There is much to quarrel with concerning the recent ads that NumbersUSA has deployed, to the sum of $150,000, in order to attack Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham in his home state of South Carolina. NumbersUSA has the right to quarrel with Sen. Graham’s support and role in the Senate “Gang of Eight’s” immigration reform proposal, of course. NumbersUSA, however, doesn’t have the right to mislead America’s veterans into a dark corner of anti-immigrant rhetoric that will certainly provide so many vulnerable veterans with zero answers and zero solutions to the myriad struggles–economic, emotional, or otherwise–that so many veterans experience upon returning home.
“Who elected Senator Graham to insist on more green cards for foreign workers when returning veterans can’t find jobs,” asks the ad’s narrator? That question begs another: who asked NumbersUSA–an anti-immigration, population-control group that argues for the deportation of immigrant veterans and of the immigrant family members of citizen-soldiers–to speak for America’s veterans?
According to research cited in an American Immigration Council blog, “Remembering Our Immigrant Veterans: An Incalculable Contribution”:
“In 2010 alone, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) granted citizenship to 11,146 members of the U.S. armed forces – the highest number of service members naturalized in any year since 1955.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, the top two countries of origin for foreign-born military personnel are the Philippines and Mexico.”
And here’s notification of a bill presently listed on NumberUSA’s webpage titled, “Family Based Migration,” which is loaded with connotations that warn said bill “Increases Chain Migration” (the word “Increases” appears in dark red-font):
“H.R. 2412 (Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act [sic] – would exempt children of certain Filipino World War II veterans naturalized by the Immigration Act of 1990 from numerical limitations for worldwide immigration. Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) is the bill’s main sponsor. Cosponsors.”
NumbersUSA is, of course, advocating that their members and readers actively oppose that bill. That’s right, NumbersUSA is opposing the reunification of families of World War II veterans–you know, that demographic historically referred to as “The Golden Generation,” who collectively fought and struggled to oppose truly daunting forces hell-bent on imposing imperialism and fascism on the world.
Without the service of these veterans, including Filipinos, NumbersUSA wouldn’t have a United States to deport people from.
And here’s another way in which NumbersUSA’s policy regarding veterans and their families is reveled as being ultimately problematic—its ideas only serve the anti-immigrant movement’s concept of who constitutes a true American.
Roy Beck, the group’s founder and fountainhead, and NumbersUSA will never openly go on the record to attack veterans and their families because Beck is savvier than that; however, NumbersUSA’s perpetual calls for an end to chain migration and birthright citizenship, as it is ensured by the 14th Amendment, comprehensively tear at the families of veterans—people whose sons and daughters have fought and/or sacrificed in the hope that they might provide all Americans with a better, safer existence (Roy Beck and the staff of NumbersUSA included).
If someone serves our country, shouldn’t she/he be allowed to live here with her/his families? That’s just asking too much?
NumbersUSA continually argues, “Yes, it is,” by advocating not only for an ending of chain migration, but also by attacking Family Reunification bills, and by denying protection to immigrant veterans who have served this country only to later find themselves and/or their family members subject to deportation proceedings.
Do Beck and NumbersUSA expect that Americans will agree with them, that a veteran who is pulled over for a busted tail light deserves to be deported–possibly to a country she or he left as a young child? What would Roy Beck say to the hundreds of thousands of veterans and their families that he and his group’s policy suggestions will and do tear apart–if he actually had to look them in their eyes? What would he say to the native-born veteran who has fought alongside immigrant soldiers–maybe that,
“Hey, sorry, your brothers- and sisters-in-arms who may have saved your life, well, they just don’t deserve to be Americans.”
And so we should try to recognize that when NumbersUSA is speaking about unemployed veterans in these ads, it is doing so through the expensive megaphone of a lead spokes-group for the anti-immigrant movement in this country. We should recognize that NumbersUSA cannot “defend” some veterans while attacking the lives and families of others. And we should see that NumbersUSA’s notion of who is an “American” certainly differs from how all branches of the United States’ Armed Forces, it seems, define who an American actually is. And so, if we can see that, we will also see that Roy Beck and NumberUSA’s idea of the level of respect that is earned through honorable military service to this country, if one is able to return, is wildly different from what most Americans feel veterans actually deserve.
To willingly target veterans with such nonsense, with such a question that tempts a target audience towards the tired logic of scapegoating immigrants–veteran immigrants included–for the short-comings of our society, for our failure as a society to support returning veterans in every way possible–well, Beck and NumbersUSA themselves are nothing short of disgraceful. If not disgusting. Beyond that, his group’s commercial insults the intelligence of every veteran who has served honorably by suggesting that they do not possess the ability to turn to their fellow service-men and -women and know instantly that those they are looking at are not the true enemies of a just America.