Nativism: September 2009 Archives

Obama pensive.jpgBarack Obama recently explained to Univision anchor Jorge Ramos why he used the term "illegal immigrants" in his health care speech, prompting Rep. Joe Wilson to yell at him (via Latina Lista):

Well, keep in mind what I was addressing. I was addressing misinformation by the other side that was engaging in scare tactics. So I was essentially quoting them. I was saying, "for those of you who are saying that illegal immigrants are going to be covered under this plan," I said that's not true. Right? So I'm using their language because I was addressing the misinformation that they are providing. And I was speaking directly to an audience, the American people, who because of this misinformation, I think actually were very responding often times in a negative way.
I don't buy it. 

Obama's use of the term dovetails with his ally Senator Schumer's public repudiation of the term "undocumented immigrant" in favor of the tough-sounding but legally meaningless term "illegal immigrant."  Obama's usage dates back to a decision in early 2008 to adopt right-wing framing on immigration in the hope of later passing a legalization bill. 

If that was the plan, it hasn't worked very well so far.  We have no idea when the Democrats will introduce an immigration bill.  Schumer keeps pushing the date back.  I've seen little evidence congressional Democrats or the administration are interested in expending political capital on immigration.  They want it to be easy.  They want something handed to them on a platter, with the work already done.

Meanwhile, opponents of immigration reform are deeply committed to their cause.  Most so-called supporters are lukewarm at best about the issue, and right now I place Barack Obama in that category.

Trafficking image.jpg

The blogosphere and cable news have been talking for the last week or so about James O'Keefe and his hidden camera video of ACORN employees in Baltimore. O'Keefe posed as a pimp and brought along college student Hannah Giles to pose as a prostitute who worked for him. He led two ACORN employees through an elaborate scenario in which he solicited advice on how to circumvent U.S. tax laws to run a brothel using underage undocumented Salvadoran prostitutes. Two ACORN employees proceeded to give him the advice he asked for.

I watched the video recently. Those employees were fired and rightly so. ACORN needs to do a better job of screening its employees and instituting procedures to ensure its employees are obeying the law. ACORN has a lot of housecleaning to do, and hopefully will become a more effective organization in the process.

But O'Keefe did not make this video out of a desire to improve provision of services to low-income communities. Glenn Beck didn't devote an entire FOX show to the piece out of concern for Latin American victims of sex trafficking.

Beck pushed this video to derail discussion of the health care bill and take down a longtime political opponent of the GOP: ACORN, a national organization that works to register low-income voters of the kind O'Keefe wants to see excluded from the polls, an organization that helps low-income homeowners avoid ending up on the street.

I watched O'Keefe's video at the Baltimore ACORN office and Beck's show promoting the clip. On my reading, James O'Keefe and Glenn Beck have not demonstrated that they care about improving the situation of low-income communities or that they want to improve the situation of actual undocumented Salvadoran children in this country, or mitigate the suffering of real victims of trafficking.

If I am wrong, where is the evidence? Where is O'Keefe's story on unaccompanied minors in the U.S. who are smuggled by coyotes to rejoin their parents or trafficked into prostitution, then arrested and targeted by DHS? Where is Beck's expose on the failure of the U.S. government to prevent human trafficking or protect trafficking victims? Has O'Keefe ever met any undocumented Salvadoran children? Does he know what their concerns are? Does he know anything about their struggles in El Salvador or in the U.S.? I've seen no indication that he does.

Instead, I've seen him and his accomplice use underage Central American prostitutes--who do exist in this country--to execute a dirty takedown of a political opponent.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Nativism category from September 2009.

Nativism: August 2009 is the previous archive.

Nativism: October 2009 is the next archive.

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