Subscriber Services

Monday, January 14, 2008


It's time to debunk the biggest myths of the antiimmigration movement that has swept this country over the past two years, and may still have an impact on the 2008 presidential race: that they are not anti-Hispanic nor oppose legal immigration, but are only against ''illegal'' immigration. Find out here what the 5 myths are, and let us know what you think.


Blogger hushhush said...

“Let's call things by their names”. A very good idea Mr. Oppenheimer.

You ought to begin the serious discussion of illegal immigration by getting into low gear before you get into high gear. All you did in the above article was drag out the hackneyed ideological lexicon of those who’ve exhausted their arguments and abandoned reason and fact. Insinuating that opponents of illegal immigration are racists & similar slurs immediately paints these groups as villains, and is designed to place them on the defensive. Calling someone a racist & similar yada yada is playing the only card in the accuser’s hand, and is little more than a convenient tool used by people like yourself who lack cogent & valid contra arguments.

About “the U.S. labor market is demanding 1.5 million mostly low-skilled immigrants a year”. Off of what wall did you get that?** According to a July 2007 Census report, there are 54,277,000 Americans ages 16 to 64 who aren’t in the labor force. This includes 23 million “less-educated” adults who, for a variety of reasons, don’t have a job. Narrowing this down further, there are 14 million people actively seeking employment who can’t find a full-time job in today’s economy, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Advocating that these millions of unemployed Americans must compete with millions of employed illegal immigrants is baloney, - especially since there’s no such need for massive numbers of unskilled foreign labor. How can any legitimate student of American immigration honestly believe that in a technology driven, leading-edge information economy, the U.S. needs hundreds of thousands of unskilled workers with 6th grade educations, -----annually? Yet, Senators Clinton, Obama, & McCain, via their votes on S-1639 vote last summer, (Comprehensive immigration Reform) stated that we need these workers. Specifically, 400,000 annually without much focus upon economic necessity, - or verification on a case basis.

Regarding the wampum about “jobs Americans won’t do”, it's a myth that Americans won't do hard labor, and therefore foreigners, either as illegal aliens or as guest workers must be imported to do them. The truth is that Americans won't live two families in a garage, or 20 in a trailer, and suffer similar indignities just to sell their first-world labors at third-world levels. It’s bottom-of-the-barrel wage rates, not hard work, that American workers reject.

The nation’s foremost economic immigration expert, Harvard Professor George Borjas, a Latino legal immigrant, points to Mexico & Canada as what to do, and what not to do when selecting legal immigrants. The average Canadian legal immigrant has 13.8 years of schooling, and the average Mexican legal immigrant 7.6 years. The average Canadian legal immigrant earns 24 percent more than the average American, while the average Mexican legal immigrant earns 39 percent less. The average Mexican legal immigrant is 50% more likely than the average Canadian legal immigrant to end-up using some form of welfare, and the average Mexican legal immigrant has the highest school dropout rate in the nation.
During this decade 7,018,463 people were legally admitted to the U.S., most of whom will become United States citizens. Of these legal immigrants, 1,226,151 were Mexicans, (17.5%) while 128,421 (1.8%) were Canadians. Here’s prima-facie evidence of the wretched intellectual cunning that illustrates America’s no-goal immigration program. We urgently need to revamp our legal immigrant selection procedures to attract those with the greatest potential to benefit their new country.
The lynch-pin of U.S. work force efficiency is an educated and skilled workforce. Increases in productivity allow American companies to do more work with fewer employees, but pay more without spurring inflation. The economy benefits in the long run from labor shortages (or expenses) that encourage increased productivity and technological innovation, not from legions of educationally and technically deficient workers, - who are twice as likely as native-borns to go on welfare. The surging American economy is fueled by investments in computers, information technology, telecommunications, e-commerce, bioscience, robotics, mechanized factories, and other technologies that require a labor force comprised of highly educated people with marketable skills. In other words, bluntly speaking, we need less apricot pickers, busboys, gardeners, and more scientists and similarly skilled individuals.

I don’t know all the issues surrounding Florida’s illegal immigration situation, but I’m fully conversant with the consequences of ignoring this relentless & growing influx of unlawful migrants. I’d like to share some of California’s horror stories with you.

Waiting for the federal government to enforce our immigration laws will eventually give Florida another California, on a smaller scale. Here in California, (using two year old data) if we add-up the expenses of just the basic components of illegal immigration for a single year, - - K-12 education for 430,000 kids, pre-natal & delivery costs in county hospitals for 84,000 illegal moms, monthly subsidies to these same illegal moms for their new U.S. citizens, emergency health care costs borne by the State’s major counties, and the costs to incarcerate about 24,000 illegal alien felons in state/county prisons, we’re at $10 billion, (net) year after year after year.

