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This place matters

Saturday, June 23, 2018

True or false: the one-step-closer-to-genocide edition

It feels wrong, I have to say, make a reasonable, fact-based argument against shoving people from a certain ethnic group into concentration camps because for the love of Jesus and all that is holy we shouldn't need to make the case that CONCENTRATION CAMPS are an abomination and PUTTING CHILDREN IN CAGES is an inexcusable atrocity. I don't know how to have a reasonable conversation with a person who isn't horrified by the fact that our own government is rounding up brown people (some who crossed the border illegal and a great many who actually are citizens) and putting them in tent cities, with or without their children.

But of course, I'm going to go ahead and make that logical and fact-based argument because that's what I do. And I think there are a lot of massive misconceptions and outright lies that maybe have people so terrified that their moral compass broke horribly? And because I know someone's going to accuse me of using biased sources, all the data below comes from either our own government, the conservative Cato Institute, and the right-of-center Brookings Institute. 

Illegal immigrants are dangerous
This is the most alarming lie going around, one that the Trump administration reinforced on Friday in a bizarre event in which they trotted out a bunch of people with giant pictures of dead relatives who were killed by illegal immigrants, and Trump signed all their pictures, said that one of the victims looked like Tom Selleck, and then said a bunch of stuff that would make one believe that illegal immigrants are just a human crime wave. But then there are the facts. The Cato Institute says that studies going back over a hundred years have found that immigrants, whether they're here legally or not, are significantly less likely to commit crimes. Communities with high immigrant populations usually have significantly lower crime rates than cities where the majority of the population is native born. There's this notion that all illegal immigrants are rapists, but Cato says that people here illegally are 12% less likely to commit rape than natural born citizens. 

Illegal immigration is on the rise
Nope. According to US Customs and Border Protection, illegal border crossings are at a historic low, and have been since well before Trump took office. In the year 2000, there were over 1.6 million illegal border crossings. Illegal crossings hovered around a million a year for most of the time George W. Bush was in office, and by the time Trump took office, illegal border crossings were the lowest they'd been in something like half a century, with fewer than half a million crossings all but the first year Obama was in office.*

We have to lock up migrants because catch and release doesn't work
Also nope. First of all, stop talking about humans like they're wild game. They aren't rats, they aren't cockroaches, and they don't breed and they don't infest and they aren't fucking fish either. And no, we don't need universal detention to hang on to people caught illegally crossing the border. According to the conservative think tank Cato Institute, universal detention is not only ungodly expensive to the American taxpayer, it's not necessary. If the apprehended person isn't deemed dangerous, electronic monitoring, bonds, and family case worker programs are far cheaper and nearly as effective as universal detention. The Cato Institute concludes "If past experience is any guide, these... programs could ensure that 90 percent of immigration court orders are carried out. That is less than perfect compliance, but it is far cheaper, more humanitarian, and less of a political disaster for this administration."


Immigrants steal our jobs
Not that job security is an acceptable justification for concentration camps, no, immigrants aren't going to steal your job. The Brookings Institute cites comprehensive research from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, who have found that immigration doesn't affect the job prospects of native-born workers. Brookings fellow Vanda Felbab-Brown says
Undocumented workers often work the unpleasant, back–breaking jobs that native–born workers are not willing to do. Sectors with large numbers of undocumented workers include agriculture, construction, manufacturing, hospitality services, and seafood processing. The fish–cutting industry, for example, is unable to recruit a sufficient number of legal workers and therefore is overwhelmingly dependent on an undocumented workforce. Skinning, deboning, and cutting fish is a smelly, slimy, grimy, chilly, monotonous, and exacting job... It can be a dangerous job, with machinery for cutting off fish heads and deboning knives everywhere frequently leading to amputated fingers.
So unless your dream job involves getting paid less than nothing to get your fingers sliced off slopping around in fish guts, your job is probably not going anywhere. And according to the Cato Institute, "immigrants likely compete most directly against other immigrants so the effects on less-skilled native-born Americans might be very small or even positive."   


And those are just the biggest of the lies that bad guys want you to believe about illegal immigration. There's also the fact that, while people are accusing the media of taking immigrants' sides, the American Journal of Political Science finds that news stories are actually twice as likely to report on the costs of immigration as opposed to the benefits. We have a myth that illegal immigrants don't pay taxes, and that they take advantage of social welfare programs. Yet illegal immigrants aren't eligible for any social welfare benefits, even though a recent study found that immigrants who are in the country illegally pay $162 billion annually in federal, state and local taxes. 
The most absurd lie of all is one I've been seeing all over the place: that Democrats oppose concentration camps not because "oh my sweet Jesus it's wrong to put people in concentration camps" but because they want illegal immigrants to vote for them. Dude, non-citizens can't vote: as for the notion that illegal immigrants are running some super secret voter fraud ring... why would a group of people whose ability to remain in the country depends on their flying under the radar go to the polling place, where they are certain to run across law enforcement officers, just to publicly commit a felony that benefits them in no way?


Y'all, immigrants aren't more likely to commit crimes: not violent crimes, not non-violent crimes, not voter fraud. They don't take American jobs. They don't drain the economy or take advantage of welfare. They aren't a growing menace, and in fact illegal border crossings have been historically low for years now. And even if not one single one of those things is true, IT IS WRONG TO PUT PEOPLE IN CONCENTRATION CAMPS HOW IS THIS A THING I EVEN NEED TO SAY?


If you agree with any of what I've got to say, or if you disagree with everything I've said but still don't want to be part of the generation that sat by and did nothing while our country spiraled toward genocide, please, please donate to RAICES. Call your representatives. Act up. Speak up. Don't give up.

*Actually, even though it is completely misleading to claim that the Obama administration also made regular practice of separating children from parents at the border, Obama was cold-hearted and ruthless when it came to immigration. Democrats should have challenged him more on it but we didn't and I don't have a time machine. The atrocities at the border are happening here and now and I could not care less whether we blame Trump or Obama or the man in the damn moon, I only care about ending this insanity.

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