With the immigration debate continuing to be discussed during the 2016 presidential election cycle, I take a moment to provide you with a political history lesson. Here are two video clips from a 1980 Republican presidential primary debate. In the first shorter clip, candidate Ronald Reagan shares his thoughts:
Reagan’s comments came right after George H.W. Bush answered a question from the audience about whether “illegal aliens” should pay for their children’s public school education:
In 1984, Reagan reiterated his position during a national debate with Walter Mondale, his Democratic opponent:
Yes, President Reagan said this in 1984: “I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and lived here, even though sometime back they may have entered illegally.”
Those clips have been making the Internet rounds for a while now. In fact, the site I founded discussed this very same topic in a 2012 post(and revisited last month). Andrew Sullivan wrote a post in 2011, linking to the Reagan-Bush debate comments. In 2010, NPR produced a segment about Reagan’s immigration views and how pushed for 1986 immigration reform bill, which in today’s political climate, would more than likely never pass.
Ironically, Reagan’s “amnesty” talk was countered in the mid-90s by a Democrat: President Bill Clinton. Here is a clip of what Clinton during his 1996 the State of the Union speech:
A rare presidential ad from 1996 also featured President Clinton as being tough on immigration, while suggesting that his opponent, Bob Dole, was not:
Tonight on Telemundo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton discussed immigration with María Celeste Arrarás. The interview, taped last Friday, was dubbed into Spanish (video below), but many outlets (CNN, The Daily Caller, Buzzfeed and Bloomberg) published several quotes in English about what Clinton told Arrarás:
When asked if she thinks Obama has done everything within his executive power to improve the current immigration system, Clinton cited the President’s increased enforcement of deportation laws as a mistake by the administration.
“I think he’s done a lot,” Clinton said, but added that Obama enforced the deportation laws “very aggressively during the last six and a half years” in part to get Republicans on board with comprehensive immigration reform.
“It was part of a strategy; I think that strategy is no longer workable,” she said. “So therefore I think we have to go back to being a much less harsh and aggressive enforcer.”
While Clinton said felons and violent people still need to be dealt with, she said she has met the wives and children of people who were deported over minor offenses. She reiterated her call for “comprehensive immigration reform” and a path to citizenship, but said, “In the meantime, I’m not gonna be breaking up families.”
“And I think that is one of the differences,” she continued. “But I totally understand why the Obama administration… did what they did under the circumstances. But I think we’ve learned that the Republicans, at least the current crop, are just not acting in good faith.”
Last summer, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour asked Clinton about what the United States should do to the growing number of unaccompanied minors who were escaping a crisis in Central America and crossing the border. This was Clinton’s answer:
“They should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are, because – there are concerns about whether all of them can be sent back, but I think all of them that can be should be reunited with their families.”
“We have to send a clear message: Just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay.”
“Specifically with respect to children on the border, if you remember, we had an emergency, and it was very important to send a message to families in Central America: Do not let your children take this very dangerous journey.”
“Now I think we have a different problem. Because the emergency is over, we need to be moving to try to get people out of these detention centers, particularly the women and children. I think we need more resources to process them, to listen to their stories, to find out if they have family in this country, if they have a legitimate reason for staying. So I would be putting a lot of resources into doing that, but my position has been and remains the same.”
Nonetheless, the candidate’s call to “get people of out of these detention centers” is still at odds with a July 2015 article from The Intercept, which reported that “lobbyists for two major prison companies [the GEO Group and the Corrections Corporation of America] are serving as top fundraisers for Hillary Clinton.” These private prison companies have had a long history with immigration detention. A new VICE article about the private prison industry stated that “Clinton’s Ready for Hillary PAC received $133,246 from lobbying firms linked to GEO and CCA.”
The VICE article also added:
The candidates aren’t talking about it either: The campaigns for Clinton, [Jeb] Bush, [Marco] Rubio, and [Donald] Trump ignored repeated VICE inquiries about private prisons. But activists say industry lobbying may have shaped the “detention-bed mandate,” a policy that requires Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to keep at least 34,000 people locked up — mainly in private prisons — while they wait to appear in immigration court. It costs taxpayers $2 billion a year for ICE to meet the quota.
