Jerry Kammer's blog

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The News from Honduras: Smugglers Cash in by Spreading Word of Amnesty

By Jerry Kammer, June 17, 2014

The mass exodus of Hondurans to the U.S. border is being promoted by smugglers who are spreading the word that the United States is planning an amnesty for illegal immigrants, according to a Honduran government official.

The smugglers "are sweet talking the mothers and families with the idea that, with the immigration reform the [U.S.] government will carry out, the people will have the opportunity to enter the United States and receive a permit to live in the country," Aracelly Calderon of the Honduran Center for the Care of Returned Migrants told the Spanish newspaper El Pais. Read more...

Jorge Ramos Foresees "Explosion of Migrants" as Word of White House Border Policy Spreads in Central America

By Jerry Kammer, June 15, 2014

For several weeks, despite mounting evidence to the contrary, the Obama administration has insisted that its policies have had little influence on the surge of Central American children – alone or with parents – across the Texas border. The White House Domestic Policy Council, under the direction of Cecilia Munoz, has asserted that the swelling influx (and growing humanitarian crisis in South Texas) is actually a response to the violence and poverty in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Read more...

The Border Crisis in Texas: How the Media Report the Story

By Jerry Kammer, June 13, 2014

(Part one of an occasional series)

In the ongoing battle to frame the story at the Texas border, the Obama administration is winning with much of the media. Many journalists have joined the White House in framing the story only as a humanitarian crisis. They focus their concern on an undeniably poignant human drama that involves many unaccompanied minors fleeing violence and poverty in Central America who cross the border illegally into the U.S. Many seek to rejoin parents who have already completed that perilous journey.

The administration's constricted frame of causation makes no room for the problem of U.S. policies that have become common knowledge throughout Central America. These policies have become a powerful engine, pulling large numbers of adults and children across the Rio Grande. Read more...

NPR Gets It Right after Helping White House Get It Wrong

By Jerry Kammer, June 12, 2014

NPR reporter John Burnett this morning helped correct a record that has been distorted in many news accounts about the ongoing surge of illegal immigration from Central America.

"The Border Patrol has in recent months been overwhelmed by a wave of poor migrants, some of them unaccompanied children as young as six," Burnett reported.

If you listened to NPR over the past week, you would have thought the influx comprised only children — youngsters as young as six who make the dangerous journey in a heart-wrenching search for parents already in the United States. While NPR wasn't the only news organization to frame the story this way, it was perhaps the most prominent in the distortion, especially in the descriptions provided by its anchors in Washington as they introduced stories and interviewed reporters in the field. Read more...

Senate Hearing Shows Partisan Divide on the Illegal Influx into South Texas

By Jerry Kammer, June 12, 2014

In Wednesday's hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, senators questioned DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson on the dramatic increase in the flow of illegal immigrants from Central America across the Mexican border into Texas. Here are excerpts from that discussion, in which Johnson and the Democrats focused primarily on the influx of children. There was little effort to clarify that the illegal influx comprises more adults than children (and that many of the children are teenagers). There were sharp differences on what was causing the spike in illegal order crossings. Read more...

Guatemalan Ambassador: Violence Not the Cause of Children's Exodus

By Jerry Kammer, June 9, 2014

Disputing the notion that violence is a major reason for the recent surge in the exodus of Guatemalan children to the U.S. border, the Guatemalan ambassador to the United States cited three factors that draw them northward: a desire to be with their parents, a lack of opportunities at home, and the aggressive recruitment of smugglers who guarantee parents that they will receive their children. Read more...

John McCain Gets Some Love on Morning Joe

By Jerry Kammer, April 22, 2014

Writing in the New York Times about the Nevada rancher who has become a media star by refusing to pay the grazing fees he owes for running his cattle on federally owned land, Timothy Egan observed: "Easterners, especially clueless ones in politics and the press, have always had a soft spot for a defiant white dude in a Stetson." Read more...

A Catholic's Dissent from the Bishops' Immigration Policy, Pt. 4

By Jerry Kammer, April 21, 2014

Download a PDF of this blog series

The most astonishing moral declaration I've ever heard from a member of the Catholic clergy was made at a 2004 conference on immigration at the University of Notre Dame. The speaker was Bishop Thomas Wenski, who was then chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration. Said Wenski:

I think we can make a summary of Catholic social teaching in one phrase: No human being can ever be considered as a problem. When we consider a human being as a problem, we depersonalize him, we offend his human dignity. When we allow any class of human beings to be categorized as a problem, then we give ourselves permission to look for solutions. And as the history of the 20th century has proven, sometimes we look for final solutions.

I listened in stunned disbelief. A leader of the Catholic Church, my church, was warning that concerns about immigration were so fraught with peril that they must be rejected lest they produce horrors akin to the extermination campaign with which Hitler pursued his "final solution to the Jewish problem"? Read more...

A Catholic's Dissent from the Bishops' Immigration Policy, Pt. 2

By Jerry Kammer, April 17, 2014

Download a PDF of this blog series

The package of immigration measures known as "comprehensive immigration reform" would provide a sweeping legalization for illegal immigrants and increase legal immigration to more than 2 million newcomers a year. But Catholic bishops think it should provide more.

