Our VoiceImmigration

3 examples of nativist hypocrisy on ‘rule of law’ evidenced in attacks on migrant children


Aaron Patrick Flanagan • Aug 21, 2014
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Hypocrisy permeates the work of the organized anti-immigrant movement. Perhaps nothing underscores their collective hypocrisy more consistently and clearly than that movement’s “rule of law” argument against legislation and reforms that would aid the young.

During a two-year-long drudging refrain, its communicators have trotted phrases like “executive fiat,” “imperial amnesty,” “backdoor amnesty” in order to misguide the American public about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The successful executive action the president issued in 2012 has extended much-needed protection from deportation to nearly 600,000 young immigrants living in the U.S.

The Obama administration is reportedly drafting a framework for broader relief – one modeled on the successes of DACA – that could positively impact the lives of 5-6 million more immigrants.

Of course, through its lobbyists and allies in Congress, the influential cabal of organizations leading this movement in Washington, D.C., has been positioning to undercut further relief. In the past few days, two of the three organizations comprising that cabal have provided more evidence of their hypocrisy.

One example appeared Monday night when NumbersUSA issued an email alert to its members, asking them to 1-click send a pre-written fax urging their senators to join the House in passing a bill designed to destroy DACA. In a little more than 150 words, NumbersUSA managed to squeeze in numerous mentions of an “unconstitutional executive amnesty program” (i.e. administrative relief), which they criticize even though it is constitutional, for which there is precedent and that will work within the existing law.

Of course, none of those facts stopped Mark Krikorian, head of the Center for Immigration Studies, from providing our second example. Kirkorian – who so often writes like a large-lexicon’ed college freshman in love with the dialogic flourishes exhibited on HBO’s Deadwood – delved deep into his bag of rhetoric to produce the following:

“But when a president proposes to issue a ukase amnestying millions of illegal aliens [….] it does indeed represent a leap into the antidemocratic dark.”

But beyond those two examples, what has truly been “antidemocratic” and quite “dark” is how behind all this big talk about presidents acting like rogue power-drunk czars [“ukase”] are the starkest examples of the organized anti-immigrant movement’s “rule of law” hypocrisy: their all-out assault on the legal frameworks and precedents in place to process and ultimately to protect children fleeing the near pandemic of murders, rapes, and kidnappings plaguing a trio of Central American countries.

The organized anti-immigrant movement is pushing to:

1. Deny children an opportunity to tell their stories.

Telling can’t occur without hearing. Judges must be able to fairly and thoroughly examine the children’s claims of “fear of persecution,” a legitimate claim to receive protected status. The anti-immigrant movement has supported the “rocket dockets” that speed these children into deportation before they can obtain a lawyer and become prepared to tell their stories.

2. Deny children access to lawyers.

When able to obtain one, children win their immigration cases 47 percent of the time, but they are deported 9-out-of-10 times otherwise. The anti-immigrant movement knows this, which is why its leaders lobbied then applauded when House Republicans voted down funding earmarked for providing these children with access to lawyers. The hypocrisy here is wild: 92.5 percent of children show up to their hearings when they are able to obtain representation, but that number plummets when a lawyer is never made available. Simply put, nativists are concerned a child will show up and win.

3. Deny children all semblance of due process.

Without lawyers and a chance to tell their stories, children are vulnerable to being swept into detention to await deportation. The United Nations and the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services have both found that a majority of the children – and many as 63 percent – have viable claims for protection under international law. Advocating for the destruction of due process in order to sneak children into deportation proceedings is a violation of the “rule of law,” literally and philosophically.

Upon being deported, some now lie in morgues, not safely in their beds.

The rule of convenient hypocrisy (and cruelty) defines NumbersUSA, the Center for Immigration Studies and their allies as they coordinate to drum up politics solely to deny rights and the protection of lives—even those of young children.

Aaron Flanagan is the director of research at the Center for New Community.

Image source: Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America

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