So which Hillary Clinton will U.S. Latino voters see when it comes to the immigration issue? The one who nows says she will be “a much less harsh and aggressive enforcer” than President Obama (‘The Deporter-in -Chief“) or the candidate who still has many more questions to answer about her own immigration positions?
What do you think? Tweet me your thoughts to @julito77.
A new comprehensive analysisfrom Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends group provides deep insights into the history of immigration in the United States and concludes that current attitudes from Americans about this contentious topic are mostly mixed and somewhat misinformed.
How Well Do Americans Know About Immigration Facts?
The following chart from Pew shows how well Americans answered questions about certain immigration facts. The first question in the chart shows that 53% of American adults did not know the current percentage of foreign-born individuals was 13% of the U.S. population. In addition, 36% believe that the share of undocumented individuals as part of America’s immigrant population is higher than 26%, which is the correct answer. Furthermore, 69% of American adults believe that Latin Americans represent the largest group of new immigrants from the last five years. The correct answer is Asian immigrants.
How Do Americans View Immigrants From Different Parts of the World?
According to Pew, American adults view European and Asian immigrants more favorably than immigrants from others parts of the world, with Latin American and Middle Eastern immigrants being viewed as “mostly negative.”
Pew also drilled down a bit more to share how Republicans view Latin American immigrants. This chart shows that 58% of Republicans have a “mostly negative” view of Latin American immigrants.
How Do Americans Describe Immigrants?
According to Pew, 12% of American adults say the word “illegal” first when asked to describe immigrants. This is the chart Pew presented, showing all the different words that came to mind:
How Do Americans View Impact of Immigrants?
Pew also provided one chart showing how American adults view immigrants’ contributions to society.
Based on that chart, Pew concluded the following:
Americans are more likely to say immigrants to the U.S. are making American society better than making it worse. According to the survey, a plurality of Americans (45%) say that immigrants coming to the U.S. make American society better in the long run, while 37% say they make society worse and 16% say immigrants don’t have much of an effect one way or the other.
But there are major differences in the way different groups of Americans answer this question, with immigrants themselves, college graduates, Hispanics and younger Americans much more likely to be sanguine about the impact the foreign born are having on the United States, while Republicans, those with a high school diploma or less, and whites are more likely to have the most negative views of immigrants’ impact on the U.S.
Hispanics are more likely than whites or blacks to say immigrants are making U.S. society better, possibly reflecting the groups’ strong recent immigrant roots.According to the survey, about six-in-ten (61%) Hispanics say that in the long run, immigrants to the U.S. are making American society better while just 20% say they make it worse and 17% say immigrants have not had much effect on U.S. society.
By comparison, 44% of blacks say the impact of immigrants is positive, a plurality among them. But among whites, while 41% say immigrants make American society better in the long run, a similar share (43%) says immigrants make American society worse.
Last night, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump went on 60 Minutes and spoke with CBS News anchor Scott Pelley. The televised interview lasted about 17 minutes, but CBS also posted extra tapewhere Trump and Pelley discuss Trump’s immigration plan in more detail. The following is a one-minute clip showing part of that conversation, where Trump claims that he will plan to “round up” immigrants in a “very humane way, in a very nice way.”
At one point in the 60 Overtime video, Trump praised President Eisenhower (“he did this with over a million people, he did it, and it was actually very successfully done”).
For those who don’t know what Trump meant when he praised Eisenhower, the GOP frontrunner was referring to “Operation Wetback:”
The program succeeded in rounding up over 1 million people, most of them men. Just two years before Operation Wetback, the Border Patrol had deported half as many people. This new policy marked the beginning of modern deportation raids and the militarization of the border that we are familiar with today.
The U.S. Border Patrol…carried out Operation Wetback to respond to the unintended consequences of another American policy, the Emergency Farm Labor Program. During World War II, when the U.S. economy faced an acute labor shortage, the U.S. and Mexico established a binational agreement to import temporary workers to harvest American crops and maintain and repair American railroads.