Kevin Appleby, the director of migration policy and public affairs at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, made that position clear last month at an immigration conference at Notre Dame. Read more...

A Catholic's Dissent from the Bishops' Immigration Policy

By Jerry Kammer, April 16, 2014

Download a PDF of this blog series

Like many Catholics, I have been bitterly disappointed in the church's negligence in its response to the pedophile priests. And as someone who thinks legal immigration should be reduced and illegal immigration should not be encouraged, I have been disappointed that the policy preferences of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops seem to be reducible to a slogan: "More green cards, less enforcement!"

But after viewing a video of a presentation at an immigration conference last month at the University of Notre Dame, I now have a better understanding of the bishops' immigration advocacy. But I also have a new criticism. Read more...

Bill O'Reilly Needs to Know the Law Before Reforming It

By Jerry Kammer, April 11, 2014

Fox's Bill O'Reilly is positioning himself as a Great Compromiser on immigration policy. But if the influential Papa Bear is going to have credibility in the debate, he needs a better understanding of immigration law than he displayed last night in a conversation with immigration hawk Laura Ingraham.

Said O'Reilly: "You know as well as I do that it's not a criminal offense to overstay your visa or sneak across the border. It's a civil offense." Read more...

Morning Joe Discusses Jeb Bush's "Act of Love" Comment

By Jerry Kammer, April 7, 2014

Today’s “Morning Joe” on MSNBC included a clip of a statement yesterday by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on immigration and followed it with a discussion of how it might affect his prospects in the 2016 Republican presidential primary race. Here are excerpts, beginning with one from Bush’s interview: Read more...

Idealistic Immigrants Provide an Antidote to Wall Street Predators

By Jerry Kammer, April 3, 2014

I didn't enjoy the "The Wolf of Wall Street". I came away from it discouraged by its all-too-vivid presentation of the decadence and rot bred by a financial system that rewards predatory behavior. The real-life, penny-stock-pedaling thugs whose predations are dramatized in the film were not outsiders. They were the soulless brothers of the hustlers at the investment banks whose credit default swaps nearly took the world economy into the abyss. Read more...

Judy Woodruff's Unfortunate Use of the "Anti-Immigrant" Label

By Jerry Kammer, February 24, 2014

I wish that journalists who are linguistically sensitive enough to speak of "undocumented immigrants" rather than "illegal immigrants" would be equally sensitive to the concerns of people who do not want to be denigrated as "anti-immigrant" because they want to limit immigration.

That concern came to mind recently as I watched Judy Woodruff's introduction of a PBS NewsHour story on the success of a Swiss referendum aimed at scaling back the immigration that has brought dramatic change to the country's demographics. Immigrants now represent about 27 percent of Switzerland's population. Read more...

PBS Corrects the Documentary Record

By Jerry Kammer, February 20, 2014

Hats off to the producers of the PBS documentary film series "Independent Lens" for following through on a promise to correct the error we noted in their documentary about the rancorous Arizona debate over illegal immigration. Titled "The State of Arizona", the documentary was broadcast in late January around the country. Read more...

On CNN, McCain Prods GOP Leaders on Immigration

By Jerry Kammer, February 17, 2014

On CNN's "State of the Union" program Sunday, Sen. John McCain called on Republican House leaders to reverse their announced decision to avoid consideration of immigration reform legislation this year.

Here is the exchange between McCain and host Candy Crowley Read more...

Todd Purdum Quotes Orwell, but So Do We in Response to His Article "Prancing on a Volcano"

By Jerry Kammer, February 14, 2014

Todd Purdum, whose views on immigration and role in the Washington establishment have been the subject of two earlier posts (see here and here), last year referred to the immigration-policy deadlock as an example of our political leaders' lamentable inability to come to grips with a host of pressing issues.

In an article headlined "Prancing on a Volcano", Purdum's thesis was that revolutionary advances in technology and science have given us the tools to understand comprehensively our most pressing problems and shape the policies to address them. Read more...

Let Us Now Praise the SPLC, Sort Of

By Jerry Kammer, February 12, 2014

In December 2011, we at the Center for Immigration Studies published a 38-page investigative report on the State Department program that issues J-1 visas to foreign college students so they can do seasonal work in the United States. The report, "Cheap Labor as Cultural Exchange", began with bullet-point criticisms that the report fleshed out in detail.

We showed that the Summer Work Travel Program (SWT): Read more...

Dee Dee Myers, Todd Purdum, and the Lucrative Inside Game of "This Town"

By Jerry Kammer, February 10, 2014

Read Part One

As we noted last week in a blog post about immigration commentary by journalist Todd Purdum, he is married to Dee Dee Myers, the Clinton-era White House press secretary who is now a principal at the Glover Park Group. GPG, founded in 2001 by former aides to President Clinton and Vice President Gore, is a lobbying/public relations firm that has become a player in the nation's capital.

