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The Ramos Rules, Pt. 2

By Jerry Kammer, October 8, 2015

Read part 1.

In an interview with NPR's Terry Gross on Monday, Univision anchorman Jorge Ramos provided this explanation for his willingness to speak with people such as Donald Trump, Ann Coulter, Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, and Fox newsman Sean Hannity, whose views on immigration he strongly opposes: Read more...

The Ramos Rules
Univision anchor: "Undocumented immigrants" should be treated like those who came legally.

By Jerry Kammer, October 7, 2015
Univision anchor: "Undocumented immigrants" should be treated like those who came legally.

In an interview with Terry Gross for her "Fresh Air" program on NPR Monday, Univision anchorman Jorge Ramos provided a glimpse into his reasoning on immigration. As seen in the excerpts below, Ramos makes no distinction between "undocumented immigrants" and legal immigrants. He believes that since Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) are Latinos whose parents immigrated to the United States they should support illegal immigration. Read more...

Angela Merkel, the Nobel Peace Prize, and the Sorcerer's Apprentice

By Jerry Kammer, October 6, 2015

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has won international praise for her decision to welcome hundreds of thousands of refugees. But public opinion at home is becoming restless for reassurance that the government will restrain the influx.

As the British newspaper, The Telegraph, put it: "Speculation is mounting that Angela Merkel will win this year's Nobel Peace Prize for her handling of the European refugee crisis and the war in Ukraine, just as public opinion in Germany is hardening on the migrant issue." Read more...

RFK, Theodore White, and the Great Debate over Immigration

By Jerry Kammer, September 30, 2015

In 1968, when Robert F. Kennedy was a senator from New York campaigning for the presidency, he frequently made a call to idealism that survives as a quotation vividly tied to his memory: "Some men see things as they are and say, why? I dream things that never were and say, why not?"

Over the past several months, as I researched the transformative 1965 Hart-Celler Immigration Act to write the paper we will release Thursday at the National Press Club, I thought often of Kennedy's famous quote. Read more...

Colbert's Attack on Trump Misses the Immigration Angle

By Jerry Kammer, September 10, 2015

On Tuesday, Stephen Colbert launched his "Late Show" on CBS with a patriotic montage of clips of him and others singing "The Star Spangled Banner" in locations across the country. Then he launched into a mockery of Donald Trump's announcement that he will never again eat Oreos because much of the work at the Chicago plant that makes them is being moved to Mexico. Read more...

Colbert's Double-Take on Demonization — First He Revels in It, Then He Reviles It

By Jerry Kammer, September 9, 2015

It didn't take long to find out if Stephen Colbert would bring his famously partisan liberalism to his "Late Show", which debuted last night on CBS.

At the 24-minute mark of Tuesday's show, the screen showed a bloviating Trump perched above a photograph of robed and hooded Klansmen backlit by a bonfire. Ah, the subtlety of Stephen Colbert's immigration politics. Read more...

Chris Christie Explains His FedEx System for Keeping Track of Immigrants

By Jerry Kammer, September 8, 2015

When New Jersey governor and presidential aspirant Chris Christie recently called for a system to track immigrants the way FedEx tracks packages, there were howls of indignation from predictable sources. One was Raul Reyes, a third-generation Mexican American who sits on the USA Today board of contributors.

Christie made the mistake of failing to provide details right away. That left a vacuum that Reyes filled with a nightmare scenario from his imagination. Read more...

Ramos and Trump: Distorting the Big Story

By Jerry Kammer, September 2, 2015

There are two competing views of last week's confrontation in Dubuque between Univision anchorman Jorge Ramos and Donald Trump, two charismatic figures at the opposite poles of the immigration debate.

According to the vote-for-Jorge crowd, Ramos was a courageous journalist standing up to a bully who had insulted all Latinos with a rant about criminality among Mexican immigrants. The Donald-for-president team, meanwhile, sees Trump as a gutsy politician not afraid to say the unvarnished truth about illegal immigration and the federal government's failure to control it. Read more...

