Jerry Kammer's blog

Senior Research Fellow

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Eduardo Galeano's Passionate Defense of Unrestricted Immigration

By Jerry Kammer, May 7, 2015

Eduardo Galeano, the Latin American novelist and radical journalist who died last month, was a towering cultural figure. According to The Economist, Galeano did more than any writer other than Gabriel Garcia Marquez "to shape the mental image that both locals and outsiders have of Latin America."

As we noted in yesterday's post, one of Galeano's admirers is Maria Hinojosa, the National Public Radio figure who, in her tribute last week to Galeano's life, could not bring herself to acknowledge that he had disavowed his most famous book, a polemical tract titled The Open Veins of Latin America. Read more...

Ever Wonder about the Slant of NPR's Maria Hinojosa?
Here's a look at a major influence

By Jerry Kammer, May 6, 2015
Here's a look at a major influence

Maria Hinojosa is one of the most opinionated journalists on National Public Radio. The NPR biography of the "Latino USA" host reports that she "has helped define the conversation about our times and our society with one of the most authentic voices in broadcast."

An immigrant from Mexico, Hinojosa speaks with compassion for the undocumented and clearly believes they should be fully accepted into American society. That advocacy has been a source of controversy. As Hinojosa herself acknowledged in 2006, many listeners who had tuned in to a discussion of immigration protested that she was too biased to have been the moderator. Read more...

"On the Media" Goes to Heaven, Slanting the Story of Europe's Immigration Anxiety

By Jerry Kammer, May 1, 2015

Cable television has understandably been fixated on the riots and unrest in Baltimore and much of the commenting has followed sadly predictable ideological lines. On Fox, Bill O'Reilly points to dysfunction in black communities. On MSNBC, Chris Hayes talks with former Maryland Rep. Kweisi Mfume about police brutality, the globalized economy, and social injustice while saying not a word about the tragic reality that 70 percent of black children nationwide are born out of wedlock.

The problem of ideological fixation made a prominent appearance on last week's "On the Media" program, which is carried on many public radio stations. A 10-minute segment on the horrific crisis of migrants being smuggled from Libya to Italy — many of them drowning as their overloaded boats capsize — became a lament about the rising discontent — in the press and the public — over the immigrant influx into Europe. Read more...

Documenting the NPR Slant on Immigration
The collection grows

By Jerry Kammer, April 30, 2015
The collection grows

As a former reporter who generally admires the work of National Public Radio, I have long been struck by what seems to be a reflexive bias of many of its journalists.

Reporter Martin Kaste provided a vivid example two years ago when he opined that the Center for Immigration Studies is "decidedly right wing". It was a careless, off-hand comment. Kaste cited no evidence. He had done none of the rudimentary reporting that would have shown him the staunchly liberal credentials of several of the most important figures at CIS. He had no understanding of the fact that liberals and conservatives can be found on both sides of our national immigration debate. Read more...

The Curious Outrage and "Exoticizing Disdain" of NYT Columnist Timothy Egan

By Jerry Kammer, April 10, 2015

New York Times columnist Timothy Egan last month labeled three prominent Republicans as "traitors to their class", writing that although they have humble beginnings, they have failed to identify with the struggle of workers at the lower end of our economy. Read more...

The Earned Income Tax Credit: Encouraging Work and Rewarding Illegal Immigration

By Jerry Kammer, April 9, 2015

In his Wednesday appearance on C-SPAN's Washington Journal, Marc Rosenblum of the Migration Policy Institute encountered callers who didn't share his enthusiasm for the idea of providing the Earned Income Tax Credit to millions of persons who are now in the country illegally. President Obama's executive action, which is now under challenge in federal court, would allow them access to Social Security Cards, authorized employment, and for many, a chance to tap the EITC. That's why critics hoot that it would be the "amnesty bonus." Read more...

C-SPAN Callers Challenge Advocate on Immigration's Effects on Blacks

By Jerry Kammer, April 8, 2015

Among the legions of Washington advocates for "comprehensive immigration reform", I've long regarded Marc Rosenblum as one of the best informed and most intellectually honest. Marc, the deputy director of the Migration Policy Institute's U.S. Immigration Policy Program, is also a first-class gentleman.