Los Angeles County's underground cash economy is a financial disaster, with an estimated 28% of the workforce (mostly illegal immigrants) paid in cash, thus depriving the safety net of an estimated $1.1 billion annually.

California leads the nation in suffocating under the burden of medically uninsured people. California spent $1.55 billion in 2002 for medical care for uninsured illegal aliens. Los Angeles County recently voted to close 16 community clinics, and reduced by 25% funding for its network of private clinics partnering with the County. In addition to this, within the last decade, 52 emergency rooms and 17 trauma centers (13 within the last 16 months) throughout Southern California have closed their doors, all because they couldn’t afford to keep them open because of the exponentially increasing numbers of uninsured patients that include critical-masses of illegal aliens. The County’s population grew 7.4 percent in the last decade; a period in which 36 hospitals closed their doors. Additionally, 81 hospitals no longer have emergency rooms. Los Angeles County spent about $340 million in 2003 providing health care to illegal immigrants, according to a report from the Department of Health Services. So bad is the crisis here that some patients must wait 4 days for a hospital bed, up to two years
for gallbladder surgery, and some even die while waiting for these beds. The statewide system is "on the brink of collapse," according to a 2003 study by the California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems. The study warned that thousands of workers will lose their jobs and hospitals will close if the split between rising costs and declining revenues keeps growing.

If the above wasn’t bad enough, six years after 9-11, we still don't know who is entering the country. If millions of penniless illegal immigrants can walk across our borders annually, why can’t well-trained & financed terrorists do the same? Yet, each of the above presidential candidates opted to neuter the border fence funding via their votes on the recent Omnibus legislation. This bill contained 3,500 pages of inscrutable mice type, presented to the Senate just 12 hours before their vote, - a vote that would have required Senators to read over two pages a minute for 24 hours with no breaks of any kind.

One hundred fifty six years ago, Victor Hugo wrote the epitaph for your indocumentados credo when he said, "There is one thing stronger than all the kings and queens, and all the armies of the world combined, and that is the power of an idea whose time has come".

And that idea is that in the final analysis, no democratic society can indefinitely allow a relentless flood of illegal immigrants to contravene its laws, violate its borders, threaten its security, overwhelm its infrastructures and social systems, diminish employment possibilities for its indigenous uneducated and poor, and degrade its way of life, as is happening here in California, and throughout our nation.

Anyway Mr. Oppenheimer, sounds like you’ve got a great deal, pounding out litanies of sans facts articles.

** Perhaps from President Bush who talks about “willing workers” seeking “willing employers”. In the real world where facts count, A “willing worker” is generally a desperately poor unskilled individual from the third-world seeking almost any kind of work. A “willing employer” is generally a mercenary and conniving firm or individual offering employment to willing workers at non-living wages and terrible working conditions. In short, “willing employers” are American employers who won’t hire unskilled American workers because they can hire “willing employees” at a fraction of the cost. This is a marriage made-in-hell, on the backs of innocent American workers and taxpayers.

Michael Scott
Glendora, California

11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am dismayed that intelligent, thoughtful people can present the case that anybody who does not embrace massive illegal immigration into the US is a racist.

I am a 53 y. old doctor (Internist/Hospitalist). I lived in Boston and Cambridge,MA for 20 yrs., and now in Boulder,Co for 20 years. I have always voted Democratic, was involved in civil disobedience many times (nuclear power issues, Viet Nam and Iraq wars, colleges divesting from S African stocks during Apartheid, environmental issues, Farmworker's rights, etc.)I currently belong to an organization of Physicians who volunteer to do interviews and exams on people who have legally applied for emergent asylum in the U.S., due to torture and likelihood of death if returned to their home country.

I am deeply disturbed by the immigration issue. I watch my patients, legal immigrant and non-immigrant residents alike, declaring bankruptcy due to medical bills, not being able to pay for routine medicines for high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney failure, diabetes; they cannot go to the ER or to a doctor. (Yes, the ER does have to see them under the EMTALA law, but it sends a bill for the treatment to the patients for whom it has legal names and addresses!) At the same time, I watch illegal residents receiving Medicaid coverage ( as those benefits continue to shrink for the entire US population), getting
'free" treatment in the ERs (there is no way to bill a person presenting a false name and address!). The legal residents must also pay the bill when they are hospitalized ( or go bankrupt trying to do so); the illegal resident patients get free care - physicians know that they will never be paid for any of the rounds, surgeries, etc. that they do for these patients.

