The Latest in Fearmongering

In its latest efforts to instill a fear of immigrants among the American public, the White House released a press statement, based on the findings of a questionable government report, warning that, “OUR CURRENT IMMIGRATION SYSTEM JEOPARDIZES AMERICAN SECURITY.” Through skewed statistics, the statement attempts to demonstrate that terrorists are infiltrating the United States through a flawed immigration system.  But before you grab a rifle and head to your panic room, as this administration would apparently like you to do, let’s take a look at the real facts.

The report highlights the cases of a handful of individuals (six!) who chose to commit a crime, while conveniently ignoring the fact that the vast majority of family-based and diversity visa applicants who came to the United States have led peaceful lives, contributing positively to our economy and society on a daily basis. Second, the report falsely implies that the children of “foreign born immigrants” are somehow less American, and fails to mention that these children were in some cases American citizens.  Third, as the Washington Post reported, the report appears to include people in the “immigrants” bucket who were extradited to the U.S. to face charges. Those aren’t immigrants, those are people transported to the U.S. by our government. Based on all of this, the administration would like to end family-based immigration and the diversity visa lottery.

Responding to the White House press release, the Cato Institute quickly pointed out: “In our updated terrorism information that runs through the end of 2017, we found that a total of 155 people were killed on U.S. soil in terrorist attacks since January 1, 2002, 34 of them by foreign-born terrorists and 121 of them by domestic terrorists.“

As the Cato response shows, this administration’s handle on the facts when it comes to immigration is selective, weak, and often outright false.  It is designed to play to the lowest common denominator and create fear: fear of death or bodily harm, fear of losing jobs, fear of losing “culture” and fear of the unknown. The White House press release is just another step in creating the false impression that immigrants endanger Americans.  Fear is a very powerful tool that gives the administration leverage as it attempts to limit immigration to the United States.

Throwing the contributions of generations of immigrants out the window because of the despicable acts of a handful of people is simply wrong. Immigrants and the children of immigrants make our country better. They are, as so many generations have before, excelling in educational pursuits and careers as wide-ranging as math, poetry, music, and science. Immigrants win Nobel prizes and Olympic gold medals; they build Fortune 500 companies, they fight to cure cancer, and they help build America and allow it to evolve in wonderful and unimaginable ways.

Family-based immigration has been essential in settling communities all over this country, where people now celebrate the contributions of immigrants in neighborhoods appropriately named Little Italy, Germantown, Chinatown, and Greek Village.  The stories of mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers coming to America to build a better life for their children fill the family trees of almost every person in America.  The list of immigrants who have helped shape and build this country, who arrived through every immigration program and on every kind of visa, could fill an entire library. Yet this administration wants to turn that all of that around, based on a list made up of a handful of people.  That makes no sense.  The administration’s efforts to dehumanize generations of immigrants through derogatory terms like “chain migration,” and to dismiss them because the color of their skin or the conditions in their countries of origin, will be remembered as one of the greatest social and economic blunders of our generation.

While our immigration system is far from perfect, eliminating an entire class of immigrants because a tiny fraction are deemed “bad apples” is the wrong approach.  It is important to understand the motivation behind this administration: they are creating fear to move a political agenda. Now more than ever, we must stand-up for our core American values which are under attack. That’s what you, and all of us, should really be afraid of.

by Matthew Maiona