But Marc is an advocate with a definite point of view, which he developed as a political science professor, adviser to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, member of President-elect Obama's transition team, and immigration policy expert at the Congressional Research Service. Read more...

How "Once and for All" Got a Bad Name in the Immigration Debate

By Jerry Kammer, February 24, 2015

I welcome the opportunity to work with anyone who wants to build on the improvements we've put in place, and fix our broken immigration system once and for all.

— President Barack Obama in The Hill, February 24.

President Obama's desire to reform immigration policy "once and for all" has a familiar ring to it. It has reverberated throughout the national debate since Congress invoked it when it passed the ill-named Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Read more...

NPR Story: Iranian Mother Sees Her Daughter's Future in "The Paradise of the World"

By Jerry Kammer, February 20, 2015

Steve Inskeep, the host of NPR's "Morning Edition" program, has been reporting from Iran for his program and for others on NPR. Yesterday's "Here and Now" program included a brief clip of Inskeep's conversation with an Iranian mother about her hopes for her daughter: Read more...

How the New York Times Got It Wrong on STEM and the Ambitions of American Students

By Jerry Kammer, February 5, 2015

On December 7, 2013, a New York Times editorial reported on a grave threat to the nation: American students too lazy and dull to cut it in a competitive world. It reported: Read more...

Jorge Ramos and Immigration Linguistics

By Jerry Kammer, February 3, 2015

The New York Times recently published a profile of Univision anchor Jorge Ramos that highlights the Republican quandary about illegal immigration. The author quotes Ramos telling Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus that the party is so fixated on deportation that "the message is anti-immigrant."

Deportations, of course, mainly target illegal immigrants (plus legal immigrants who commit serious crimes). This is a distinction that Ramos chooses not to make. This descriptive failure has strategic consequences that Ramos appreciates. It invokes on behalf of illegal immigrants the emotional, mythical, and personal connotations of our immigrant backgrounds. Read more...

Great Story, Big Questions on Diane Rehm Show

By Jerry Kammer, January 19, 2015

Four high school students from a troubled neighborhood in West Phoenix who won a 2004 robotics competition are the subject of an inspirational new movie titled "Spare Parts", and a recent book by the same title. They triumphed because of their intelligence, skill, and resourcefulness. What adds dramatic poignancy and political heft to their story is that three of the four were in the U.S. illegally, having been brought here years earlier from Mexico by their parents. Read more...

C-SPAN Caller: "This Is Completely Destroying the Black Community"

By Jerry Kammer, January 8, 2015

The story of mass immigration's effects on the job prospects of young black men is one of the most underreported major stories in contemporary American life. Part of the reason is that the reporters who cover immigration often see the issue through a civil rights frame that presents immigrants, particularly those who are in the country illegally, as so vulnerable to abuse and victimization that they should be shielded from criticism. When such a sensibility is at work, the displacement of young black men from the workplace is apparently too disconcerting to be acknowledged or written about.

An African-American caller to C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" last Saturday expressed his frustration with the displacement of young blacks by illegal immigrant workers. Read more...

What's in a Name? The Meaning of "La Raza"

By Jerry Kammer, January 7, 2015

One of the fascinating things about the study of immigration policy is that it often brings up seemingly straightforward facts from which differing groups draw dramatically different interpretations, thereby making it difficult to establish a basis for civil dialogue.

For example, consider the interpretation of the term "la raza" that Janet Murguia, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, provided recently to Brian Lamb of C-SPAN. Then consider less benign interpretations that have shadowed the organization.

Here is the Lamb-Murguia exchange:

Janet Murguia of La Raza Takes the High Road on Immigration Debate

By Jerry Kammer, January 5, 2015

Janet Murguia, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, made some powerful observations about the immigration debate during a recent appearance on C-SPAN. She was interviewed by Brian Lamb, the network's founder and former CEO.

