Jerry Kammer's blog

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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...

Washington Post Carnival Story: Nicely Written, Terribly Reported

By Jerry Kammer, January 6, 2014

A front-page story in Friday's Washington Post presented a glowing report about the prominence of migrant workers from Mexico in the U.S. carnival industry. It marveled at the energy of the workers, who come to the U.S, on H-2B visas. It described how the money they sent home had "helped transform" the small town of Tlapacoyan in the coastal state of Veracruz. Reporter Joshua Partlow quoted one carnival manager as saying that without them "we'd be out of business."

The story is a good read. Partlow has a bright, fluid writing style. But like many reporters who admire the migrant work ethic and the diversity they bring to the workplace, he failed to engage the less appealing reality that there is often a downside to stories of migrant labor. The unpleasant reality of the carnival labor market is that it is also a story about the degradation of the American workplace and the manipulation of U.S. visa policy by politically active employers eager to jettison American workers. Read more...

Jorge Ramos and Joe Arpaio Discuss Immigration and the Law

By Jerry Kammer, January 5, 2014

Univision's Al Punto program on Sunday presented a discussion between two men who have done much to stir the passions of the immigration debate: anchorman Jorge Ramos, who uses immigration as a megaphone to spread his belief that the right to immigrate is a fundamental human right and that racism is the underlying cause for opposition to illegal immigration; and Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who regards public issues as a mirror to reflect his endlessly self-propagated image as "America's toughest sheriff." Read more...

On Telemundo, Obama Takes Heat for Enforcing Immigration Law Too Much

By Jerry Kammer, December 26, 2013

President Obama takes considerable criticism from those who say he is not going enough to enforce immigration laws. (See, for instance, my colleague Jessica Vaughan's recent analysis.) But as Telemundo anchorman Jose Diaz Balart demonstrated on his Sunday news program Enfoque, the president is also under fire from those who say he is doing too much. Read more...

More on Jagdish Bhagwati's Olympian Disdain for Low-Wage Workers

By Jerry Kammer, November 26, 2013

Jagdish Bhagwati has apparently never met an American who lost work to an illegal immigrant. That became clear in his Saturday appearance on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal". Yesterday's blog quoted his condescending views toward blacks who are unable to find work. Today I want to cite his exchanges with C-SPAN viewers who were concerned about the displacement of young people of all races by illegal immigrants. Read more...

Echoing Rubio Aide's Gaffe, Bhagwati Throws Black Workers under the Bus

By Jerry Kammer, November 25, 2013

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) took heat last spring when an unnamed aide, explaining Rubio's enthusiasm for a guestworker program as part of immigration reform legislation, made this comment about American workers to Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker: Read more...

NPR Story Goes for the "Wow", Neglects the "Why" of Immigrant Detention

By Jerry Kammer, November 21, 2013

On NPR's Morning Edition this week, reporter Ted Robbins had the makings of a good story about a congressional mandate that requires Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hit an expensive target for detention of illegal immigrants.

But the story careened immediately into editorial Never-Never Land with host Steve Inskeep's sophomoric introduction. Then Robbins drove it into the reportorial briar patch with his own editorial slant on a story that should have let the facts speak for themselves. Read more...

With Fusion, Univision Anchor Has a New Platform to Defend Illegal Immigration

By Jerry Kammer, October 29, 2013

With this week's launch of Fusion, the TV joint venture between ABC and Univision, it will be interesting for English-speaking audiences to be exposed to Jorge Ramos's full-throated advocacy for illegal immigrants.

The current issue of Tiempo Latino, the Spanish-language weekly owned by the Washington Post, offers a fresh example. It includes a column by Ramos (a Mexican-born journalist and anchor on Univision) that laments the tragic deaths of illegal immigrants in their attempt to cross the border in remote harsh desert terrain – often led and then abandoned by smugglers called coyotes – and succumb to hyperthermia or dehydration or other gruesome forms of death. Read more...

Two Stories of Immigration and Human Capital

By Jerry Kammer, October 15, 2013

Two stories last week in El Diario de El Paso, a Spanish language newspaper in that city, illustrate one of the most salient features of immigration to the United States: the fact that it brings us many people who have an abundance of what social scientists call the "human capital" to become productive members of society, and many more who do not. Read more...

California, Illegal Immigration, and the Damaged Social Contract on Immigration

By Jerry Kammer, September 26, 2013

Three decades ago, during the long national debate that finally produced the ill-fated Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, there was broad agreement that uncontrolled illegal immigration was undermining public support for all immigration. Prominent voices warned of danger to an implicit social contract that maintained that public support in return for effective control through the rule of law.

