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article imageOp-Ed: Mexicans no longer the majority of illegal border crossers

By Glen Olives     Jan 3, 2015 in Politics
Washington D.c. - Yet another conservative argument against comprehensive immigration reform falls by the wayside. Mexicans no longer storming the gates, Pew reports.
As the most recent Pew Research Center study reports, apprehension of illegal immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border fell in 2014 to unprecedented lows, despite equally unprecedented spending by the Obama administration on border security. In fact Mexicans no longer represent the majority of those detained trying to cross into the U.S. In 2007 over 800,000 Mexicans were detained trying to cross the border. In 2014, the number dropped to an estimated 229,000.
Despite spending $12 billion on border security and deportations, more than any other president in history, Obama is still often referred to as the “Smuggler-in-Chief” by the Right, and perhaps more accurately, the “Deporter in Chief” by the Left. Can’t the guy get a break?
And as previously reported, illegal immigration remains at net zero, and has been for some time, despite the recent influx of unaccompanied children from Central America escaping humanitarian abuses in their home countries by a law set in motion by the Bush administration. These children arrived in the Promised Land not with the open arms of, “Give us your tired, your poor, your sexually abused, your victims of gang violence and political repression,” but rather street blockades of their buses with foaming-at-the-mouth automatons shouting, “Impeach Obama!” (The anti-immigration meme of the right apparently need not rely on the footing of logic or facts.)
Let’s stop it. Let us examine the facts, stripped of the alluring raiment of political ideology, of xenophobia, of conspiracy theory, of warm hot chocolate comfort-giving dogma. When one honestly does so, the immigration myths propagated by xenophobes tend to dissolve like bathtub scum sprayed with bleach.
Our current immigration system is an ad-hoc toxic stew of laws satisfying the agricultural business lobby that depends on the cheap labor of migrant farm workers, while appeasing the political left by keeping families together and giving illegal children the chance to stay. The political Right hijacks both realities by forming an impressive rhetorical artifice having little basis in reality. The GOP are masters of cherry-picking what works for them and ignoring what doesn’t — mostly facts. If it weren’t so cynical it would be admirable.
In a country where the middle class continues to take a beating, where the richest are continuing to become even richer (with no end in sight), where the poor and minorities have become so marginalized that overt attempts are shamelessly made to keep them from voting, the slick rhetoric of the Right is gaining ground.
As a pure exercise of convincing tautology, this is a deeply impressive feat. Texas governor Rick Perry and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) have long argued that Mexican criminals and terrorists are flooding our borders. The rhetoric plays well with the public. And it is, in point of fact, so absurdly wrong it borders on fraud.
Our borders are not being overrun by psychotic drug dealing, raping, job-stealing, terrorist wetbacks. Forty percent of illegals are visa overstays. Of the 60 percent crossing our borders illegally, the majority are not Mexicans; moreover, Mexicans actually (and arguably) taking American jobs, are not low-skilled illegal immigrants, but rather college-educated professionals: legal immigration outpaces illegal immigration by a comfortable margin.
And yet the polls indicate that we are more anti-immigrant than ever. Pew reports that support for even more border security is increasing, despite the fact that border security is better than it has ever been under any administration, and the fact is that the Obama administration has deported more than any other administration before him.
Fear sells, as the Republicans leadership is well-aware. Why not obfuscate the fundamental flaws of our economic and criminal justice systems, where middle class voters are rapidly becoming the underclass, by blaming the dystopian society-within-a society of 11 million illegals? (They are, after all, the most defenseless, powerless, and easiest of targets.)
The problem for Republicans, of course, is that while anti-immigrant policies are popular among local electorates (giving rise to the immigration reform stalemate in congress), at the national level, you can’t win a presidential election without the minority vote. Just ask Dubya or Obama, or McCain. The Republicans destroyed themselves in the 2008 primary debates, cannibalizing each other over who was tougher on illegal immigration. (The accusations of whose landscaper was in fact illegal or who allowed illegals to attend state universities was deliciously comical and moronic.) Obama embraced the minority community and garnered a larger percentage of Hispanic votes than any candidate in history, crossing the finish line to the Oval Office without even breathing hard. The GOP can’t seem to ‘hep itself. Next to the wholly imagined “class warfare” debate, immigration is the red meat of Republican politics.
If one had to decide what was at the very core of America’s inexorable decline, the more convincing argument would be the almost exponentially growing wealth and income inequality in our country, as eloquently articulated by Bernie Sanders (I-NH). But what Republican is going to bite the hand that feeds him? None, of course. Instead, the Tea Party-led legislature prefers to attack the illegal gardeners and cooks and maids. The great unwashed don’t make billion dollar political contributions. They don’t complain. They’re happy to have below minimum wage jobs. It’s a transparent and cowardly tactic. It’s also effective.
Want to be let in on an open secret? Republicans don’t want comprehensive immigration reform because its success would take away a winning issue for them. Taking the low-hanging political fruit of course works in the short term, as the mid-term elections of 2014 decidedly proved. The Republican leadership is drunk with its recent success, valuing political points over pragmatic public policy. But in doing so, they have positioned themselves for a long-term drought. The tides will turn. Not surprisingly, but still sadly, few conservative elected officials care. The “get what I can while I can” mentality is alive and well in America, on main street, on Wall Street, and on Pennsylvania Avenue.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Illegal immigration, mexican immigration, Immigration Reform, immigration myths, obama immigration reform
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