The Kansas-born Murguia spoke warmly about her family background, especially the teachings of her parents, who came to the United States from Mexico in the 1950s and raised six children. Two of her siblings are now federal judges, while a third is an attorney who sits on the board of trustees of the W.H. Kellogg Foundation. "They taught us the importance of family, of faith, of community, hard work, sacrifice, honesty, integrity," she said.

On the volatile issue of race in the immigration debate, Murguia said: Read more...

More on Roy Beck and What Was Not Reported in the NYT

By Jerry Kammer, December 16, 2014

Yesterday I expressed dismay at the New York Times story that used the Southern Poverty Law Center's Heidi Beirich to cast a moral shadow on Roy Beck, the head of NunmbersUSA. Now, writing as a former reporter, I need to flesh out the journalistic indictment.

Heidi Beirich is not a credible source on Roy Beck. To understand why, just do a word search here for "Beck" or "Beirich". Much of what she has said about those who want to limit immigration is intellectually bankrupt, morally negligent, and ethically reckless. When it is invoked by an important newspaper like the New York Times, it has a chilling effect on a national discussion that should be civil, well informed, and intellectually vibrant. That discussion should not be strangled by the SPLC's McCarthyite tactics of smear and character assassination. Read more...

A Few Restrained Comments about the NYT on Roy Beck

By Jerry Kammer, December 15, 2014

It is sadly ironic that New York Times reporter Julie Hirschfeld Davis thought she could illuminate the character of NumbersUSA head Roy Beck by consulting Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center, whose serial efforts to assassinate the character of those who want to limit immigration show the ethics and subtlety of a $100 hit man.

The result was not fit to print, particularly this paragraph, which is fit to be stuffed, mounted, and hung in the newspaper Hall of Shame. Read more...

A Few Words of Wisdom for Republicans

By Jerry Kammer, November 25, 2014

Leslie Sanchez, a Republican strategist who worked for President George W. Bush, made a critically important statement on yesterday's Diane Rehm Show on NPR. It was so important and so fundamental that it should be written up in boldface capital letters and posted on the office wall of all Republicans who want to participate in the national immigration debate without offending and alienating Latinos.

Said Sanchez:

Chris Wallace Presses for Answers, but Asks the Wrong Questions

By Jerry Kammer, November 24, 2014

Chris Wallace pressed for answers on Fox News Sunday as he probed the practical meaning of President Obama’s executive order of last week. In a tone that suggested a determination to get down to brass tacks, Wallace asked: “Is he sending more agents to border? Is he building more fences? Is he creating more virtual technology to patrol the border? Is he doing any — what specifically is she doing to crack down on illegal border crossings?"

Wallace’s sense of urgency was impressive, but his questions were not. What is most needed is what Congress and presidents have been promising since 1986 but have failed — comprehensively and miserably — to deliver. What is needed is a serious, credible program of worksite enforcement, including strong civil and criminal punishment of employers who hire those who are not authorized to work in the U.S. Read more...

Jorge Ramos and Brooke Gladstone Need to Look at Oregon Driver's License Vote

By Jerry Kammer, November 17, 2014

My weekend reading brought up two very different statements about illegal immigration that I think say a great deal about the dimensions of the national debate. I found the first in the transcript of a recent NPR interview with Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, a passionate advocate of illegal immigrants. The second was the resounding vote in Oregon that rejected legislation to issue driver's licenses to people not authorized to be in the United States. Read more...

Note to the DCCC on Obstructionism
A master of the craft is the president's top immigration advisor

By Jerry Kammer, November 10, 2014
A master of the craft is the president's top immigration advisor

Over the weekend, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out an email to boost partisan spirits with this explanation of last week's election debacle: "[T]he Republicans broke Washington. Then, they spent millions of dollars of secret money running against a broken Washington."

The email included an observation by Paul Krugman that "the biggest secret of the Republican triumph surely lies in the discovery that obstructionism bordering on sabotage is a winning political strategy." Read more...

Morning Joe on Immigration

By Jerry Kammer, November 5, 2014

This morning's "Morning Joe" program on MSNBC offered several interesting observations on the future of immigration policy in the aftermath of Tuesday's election. Here are four: Read more...

