Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Immigration > Public support for AZ immigration law traced to fear-based advertising

Public support for AZ immigration law traced to fear-based advertising

LatinaLista — Poll after poll gauging non-Latinos’ feelings about Arizona’s immigration bill show the same thing — overwhelming support for every element of the new law, ranging from seeing nothing wrong with requiring people to produce evidence they’re in the country legally to allowing police to question anyone they think is here illegally.


Are these polls an indication of how systemic racism is in this country or is it indicative of something more sinister?

Call me optimistic but rather than believe the majority of those polled are heartless bigots, I think the better explanation is that the people polled, especially in Arizona, are responding out of fear — fear induced by advertisements run from immigration restrictionists who want people to fear hard-working, Spanish-speakers. The fact that Latino citizens get caught up in the process is considered accepted casualty.

These groups know how to induce subtle fear by focusing the illegal immigration debate around the one issue that instills more fear in people these days than fear itself — jobs.

For example, this morning an email alert was issued by immigrant advocacy groups that suddenly three senators, McCain, Kyle and Cornyn, had each introduced an amendment to the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill which would ratchet up militarization of the border and immigration enforcement with more detention beds.

Instead of using the tired argument that these amendments are needed to make America safer, some immigration restrictionists are using these amendments from, unbelievably, an employment angle.

On the NumbersUSA site, a known immigration restrictionist organization, they characterize the proposed amendments as “amendments to a spending bill with an underlying goal to help create jobs this summer.”

The text further reads:

The immigration-related amendments would help secure the border preventing the possibility of illegal aliens crossing the border and taking any new jobs created by the bill.

The idea that undocumented immigrants would try and take a job as a border security guard or even a detention guard is idiotic thinking but people aren’t paying attention to the details, just the general accusation this group is making.

Other groups are also using the loss of jobs to their twisted benefit:



What all of these group conveniently fail to mention is that unless that American worker is low-skilled chances are he/she didn’t lose their job to illegal immigration but the bad economy.

Yet, including that kernel of truth would open too many people’s eyes to the true reality — Americans have nothing to fear from undocumented immigrants.

Today, the New Policy Institute released the report The Impact of Immigration and Immigration Reform On the Wages of American Workers.

The report corrects the record when it comes to undocumented immigrants and their true impact on jobs and wages.

…studies show that the recent waves of new immigrants have increased the average wage of native-born Americans in the short-run, and by even more in the long term as capital investment has increased to take account of the rising number of workers.

Behind this broad conclusion, we also find that high immigration produces winners and losers. The biggest winners are the employers in industries and areas with large numbers of low-skilled workers.

Among workers, as a general rule, the winners are higher-skilled Americans, and the losers are lower-skilled people who often compete for jobs with recent immigrants, including undocumented immigrants. In both of those cases, the effects are modest.

…research confirms that immigration reforms led to modest increases in wages for native-born Americans. One factor is that previously undocumented immigrants who gain legal status can move more freely to labor markets with greater demand for their skills, reducing their competition with native-born Americans with the same skills.

Static models that take a one-year snapshot of government and revenues associated with immigration find that the handful of states with large numbers of recent immigrants with children incur a net fiscal burden, associated mainly with educational and medical costs.

On a nationwide basis, however, immigration does not impose a net, federal fiscal burden, especially treating national defense as a public good that does not increase as immigration rises. Moreover, research using dynamic models that take account of the long-term fiscal effects of immigration show substantial net fiscal gains at the federal, state and local levels drawn from the lifetime earnings of immigrants, most of whom arrive post-school age and without elderly parents who could collect Social Security and Medicare.

Reports like these are always quickly discounted by immigration restrictionists because they fear if people did know the truth, or even deeply thought about the issue, there goes their support base to achieve their mission.

And they’re right. The problem is getting people to realize that the only thing to fear is — a cliche but true — fear itself.

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  • lacebra
    May 26, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    My guess is you will not print this because you do not want to hear the truth. Center for immigration studies(and other sources)research shows that 45% of all legal hispanic immigrants are on one or more welfare programs. Hispanics have the highest birth rate, the highest highschool drop out rate and the highest welfare rate of any group in the US. If all they want to do is work, then why do they accept welfare? I work in a food pantry where many hispanic women get weekly food allotments. There are about 150 hispanic families that we serve. I have been there 6 years. Few of these women have ever made any attempt to get a job. I see the paperwork they fill out to qualify for food pantry. Most keep having children when they have no job. Statistics show that hispanics have large families regardless of how poverty stricken they are. These women all have between 4-8 children. Why do they have so many children and make no attempt to get a job? This seems like very strange behavior for people who”just want to work.” 45% welfare rate? What if 45% of the entire population of the US was on welfare?

  • Marisa Treviño
    May 27, 2010 at 7:07 am

    lacebra, Most of everything you write, I can’t dispute but there is something that you are overlooking – the Latinos who are on welfare are second-third generation – not undocumented immigrants. Because so many people do not make the distinction between the two populations, everyone thinks all Latinos just arrived without papers and are taking advantage of the system. This is so wrong and so ignorant of the facts that it’s hard to believe that people still think like this but it just goes to show that education is still needed for the masses.

  • Orlando
    May 27, 2010 at 11:34 am

    But Marisa, if the unfortunate circumstance described by lacebra holds, doesn’t amnesty/continued illegal immigration promise an increase in these problems a generation or two down the line? You willfully fail to see the logic implied by your own statement.
    If the “fastest-growing demographic” in the country, as the media likes to remind us, harbors these woeful social pathologies, then we are truly in trouble.

  • Bryan J.
    May 29, 2010 at 10:40 am

    I wouldn’t trust that 45% figure…

  • Pepito
    May 30, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    There are many myths concerning minority groups in the U.S. that go unchallenged but fall short when someone takes the time to do a little bit of research. I was asked to prepare a briefing for international military students concerning some of our (U.S.) most common myths a few years back. Here is one of these myths that apply to the issue Lacebra brought up:
    Myth: In the US, whites are rich and minorities are poor.
    Americans in poverty by race:
    Whites: 45%
    Blacks: 25%
    Hispanic: 25%
    Asians: 5%
    Source: U.S Census Bureau. Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage on the U.S: August 2004.
    Since you must be in the poverty category in order to qualify for public assistance the conclusion is fairly obvious.

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