Jerry Kammer's blog

Senior Research Fellow

Contact - Biography - Publications

Meet Larry Dever – An Arizona Sheriff Who's No Joe Arpaio

By Jerry Kammer, May 2, 2012

Arizona borderlands sheriff Larry Dever is the subject of a fascinating article in the current edition of the Phoenix New Times newspaper. Written by Paul Rubin, one of the state's most highly regarded newsmen, the piece portrays Dever as a thoughtful, nuanced hardliner on illegal immigration and contrasts him favorably with two of the state's other sheriffs — Joe Arpaio and Paul Babeu. Read more...

Cheap Shot Alert: CIS Gets the "Colbert Thump"

By Jerry Kammer, April 30, 2012

You may have heard of the "Colbert Bump", that euphoric surge of popularity and prestige that — at least according to the man for whom it was named — follows anyone's appearance with that television tower of tendentious truthiness, Stephen Colbert.

Well, last week, we at the Center for Immigration Studies were introduced to a phenomenon at the opposite end of the pleasure-pain spectrum. It's a dysphoric dose of devilish denigration that I call the "Colbert Thump". Read more...

Once Again, Washington Post Swallows the SPLC's "Hate Group" Hype

By Jerry Kammer, April 26, 2012

There were two errors in one sentence in a story by reporter David A. Fahrenthold in Wednesday's Washington Post. One was a simple error of commission by Fahrenthold or his editor. The other was more serious. It was an error of omission that demonstrated the superficiality and bias that have repeatedly infected the Post's reporting on the Southern Poverty Law Center. Read more...

Removing "The Righteous Mind" from the Immigration Debate

By Jerry Kammer, April 13, 2012

In his fascinating new book, The Righteous Mind, University of Virginia social psychologist Jonathan Haidt probes the issue of why "we are so easily divided into hostile groups, each one certain of its righteousness." If I were teaching a course on U.S. immigration policy, it would be at the top of the reading list. Read more...

The Green Card Top 20 for 2011

By Jerry Kammer, April 9, 2012

The Department of Homeland Security has just released statistics on the 1,062,040 legal residents admitted to the United States during 2011. Once again, Mexico is by far the leading recipient of green cards, with 143,446. The list below shows the other countries in the top 20, which together received 63.2 percent of the green card total. Read more...

Germany's Apprenticeship Wunder: Highlighted on NPR but Nothing New to Vernon Briggs

By Jerry Kammer, April 4, 2012

On NPR's "Morning Edition" today, reporter Eric Westervelt told a story about Germany's apprenticeship program, which every year trains 1.5 million young people for a spectrum of jobs — from aircraft mechanics, to bakers, carpenters, and violin-makers. It is a remarkably successful national strategy of the sort that has long been urged by emeritus Cornell professor of labor economics Vernon Briggs. Read more...

State Department's OIG Rips the Summer Work Travel Program

By Jerry Kammer, March 23, 2012

News reports have revealed that both of Alaska's U.S. senators are pressuring the State Department to back off from proposed regulations that would put Alaska's seafood processing plants on a list of job sites off-limits to the controversial Summer Work Travel program. Read more...

Bowling Alone and SWT Employers

By Jerry Kammer, March 7, 2012

This morning I received an email that made me think of Bowling Alone, the classic book by Harvard social scientist Robert Putnam about the collapse of community and civic engagement in the United States. Read more...

Sheriff Joe on Sheriff Joe

By Jerry Kammer, February 29, 2012

The biggest divide in Arizona south of the Grand Canyon may be the angry chasm between supporters and opponents of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Supporters are particularly enthusiastic about his enforcement of the state's law against illegal immigration. Opponents claim he is racist and anti-immigrant. Read more...

Oscar-Nominated Portrayal of an Illegal Immigrant from Mexico

By Jerry Kammer, February 17, 2012

The movie "A Better Life" is the story of an illegal immigrant gardener from Mexico who struggles nobly through a series of indignities as he strives to maintain his dignity and guide his confused son through a gang-sickened landscape in East Los Angeles. Read more...

Four Films Demand Repeal of Alabama Law

By Jerry Kammer, February 16, 2012

As I attended the discussion of Alabama's law against illegal immigration yesterday at the Center for American Progress, it occurred to me that the opposing sides of the national immigration debate have answered President Truman's forlorn yearning for a one-armed economist who would abolish ambiguity.

