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The Restrictionists

Fatally Flawed: FAIR Blames Immigrants and Children for Maryland’s Financial Problems

In a case of very creative accounting, the nativist Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is blaming immigrants and children for Maryland’s fiscal woes. In a new report, FAIR lumps together unauthorized K-12 immigrant students with U.S.-born students who have unauthorized parents and claims that they are all costing Maryland taxpayers astronomical sums in educational expenditures. However, the report, entitled The Cost of Illegal Immigration to Marylanders, suffers from several fatal flaws. Read more...

Published On: Tue, Jun 12, 2012 | Download File

The Myth of "Self-Deportation"

How Behavioral Economics Reveals the Fallacies behind “Attrition through Enforcement”

By Alexandra Filindra, Ph.D.

The concept of “self-deportation” rests on a deceptively simple premise. According to its supporters, if the federal government invests more in enforcing immigration laws, and if states and localities take on additional immigration control responsibilities, the costs and risks of staying in the United States will increase substantially for undocumented immigrants. Faced with a high risk of being caught and imprisoned, “rational” undocumented residents will “give up and deport themselves” returning to their home countries rather than remain in the U.S.

However, preliminary evidence from studies conducted in states where such enforcement laws have been enacted shows that immigration restrictionists have gotten it wrong. Immigrant population in these states has remained in place and the predicted exodus never materialized. Economic factors, rather than enforcement, have played a far more important role in reducing the rate of undocumented entry into the United States.

This report uses important research findings from cognitive psychology and behavioral economics to explain why restrictionists have gotten it wrong and people do not behave in the “rational” way that restrictionists expect them to.

Published On: Mon, Apr 30, 2012 | Download File

Locked Up Without End: Indefinite Detention of Immigrants Will Not Make America Safer

By Michael Tan, Esq.

One of the ugliest myths in the immigration debate is that immigrants are more likely to commit crime or pose a danger to society. Although studies repeatedly have shown that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans, politicians continue to exploit the public’s fear of crime to justify ever more punitive immigration measures, including the mass incarceration of immigrants for reasons that would never be permitted for U.S. citizens. A prime example of this political double standard is the “Keep Our Communities Safe Act of 2011” (H.R. 1932), introduced this past spring by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. H.R. 1932 proposes a massive expansion of our immigration lock-up system that would waste millions of taxpayer dollars and violate our constitutional commitments to individual liberty and due process of law, while doing little to make America safer.

The vast scope of H.R. 1932 became clear during its committee mark-up, where members of the House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement challenged the language and intent of the legislation and sought to amend its reach. During that meeting, Rep. Smith was forced to acknowledge that the bill’s detention mandates extend to immigrants who have no criminal record whatsoever, much less focus narrowly on hard-core offenders. Since that time, however, Rep. Smith has continued to misrepresent that “the bill only specifies that a small segment of criminal immigrants may be detained for extended periods.”Read more...

Published On: Thu, Oct 06, 2011 | Download File

Dissecting the HALT Act: The Impact of Eliminating Discretion from Our Immigration System

Immigration restrictionists on Capitol Hill are attempting to move legislation through Congress that would prevent the Obama Administration from exercising the executive branch’s long-held power of prosecutorial discretion.  The “Hinder the Administration’s Legalization Temptation Act" (HALT Act) is a bill introduced by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) that would suspend certain discretionary forms of immigration protections and relief until January 21, 2013—the day after the first Obama administration comes to an end.  The bill would also revoke any of the specified protections and relief that are granted between the date of the bill’s introduction (July 12, 2011) and the date of its enactment.  According to a letter circulated by Rep. Smith to solicit support for the HALT Act, its purpose is to “remind the Obama Administration that the founding fathers put Congress in charge of setting the nation’s immigration policy.”  What Rep. Smith seems to forget is that the American system of justice has long granted the executive branch of government the discretion to decide how, and against whom, to enforce federal immigration laws. Read more...