Though the agreement was initially supposed to relieve the wartime labor shortage, American farmers developed a penchant for imported farm workers and had the program renewed repeatedly for 22 years. Between 1942 and 1964 the Bracero Program, as it was popularly known, brought over 4 million Mexican men to the U.S. through renewable six month contracts…
Mobile Task Force raids began in California in 1953 and moved to Texas in mid-July of 1954. From the Rio Grande Valley, the Task Force headed north to the mid-western states that had sizable Mexican populations. Though Operation Wetback officially targeted only illegal immigrants, many legal residents were caught up in the dragnet and ended up in Mexico just like during the sweeps of the Great Depression. In contrast to the depression-era deportations that dumped the immigrants at the border, during Operation Wetback the INS transported the deportees on busses, trucks, trains, and ships deep into the heart of Mexico in order to make it more difficult for them to return to the U.S. Unauthorized immigrants apprehended in the Midwest were flown to Brownsville and deported from there. Many Mexicans were transported from Port Isabel to Veracruz in crowded and filthy ships. The boatlift, however, was terminated when seven deportees jumped overboard from the Mercurio and drowned. Their tragic deaths provoked a mutiny and lead to a public outcry in Mexico. Deportations dropped off in the fall of 1954 when INS funding ran out.
It is difficult to estimate how many Mexicans were driven from the U.S. by Operation Wetback, but the INS claimed 1,300,000, five times as many immigrants as were displaced during the Great Depression. The San Antonio district of the INS, which included all of Texas outside of El Paso and the Trans-Pecos area, officially reported that it had apprehended more than 80,000 undocumented Mexicans, and officials estimated that an additional 500,000 to 700,000 immigrants in the district fled the country in fear of the Mobile Task Force. The exact toll of Operation Wetback will never be known, but the impact on the Mexican community was destructive. Again, as in the 1930s, families were uprooted and ruined and immigrant communities were destroyed. And again, as during the Great Depression, deportations to Mexico helped defuse the political time bomb of mass unemployment in the U.S. and rescue American capitalism.
Fabio and his little brother Delvis can travel freely between their families in Honduras and the U.S., but their parents and grandparents can’t. Reporter Nina Feldman accompanies Fabio on a journey back home to pick up his little brother from his grandparents’ home in San Pedro Sula and bring him back to his parents’ waiting arms in New Orleans.
Photo of Fabio (l) and Delvis (r) via Nina Feldman
The second Republican debate last night in California dived into several topics, but as expected, immigration was part of the discussion. Here is a Storify series of video clips that highlighted what the candidates said.
In 2013, filmmaker Mikaela Shwer reached out to immigrant rights activist Angy Rivera to see if Rivera was interested in making a documentary about her. Two years later, the documentary No le digas a nadie (Don’t Tell Anyone) will premiere this month on PBS. Shwer and Rivera recently visited the Latino USA studios to talk about the project and also about the unease Rivera faced when she was an undocumented individual and even now.
The migrant pathways near the Arizona border are covered with empty tuna cans, clothes and lost toothbrushes. Most Americans only know of the migrants’ stories through news coverage or the heated political discussion on immigration policy, but people living at the border have a much closer relationship to the stories. Several artists are collecting the items left behind on the trails and transforming them into sculptures and multimedia installations. The artists hope to make the migrants’ stories more personal for viewers—and maybe even, generate sympathy.
Alicia Fernandez contributed reporting to this story, which was produced in association with Round Earth Media, a nonprofit organization that mentors the next generation of international journalists.
In 2008, Tim Foley was living in Phoenix and making $40 an hour running construction crews. Then the financial crash happened, and his life went up in smoke: he lost his job and his home. He couldn’t find another decent paying job, and felt that it was because there were too many immigrants working illegally in the country and chopping wages. Frustrated and adrift, Foley drove down to southern Arizona, living out of his truck at first. If the government wasn’t going to secure the border, Foley decided, then he would.
Today, Foley is the leader of Arizona Border Recon, a volunteer militia made up of former soldiers who spend their time camping out in the desert and policing the border—armed with GPS devices, night-vision goggles and assault rifles. Although Foley’s goal was originally to go after migrants, he decided to shift the group’s focus to gathering intelligence on drug cartels and disrupting the movements of drug traffickers.
