By Joe Guzzardi
June 27, 2016
Not since the Chicago Tribune published its 1948 headline story "Dewey Defeats Truman," has the mainstream media displayed a greater inability to get the facts straight on breaking news stories. Last week, journalists twice missed the central themes on two major stories, the Supreme Court immigration case and the Brexit vote.
First, last Thursday the Supreme Court announced its long-awaited vote on the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s deferred action program to give quasi-legal status to about five million illegal immigrants whose children are American citizens or legal permanent residents. The media widely described the case, U.S. v. Texas, as a White House effort to protect illegal immigrants from deportation. Eight justices announced a 4-4 tie, essentially killing Obama’s executive action.
But U.S v. Texas was about the work permits, Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses, and earned income tax credits that the illegal immigrants would have received, and only marginally about deportations. The Supreme Court and two earlier lower court decisions specifically left deportation policy up to the President.
Instead, the story line should be the five million legally authorized workers that would have been added to a shrinking economy that has more than 90 million Americans detached from the labor force, and the other affirmative benefits that would have been provided to those unlawful immigrants. Few, even some among the most violent convicted criminals, are deported. As John Sandweg, former Immigration Customs and Enforcement Director told the Los Angeles Times, the chance of a noncriminal alien being deported is effectively “zero.”
Nevertheless, reporters covered the court’s decision almost exclusively from illegal immigrants’ perspective, and omitted references to the negative consequences on citizens had the administration prevailed. Headlines included: “Millions in Deportation Limbo,” “Local Families in Doubt” and “Decision Robs Us All of Prosperity.” Journalists are right to report on the immigrant community’s reaction to the decision. But readers are also entitled to know how American citizens who would have been adversely affected felt, an analysis that print and broadcast coverage missed.
Second, the media described the Brexit referendum votes that will allow the U.K. to leave the European Union as cast by “the hard right,” “the very, very xenophobic and anti-immigrant,” “populists,” “racists" and "nationalists.” These same terms are commonly directed at Americans who would like to have a serious debate about immigration, but are marginalized by slurs and ugly name-calling.
The Supreme Court and Brexit are about sovereignty, and about the shared sense British and Americans have that the elites have lied to them for decades. Legislation on immigration, trade, globalism and refugee resettlement enacted on both sides of the Atlantic have had devastating negative economic and sociological consequences on citizens. But elected leaders never acknowledge their miscalculations, much less apologize for them. As a result, faith in the political establishment has virtually dwindled to nothingness.
While the world’s attention has been focused on Brexit, an isolated election in remote Iceland showed how far-reaching voters’ disgust is with the establishment. Last week, a political novice, history professor Gundi Johannesson, won Iceland’s presidential election. Johannesson campaigned on anti-establishment sentiment and vowed to restore Iceland’s faith in the system after years of anger directed toward politicians over various scandals and economic woes.
Brexit, Iceland and the majority U.S. opposition to unsustainable legal and illegal immigration marks a turning point in frustration with the status quo that extends around the world, bound together by citizens’ common desire to save themselves from establishment governments’ elitism.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]