August 10, 2017
A bill introduced last week that would cut legal immigration by about half, and make other reductions, has sent the mainstream media into a tailspin. And during its downward spiral, reporters have showed little understanding of current immigration policy and have demonstrated an unprofessional level of bias.
Let’s set the stage. Republican Senators Tom Cotton, of Arkansas, and David Perdue, of Georgia, introduced the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act. In addition to reducing legal immigration from about 1 million annually to 500,000, it would emphasize skilled-based, rather than family-based, immigration. In other words, the obvious — instead of random, low-skilled immigrants arriving who might have family ties in the United States, newcomers would have to speak English and have abilities that might contribute to the economy. Nuclear family members could continue to come, but not adult siblings, etc.
Reporters pilloried the commonsense approach that Cotton and Perdue want to advance, and called it anti-American. At a press briefing, CNN reporter Jim Acosta launched into a tirade about how RAISE would violate Statue of Liberty values. In doing so, he rudely showed a shocking lack of knowledge about the Emma Lazarus poem “The New Colossus” and demonstrated his cluelessness about current immigration workings. Contrary to what Acosta thinks, the poem, added as a plaque several years after the statue went up in 1886, does not set immigration law. As University of Southern California journalism and communications Professor Roberto Suro wrote: “Bad poetry makes for bad policy.”
White House press briefings aren’t forums for pontificating reporters like Acosta to advance their personal immigration agendas. They should be focused on the RAISE Act’s substance; its merits and drawbacks. Instead, most of the post-press briefing print coverage speculated on the hurdles the bill faces in Congress.
The discussion that professional journalists should be engaged in would begin with facts, not opinion. When the Statue of Liberty was erected 130 years ago, the U.S. population was 60 million. Today, it’s 326 million, and the Census Bureau projects that without immigration reductions, the total population will be about 445 million by 2065.
Since 1990, an average 1 million legal permanent residents have come to the United States every year and have created unsustainable immigration-driven population growth. Unlike decades ago, the U.S. economy is developed, and overcrowding is obvious on highways, and in schools and hospitals. Moreover, a history review shows that earlier immigrants’ assimilation came only after an immigration pause.
I believe that most reporters don’t want to write objectively about immigration because, as we saw with Costa, they have a scant understanding of the subject and believe more is always better than less.
But reporters may have a tough time selling their none-too-subtle RAISE Act objections to their audience. Not only did President Donald Trump get elected on his promise to put Americans first, polling shows that the RAISE Act has significant support, and sends a message that congressional incumbents should also heed. In swing states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida and Indiana, support for the RAISE Act has registered at least a 2-1 favorable margin with likely voters.
If reporters don’t strive for higher immigration-related journalism standards, the Pew Research Center’s 2017 finding should provide the necessary incentive. Only 34 percent of Democrats and 11 percent of Republicans trust what they read or hear from national media. More professional reporting might help save their jobs.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization senior writing fellow. Contact him at [email protected]. On Twitter @joeguzzardi19.