Is Texas Gov. Rick Perry More Pro-Migrant than "Lefty" Josh Marshall's TPM?

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ACTION UPDATE: I just set up twitter petition asking Josh Marshall to Drop The I-Word.

Talking Points Memo (TPM) certainly isn't the same liberal blog that it used to be, but that isn't any excuse for TPM to publish trash like Benjy Sarlin's article on Texas Gov. Rick Perry's immigration stances. It's clear Sarlin knows very little about immigration policy or the politics of it as he runs from complex issue to complex issue without providing any real analysis or in some cases, just plain bad or wrong analysis. For instance, see Sarlin's writing on in-state tuition in Texas:

Once relatively uncontroversial positions by Perry have since become anathema: a bill offering in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants, which passed with near-unanimous margins in Texas, now faces major protests in Maryland.

"There's no justification for it," Mark Krikorian, executive director of the hawkish Center for Immigration Studies, told TPM when asked about the Texas law. "It sends one more signal that being an illegal alien really isn't that bad and that illegal immigrants can be integrated into the institutions of our society."

Many credit the Texas bill with inspiring the federal DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for similar children. Republican lawmakers have blocked the legislation in the Senate amid fierce opposition from conservative activists. Perry has come out against the national DREAM Act, but continues to defend his support for in-state tuition.

"To punish these young Texans for their parents' actions is not what America has always been about," he told the New Hampshire Union Leader last month.
Benjy Sarlin - Talking Points Memo (9 August 2011)
First the substance. Who are the "many" that credit Texas with inspiring the federal DREAM Act? Texas was the first state to pass in-state tuition in 2001, the same year that the federal DREAM Act was first introduced by none other than U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) on Aug. 1, 2001. I can't find the exact date when in-state tuition passed in Texas, but even with the most lenient time line 8 months is a short time to inspire a federal DREAM Act.
I know through veterans of the DREAM movement that what would eventually be known as the DREAM Act was written as early as 1999 by the National Immigration Law Center, and introduced as early as 2000 under a different name. I have an email into someone for those exact dates and names. I just write this out to make the point that Sarlin is wrong in his analysis on this specific point, and is at many other points in his piece.

If Sarlin is wrong on that and so much else, I don't expect him to have the depth to dig in to the most puzzling part of Gov. Perry's DREAM Act stance: he's he's supportive of state level DREAM Acts but opposed to the the federal DREAM Act. That makes absolutely no sense. Perry is in favor of educating undocumented youth, but not in favor of giving them a chance at legal status in the only country they know as their home.

It isn't just that Sarlin is factually wrong, though. He gives prominent placement in his article to some of the worst nativists in the U.S. today, nativists like Mark Krikorian and Roy Beck. Krikorian and Beck are loathe to say anything about the white supremacist, John Tanton, who gave both of them their starts, and had a hand in founding almost every nativist organization that is prominent today. Mark Krikorian has revealed his own racist sympathies by taking issue with the way U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor pronounces her own name, and saying that Haiti wasn't colonized long enough. To give them prominent placement in any article, much less without identifying their extremist positions and sympathies is highly irresponsible.

Aside from getting his facts and analysis wrong, and empowering nativist extremists like Mark Krikorian and Roy Beck, notice that Benjy uses the phrase "illegal immigrants," and the even more inflammatory, "illegal aliens," phrases which aren't only dehumanizing, but also inaccurate. Notice the phrase Gov. Rick Perry uses in his quote "undocumented workers" is much more accurate and humane then the phrases Talking Points Memo tolerates.

This isn't the first time that a supposedly progressive outlet like Talking Points Memo has acted in a nativist fashion, or has effectively empowered nativists. Josh Marshall the founder of Talking Points Memo completely mishandled the story of Barack Obama's half aunt, Zeituni Onyango, who according to the immigration courts had a legitimate claim to asylum. I also know from internal conversations that after pro-migrant bloggers raised the issue of the way TPM referred to migrants, that the publication settled on the dehumanizing phrase "illegal immigrants," probably in a bid to look "objective" and appeal to the mainstream.

If Sarlin can't get the facts or analysis right, go to the right sources or identify them correctly, and if he can't see that the phrase "illegal aliens" is dehumanizing and innaccurate, then Sarlin really shouldn't be writing about immigration at all.

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This page contains a single entry by kyledeb published on August 11, 2011 4:53 AM.

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