I watch residents in my community working 2-3 jobs to pay for their college educations, including kids who must pay "out of state" tuition when they do not fulfill the residency requirements ( my daughter's boyfriend is doing this right now). At the same time, I see legislation promoting cheaper "in-state" tuition for illegal immigrants.

I watch businesses preferentially hiring illegal immigrants. They do this because they may circumvent the Occupational SAfety Health Act rules, can avoid paying Worker's Comp for injured people, can pay lower wages, etc.. Then they (and their supporters) claim that they are being "kind and compassionate", :"humane", "are giving tragic people a job, who have terrible conditions otherwise", are "getting work done that no legal US resident will do", etc..
How is this anything other than horrendous and shameful exploitation of desperate people? (I am not addressing the effect it has on legal residents who are then forced to work at subpar wages, or not at all).

I see referrals made to me and other Physicians on behalf of immigrants trying to gain legal status through lawful channels: people from Haiti,Cote d'Ivoire, Somalia,, Pakistan, and others. These people are not just escaping economic disaster and corruption in their home countries - they have been tortured, abused, have travelled amazing distances under terrible conditions to apply for this status. In my value system, they deserve immediate attention, and should be welcomed, legally, into the U.S.. To me, that is compassionate and humane.

How is it, then, that illegal immigrants from Mexico deserve preferential treatment over the people mentioned above? Do they really "deserve" free medical care, free educations, the ability to commit identity fraud and other illegal acts that legal US residents would be prosecuted for? Do they deserve to stay in the US illegally as long as they like, while the above-mentioned people don't have those "rights"? How is that just, fair, humane or helpful to the greater community of people in the US, immigrant residents or non-immigrant residents alike?

I have heard all of the arguments (we exploited and mistreated Mexico and Latin America, so we owe them these things; we have always been a nation of immigrants - therefore we should take on massive illegal immigration from Mexico in a welcoming way; we are rich, and therefore can afford to provide free health care and educations to the Mexican population; the identity fraud, lack of auto insurance ( required for legal residents), etc. is not really "serious" crimes and they should therefore receive amnesty for these behaviors; they only do work that no legal resident will do, etc. etc..

These arguments break down very quickly. The real issue, I believe, is that American businesses and a group of the American people want to have "slave labor" available to them. They will then rationalize this preferential treatment noted above. This includes creating a "second-class non-citizen", the famous "guest worker program". How is that based on the country's founding principles, equality for all??

I am not a right-wing reactionary, I am not cruel or inhumane, I am not anti-immigration, I am not racist, I am not uneducated or ignorant. I am grateful for the legal system in the US, for the respect that is given to the judicial process. I am a person who believes in fairness, justice, as well as kindness. I cannot embrace this concept of massive illegal immigration, with all of its' consequences (I include the good with the bad)

Suzanne Simmons

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I applaud you for your article in Sunday's (1/13/08) HERALD. You
have distilled to its very essence what is the mind-set of (illegal)
immigration in the US.
May I question the need for 1.5 million laborers per year, and then
some? I'd like to suggest that we've always had a ready and willing
supply of laborers for menial jobs -- those not requiring high school
diplomas or college degrees. It was big business with the help of
Ronald Reagan that broke the back of labor in America. Companies
like Iowa Beef Packers eliminated here-to-for steady employment of
existing and career personnel in killing-floor jobs and replaced them
with guess who -- SE Asians and Hispanics, both legal and illegal.
They got away with canning the decently compensated and the
floodgates opened for illegals to work at minimum wage or less.
Perhaps I'm all wet, but do we not continue to have plenty of people
to fill such jobs? Birthright of U.S. citizenship does not guarantee
all people can/should/will move up the educational ladder. Far from
it. But the influx of people from south of our borders have secured
most of these jobs at the expense of the lower middle class and the
lower class of Americans.
Myth No. 2 probably ringss true in Des Moines but would you say
that's a fair assessment of Miami, Houston, or Los Angeles? If there
is anti-Hispanicism in Miami it's vestigal and would be directed
against the Cubans and probably for understandable reason -- they
aced out the blacks from their due in better paying jobs and
opportunities. From my personal experience, however, I see a
tremendous melting pot taking place in Miami since 9/11. The Elian
Gonzales affair was the crowning debacle of emotional stupidity gone
wrong. Orchestrated by "professional Cuban-refugees" of American
citizenship and played into the hands of fired-up Miami Cuban masses
the looking glass reality reflected an image of DUMB. After pinning
the tail of blame on Janet Reno's ass (a successful rationalization
to the participants but not to the rest of the country) and a period
of calming down comes an attack on the United States -- 9/11.
Suddenly American flags came flying from car windows and homes.
Cubans decided they were Americans and flew two flags on their cars.
I was delighted. It seems that we've become one ever since. I
notice it at the Publix checkout, at Sears, at cafe-Cubano windows,
you name it. And, I like it. Back to Myth No. 2, if anybody is
being bashed in Miami-Dade it's the minorities: Negro and non-Latin
Your writings are excellent and I thank you for your contribution to
our better understanding about what's going on in the other Americas.
Bruce Rankin

5:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Oppenheimer,

You say we need to call things by their name. Thus we would like to point out a couple of things you did not correctly name.

1. Illegal aliens are not immigrants, they are foreign intruders and law breakers. The US government definition of immigrant is: "Lawful permanent resident alien". The dictionary definition is: "a person who comes into a new country in order to settle there". Polls consistently show that Americans oppose illegal immigration. The United States House and Senate defeated several amnesty bills in the last two years. It is clear that "We the People" will not allow illegal aliens to permanently settle in the USA.

Thus you incorrectly call illegal aliens "immigrants" throughout your entire commentary, and incorrectly called those opposed to lawlessness - "anti-immigrant". As the Barbara Jordan Immigration Reform Commission concluded, "we disagree with those who would label efforts to control immigration as being inherently anti-immigrant. Rather, it is both a right and a responsibility of a democratic society to manage immigration so that it serves the national interest."

2. The "legalization" of illegal aliens which you support discriminates based on national origin, because Latin Americans would benefit at 30 times the rate of non-Latin Americans (see data: Legalization is racist and it echoes of the bastardly economic justification for slavery in the pre-Civil War South.

We trust that in future commentary Mr. Oppenheimer you will use the correct terms of illegal alien and racist legalization.

Jean Baptiste Truong
Tony Dolz
Legal Immigrants First!

12:52 AM  
Blogger Truth Matters said...


Your column on 1/13/08 “Five myths of anti-immigration talk” was one of the most misleading, dishonest, and downright false immigration articles I have read in a long time. I am going to take your article and point out all the “myths” in it, the way that you tried to—key word being “tried” to.

1) Myth: “..the antiimmigration movement that has swept this country over the past two years”

Fact: The largest demonstrations of public opposition have been to ILLEGAL immigration (a word you seem to conveniently forget in front of immigration) not towards legal immigration. You have yet to cite one poll anywhere showing that a large majority of Americans are opposed to legal immigration, yet numerous polls have shown 70%+ opposed to illegal immigration.

2) Myth: “That's deceptive because you can't demand that people get into line when, for the most part, there is no line to get into”

Fact: There is a line for anyone who wishes to apply for a work visa to get into. It just happens that for some particular visa’s the line fills up very quickly each year and is very short relative to the number who want to get in it.

3) Myth: “…a path to legal residence for many of the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.”

Fact: Many ILLEGAL immigrants have documents which are fraudulent and fake. To label them as undocumented workers is logistically false since they possess documents.

4) Myth: “..but when was the last time you heard anti-immigration Republican hopefuls or cable television talk show hosts lashing out against illegal immigrants from Canada?”

Fact: Never because the number of illegal immigrants coming into the US from Canada pales in comparison to the number coming in from Mexico and all Latin American countries in general.

5) Myth: “Yes, but we are also a nation of immigrants.”

Fact: We are a nation of LEGAL immigrants. Not a nation of immigrants (legal and illegal), but a nation of LEGAL immigrants only.

6) Myth: “And, by the way, nearly half of all undocumented immigrants enter the country legally, and overstay their visas.”

Fact: First, if they entered the country legally they can not be undocumented immigrants because documents are required to enter the US legally. Second, the fact that they then overstayed their visas makes them illegal immigrants; the method of entry (legal or illegal) is irrelevant. So, just because they obeyed one law (entering the country) doesn’t excuse the ignoring of another law (visa holders must renew their visa or return to the home country).

7) Myth: “As long as the per capita income in the United States is five times bigger than that of Mexico, and as long as U.S. labor market demands millions of low-skilled jobs that Americans won't fill, people will jump over the fence, dig tunnels under it or come through Canada.”