Latino USA‘s Marlon Bishop and KUAZ Arizona Public Media’s Fernanda Echavarri spent a night out in the Sonoran desert with Arizona Border Recon to record their stories.
Dulce Matuz started a new life as an undocumented American in Arizona when she was 15 years old. She was a star student, participated on the robotics team in high school and got into the engineering program at Arizona State University. In 2006, Arizona passed Proposition 300, which stripped undocumented students of in-state tuition for school and forced a lot of undocumented students to drop out of school. Dulce had a choice: self-deport or stay and fight. She chose the latter. Dulce co-founded the Arizona Dream Act Coalition to fight for immigrant rights while Arizona was in the process of enacting some of the nation’s strictest anti-immigration laws. Maria Hinojosa recently met up with Matuz in Phoenix to talk about what’s happening with Arizona politics around immigration today, five years after Arizona passed its controversial “show me your papers law,” SB 1070.
This week, a video from an Mexican immigrant who is undocumented and works at a restaurant inside a Donald Trump hotel has gone viral: so much so that it even appeared in The New York Times. According to the Times, 24-year-old Ricardo Aca uploaded the following video “on Facebook on Monday, where it attracted more than 300,000 views in 24 hours.”
Aca was specifically addressing Trump’s continued focus on immigration and characterizations of undocumented individuals. As Aca told the Times: “I was offended because this is not who we are, this is not who I am, this is not anybody I know who is an immigrant.”
Aca’s video is getting a lot of digital buzz this week. Just check out how many outlets are covering it by going to this link.
What do you think of Aca’s video? Add your comments below, or tweet @LatinoUSA or me @julito77.
Last week, Studio 360 featured Latino USA’s Marlon Bishop, who recently visited Arizona with Maria Hinojosa for our upcoming BORDERWORLD show, premiering August 28. Part of the BORDERWORLD show will feature the Tucson Samaritans, who, according to their site, “are responding directly, practically and passionately to the crisis at the US/ Mexico border.”
To read more about the artists feature in the podcast you just heard, visit the Studio 360 site. And stay tuned for the rest of our BORDERWORLD episode on August 28.
Feature photo of Deborah McCullough, holding a toothbrush she picked up on U.S.-Mexico border. (CREDIT: Alicia Fernandez). Photo of BORDERWORLD graphic by John Moore/Getty Images.
In the current quest to cover All Things Donald Trump, I haven’t found any major media outlets exploring or dissecting the ideological similarities between Trump’s highly-publicized immigration planand the policies promoted for years by controversial groups such as Numbers USA, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). These three organizations (and others) have direct links to John Tanton, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) called “the racist architect of the modern anti-immigrant movement.”
The Tanton Network has been around since 1979. In 1993, Tanton wrote, “I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.”
Since then, many outlets have covered Tanton and his organizations, including The New York Times (read: “The Anti-Immigration Crusader”). The Times report led Tanton to write a letter to the editor, where he stated this: “The truth is that my role in pushing one of the stickiest issues of our time into public debate was far more modest than your article implies.” FAIR also responded to the Times piece with its own response. Before the Times 2011 article, CIS wrote a rather lengthy piece in 2010, defending its efforts and calling out the SPLC and the National Council of La Raza for “smearing” Tanton-founded organizations.
Tanton and his organizations have been scrutinized for years, even from conservatives. In 2013 piece for The Hill, the vice president of governmental affairs for National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference called Tanton’s network “a front for some fringe figures that advocate for population control, Eugenics, and abortion on demand.” Cafe con Leche Republicans, a prominent digital organization of Latino Republicans, has written several pieces about Tanton, with one post saying this: “The Tanton lobby’s messaging to conservatives about immigration enforcement resonates well, but most conservatives don’t support cutting legal immigration levels. Conservatives need to be wary about how these faux conservatives are manipulating the conservative movement.”
In 2012, the “self-deportation” strategy of the Mitt Romney presidential campaign —which many observers concluded was the one of the key reasons why Romney garnered only 27% of the U.S. Latino vote— had several Tanton advocates, including CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian, who said this: “Self-deportation is the core of a policy of attrition through enforcement, which has been the strategic framework for all the pro-enforcement measures of the past several years, at both the federal and state levels.”
