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On Yellow Journalism and Immigration Reform

The Artist's Father Reading his Newspaper by Paul Cezanne, 1866
The Washington Post ends 2015 with a report on a protest by immigration activists opposed to the Obama administration plan to deport families from Central and South America. There are some aspects of both the reporting and the story that are notable.

First of all, the story is the lead article of the Metro section of the paper. It is accompanied by full color pictures of the crowd. The crowd shot is comparable to the crowd shot offered each year for the annual March for Life. However, the article indicates that the immigration protesters numbered about one hundred while the March for Life marchers number in the hundreds of thousands. If you were basing your estimate on the pictures in the Post you would think they were similar in size.

Secondly, the Post makes mention of the political ramifications of the proposed deportations without commenting on the fact that President Obama is moving to deport thousands of immigrant families from Central and South America at the same time he is pushing to welcome over 10,000 Syrian refugees. Isn't that a significant juxtaposition that a serious journalist should explore?

Before commenting further on the substance of the article, I want to make it clear that I believe our immigration system is broken and in need of substantial reform. Mass indiscriminate deportations are not the answer. As a wealthy nation we should generously welcome those who wish to immigrate to our country and contribute positively to our culture and society. Generalized fear of foreigners has no place in our immigration policy.

On the other hand, as a sovereign nation, we have every right to control who crosses our borders. We have an obligation to our citizens to do what we can to prevent those who bear our country ill will and pose a danger to our nation from entering.

The dilemma of immigration policy is to find the right balance between these concerns. It must be a balance. Either extreme--completely opening our borders with no questions asked or completely closing our borders and isolating ourselves from the world--is a mistake.

The protesters are not doing their cause any favors when they protest based on emotion and illogical statements rather than make arguments based on reason. For example, the Post quoted protester Jennifer Romero, “We are going to be out, and we are always going to keep fighting for our rights.” Actually, as an illegal immigrant you do not have any rights to stay here. Immigrating to this country is a privilege, not a right. Presuming a right that you do not have is not a way to win support.

Similarly, the protesters were carrying signs that read, "If you want our votes, no deportations!" Only legal U.S. citizens can vote. If non-citizens--legal or illegal--are planning on voting, we have a voter fraud issue.

As a nation, we do have a moral duty to help those who are fleeing persecution if we are able to safely do so. Reasonable vetting of immigrants is necessary for national security. Those on the receiving end of this help have to understand this entry is a privilege and they can request it but cannot demand it.






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