As the immigration debate resumes on Capitol Hill, Americans will hear everyone’s voice — except theirs.
Labor unions, big business, chambers of commerce, university think tanks, religious organizations, social-service agencies, La Raza — all support liberalized immigration policies, including amnesty. The only “debate” is over how many illegals get a pass to citizenship and how fast.
Democrats promise to pass a “comprehensive” (i.e., generous) package that will be even more wide open than the one approved by the Senate last session.
If lawmakers make good on their pledge, the Heritage Foundation figures that 67 million more foreigners will enter the United States in the next 20 years. That surge surely excites multiculturalists and capitalists eager for an endless flow of cheap labor.
But Americans have a different desire.
In opinion poll after opinion poll, U.S. citizens say they want less immigration, not more. They want existing laws enforced, not nullified.
When given a choice of immigration “reforms,” two out of three respondents to a survey by The Polling Company last fall favored the House-passed bill that tightened immigration quotas, strengthened border controls and toughened workplace enforcement. Only one in three supported the leaky version Sens. Mel Martinez, Ted Kennedy and John McCain cobbled together.
Among the other sentiments expressed by surveyed voters:
- 79 percent agree that “legalizing illegal immigrants would only encourage more illegal immigrants to come to America.”
- 65 percent say quality of life will suffer if the nation’s population grows by more than one-third in the next 50 years (the projection if immigration is not controlled).
- 62 percent say media coverage of immigration is superficial and unbalanced.
This last point is worth examining, because it helps to explain the disconnect between public opinion and lawmakers’ actions.
We’ve known for some time that business wants loose, unenforced immigration laws. From big flag-waving outfits like Wal-Mart and Home Depot to Joe Blow’s Stucco & Drywall that hires day laborers off the streets, companies will do just about anything to keep the mojo going. It’s just business.
Meantime, American workers, especially younger ones on the lower rungs of the job ladder, find their paychecks and employment opportunities shrinking. And, of course, every taxpayer gets to pick up the tab for the rising social costs that bottom-feeding employers shove off onto the public.
This is no surprise. Even Karl Marx understood that capitalism thrives on surplus labor. The cheaper, the better.
But what is surprising is how the national media fail to responsibly report this. See if you agree or disagree with the following statement:
“Media coverage of illegal immigrants is mostly devoted to human-interest stories like how illegals risk their lives to enter the country or their lives once here, rather than the costs they create and the Americans who may be harmed by their being here.”
As noted above, 62 percent of the national poll’s respondents agreed with that description. Whatever mainstream media you read, hear or view, you’re probably nodding as well.
Politicians, like the rest of us, are influenced by what they see. As long as news outlets regurgitate a diet of fluffy “human-interest” stories and pro-immigration essays, congressmen can continue to do the bidding of corporate campaign contributors while paying only lip service to the public’s wishes.
Illustrating this double-speak, Congress last year authorized construction of a fence along 700 miles of the Mexican border. But it did not fund the project. Though the Senate voted 83-16 to build the barrier, it’s now declared dead.
Few in the media bother to expose such chutzpah. Even fewer mention, let alone explain, the historical context and social ramifications of the ongoing, unprecedented illegal influx into this country.
When editorial pages of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal eerily echo the cause of illegal aliens — and slander immigration critics as bigots (if they’re acknowledged at all) — Washington’s Democrat-Republican duopoly receives ample political cover.
From our jails to schools to hospitals, there are serious issues to be reported about immigration’s fiscal and societal impacts. But it takes effort to follow the money and divulge inconvenient truths.
It’s so much easier (and politically correct) to trot out a hapless immigrant and tell another tale of victimhood, racial profiling or successful “grassroots” activism (like campaigns that have led 17 states to allow voters, e.g., illegals, to cast ballots with no identification).
All the while, craven politicians count their corporate cash and enjoy softball coverage as they pander to the much-touted “Hispanic vote.” No wonder your voice isn’t heard, or heeded.
(Kenric Ward is opinion page editor of the Vero Beach Press Journal. E-mail ken.ward(at)scripps.com)