In a 1983 editorial headlined "Time to Turn the Illegal Tide", The New York Times said that while the country needed immigration, "What it does not need is such an uncontrollable flood of illegal migrants that it tries public patience and foments a backlash against all newcomers." Read more...

Thoughts about American Identity During Hispanic Heritage Month

By Jerry Kammer, September 18, 2013

As part of its coverage of Hispanic Heritage Month, Tiempo Latino, a Spanish-language weekly newspaper, has published a front-page essay that made me realize how different our current wave of immigration is from past waves. It was written by Milagros Melendez-Vela, a member of the editorial staff at the paper, which is owned by the Washington Post.

The essay appears under the headline "A family voyage to identity". Read more...

More on the Environment, Population, Immigration, and the SPLC

By Jerry Kammer, September 16, 2013

Last week this blog noted the work of long-time environmental reporter Tom Horton, an expert on the Chesapeake Bay who wrote for many years at the Baltimore Sun and now writes for the Bay Journal. We cited Horton's projection that the Senate immigration reform bill, if passed, would increase the population of the multi-state Chesapeake Bay watershed to 24 million by 2050, up from the current level of 17 million. Read more...

U.S. & Mexican Scholars Call for "Comprehensive Immigration Enforcement at the Workplace"

By Jerry Kammer, September 13, 2013

One of the most salient features of U.S. immigration policy for more than 35 years has been the inability of Congress and the executive branch to establish an effective, fraud-resistant system to verify that employees are authorized to work here.

That long-running failure — due to resistance from ethnic interest groups, business organizations, and civil libertarians as well as a lack of federal commitment — doomed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Read more...

Immigration and the Chesapeake, and Environmentalists' Failure to Acknowledge the Connection

By Jerry Kammer, September 10, 2013

The Chesapeake Bay has been the center of Tom Horton's long and remarkable career as a journalist and author. Last week he wrote a compelling essay for the Baltimore Sun on the relationship between the health of the bay and the immigration reform bill that passed the Senate in June. Read more...

McCain, Others Keep Misrepresenting S.744 & Press Accounts Keep Failing to Correct the Record

By Jerry Kammer, August 29, 2013

Tuesday's blog post was about Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) factual errors at a forum on immigration reform. McCain made incorrect assertions about requirements in the Senate immigration reform bill regarding payment of taxes and participation in an English language course. The senator probably keeps repeating the mistakes because news accounts have repeatedly reported the inaccurate assertions and failed to correct the record. Read more...

McCain, Pitching for the Gang of 8 Bill, Is Juuust a Bit Outside with His Facts

By Jerry Kammer, August 27, 2013

Appearing at a public forum Tuesday in Arizona, Sen. John McCain made a pitch for the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate in June to provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants. But he cited public support for conditions regarding payment of back taxes and English language acquisition that are not in the bill. Read more...

Katherine Vargas on the State of Play in Immigration Reform

By Jerry Kammer, August 26, 2013

Katherine Vargas, the White House director of Hispanic media, was interviewed yesterday on "Al Punto", Univision's Sunday morning talk show. Here are some excerpts of her responses to questions from host Jorge Ramos (my translations from Spanish): Read more...

Univision Reports Pressure on Obama to Take Direct Action on Immigration

By Jerry Kammer, August 20, 2013

"Under immigration pressure" read the graphic that showed a photograph of President Obama on Univision's evening news Monday. It was the theme of a story that Univision anchor Jorge Ramos introduced by noting that "some activists want the president to do much more for the undocumented." Read more...

A Mexican Actor's View of Hollywood's Projection of Illegal Immigration to 2154

By Jerry Kammer, August 19, 2013

The current issue of Tiempo Latino, the Spanish-language weekly paper that the Washington Post distributes for free, has an article in which Mexican actor Diego Luna talks about the warning issued by "Elysium", the new movie about illegal immigration on a cosmic scale. Read more...

Mark Zuckerberg's Clever Response to Steve King

By Jerry Kammer, August 14, 2013

Sure, Mark Zuckerberg is advancing his own economic interests with an ad campaign that expresses concern only for fairness and the national interest. Sure, he would rather hire young foreign computer experts than similarly skilled Americans over 30. But give him some credit. The organization he founded to advocate for Gang of Eight-style immigration reform, FWD.us, is a lot more effective at messaging than Republican Iowa Rep. Steve King. Read more...

The Speechifying of Charlie Rose and Concerns of an Immigrant's Grandson

By Jerry Kammer, August 12, 2013

Two comments in different media venues last week grabbed my attention. The first came from PBS interviewer Charlie Rose. The second on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal", came from the grandson of an immigrant from Mexico.

Rose's comment came in an interview with Max Levchin, the Internet entrepreneur and co-founder of PayPal whose family immigrated to the United States from the Ukraine when he was a young boy. Read more...