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5 Ways the Anti-Immigrant Movement Misleads the Public on Reform

Imagine 2050 Staff • Jun 13, 2013

With the United States Senate voting overwhelmingly to proceed with immigration reform bill S. 744 on Tuesday, the anti-immigrant movement is predictably going on the offensive. As such, they will likely amplify talking points they have used for months to voice their opposition to immigration reform. Predictably, these points are laden with misinformation designed to mask the anti-immigrant agenda these organizations maintain. Expect the anti-immigrant movement to continue focusing on these areas as the reform debate moves forward:

  • Permanent resident figures: This has been a favorite tactic of NumbersUSA’s. The organization continues to appeal to population alarmists by claiming that 33 million green cards will be issued in the first decade following S. 744’s implementation. The figure includes the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living – and most whom are already working – in the country. The projection also includes current issuance figures that negligently do not consider that certain visa categories will be done away with or reduced under S. 744. The figure is touted to imply S. 744 will greatly expand current immigration levels, but the Center for American Progress notes that S. 744 may actually lower future immigration levels.

  • The “price” of immigration: The anti-immigrant movement’s other go-to figure is $6.3 trillion. The figure comes from a much maligned report released by the Heritage Foundation in May. The report operates on the faulty assumption that the majority of immigrants granted legal status under S. 744 would forever live in poverty and cost the government $6.3 trillion over 50 years. The Heritage report has been widely panned by both the left and right for its faulty methodology (and co-author Jason Richwine’s history). Conservatives such as Douglas Holtz-Eaton remind us that, until 2007, even Heritage itself maintained immigration was positive from an economic standpoint. This, of course, hasn’t stopped the anti-immigrant organizations from persistently using the figure. The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) simply claimed, “Heritage got it right” in a May 14 email to supporters linking to a lengthy defense of the report by CIS’ Director of Research Steven Camarota.

  • Border statistics: In April, media outlets reported a “500 percent surge” in border “activity.” The figure came from CIS’ Janice Kephart and was created solely to drum up fear over how supposedly unsecure the United States’ borders are. The statistic loses all credibility when one realizes CIS’ source for the ominous “border activity” figure was simply local ranchers. FAIR cited unidentified ranchers as a source recently as well. A June 5 blog post discussing border crossings claimed border ranchers told FAIR “that crossings are not only more frequent, but even more brazen.”

  • Guestworker figures: On June 5, CIS released a new study claiming S. 744 would significantly increase the amount of guest workers and temporary visas issued at the expense of American workers. However, the report completely misrepresents S. 744 in order to disingenuously bolster the anti-immigrant movement’s argument that the bill will compete with American workers. In other words, it “completely misses the mark.” The study is predictably being lauded by anti-immigrant members of Congress such as Sen. Jeff Session (R-AL) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), who praised the faulty report during a conference call upon its release.

  • Immigration and African-American communities: The false notion that immigration will adversely impact African-Americans’ job prospects is the primary motivation behind the anti-immigrant Black American Leadership Alliance (BALA). The group began in April under the name African American Leadership Council. BALA members’ ties to the anti-immigrant movement are extensive and the group is currently organizing a July 15 rally in Washington D.C. Their goal is to stop S. 744 because immigration will supposedly hurt African American workers. The reality is that, as studies show, there is no apparent relationship.

As debates over immigration reform move forward, the anti-immigrant movement will continue to employ this messaging. As it goes on, this rhetoric must continue to be exposed for what it truly is: intentionally misleading in order to advance a fringe nativst agenda.

The John Tanton Network map, outlining key organizations that make up the modern anti-immigrant movement, and are responsible for misleading information on immigrants and immigration, including NumbersUSA, Center for Immigration Studies, and Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

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