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Dobbs: Big media hide truth about immigration

By Lou Dobbs
CNN
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Editor's note: Lou Dobbs' commentary appears weekly on CNN.com.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The Bush administration and the leadership of the Democratic Party are preparing to take another legislative leap at imposing a massive illegal alien amnesty on American citizens.

And the mainstream media are complicit in advancing this thinly veiled blanket amnesty. Instead of asking and answering important questions about why our immigration laws aren't being enforced and why we're permitting pervasive document fraud, the national media seem hell-bent on trying to obfuscate the issue, shamelessly playing with language, equating legal immigration with illegal immigration while obviously trying to preserve the illusion of objectivity.

Too often, the language of the national media describes illegal immigration as "migration" and illegal aliens as "undocumented immigrants," even though many of them have lots of documents, most of which are fraudulent or stolen. Some media outlets have taken to calling illegal aliens "entrants." Whether such language is meant to engender sympathy or to intentionally blur the distinction between legal and illegal, the mainstream media are taking sides in this debate.

The Arizona Republic, for example, used "undocumented immigrant" more than 80 times in 36 separate stories in the past month alone; the term appeared as many as 12 times in one article on "migration," according to our Lexis-Nexis search. At the same time, "illegal alien" appeared a total of only nine times during that span, with seven of the references coming from readers' opinions, one from a quotation and one from an editorial.

The mainstream media report as if America would no longer be a welcoming nation if we stopped illegal immigration. Nothing could be further from the truth. Why do the national media conveniently and routinely neglect to report that the United States brings in more lawful immigrants than the countries of the rest of the world combined? Each year, we accept 2 million immigrants legally. We give a million legal immigrants permanent residency every year. We bestow citizenship on 700,000 people a year and provide almost half a million work-related visas a year.

Illegal immigration, in fact, has the potential to change the course of American history: Demographers at the Brookings Institution and the Population Reference Bureau paint a troubling picture of the future of our democracy. As more illegal aliens cross our borders and settle in large states like California, Texas and Florida, congressional seats will be redistributed to these bigger states following each decennial Census. States with low levels of immigration will ultimately lose seats as a result. Unfortunately for American citizens, this seismic shift in political representation will be decided by noncitizens that cannot vote.

Congress will soon take up so-called comprehensive immigration reform, and a bipartisan House bill would probably admit 400,000 guest workers a year. And since any plan calling for eventual legalization would include family members who live outside the United States, the legislation would open our borders to tens of millions of people. The Heritage Foundation's Robert Rector estimated that the 2006 version of the McCain-Kennedy bill would have added an additional 66 million immigrants over the next 20 years. The bill may change, but that estimate has yet to be refuted.

There's no question this type of mass immigration would have a calamitous effect on working citizens and their families. Professor Carol Swain, professor of law and political science at Vanderbilt University and author of "Debating Immigration," would like to see more people speak up for the sectors of society most affected by illegal immigration.

"How many African-American leaders have you seen come out and address the impact that high levels of illegal immigration [are] having in the communities when it comes to jobs, when it comes to education, when it comes to health care?" she asked. "And often, these low-skilled, low-wage workers compete in the same sectors for jobs."

Let's have a vigorous open debate on illegal immigration in this country, and let's begin with the facts. Estimates of illegal aliens in this country range from 12 million to 20 million people. Why doesn't our government know how many there are?

Shouldn't this Congress and this president at least recognize that the industries in which illegal aliens are employed in the greatest percentages also are suffering the largest wage declines? And shouldn't there be an economic impact statement researched and delivered to this Congress, this president and the rest of us before any legislation granting amnesty is even considered?

Shouldn't we first bring the facts of illegal immigration out of the shadows?

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.


U.S. Capitol

Lou Dobbs contends that leaders in Washington, D.C., along with the national media, should tell us more about immigration.

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