Two Threads of the Immigration Debate Come Together on C-SPAN

By Jerry Kammer, August 24, 2015

Two threads of the national immigration debate came together Saturday morning on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" program. Read more...

Is It Really "an Invasion"?

By Jerry Kammer, August 21, 2015

Part four of four.
Read Part 1: The Immigration Language Wars.
Read Part 2: A Linguistic Bridge over Troubled Waters.
Read Part 3: The Backstory of the Vocabulary War.

In this final installment, we'll look at the use of "invasion" to describe the illegal influx across the southern border. Read more...

The Backstory of the Vocabulary War

By Jerry Kammer, August 20, 2015

Part three of four.
Read Part 1: The Immigration Language Wars.
Read Part 2: A Linguistic Bridge over Troubled Waters.

Like many of the aspects of our immigration debate, the vocabulary war has an interesting backstory. It's the story of a long linguistic chain that started with the borderlands slang term mojados and continued with ilegales, illegal immigrants, undocumented immigrants, and unauthorized workers. The most recent addition is the contradictory and extremely politically correct "undocumented citizens". That awkward phrase has been invoked by the likes of Republican Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), who wants to "normalize the status of the 11 million undocumented citizens." Read more...

A Linguistic Bridge over Troubled Waters

By Jerry Kammer, August 19, 2015

Part two of four.
Read Part 1: The Immigration Language Wars.

In 2013, when the Associated Press prohibited the use of "illegal immigrant" to describe someone who was in the United States illegally and the New York Times gave its blessing to the use of less controversial terms, critics complained that they caved in to pressure and surrendered to political correctness. I was waiting for someone to wisecrack that the two powerhouses of American journalism had made the difficult decision to rise above their principles. Read more...

The Immigration Language Wars

By Jerry Kammer, August 18, 2015

The first of four parts.

Public policy debates often feature clever terminology intended to frame the issue and thereby influence the way we think about it. We have negative framing with "death tax" instead of "estate tax" and "government takeover" instead of "national health insurance". And we have positive framing with "gaming" instead of "gambling" and "right to choose" instead of "abortion rights". If you change the name, you can change the frame, and that can change how the public responds.

The immigration debate has produced some important linguistic battles. The mother of all of them has been waged over the term "illegal immigrant". Read more...

Jeffrey Toobin's Declaration of Allegiance

By Jerry Kammer, August 12, 2015

When I was a young reporter, I learned that journalists have a responsibility to two groups of people. The first group is the subjects of our stories. The second group is the readers.

That came to mind as I was thinking about Jeffrey Toobin's essay in the New Yorker, which he wrote in response to readers who disliked his decision in an earlier story to describe his central characters as "illegal immigrants". Read more...

Jeffrey Toobin Swears Off "Illegal Immigrant"

By Jerry Kammer, August 10, 2015

Jeffrey Toobin last month wrote an article in the New Yorker that called attention to the plight of illegal immigrants who anxiously await action from Washington that would pass judicial review and grant them legal status. "The point of my article was to show the human cost of the lengthy political standoff over immigration policy," he writes in a new essay, which was prompted by objections from readers that he shouldn't have used the term "illegal immigrant". Read more...

What Jeffrey Toobin Ignored in the New Yorker

By Jerry Kammer, August 5, 2015

(Third and final part; see Part One and Part Two.)

In his July 27 article in the New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin seems to think that what is holding the Flores family in immigration-policy limbo is the hard-hearted stubbornness of congressional Republicans. In the manner described so well by Jonathan Haidt in his landmark book The Righteous Mind, Toobin appears to be blind to much larger realities in our immigration debate, which unfolds against the turbulent background of five decades of mass illegal immigration. Read more...

The Righteous Mind of the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin

By Jerry Kammer, August 4, 2015

(Part two of three; see Part One here.)

Jeffrey Toobin's July 27 article in the New Yorker qualifies him for lifetime membership in what moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt might call the tribal moral society of advocates for illegal immigrants.