So Purdum and Myers are a power couple playing multiple roles inside the Capital Beltway. Read more...

Todd Purdum Grabs 2 Nominations for Immigration Punditry in 1 Day!

By Jerry Kammer, February 6, 2014

"I think the Republicans have to be awfully careful about this issue as not being seen as obstructionist, not being seen as racist or anti-immigrant, but as being in the great American tradition of if you work hard and play by the rules...yes, you can get in line and you can have your path to being part of this country." – Todd Purdum, PBS's "Washington Week", January 31

Call to Mike Barnicle: Come Back to Where You Once Belonged

By Jerry Kammer, February 5, 2014

Yesterday's Morning Joe program on MSNBC included a discussion between former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and journalist/pundit Mike Barnicle. I was particularly interested in their exchange on the alleged "anti-immigrant" position of the Republican Party. It prompted me to turn to Googlebooks for a look at the book Crist was promoting. Read more...

The Big Sort and the "Anti-Immigrant" Label

By Jerry Kammer, February 5, 2014

A discussion yesterday on NPR concerned research by social scientists who were trying to understand why many Americans move to places where there are more people like themselves. The researchers understood that job opportunities and family considerations play a role in decisions to change address. But they also tested the conclusion that the moves are part of "the big sort," in which Americans uproot themselves to replant themselves in more comfortable political soil. Read more...

Immigration and the GOP "Gateway" Problem with Hispanics

By Jerry Kammer, February 3, 2014

While the big story on Sunday's TV talk shows was the mounting controversy about what Gov. Chris Christie knew and when he knew it, there was also discussion about the stay of play in immigration reform. There were some interesting comments on the debate within Republican ranks over whether to push for some form of reform legislation this year.

"The Republicans have a major problem here," said Matthew Dowd, who as an aide to President George W. Bush was part of a major push for comprehensive reform. Read more...

Arizona Documentary Shows the State of PBS

By Jerry Kammer, January 31, 2014

One scene in a recent PBS documentary on Arizona's battle over illegal immigration shows a man walking his bike past a street demonstration. "Follow the law!" he yells to the crowd, "Acclimate to the country!"

But that's not what he said according to the subtitle provided by the filmmakers to compensate for the marginal sound quality. In a mistake that somehow made it past the independent moviemakers and the review process at PBS, the subtitle reports that he shouted "Go back to your country!"

It was an honest mistake, I am sure. But it was a sloppy mistake that should have never made it past the first edit, much less the final screening by the people at PBS who decided to make it available to stations across the country. And it was all too fitting as a metaphor of PBS deafness in its reporting on those who are upset by illegal immigration. Read more...

Postscript to BBC Documentary
The Lasting Influence of Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine

By Jerry Kammer, January 17, 2014
The Lasting Influence of Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine

This week we have published two items about the provocative new BBC documentary "The Truth About Immigration". Since the documentary reports on the attitudes and sensibilities of people on opposite sides of the immigration debate in Britain, it may be appropriate to cite a work about two historic political thinkers whose world views, as American author Yuval Levin writes, "still describe two broad and fundamental dispositions toward political life and political change in our liberal age." Read more...

BBC Documentary, "The Truth about Immigration", Part 2
Elites vs. Ordinary Brits. Growth Uber Alles

By Jerry Kammer, January 15, 2014
Elites vs. Ordinary Brits. Growth Uber Alles

Read Part 1

In the new BBC documentary "The Truth About Immigration", journalist Nick Robinson interviews an economist who, during the economic boom years at the start of the millennium, was instrumental in Prime Minister Tony Blair's decision to adopt an expansive immigration policy.

The economist, Jonathan Portes, tells Robinson that the idea was to bring in new workers who would fill skill gaps and allow "growth to carry on at a faster clip than it otherwise would have." Read more...

Organization Says Era of Mass Immigration Is Over, Seeks to Harness Migrants' Talents for Economic Development in Mexico

By Jerry Kammer, January 15, 2014

The executive director of an organization that is seeking to tap the energies of Mexicans returning to their homeland after living in the United States said Tuesday that mass movement from Mexico to the United States has come to an end.

"We can confidently declare the end of that era, and we recognize a new era of return migration, with record numbers returning and fewer coming to the United States," said Aracely Garcia Granados at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Read more...

Free at Last? BBC Documentary Seeks to Tear Down the BBC's Own Wall of Poor Reporting

By Jerry Kammer, January 14, 2014

There has been an apparent breakthrough in the discussion of immigration in Britain. BBC political editor Nick Robinson has acknowledged that for many years the organization made "a terrible mistake" by muzzling its immigration coverage because of concern that it might stir racist unrest. Read more...

Immigration and the Press: Four Stories from the First Week of January

By Jerry Kammer, January 13, 2014

As a former reporter, I'm interested in how immigration is covered in the press. As this blog has shown, I think much coverage is marred by political correctness, timidity, superficiality, and outright bias in the face of complex and emotional issues. Many reporters have such a strong desire to show sensitivity toward immigrants that they ignore and deprecate those who believe immigration should be regulated and limited. Read more...