Our VoiceImmigration

Nativists Again Seeking to Deny Rights to Children

Imagine 2050 Staff • Sep 08, 2014

Throughout the summer, the anti-immigrant movement has continually demonized children fleeing pandemic levels of violence in a trio of Central American countries to further its political agenda.

In its latest ploy to help ensure that those seeking refuge are deported back to the countries they’ve fled, influential group’s within this movement are upholding a report by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the flagship organization of the modern day anti-immigrant movement.

To advance said agenda and mobilize its base, the movement has frequently portrayed immigrants as a significant cost to taxpayers. Even more often, however, the studies used to promote this agenda are rife with dubious estimates and methodological flaws.

FAIR’s most recent study – which puts forth that the cost to educate these children in public schools this year will exceed $760 million – is no exception. To generate that bombastic figure, FAIR researchers used out-of-date data and a cost estimate for students with limited English proficiency that was taken from yet another suspect FAIR report published some two years ago.

FAIR has never cherished solid research practices, though.

Organizations like the Center for American Progress were quick to debunk FAIR’s specious cost estimates and cast them in proper context. With regard to public education, in a system projected to educate 49.8 million this year, these children will represent a student population increase of just over one-tenth of one percent, or “a drop in the bucket.”

We at Imagine2050 have come to expect FAIR and other anti-immigrant groups to inflate such cost estimates regarding government spending as a tactic for provoking groans from their grassroots. We’ve seen them do so repeatedly over the years.

Last spring, while the U.S. Senate was crafting a bill to reform our broken immigration system, the Heritage Foundation released a report projecting that bill, S.744, would cost taxpayers over $6 trillion. The report, which was enthusiastically upheld by Beltway anti-immigrant groups like FAIR and their legislative allies, was rightly denounced, even by some of Heritage’s usual allies in conservative and libertarian circles.

As Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think-tank, wrote at the time:

“The new Heritage report is still depressingly static, leading to a massive underestimation of the economic benefits of immigration and diminishing estimated tax revenue. It explicitly refuses to consider the GDP growth and economic productivity gains from immigration reform — factors that increase native-born American incomes. An overlooked flaw is that the study doesn’t even score the specific immigration reform proposal in the Senate. Its flawed methodology and lack of relevancy to the current immigration reform proposal relegate this study to irrelevancy.”

Nowrasteh did not highlight that one of the two authors of that report, Jason Richwine, has in the past displayed and defended white nationalist theories on race and genetics in his own writings, which sparked a conflagration of media backlash against the group.

And so with its latest report, FAIR has continued this trend of publishing misleading work in order to demonize immigrants and efface the positive contributions they make – and that FAIR doesn’t – to our country’s economy and social fabric. Framing these children as a burden to U.S. taxpayers is a brazen attempt to deny them their rights to schooling.

Rights the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed.

Yet again, FAIR and the anti-immigrant movement are affirming their only “solutions” for our country are rooted in the denial and obstruction of opportunities, even those lawfully extended to children.

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