“conventional wisdom” v. facts

February 29, 2008

Daily reading of the articles in Bender’s Immigration Bulletin is admittedly too depressing of an endeavor for me. I have an emotional and mental limit for reading what I consider ever-more-depressing news about the actions our nation is taking against immigrants. I don’t need to be reminded every day that deportations are tearing families apart, that we are building a great wall — which I am confident will become a great embarrassment before the end of my life — on our southern border, or that nativism and anti-immigrant sentiment is becoming mainstream as it does every few decades.

This week the non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California released a study titled “Crime, Corrections and California: What does immigration have to do with it?” And guess what? Not a whole lot. Among other surprising (to some people) findings, people born outside of the United States (legal or undocumented immigrants included) make up a whopping 35 percent of California’s total population but just 17 percent of its prison population. Non-citizens men ages 18-40 born in Mexico, who are very likely to be undocumented according to the study, are more than 8 times less likely to be in a correctional setting than native-born U.S. citizen men of the same age group. The report also found lower rates of crime in California cities with higher number of recent immigrants. Overall the report shows that immigrants are far less likely to commit serious crimes in California and goes against all conventional wisdom that more immigrants mean more crime.

Despite the non-partisan nature and high ethical standards of the research, news articles covering the report’s findings, such as this one in the San Jose Mercury News, inspired dozens of nasty, bigoted comments such as this anonymous gem:

“Predictable left-wing lies. All one needs do is look at the list of prisoners’ names to see the South-of-the-Border heritage of incarcerated men in California. Further destroying the credibility of this report is the fact that so many illegals who commit additional crimes return to Mexico to hide out from authorities, and the left-wing idealogues that compiled this list of lies don’t refer to the skyrocketing number of Mexican rapists and murderers that Mexico declines to extradite.”

Oh.my.god. I love when people argue against facts with myths, racist sentiment and political opinions. It’s awesome!

This is why I can’t stomach reading so many articles. On many newspapers’ websites, there are comments, and you can’t just ignore the comments, but when you read them, you are always sickened and sorry to have read them. Where do these people come from? I’ve been trying though, to read more again and write my own comments back. But it’s hard to argue with people who disregard intellect in favor of hatred and prejudice.

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hating 2007’s most important Texan

January 7, 2008

I’m a little late on this, but last week the Dallas Morning News named ‘the illegal immigrant’ 2007’s Texan of the Year.

“He is at the heart of a great culture war in Texas – and the nation, credited with bringing us prosperity and blamed for abusing our resources. How should we deal with this stranger among us?” – Texan of the Year: The Illegal Immigrant, Dec. 30, 2007

The accompanying editorial, in my humble opinion, is unbiased and rather fair. But keep in mind that small but loud and angry group of Americans whose concept of ‘fair’ regarding undocumented immigration is very severely limited to ‘illegal aliens are treacherous criminals and every last one should be eradicated from good ‘ole America before any further damage is done…’ but, I think for the average person – liberal or moderately conservative on the issue, the editorial would be considered fair. Nevertheless, it resulted in 100s of mostly nasty comments on the News’ Opinion blog and put the blogger in the position to kindly ask his readers to READ THE ARTICLE, not just assume it’s a glorification of undocumented immigration.

In no way does the editorial board defend entering the U.S. without inspection (immigration-law talk for crossing the border) or any other sort of law-breaking. It in fact discusses the wide array of social, political and economic issues which both contribute to undocumented immigration and are also affected by this immigration. The column includes commentary from a wide array of interesting sources – take the liberal Harvard professor who claims the “immigration wave stands as ‘the single most immediate and most serious challenge to America’s traditional identity,'” or the Texas mayor who describes the way he had been demonized for running a so-called “sanctuary city” but was later attacked for participating in a federal deportation program, how crime has decreased since “cracking down” but so has the health of the area’s economy.

An “Ask the Editor” column by editorial writer Rodger Jones defended the choice for the so-called TOY and explained the process toward choosing the so-called TOY:

“The idea to name the Illegal Immigrant had strong support – but nowhere near unanimous support – from the beginning. The arguments were obvious to some of us. Impact. Lasting impact. Nation-changing impact. Political and economic impact. Texas-centric. Omnipresent in daily life. On the lips of teachers, politicians, doctors and nurses, employers, cops, consumers.

This issue is not the invention of a roomful of journalists. It’s right before us, everywhere.”

It’s a lot like Time Magazine naming Vladimir Putin Person of the Year – the designation of Texan of the Year is not meant to be a mark of glory, only of significance. And in that frame of mind, you would think the anti-immigrant crowd would actually welcome this designation. Isn’t it an excuse to discuss their feelings on the issue with the broader public? Isn’t it a chance for discussion of our immigration policies? Isn’t it a chance to talk about what’s wrong with the system? Instead, sadly, there was outcry against the newspaper, including subscribers threatening to cancel their subscriptions and a plethora of childish, poorly spelled comments.

One would hope that the average American, not that informed about the whys and hows of the immigration issue, might learn something, or at least start thinking about immigration in a different way because of this article. Wouldn’t it be nice if it could spark discussion, not hatred and venom? It’s time for a change people…