Even though a Republican National Committee 2013 memo tried to move away from an immigration rhetoric strategy that did not resonate with U.S. Latino voters, it looks like Trump’s latest immigration plan is straight from the playbook of the Tanton Network. The Washington Post reported on Trump’s plan without mentioning Tanton-linked organizations, saying the campaign’s immigration plan was a series of ideas that “once languished at the edge of Republican politics, confined to think tanks and no-hope bills on Capitol Hill.”
1. A nation without borders is not a nation. There must be a wall across the southern border.
2. A nation without laws is not a nation. Laws passed in accordance with our Constitutional system of government must be enforced.
3. A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation. Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.
Numbers USA shares similar ideas:
“The ethics of closed-immigration are based primarily on the belief thata country’s ethical priority is to its own citizens. To the extent it has ethical obligations to other people, a country should help those people where they reside, not by bringing them into the country and posing harm to its own citizens.”
As you dig deeper into the two platforms, additional ideological similarities between Trump and the Tanton Network emerge. Here are just a few verbatim examples:
Trump: End birthright citizenship. “This remains the biggest magnet for illegal immigration. By a 2:1 margin, voters say it’s the wrong policy, including Harry Reid who said “no sane country” would give automatic citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants.”
Numbers USA: “Birthright Citizenship is the practice of granting automatic citizenship to children born in the United States. Under current federal law, nearly all children born in the U.S. receive automatic citizenship, regardless of whether their parents are lawfully in the country. This practice has created a magnet for foreign nationals who want their children to have U.S. citizenship and spawned creation of a cottage industry devoted to helping pregnant “tourists” illicitly enter this country for the purpose of giving birth.”
Numbers USA is also touting The Birthright Citizenship Bill, sponsored by Rep. Steve King, the same Rep. King who in 2014 said the following about children who entered the United States with their undocumented parents: “For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds—and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
Trump’s quote also linked to a 2011 Rasmussen Reports poll. Yet it didn’t link to a recent Gallup poll, which stated this: “The U.S. public demonstrates no clear preference on what U.S. immigration levels should be. On this contentious issue, 40% say levels should remain where they are, but only slightly fewer (34%) advocate a decrease in the stream of immigrants. One-quarter of the country prefers an increase in immigration levels, the sole response of the three to see a general increase in support over the past 15 years.”
Besides the birthright citizenship similarities, both Trump and Number USA are quick to also pit Black against Brown. Here are some examples:
Trump Put American workers first. “Decades of disastrous trade deals and immigration policies have destroyed our middle class. Today, nearly 40% of black teenagers are unemployed. Nearly 30% of Hispanic teenagers are unemployed. For black Americans without high school diplomas, the bottom has fallen out: more than 70% were employed in 1960, compared to less than 40% in 2000. Across the economy, the percentage of adults in the labor force has collapsed to a level not experienced in generations.”
Later in the platform, the campaign says the following:
“We need to control the admission of new low-earning workers in order to: help wages grow, get teenagers back to work, aid minorities’ rise into the middle class, help schools and communities falling behind, and to ensure our immigrant members of the national family become part of the American dream.”
Finally, there is the national security threat:
“Additionally, we need to stop giving legal immigrant visas to people bent on causing us harm. From the 9/11 hijackers, to the Boston Bombers, and many others, our immigration system is being used to attack us.”
What does Numbers USA have to say?
Numbers USA “Amnesty for illegal workers is not just a slap in the face to black Americans. It’s an economic disaster. I see illegal immigration and the adverse impact that it has on the political empowerment of African Americans, and the impact it has on the job market.” T. WILLARD FAIR, PRESIDENT OF THE URBAN LEAGUE OF GREATER MIAMI, FLA.
Then there is the connection between jobs and the middle class:
“New foreign workers compete with the laid-off and underemployed highly skilled Americans in most professions and occupations, but most foreign workers compete directly in the construction, service and manufacturing industries where unemployment is the highest and where Americans have the least margin of financial security.”
