Rodriguez with a Los Angeles Times op-ed piece on July 26 questioning all the fuss over Arizona's recent SB 1070 regarding illegal immigration.
And while opponents of illegal immigration won't be surprised at the sarcastic tone Rodriguez employs to belittle us, his misrepresentation of facts perpetuates one of the more demoralizing aspects of this issue. It's not enough to simply ignore the defiance of law and order promoted by defenders of illegal immigration, but the spuriousness with which they claim to defend their argument perhaps aptly illustrates subversive biases they bring to the table.
Proof Points Cannot be Spurious
Merriam-Webster defines "spurious" as something "of falsified or erroneously attributed origin; forged; of a deceitful nature or quality." Many of the arguments posited by Rodriguez fall into this category because while the facts he presents may be legitimate, they do not provide legitimate support for his position. They are red herrings meant to create the perception that illegal immigration is not the important issue many of us claim it to be.
Spurious facts may indeed be factual, but they don't provide the "proof points" to fairly authenticate one's point of view. Proof points are data and facts which correlate to and support an issue.
Regular readers of my blog will know that actually, while I am opposed to illegal immigration, I am pro-immigration. I also oppose Arizona's SB 1070 because I agree with those who say it could promote racial profiling. However, as I've also said before, SB 1070 is itself a symptom of the much larger problem of our federal government's abdication of authority.
The facts Rodriguez throws at this debate don't stick to any of these issues. They may be true in and of themselves, but they don't prove his argument.
Dissecting Rodriguez's Article
GR: "With the immigration debate heating up — and a federal court case over Arizona's SB 1070 brewing — you'd think that the U.S. was besieged by growing numbers of illegal immigrants. But you'd be wrong."
Proof Point: The immigration debate isn't heating up - the debate over ILLEGAL immigration has reached a level where federal inaction is unsustainable. Drawing a correlation between the US being "besieged by growing numbers of illegal immigrants" and SB 1070 is Rodriguez's mistake, not Arizona's. SB 1070 is not a response to "growing numbers" of new illegal immigrants. Border states like Arizona have been dealing with the ramifications of illegal immigration for years.
GR: "Despite the heightened rhetoric and the bloodcurdling vitriol surrounding the issue, illegal immigration has actually declined significantly over the last few years. While journalists like to characterize the anger over immigration as a response to facts on the ground — i.e. people are inundated and incensed — the numbers don't bear them out."
Proof Point: Few people deny the numbers of illegal Hispanic immigrants have declined in the past couple of years since the tanking of our economy and stricter enforcement; however, the issue remains dire because of the large numbers of illegals already here, and because illegals continue to cross the border. Lower numbers doesn't mean illegal immigration has stopped or that the illegals already here aren't demanding services from US taxpayers or skewing manual labor pay scales.
GR: "And there's more. Despite the drumbeat about hordes of undocumented Mexicans who have come north to take our jobs, consider this: According to the Pew Hispanic Center, between 2005 and 2008, the number of Mexican migrants arriving in the U.S. actually declined by 40%."
Proof Point: Any decline of less than 100% doesn't prove that illegal immigration isn't a problem. 60% of past illegal immigration rates still yields a high number, doesn't it?
GR: "Finally, the Census Bureau's American Community Survey last fall revealed a historic decline in the percentage of U.S. residents who are foreign-born — from 12.6% in 2007 to 12.5% in 2008. That represents only about 40,000 people numerically, but it is the first time since the 1970 census — 40 years ago — that the foreign-born percentage of the U.S. population has gone down."
Proof Point: This is another spurious correlation regarding illegal immigration; for example, "foreign-born" doesn't take into account the number of births to illegal immigrant mothers in the United States.
GR: "So, in the face of all this data showing that legal and illegal immigration is down dramatically, what's all the fuss about?"
Proof Point: The "fuss" has to do with the fact that decades of rampant illegal Hispanic immigration cannot be mitigated by two years' worth of reduced data. Experts have claimed that illegal immigration is big business in Mexico, where human traffickers have adopted more violent and even less humane smuggling practices and have escalated the violence and danger US law enforcement officials and legal residents of border states face as they deal with the continued insurgence of illegal immigrants into sovereign United States land.
GR: "The easy answer, of course, is that the economy is tough and historically people have looked for targets to blame for their feelings of impotence."
Proof Point: Americans have been protesting illegal immigration for years, even when our economy was booming. This is not a new issue. SB 1070 is the culmination of years of frustration, but it is not a reaction to a sudden phenomenon.
GR: "Furthermore, the right wing, where much of the anti-immigrant frenzy comes from, no longer has an authoritative voice of reason pressing for decency on the issue. Four years ago, after President George W. Bush unsuccessfully launched his own effort at comprehensive immigration reform, he warned against "harsh, ugly rhetoric." Today, Bush is hardly heard from and the right has an "open borders" policy on over-the-top rhetoric."
Proof Point: While it is easy to blame right-wingers, there are plenty of conservatives who actually encourage illegal immigration and want it to continue because it means artificially low labor costs. To the consternation of many conservatives, Bush waffled on illegal immigration because of his deep-pocketed business friends who benefit from cheap labor by illegals.
GR: "Struggling newspapers seeking to engage readers at any cost are also part of the problem. Whereas racist rants were once confined to marginal websites, today many papers — including this one — have opened their online comments section to, well, complete nut-jobs. Allowing vitriolic racial rhetoric to remain on a mainstream website is to give it a level of acceptability."
Proof Point: It's surprising to hear a supposedly liberal journalist champion the cause of many conservatives: that the media perpetuates stereotypes and contributes to inaccurate portrayals of news events. And to the degree that the Internet has opened the opinion floodgates to complete "nut-jobs," that's why people need to educate themselves so they can sift hyperbole from fact and fiction. I think most logical people agree on this point.
GR: "There may be those who see hatred as a justifiable means to an end. Perhaps they hope that all this harsh rhetoric will keep even more illegal immigrants at home. But they'd be silly to think that such invective only makes life harder for immigrants. Unfortunately, it also actively degrades our culture, our public square and our democracy."
Proof Point: How are the human rights of illegal immigrants respected when their own governments actually encourage their citizens to break sovereign laws of a neighboring country? How much protection does the Mexican government offer illegal migrants moving through their own country? What about the rapes and other abuses perpetrated upon South American migrants by Mexican nationals - including Mexican public safety officials who are complicit by their ambivalence? For any Central and South American government to tell their poor people to break into a neighboring country and wire home hard-earned money at pennies on the American labor dollar should speak more forcefully about abominable human rights abuses than America simply trying to protect its borders. How many Hispanic activists would be championing the rights of illegal immigrants if the people group we were discussing came from Africa? Or China?