Questioning Obama on Cynicism, Hope, and Immigration

By Jerry Kammer, November 3, 2014

In today's blog, I want to juxtapose an excerpt from President Obama's comments November 2 in Philadelphia with related thoughts, first from conservative writer Reihan Salam in Slate, and second from liberal law professor Peter Schuck's essay in the 1985 book Clamor at the Gates. I'll try to broaden the discussion in future blogs. Read more...

Colbert Provides a Revealing Look at the Political Divide at the Border

By Jerry Kammer, October 9, 2014

Stephen Colbert, the true-blue Democrat who plays a truly wacky Republican on his Comedy Central faux news show, provided a revealing insight into the political divide Tuesday. It came during his "Better Know a District" interview with U.S. Rep Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).

Colbert asked for Duckworth's position on border security before providing his own border demands: "Wall, moat filled with flames, fire-proof alligators." Read more...

Maryland's Governor, His Eye on a 2016 Presidential Bid, Goes All-In for Immigration

By Jerry Kammer, September 25, 2014

El Tiempo Latino, the Spanish-language weekly owned by the Washington Post, was so impressed by a recent speech by Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley that it ran a story about it twice in its September 19 issue.

There it was on the front page, under the banner headline that translates as "Solidarity with children immigrants". And there it was on page 6, under the headline: "O'Malley asks attorneys to help migrant kids". For some reason, both times the story itself was published in English. Read more...

Guatemalan Police Reportedly Shaking Down Northbound Central Americans

By Jerry Kammer, August 11, 2014

Stories of predatory Mexican police, soldiers, and immigration authorities are common among Central Americans who pass through Mexico on their way to an illegal border crossing into the United States. When I was in the Rio Grande Valley in June, a Salvadoran man told he had been shaken down "maybe 15 times" on his way to the U.S. border and the friendly arms of the Border Patrol. I met him at the bus station in McAllen, where the Border Patrol had just dropped him and his son off with an order to appear in immigration court in Los Angeles, where they hoped to settle. Read more...

At Conference of Latino Officials, Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown Hailed the Rise of Brown Power

By Jerry Kammer, August 7, 2014

Earlier in the week, this blog noted that 2014 is the 20th anniversary of California's Proposition 187, a controversial effort to curtail illegal immigration. That anniversary was cited at the recent conference of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), part of which was shown on C-SPAN Thursday morning.

NALEO President Alex Padilla referred to pro-Proposition 187 television ads that showed illegal immigrants streaming across the Texas border as a narrator sounded the alarm: "They keep coming!" Read more...

Barbara Jordan Made 1994 a High-Water Mark in the Effort to Stop Illegal Immigration

By Jerry Kammer, August 5, 2014

Read part 1: "20 Years after Fighting Barbara Jordan's Reforms, Cecilia Munoz Writes Script for Obama Executive Action"

In a 1994 speech at the National Press Club to discuss her plans for a worksite identification program pivotal to efforts to stop illegal immigration at the worksite, Barbara Jordan claimed the moral high ground for that effort. "If we are to preserve our immigration tradition and our ability to say yes to so many of those who seek entry, we must also have the strength to say no when we must," she said. Read more...

20 Years after Fighting Barbara Jordan's Reforms, Cecilia Munoz Writes Script for Obama Executive Action

By Jerry Kammer, August 4, 2014

In her position as director of the Domestic Policy Council at the White House, Cecilia Munoz is a key figure in the planning for President Obama to decree major changes in U.S. immigration policy that could benefit millions of illegal immigrants.

As the Associated Press noted last week, Munoz, along with other top officials in the Obama administration, is "working to chart a plan on executive actions Obama could take, hosting frequent meetings with interest groups." Read more...

Gangs and Migration: The Long Chain of Cause and Effect

By Jerry Kammer, July 31, 2014

Immigration policy isn't rocket science. It's far more complex.

Rocket science, after all, is about precision in the application of mathematic and scientific principles. Immigration policy is about the behavior of millions of human beings and the politics of entire nations. It is shaped by considerations of politics, economics, culture, history, and ethics.

Consider, for example, the relationship between immigration and Central American gangs. Read more...