As for terrorism threats, Numbers USA quoted a CIS post threats to national security:
“A retired government employee with extensive national security experience, points to Anwar al-Awlaki —a terrorist with links to jihadists including Umar Farouk Abdulmutullab, who attempted to bomb a jetliner with a bomb hidden in his underwear as the plane prepared to land near Detroit, and Nidal Malik Hasan, who massacred 13 people in 2009 at Fort Hood, Tex.— as an example of how Birthright Citizenship has the potential to benefit enemies of the United States.
It is too early to tell whether Trump’s immigration position and how it is similar to the views of the Tanton Network will play out in a national election. However, there are recent indications that the type of rhetoric and talking points being discussed this week in the mainstream media will alienate U.S. Latino voters even more. For example, this past April, the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda —a group of the country’s top Latino advocacy groups and one of the key players in pressuring NBC to drop ties with Trump— called any attempts at changing birthright citizenship “disastrous:”
“Birthright citizenship proposals seek to undermine well-established precedent by altering the legal interpretation and application of the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. These proposals would deny citizenship to an entire class of infants born in the United States based on the immigration status of their parents.
“Such legislation would result in an underclass of Latinos that would be subject to disparate and adverse treatment based solely on their ethnicity, the national origin and race of their parents, and signal a return to a pre-Civil War constitutional era.”
Is the Trump campaign strategy just looking beyond the U.S. Latino vote and admitting that it has no chance of winning it or even attempting to win it?
Does this become a question of numbers and who actually votes in national elections?
For all the talk about U.S. Latino voting power, it is important to point this out from Pew: “Overall, 48% of Hispanic eligible voters turned out to vote in 2012, down from 49.9% in 2008. By comparison, the 2012 voter turnout rate among blacks was 66.6% and among whites was 64.1%, both significantly higher than the turnout rate among Hispanics.”
Trump’s immigration strategy is saying that more immigrants have led to fewer opportunities for African Americans. Will that type of strategy (Black vs. Brown) play out? Has Trump also tapped into those who would tell Gallup that they believe in the same levels of immigration or decreased numbers—a position the Tanton Network has been pushing for decades?
Nonetheless, it is also important to note these factoids from the very same Pew study:
“The voter turnout rate of naturalized Hispanic immigrants who arrived in the 1990s increased from 41.2% in 2008 to 47.2% in 2012.”
“Much of the growth in the number of Latino eligible voters was driven by Latino youth. Among the 3.8 million Latinos who became eligible to vote between 2008 and 2012, 3.7 million were U.S.-born young Hispanics who entered adulthood. Annually, about 800,000 U.S.-born young Hispanics come of age, making them newly eligible to vote.”
Will these numbers translate to larger voting power in 2016? Can Trump or any other GOP candidate play to the John Tantons and Steven Kings of the world and become the next President of the United States? That is the gamble candidates like Trump are taking. However, if more and more Trump piñatas become the norm for U.S. Latinos, a GOP White House will be extremely difficult to achieve.
Yesterday in California, governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill No. 432, which, according to The Los Angeles Times, would remove “the word ‘alien’ from California’s labor code because it is seen as a disparaging term for those not born in the United States.”
“I applaud Governor Brown for signing SB 432. My bill modernizes the Labor Code and removes the term ‘alien’ to describe a person who is not born in or a fully naturalized citizen of the United States. Alien is now commonly considered a derogatory term for a foreign-born person and has very negative connotations.”
Mendoza also added this:
“California is among the top destination states for immigrants in the United States. Given the abundant evidence of their many contributions, it is imperative that any derogative references to foreign-born individuals be repealed from state law.”
Mendoza’s release linked to a 2013 Pew study which reported this: “The use of ‘illegal alien,’ a term considered insensitive by many, reached its low point in 2013, dropping to 5% of terms used. It had consistently been in double digits in the other periods studied, peaking at 21% in 2007.”
Reaction on social media to the news has been intense. Here is just a sampling of tweets opposing the act:
Alien is being removed from the labor code in California? Because of negative connotations? So are things that are illegal now not negative?