Haidt studies how human beings form their moral judgments. He writes that sometimes these judgments lead us to unite around a sacred idea. For liberal advocates of illegal immigration, the sacred idea is that illegal immigrants must be protected and offered the full rights of citizenship. Read more...

The New Yorker Looks at Immigration Through the Lens of Liberal Concerns for Illegal Immigrants

By Jerry Kammer, August 3, 2015

One of the most interesting aspects of the national immigration debate is the remarkable asymmetry in the work of many journalists and academics.

The New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin provides an excellent example in a piece entitled "American Limbo" in the magazine's July 27 edition. Toobin writes with compassion and eloquence as he makes a humanitarian case for federal action to provide legal status to illegal immigrants. But he does next to nothing to acknowledge that there are substantive reasons for opposing such reform in the absence of a commitment that this time the federal government will uphold the enforcement that is the other half of the potential grand bargain. Read more...

NYT Readers Respond to "Anti-Immigrant Binge" Editorial

By Jerry Kammer, July 27, 2015

On Friday, the New York Times published an editorial that sounded an alarm. It was headlined "The Anti-Immigrant Binge in Congress".

It didn't take long for the editorial board, the collective author of the piece and the institutional voice of the Times, to contradict its own headline and prove the fraudulence of the alarm. Here is the editorial's first sentence: "Congress is in danger of taking that most cursed of American political disagreements, the debate over illegal immigration, and dragging it farther toward insanity." (Emphasis added.) Read more...

Disney and Illusion: The Great H-1B Visa Heist

By Jerry Kammer, June 18, 2015

The annals of corporate disregard for the well-being of workers should hold a place for a new, disenchanting story from the Magic Kingdom. A famed American institution, Disney Parks and Resorts has managed not only to lay off American tech workers so it can hire cheaper foreign workers, it has required the departing Americans to train their foreign replacements. Read more...

Michael Lind's Story of Arthur Sulzberger and Immigration Policy at the New York Times

By Jerry Kammer, May 27, 2015

In 1995, when Michael Lind was a senior editor at the New Republic, he was contacted by an editor at the New York Times who was aware of his contrarian-liberal views of immigration. The editor asked Lind to write about them in an op-ed column for the Times.

Published under the headline "Liberals Duck Immigration Debate", Lind's essay made the case that "ignoring the rising costs of mass immigration, legal as well as illegal, is anything but courageous — or liberal." It went on to argue that, among Democrats, discussion of immigration is "still governed by taboos" and "rests on two articles of faith." Read more...

Facing Tougher Mexican Border Controls, Hondurans Seek New Routes to the U.S.

By Jerry Kammer, May 26, 2015

Despite a sharp rise in Mexico's deportations of Hondurans who seek to cross Mexico on their way to the United States, the illegal flow northward is continuing along new routes, according to an article in the Honduran newspaper La Prensa.

The article quotes a Honduran government official who said Mexico has deported 4,900 Hondurans this year, most of them between the ages of 11 and 29. Read more...

The Two Opposing Visions of Life, Including Immigration

By Jerry Kammer, May 8, 2015

We are supposed to have freedom to choose the place where we're going to live. ... In a different world, a world deserving to be what the world wanted to be when it was a different world, a world deserving to be what the world wanted to be when it was not yet born. Any newborn person should be welcomed. Welcomed! Say, "Come in! Come in boy or girl! The entire earth will be your kingdom and your legs will be your passport, forever valid."

The above words of Eduardo Galeano, a giant of Latin American literature and politics who died last month, are a vivid expression of the sensibility of those who favor unrestricted immigration. They hold what conservative American writer Thomas Sowell has called the "unconstrained vision". As Sowell wrote, "In the unconstrained vision, there are no intractable reasons for social evils and therefore no reason why they cannot be solved, with sufficient moral commitment." Read more...

Eduardo Galeano's Passionate Defense of Unrestricted Immigration

By Jerry Kammer, May 7, 2015

Eduardo Galeano, the Latin American novelist and radical journalist who died last month, was a towering cultural figure. According to The Economist, Galeano did more than any writer other than Gabriel Garcia Marquez "to shape the mental image that both locals and outsiders have of Latin America."

