Sneaky Games in Immigration Reporting

Sometimes the biggest lies in reporting aren't the obvious ones.

We've all heard about the concept of "Fake News", and study after study shows that many Americans agree that the news is, in fact, largely fake.  Exactly which side of the news is the fake side, though, is subject to a person's political perspective; most organizations that claim to help identify fake news are, in fact, every bit as dishonest themselves.

The basic premise of learning how to identify fake news is a good one, however, and needs to be taught - because it's not easy.  Consider the depth of evil brilliance ensconced in this article about immigration.

Trump Administration Is Set to Add Another Burden on Immigrants

USCIS is proposing new requirements that will make it harder for congressional offices to help constituents get green cards...

“[This] is nothing more than an unnecessary bureaucratic roadblock placed in the way of constituents seeking the assistance of their congressional representatives to cut through USCIS red tape,” said David Leopold, an immigration attorney who formerly headed the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Immigrants looking to get green cards or citizenship often seek help from their members of Congress when USCIS—the agency responsible for helping people legally immigrate and become citizens—isn’t being responsive.

What are these new requirements?  Apparently, before Immigration Services will talk to a congressional staffer about the status of a particular immigration issue or application, they must first be given a written privacy waiver, handwritten and notarized, fully translated into English by a certified translator, and naming the Congressional office to which the private information should be released.

Spot the Lie!

So what's wrong with the above - or the article as a whole, if you went and read it?

You could be forgiven in supposing that the lie is the suggestion that the government bureaucracy is going to actually make it harder for foreigners to infiltrate our nation, given that, with the possible exception of the Border Patrol and Donald Trump himself, our entire governmental apparatus seems to be dedicated to welcoming all comers.  But that's unfair - since the policy is new, it's impossible to know how it will work out and so can't really be lied about.

It's no doubt true that some official has at least announced such a policy, so reporting it is legitimate.  And, though we do have our doubts as to whether our bureaucracy can be made to obey its duly elected political masters, the fact that a fair number of lefty lifers have been resigning rather than obey Donald Trump suggests at least the possibility of hope on that front.

You could argue that the lie is that the roadblock is unnecessary.  If you are going to be dealing with the private information of foreigners who don't speak English, though, it's not unreasonable to require an English translation; and how would you know if the translation was accurate without some documented reason why you should trust the translator?  And we're all familiar with the need to sign and notarize important legal documents, though it could be argued that the notarization requirement might be excessive.  But exactly what is "unnecessary" is certainly open to legitimate debate, which makes this a left-leaning opinion piece, not a direct lie.

And in following this train of logic, you have entirely overlooked the enormous, fundamental lie that underpins the whole premise of the article:

Since when are immigrants the constituents of elected American Congresspeople?

A Government Of Which People, Exactly?

This isn't just an unfortunate slip, either; even in the short excerpt above, the writer makes the same point an entirely different way when he refers to immigrants seeking green cards or citizenship.  Such people, by definition, are not citizens but they are trying to get help from "their members of Congress."

But if you are an immigrant who has not become a naturalized citizen, you do not have a member of Congress!

We all understand that naturalized immigrants, now U.S. citizens, enjoy the same rights of voting, redress of grievances, and so on that any other citizens have.  A naturalized immigrant has every right to petition their member of Congress and expect to be heard.

An immigrant who has not become a naturalized citizen, on the other hand, is not a constituent of any American politician!  They are, perhaps, a constituent of some politician in the land where they hold citizenship, but not here.

If they have political grievances against the American government, their proper avenue of appeal is via their nation's consulate, whereupon their ambassador can speak to our State Department on their behalf, in accordance with any number of treaties and the law of nations.

There is absolutely no reason, though, why any local politician without authority over international affairs has any business addressing the political concerns of any foreign citizen - and what concern could be more political than attempts to stay in our country?  As an immigrant, you are a guest; each country has an absolute right to control which citizens of what other countries are allowed in, for how long, and under what conditions.  We generously grant even our guests due-process within our laws - but that is a privilege, and in no way a right, in the sense that it is a right for a U.S. citizen.

Yes, the big lie of this article is the underlying premise that immigrants are no different from citizens, a decades-long goal of our "citizen of the world" elites.  What is not fake news is the statement that all too many of the congressional staffers themselves have fallen for it.

Far from being applauded for helping "immigrant constituents," they should be investigated and fired for misappropriation of government funds; it's their job to help their actual constituents - U.S. citizens - not foreigners.  That's the purview of the State Department; send them there!

Alas, 99% of those who read this article will swallow it hook, line, and sinker, without ever realizing the bogus assumption beneath.

It's by brilliantly subtle efforts such as this, over many decades, that we've reached the place where illegal foreigners can openly protest our government, holding signs announcing themselves to be illegal foreigners, and not be instantly arrested and summarily deported.  Time to start look harder for the powerful lies buried under a thick layer of false news, and to call them out full force!

Read other articles by Hobbes or other articles on Partisanship.
Reader Comments

Brilliant insight as we are use to seeing on this blog. But I have gripe. The core issue with giving a pass to 3rd and 4th world immigrants is that they have no skills that a first world economy really needs( our biggest company, Apple ships those jobs to China) . So they do low skill jobs that don't cover the lifestyle they want to come accustomed to. So they collect loads of welfare ( free meds, free food, free rent . free phones, etc). "Free" means real ( no tax dodging scams) taxpayers pays. Seems like Trump's " quality over quantity" mandate makes sense. Lets get immigrants who make...not take.

January 14, 2018 8:01 PM

I spotted it "Catch-22" when I first read the word "constituent." It was a poor choice of words. But what if Maria, a naturalized citizen, appeals to her congressman on behalf of her cousin Jose? Then the foundational premise of the argument disappears. The U.S. used to require a sponsor and perhaps still does. My aunt immigrated here from Germany after the war because her aunt was an American citizen but my uncle and her then fiance', lacking a sponsor, had to go to Canada which didn't require one. Canada, like 19th century America, wanted people to move there. The role of the sponsor was to assure that the immigrant had food and shelter and could be more easily assimilated. I believe there were also limits and conditions as to how many a person could sponsor. They may have also been required to have a job waiting for them. We are also one of the few countries that does not confer citizenship by blood, except for direct descendents - sons and daughters. That's what made Obama's citizenship a mute point - his mother was a citizen born in the U.S. The facts that his father was African and he may have been born abroad are of no consequence.
The fact is our immigration programs are a mess and many of Hobbes's points are valid, but semantics are a weak basis for forming an argument.

January 15, 2018 12:38 PM
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