Department of Error-Riddled Immigration Op-Eds

By Stanley Renshon and Stanley Renshon on January 23, 2011

In reading through the many commentary pieces related to our national immigration debates, it's worthwhile to start to draw some distinctions. There are those rare successful efforts to make sense of a specific immigration issue whose analysis leaves you more informed than when you started. There are those with which you essentially agree, but which are not much help in advancing your understanding because they essentially restate conclusions you have already reached. There are those with whom you disagree, but nonetheless state their arguments in a way that allows you to understand and accept the legitimacy of their viewpoint, while still ultimately disagreeing with it.

And then there are tendentious advocacy pieces riddled with assertion and devoid of analysis. Such is the op-ed by Mort Kondracke entitled: "'Nativist Lobby' is Winning on Immigration".

In his view the failure "to enact immigration reform is plunging the nation into an ugly future." And what is this ugly future? "Call it the Arizonification of America." Kondracke is not talking about the "the ghastly shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) and 19 others in Tucson, Ariz.", though he is not beyond trying to make use of it. He quotes Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who did make a direct connection between the shootings and Arizona's "climate of hate", as some would have it. And Kondracke quotes Dupnick's exact words in describing Arizona, while making that spurious connection: "a mecca for racism and bigotry".

Like all advocates who scrupulously avoid any facts that interfere with their narrative, he characterizes Arizona as "a state of Minuteman vigilantism, death threats against politicians and judges, talk-radio demagoguery, and bullying of Latinos and rival politicians by 'America's toughest sheriff,' Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County."

With no evidence whatsoever, Kondracke asserts that, "In the present climate, attacks on illegal immigrants by radio talk-show hosts, politicians, vigilantes – and Arizona's Senate Bill 1070 – invite profiling of Latinos in general, giving the trend a racist tinge." In Kondracke's fevered imagination, speaking up against illegal immigration is tantamount to racially-based opposition to "Latinos in general".

Worse, "governors and legislators in 23 other states are considering following Arizona's lead in directing local police to act as immigration officers." Kondracke has apparently not heard of the Secure Communities program, the latest of several efforts to forge federal-state partnerships on immigration enforcement.

And if any more convincing is needed, there is the fact that "politicians in several states are contriving to, in effect, amend the U.S. Constitution to deny citizenship to children born in the U.S. if their parents are illegal immigrants." Kondracke is mistaken here as well, because that initiative is not for a constitutional amendment but to make use of the state powers to define state citizenship and to forge a set of state compacts on the issuing of birth certificates.

Of course no one-sided attempt to smear those with different immigration views is complete without an appeal to authority – always like-minded authority.

So the author quotes with approval "immigration reform advocate Rick Swartz", who says: "There's a long history in our country of demonizing 'the other' – Catholics by the Know-Nothings, Chinese, blacks, Jews. Americans ought to fear we're in another one of those periods now."

And just in case that fails to impress you, the author references a report from the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, a group that has vehemently opposed federal-state-local partnerships to identify and deport immigrants jailed for criminal offenses.

Those the author selects to speak for his viewpoint remove any doubt about his impartiality. However, the basic factual incorrectness of his erroneous assertions had destroyed his credibility long before that.