As we noted in yesterday's post, one of Galeano's admirers is Maria Hinojosa, the National Public Radio figure who, in her tribute last week to Galeano's life, could not bring herself to acknowledge that he had disavowed his most famous book, a polemical tract titled The Open Veins of Latin America. Read more...

Ever Wonder about the Slant of NPR's Maria Hinojosa?
Here's a look at a major influence

By Jerry Kammer, May 6, 2015
Here's a look at a major influence

Maria Hinojosa is one of the most opinionated journalists on National Public Radio. The NPR biography of the "Latino USA" host reports that she "has helped define the conversation about our times and our society with one of the most authentic voices in broadcast."

An immigrant from Mexico, Hinojosa speaks with compassion for the undocumented and clearly believes they should be fully accepted into American society. That advocacy has been a source of controversy. As Hinojosa herself acknowledged in 2006, many listeners who had tuned in to a discussion of immigration protested that she was too biased to have been the moderator. Read more...

"On the Media" Goes to Heaven, Slanting the Story of Europe's Immigration Anxiety

By Jerry Kammer, May 1, 2015

Cable television has understandably been fixated on the riots and unrest in Baltimore and much of the commenting has followed sadly predictable ideological lines. On Fox, Bill O'Reilly points to dysfunction in black communities. On MSNBC, Chris Hayes talks with former Maryland Rep. Kweisi Mfume about police brutality, the globalized economy, and social injustice while saying not a word about the tragic reality that 70 percent of black children nationwide are born out of wedlock.

The problem of ideological fixation made a prominent appearance on last week's "On the Media" program, which is carried on many public radio stations. A 10-minute segment on the horrific crisis of migrants being smuggled from Libya to Italy — many of them drowning as their overloaded boats capsize — became a lament about the rising discontent — in the press and the public — over the immigrant influx into Europe. Read more...

Documenting the NPR Slant on Immigration
The collection grows

By Jerry Kammer, April 30, 2015
The collection grows

As a former reporter who generally admires the work of National Public Radio, I have long been struck by what seems to be a reflexive bias of many of its journalists.

Reporter Martin Kaste provided a vivid example two years ago when he opined that the Center for Immigration Studies is "decidedly right wing". It was a careless, off-hand comment. Kaste cited no evidence. He had done none of the rudimentary reporting that would have shown him the staunchly liberal credentials of several of the most important figures at CIS. He had no understanding of the fact that liberals and conservatives can be found on both sides of our national immigration debate. Read more...

The Curious Outrage and "Exoticizing Disdain" of NYT Columnist Timothy Egan

By Jerry Kammer, April 10, 2015

New York Times columnist Timothy Egan last month labeled three prominent Republicans as "traitors to their class", writing that although they have humble beginnings, they have failed to identify with the struggle of workers at the lower end of our economy. Read more...

The Earned Income Tax Credit: Encouraging Work and Rewarding Illegal Immigration

By Jerry Kammer, April 9, 2015

In his Wednesday appearance on C-SPAN's Washington Journal, Marc Rosenblum of the Migration Policy Institute encountered callers who didn't share his enthusiasm for the idea of providing the Earned Income Tax Credit to millions of persons who are now in the country illegally. President Obama's executive action, which is now under challenge in federal court, would allow them access to Social Security Cards, authorized employment, and for many, a chance to tap the EITC. That's why critics hoot that it would be the "amnesty bonus." Read more...

C-SPAN Callers Challenge Advocate on Immigration's Effects on Blacks

By Jerry Kammer, April 8, 2015

Among the legions of Washington advocates for "comprehensive immigration reform", I've long regarded Marc Rosenblum as one of the best informed and most intellectually honest. Marc, the deputy director of the Migration Policy Institute's U.S. Immigration Policy Program, is also a first-class gentleman.

But Marc is an advocate with a definite point of view, which he developed as a political science professor, adviser to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, member of President-elect Obama's transition team, and immigration policy expert at the Congressional Research Service. Read more...