Fact: False. Building a border fence, in addition to hiring more border patrol agents and using other technological equipment, will greatly reduce the number of people crossing the border illegally as evidenced by the San Diego fence. “Today, Henry is assistant chief of the Border Patrol's San Diego sector. He says apprehensions here are down 95 percent, from 100,000 a year to 5,000 a year, largely because the single strand of cable marking the border was replaced by double -- and in some places, triple -- fencing.“
While it is true that is impossible to reduce the number of people crossing the Southern border to 0, a fence will reduce the number from its present value of 1,000,000+.
8) Myth: “''Building a border fence will solve the problem.''
Fact: Completely misleading. No one has said that the fence ALONE will solve the problem of illegal immigration. It is one of three components (along with workplace enforcement and removal of current illegal immigrants) which will help to end illegal immigration.
9) Myth: “I, for one, support both border protection and an earned path to legalization for millions of undocumented workers who pay taxes and are willing to learn English.”
Fact: Yes, you support amnesty because you support legalization for every single illegal immigrant in the country regardless of skill or competence or native country. You don’t want open borders in that you don’t want the borders to be completely open and allow unregulated crossing between Mexico and the US, but you do want to allow anyone who wants to come here and stay here forever, regardless of their skill, educational level, or country of origin. Thus, you are in favor of “open borders”.
10) Myth: “Let's call things by their names, and agree that most opponents of a comprehensive immigration package are anti-immigration.”
Fact: The only presidential candidate who has argued against LEGAL immigration is Tom Tancredo (and he is no longer running). Many candidates, including Mitt Romney who said “Let me make it real clear: I'm not anti-immigrant. I love immigrants. I love legal immigrants coming to our country. I'm happy to communicate to them. And I hope they vote for me.” have praised LEGAL immigrants and welcomed them into the country. Thus, your characterization of those against the 2007 CIR bill as “anti-immigration” is false.
11) Myth: “The only way to solve the current immigration crisis will be to legalize undocumented workers who have paid their dues, and to increase economic integration with Mexico and the rest of Latin America in order to reduce poverty and emigration pressures south of the border.”
Fact: By declaring illegal immigrants now legal immigrants, yes the problem of current illegal immigration would be eliminated, since we have now renamed every illegal immigrant as a legal immigrant. However, that does absolutely nothing to stop future illegal immigration. So your assertion that this would somehow stop illegal immigration is false and misleading.

2:28 PM  
Blogger hushhush said...

I challenge terminology such as "undocumented". This is an arrogant euphemism that smokescreens and twists the fundamentals of American sovereignty. Our rights to determine citizenship and legal residence are inviolate. If I lose my drivers license, I become "undocumented" until I obtain a new one. However, if I never had such a document because of statutory ineligibility, I’m “Illegal”. I'm certain that anyone with a rudimentary grasp of the English language understands this essential distinction.

Michael Scott
Glendora, California

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Oppenheimer,

I read your article regarding anti-immigration. I find that there are many misunderstanding about people in this country who opposed giving illegal immigrant a path to citizenship.
I agreed illegal immigration must be stop in order to protect our country security.
I felt all illegal immigrants who are already here working should be able to apply for a work permit in order for them to pay their tax like all american do.
The state of California have spend billions of dollars providing health care and other services to them and yet most did not pay income tax.
As a tax payer, I felt our country should let them obtain a work permit and remain in thier job that were not able to be fill by workers in our country such as low wages job.
As to become a citizen in this country, workers must work and pay tax for at least 10 years, pass background check, in order to obtain it by earning their way in this country.
Work permit must be renew everyear and prove to be working.
Work permit allow them legally here but does not provide health care and other services.
They still have to buy their own health insurance.
They also cannot collect social security until they earn enough credit like all american do.
By giving them a legal way to work in this country, this will eliminate them from hiding and work under wages by getting paid in cash which goes unreported.
If nobody work underwages then wages will increased. No employers will be able to take advantage of this cheap labor.
By giving legal way to work, this will also discourage them to make fake documents or stolen identity of many americans.
Our country need many types of worker in order to compete with other country like China and India.
We are no longer a producing country but a consuming country.
Without low wages workers, how can we compete with the other country?
Babyboomers are retired now, new generations and giving birth at a low rate.In the end, if less people here are working, who are going to pay for our retirement like social security.
As we all know, the INS process many applications at extremely slow pace and lead to many workers in this country to accept lower wages while waiting to become legal here.
Most people who are anti immigrations only know how to disagree but have no solutions to how to correct this problems.
Even if we close the border,deport all illegal immigrants, that does not solve the problems.
People will still come here by legal way, tourist or business visa and overstay.Then we have the same problems again.
There is no one solutions for this problem.
This is a country of immigrant and we should welcome everyone who wants to call this country their home.BUT by earning thier way and not giving to them.

5:52 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home