“We can follow what happened back in the 40s or 50s—I was just a little girl in Miami—and they built camps for the people that snuck into the country. Because they were illegal. They put them in the camps and they shipped them back. [Wild applause]. We must stop them. I’m not in the legislature, so I’m not sure of all of what is available for me to use to get done what we want to get done, but I will do it when I know exactly what to do to get it through.” ~ Florida State House candidate, Marg Baker
That’s via Matt Yglesias, who writes:
Historically speaking, I’m a bit confused as to what she’s talking about. There were “displaced person” camps in Europe in the 1940s for World War II refugees and there were refugee camps in 1980 associated with the Mariel Boatlift, but those were Cubans and not illegal immigrants. At any rate, if you’re looking to talk about people who’ve come to the United States in hopes of making a better life for themselves in as dehumanizing a manner as possible, you should take lessons from Baker and her audience.
No matter how much anti-immigrant nonsense I hear, I’m always surprised when I run across something like this. I’ve heard people say we should put land mines up along the border with Mexico. SB 1070 was like a kick in the teeth. The support the law received despite its obvious trampling of civil liberties, the flat out lies that were used to justify its passage – it took me off guard even if it shouldn’t have.
No, armed drug gangs from Mexico are not raiding peaceful Arizona farmers. Blood is not flowing in the streets. Contra Jan Brewer, ‘most’ illegal immigrants are not smuggling drugs. The bulk of violence and crime in Arizona* stems from the War on Drugs, not from hard-working immigrants trying to make a better life for themselves. We won’t solve that problem by building a danged fence. (*And even these stories of kidnappings are wildly overblown by the media.)
It’s interesting to me that the last three Republican presidents were fairly pro-immigration given the rabid opposition to any sort of “amnesty” among conservative activists. Of course, Ronald Reagan signed a bill that granted amnesty to nearly three million illegal immigrants, and both Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. made significant efforts to court Hispanic voters in spite of the obvious, ugly reality that the Republican party has no interest in making itself more hospitable to them or to pursue anything resembling humane immigration reform.
This brings us to the latest immigration debate: birthright citizenship. The recent push to do away with birthright citizenship is not only morally reprehensible, but extraordinarily short-sighted. One of the reasons we integrate so many cultural and racial groups so well here is because of birthright citizenship (though there are many other reasons as well). It’s a great American tradition, one of the best features of our young society. Will Wilkinson sees modifying or ending birthright citizenship as a potential bargaining maneuver with the anti-immigrant crowd. Marg Baker proves how naive this is. As Jason Kuznicki points out:
I don’t imagine that anti-immigration activists are going to be bought off so easily. Instead, a permanent, multi-generational class of non-citizens would just be fuel for the fire. Twenty years on, immigration foes will look at all the second- and third-generation non-citizens we’ve created, and the mass arrests and deportations will really begin in earnest. Not a problem I’d want to create.
Worse, by then the anti- side may even have a point. A permanently alienated underclass isn’t going to be so loyal or so invested in the American polity. They wouldn’t have any reason or need to be. The genius of birthright citizenship is that it changes the incentives for everyone involved. It says to all populations: You’ve got roughly twenty years to figure out how to live with one another, as citizens. Now get to work.
Amen to that.