The discussion introduced a series of four short films that make impassioned statements against the Alabama law and urge its repeal. They can be viewed here. Read more...

A Response to Father Tom Joyce and U.S. Catholic

By Jerry Kammer, February 15, 2012

Yesterday's e-mail brought a link to a blog post by Father Tom Joyce, writing at the web site of the magazine U.S. Catholic, which seeks to conduct a "conversation with American Catholics."

I was particularly taken aback by this statement by Father Joyce: Read more...

Immigration in Two Presidential Races

By Jerry Kammer, February 12, 2012

Every 12 years the presidential elections in the United States and Mexico coincide. This year it happens again, and illegal immigration will be an issue in both countries' campaigns. Read more...

Abuses in Summer Work Travel Program Extend far Beyond Hershey and CETUSA

By Jerry Kammer, February 6, 2012

Last week, the New York Times reported on the State Department's decision to bar the Council on Educational Travel USA (CETUSA) from sponsoring young foreigners who come to the United States in the Summer Work Travel (SWT) program. Read more...

Jorge Ramos and Mitt Romney's Nationality

By Jerry Kammer, January 31, 2012

There is considerable Internet discussion underway about the Mexican roots of Mitt Romney's family. It's a fascinating and complex story. Unfortunately, Univision anchor Jorge Ramos has muddied the waters with the simplistic suggestion that Romney is actually Mexican-American.

In his interview last week with Romney, Ramos introduced the story by equating Romney's background with that of Bill Richardson. Read more...

"Border Wars": Good Reading for Those Looking to Widen Their Lens on the Borderlands

By Jerry Kammer, January 23, 2012

I just finished reading Tom Barry's new book, Border Wars, which grew out of his 2010 article in the Boston Review that was a finalist for a National Magazine Award in the public service category.

I recommend it highly, especially for those restrictionists who are willing to consider a view from the other side of the debate if it is informed by the sort of strong reporting and deep perspective on the border that have long characterized Barry's work. See, for example, his Border Lines blog. Read more...

Low-Skill Immigration and the Decline in Social Mobility

By Jerry Kammer, January 12, 2012

The topic of Monday's "On Point" public radio program was the decline in social mobility in the United States. Host Tom Ashbrook and guests expressed alarm that the United States now trails such countries as Canada, Germany, France, Denmark, and Sweden in important metrics of the ability of citizens to rise on the economic ladder. The U.S. ladder, they agreed, has become steadily stickier, making those at the bottom more likely to stay at the bottom and those at the top to stay there. Read more...

George Kennan, 2 NYT Alums, and Immigration

By Jerry Kammer, December 12, 2011

On November 28, this blog took note of what I called an "Upper West Side of Manhattan" sensibility about immigration. People with this mindset exhibit views that are both expansive and generous about the value of immigrants, regardless of their numbers and human capital, and narrow and intolerant toward those who want to stop illegal immigration and limit legal immigration.

On Sunday, I had a peculiar encounter with the mindset as I took a long walk while listening to a podcast of Thursday's Diane Rehm show, which originates in Washington D.C.'s public radio station, WAMU. Read more...

A New Yorker View of the Border

By Jerry Kammer, November 28, 2011

The cover of the current New Yorker magazine, depicting Pilgrims in buckled hats and buckled jackets crawling through a hole in a border fence, is a fine example of the sensibility among many affluent, liberal Americans about illegal immigration. (My colleague David North has mentioned the cover as well.) I think of it as a quintessentially Upper West Side of Manhattan sensibility. It is most commonly seen on the New York Times editorial page. Read more...

November 1986: Comments on 'Comprehensive Immigration Reform'

By Jerry Kammer, November 14, 2011

Twenty-five years ago, the reviews were coming in about the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which President Reagan signed into law on November 7, 1986. IRCA offered amnesty to illegal immigrants who had either lived in the United States since January 1, 1982, or had done at least 90 days of agricultural work within a 12-month period ending May 1, 1986. The amnesty was part of a compromise, the other side of which was sanctions against employers who knowingly hired illegals. Read more...

State Dept. Announces Restrictions on J-1 Visas

By Jerry Kammer, November 8, 2011

The U.S. State Department has announced that it is imposing new restrictions on the Summer Work Travel (SWT) program, which over the past decade has brought about one million foreign students to the United States under cultural exchange program that provides them with J-1 visas and allows them to work for three months and then travel for another month.