Published On: Mon, Jul 25, 2011 | Download File

Rep. Lamar Smith’s “Keep Our Community Safe Act of 2011” Creates More Problems than Solutions

One of the ugliest myths in the immigration debate involves the relationship between immigrants and crime.  While studies repeatedly have shown that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans, many politicians exploit the public’s fear of crime to advance a restrictive immigration agenda.  One of the latest attempts to do so is the “Keep Our Communities Safe Act of 2011,” or H.R. 1932, introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX). This bill seeks to expand the authority of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to subject certain immigrants to indefinite—that is, potentially life-long—detention, even though the Supreme Court has held that such detention raises serious constitutional concerns.     Read more...

Published On: Wed, Jul 06, 2011 | Download File

Statistical Hot Air: FAIR’s USA Report Lacks Credibility

Many politicians who champion the deport-them-all approach to unauthorized immigrants have been relying upon a bloated and deeply distorted report issued by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in July 2010.  That report, The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on United States Taxpayers, is not a credible source of data, yet its numbers have been cited repeatedly in this year’s debates over immigration legislation in the states.  The report relies upon flawed and empirically baseless assumptions to inflate its estimate of the costs which unauthorized immigrants impose on federal, state, and local governments.  Much of what FAIR counts as the cost of unauthorized immigration is actually the cost of education and healthcare for U.S.-citizen children.  In fact, over half of FAIR’s cost estimate consists of educational and healthcare expenditures for the children of unauthorized immigrants, of whom nearly three-quarters are native-born U.S. citizens.  These native-born children are counted as a “cost” of illegal immigration if they are under 18, but as U.S. citizens if they are working, taxpaying adults.  In its rush to place a price tag on unauthorized immigrants, FAIR is unable to see that investing in children today pays off economically tomorrow.  FAIR also neglects to mention the enormous fiscal and economic costs that would be incurred by attempting to remove unauthorized immigrants from the United States.  As the negative impact of anti-immigrant legislation on the fiscal bottom-line becomes more apparent, many taxpayers may begin to see that the “costs” cited by FAIR do not tell the whole story. Read more...

Published On: Tue, Mar 29, 2011 | Download File

Eliminating Birthright Citizenship Would Not Solve the Problem of Unauthorized Immigration

There is no evidence that undocumented immigrants come to the U.S. just to give birth.

  • Unauthorized immigrants come to the U.S. to work and to join family members.  Immigrants tend to be of child-bearing age and have children while they are in the U.S.  They do not come specifically to give birth.
  • Stories about “birth tourism” point to small numbers of foreigners who come to the U.S. legally to give birth to their children.  It would be ridiculous to change the U.S. Constitution and impact every single American just to punish a few individuals.

Published On: Tue, Jan 04, 2011 | Download File

Papers Please: Eliminating Birthright Citizenship Would Affect Everyone

Attacks on birthright citizenship at the federal and state level are bound to take many forms—from outright repeal of the Fourteenth Amendment to refusal by states to issue birth certificates to children of undocumented immigrants.  Whatever the tactic, attacks on birthright citizenship hurt everyone. Read more...

Published On: Tue, Jan 04, 2011 | Download File

The Unwanted: Immigration and Nativism in America

By Peter Schrag

It’s hardly news that the complaints of our latter-day nativists and immigration restrictionists—from Sam Huntington to Rush Limbaugh, from FAIR to V-DARE—resonate with the nativist arguments of some three centuries of American history.  Often, as most of us should know, the immigrants who were demeaned by one generation were the parents and grandparents of the successes of the next generation.  Perhaps, not paradoxically, many of them, or their children and grandchildren, later joined those who attacked and disparaged the next arrivals, or would-be arrivals, with the same vehemence that had been leveled against them or their forebears.

Similarly, the sweeps and detentions of immigrants during the early decades of the last century were not terribly different from the heavy-handed federal, state, and local raids of recent years to round up, deport, and occasionally imprison illegal immigrants, and sometimes legal residents and U.S. citizens along with them.  But it’s also well to remember that nativism, xenophobia, and racism are hardly uniquely American phenomena.  What makes them significant in America is that they run counter to the nation’s founding ideals.  At least since the enshrinement of Enlightenment ideas of equality and inclusiveness in the founding documents of the new nation, to be a nativist in this country was to be in conflict with its fundamental tenets.Read more...

Published On: Mon, Sep 13, 2010 | Download File