The program has come into the national spotlight in recent months because of a protest by some students working at a Hershey warehouse near the Pennsylvania headquarters of the candy giant. Read more...

Three Latinos on the American Dream: a Brain Surgeon, a Migrant atop a Train, and a College President

By Jerry Kammer, October 21, 2011

Some late-night time with Tivo this week provided three compelling Latino perspectives on the state of the American dream. The first came from a former illegal immigrant from Mexico who is now a brain surgeon; the second from an unidentified Central American migrant riding atop a train rumbling toward the U.S. border; the third from a former Cuban refugee who is now president of Miami-Dade College. Read more...

Washington Post Cites Population Growth, Then Takes a Pass

By Jerry Kammer, October 17, 2011

A story in Saturday's Washington Post about the mounting national infrastructure deficit brings to mind the observation by journalist Janet Malcolm that "we are all perpetually smoothing and rearranging reality to conform to our wishes." Read more...

In Alabama, Univision Prefers to Inflame Rather than Inform

By Jerry Kammer, October 13, 2011

Emotions are high among illegal immigrants in Alabama, as many flee the state whose governor recently signed the most severe law in the country against illegal immigrants. It is a situation that calls for serious journalism to inform the public about a complex and sensitive situation. Unfortunately, the reports of Univision reporter Maria Antonieta Collins seem intended to inflame, not to inform. Read more...

The Road to IRCA: October 10, 1986

By Jerry Kammer, October 10, 2011

Exactly 25 years ago, on October 10, 1986, it was front-page news across the country: the House of Representatives had passed a sweeping immigration reform bill that would provide amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, a special amnesty for farm workers, and a guestworker program that would ensure farmers a large, continuing supply of field hands. Read more...

Russian News, the Hershey J-1 Protest, and American Values

By Jerry Kammer, September 19, 2011

The reporting of RT, the Russian government-financed English-language news channel, is often characterized by schadenfreude about the social, economic, and political problems of the United States. That dark pleasure was clearly on display in RT's reporting on the foreign college students' protest against working conditions at the Hershey Co.'s distribution center just outside the Pennsylvania town that bears the company's name. Read more...

Violence spurs "Mexodo" to the United States

By Jerry Kammer, September 18, 2011

Friday evening's Univision newscast included a story about the intensifying flight of wealthy Mexicans to Texas. Reporter Brenda Carmona said the migration is often referred to as the "Mexodo" – a play on the Spanish word "exodo," which means "exodus" – the equivalent in English would be "Mexodus". Read more...

Protest at Hershey Gaining Support

By Jerry Kammer, September 9, 2011

The protest against Hershey Co, the corporate chocolate icon, by foreign students working under a State Department cultural exchange program is not diminishing, even as many of the students prepare to return home at the end of their four-month J-1 visas.

To the contrary, protesting students are gaining new support in their effort to expose what they call sweatshop conditions at Hershey's Eastern Distribution Center. The massive plant, located just east of the Pennsylvania town that bears the company's name, ships candies made at the nearby Hershey factory. Read more...

Luis Rubio on Class in Mexico and the U.S.

By Jerry Kammer, September 6, 2011

Mexican scholar and social critic Luis Rubio is known for his columns in the newspaper Reforma that help explain his country's failure to emerge as a dynamic democracy capable of offering opportunities to its people rather than pushing so many to emigrate. He provided another fascinating example in Sunday’s paper, writing that Mexico is plagued by a "classism" that is powerfully illustrated by a video available on Youtube. Read more...

The Arizona Republic, Wildfires, and John McCain

By Jerry Kammer, August 26, 2011

Probably the most unpleasant part of my job here at CIS is that some people – often well-intentioned, if not well-informed – think ill of us for pointing out the costs of illegal immigration. Many of them believe that immigration, legal or not, should be accepted as an unmixed blessing and supported without question. Some of them respond with disdain to our concerns about illegal immigration's fiscal, labor market, and social effects. They act as if only a racist or a small-minded crank would dare to raise such issues. In their eyes, illegal immigration – and illegal immigrants – must never be subjected to scrutiny or criticism.

That is why it was refreshing to read today's Arizona Republic editorial about the controversy in Arizona over claims that some of the wildfires that have ravaged the state have been caused by illegal immigrants. Read more...