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Echoes from the culture wars: excerpts from immigration bill rhetoric

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If you want to scare the American people, what you say is the bill’s an amnesty bill. That’s empty political rhetoric trying to frighten our citizens.

President Bush May 29 at a training center for customs protection agents and other federal agents in southeastern Georgia.

You are the problem, Sen. [Trent] Lott. You and your Republican colleagues more interested in sucking up to Ted Kennedy and Harry Reid than in protecting our borders and sovereignty.

Blogger Michelle Malkin, June 15.

Folks, I’m going to tell you something. If this happens, I’ve already told you that I think, as we sit here today, there is an 80% that Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States. If this happens, if this immigration bill goes through as the latest reports indicate that it might, we are doomed in ’08.

Conservative radio talker Rush Limbaugh, May 17.

The Senate failed to reach a compromise on immigration legislation, which would have allowed illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. longer than five years to remain, while those who have been here between two years and five years would have to leave, but could return as guest workers. And immigrants here less than two years will be right back with your entrees.

comedian Tina Fey.

Sen. Jeff Sessions has likened the current immigration bill — which contains the nuts and bolts of President Bush’s guest-worker program — to a rotting fish and charged that the legislation could let foreign-born child molesters obtain U.S. citizenship.

lede to a June 22 Washington Times story by its White House correspondent, Joseph Curl (see Media Matters critique of Mr. Curl).

And please, no hand-wringing about illegals who have children born in the U.S. The precedent is already established with Elian Gonzalez. Send the parents back and their children have to go with them.

Rich Thurlow, news editor, Kingman (Ariz.) Daily Miner, June 19.

Here’s one way to kill a cow: take it into the woods in hunting season, paint the word “deer” on it and stand back.

— lede from a March 29, 2006, New York Times editorial.

I want to make sure this bill stays dead and isn’t resurrected by amnesty special interests.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, the top Republican on a key House immigration subcommittee, June 15.

Make no mistake about it, this is a horrible bill from a civil liberties perspective, and it’s going to get a lot worse. The base bill already contains a number of awful provisions that would undermine due process, infringe on the privacy of all Americans and expand the Real ID national identification card scheme.

Tim Sparapani, legislative counsel, ACLU, June 20.

Have any of you looked at the pols conducted on the immigration reform bill? If you had you would have noticed that 98% of citizesn poled are against this reform including my self. The last time I checked you people in Washington do still work for the American citizens! If 98% of us American citizens do not want this bull [expletive deleted] immigration legislation passed then I suggest that you listen to us because to once again ignor the people that placed you in your jobs is not a good idea. We are [expletive deleted] ING SICK of being ignored!

— A June 6 constituent letter to Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.).

To Embrace and Uphold America’s Tradition as a Nation of Immigrants.

subhead under the name of National Immigration Forum Web site.

The liberals are saying that this guest worker program … is really just a way to depress wages and create a permanent underclass of exploited labor. To which the president said, ‘And the problem is?’

comedian Bill Maher.

LAURA FLANDERS, AIR AMERICA: I wanted to come back for a minute to the L.A. story, the last two stories. I think if Dr. King were alive today, he would be talking about what happened on L.A. on May 1st. When you talk about abuse, 240 rounds of rubber bullets and tear gas. We’ve gone from legal punishment of illegal aliens to physical punishment, and it’s not helped by language like yours, Lou, talking about these [marchers] as being illegal aliens…

LOU DOBBS: Laura, Laura, Laura, that’s ridiculous.

FLANDERS: They’re not aliens, they’re people. And the vast majority of people at these marches are utterly legal. They’re not aliens, Lou. They’re people, and you’re dehumanizing them with that language.

— A May 8 exchange on “Lou Dobbs Tonight”

Everybody agrees the system is broken, and everybody agrees it desperately needs to be fixed….You’ve got the extremes on the left and the right trying to kill the entire bill rather than accept provisions they detest.

NBC’s Chip Reid on the June 7 Nightly News.

One job of journalism is to inform the public about what our political leaders are doing. In this case, we failed. The Senate bill’s sponsors didn’t publicize its full impact on legal immigration, and we didn’t fill the void. It’s safe to say that few Americans know what the bill would do because no one has told them.

Newsweek columnist Robert Samuelson, May 31, 2006

I forget where I was when I first heard the phrase ”undocumented worker.” Possibly it was after swimming the Rio Grande and emerging dripping on the northern shore to be handed a fake Social Security number and a driver’s license. But I assumed, reasonably enough, that this linguistic sleight of hand was simply too ridiculous to fly even with the American media. I underestimated my colleagues, alas.

— lede of a June 17 column in the Chicago Sun Times by Mark Steyn.

If the people in favour of immigration reform don’t get this guy to shut up and get someone sane to step in as the visible mouthpiece for their movement, it’s quickly going to be easy for anti-reform types to frame anyone pro-reform as xenophobic, racist nutjobs.

— An anonymous comment about CNN’s Lou Dobbs at Salon.com.

xpost: Scholars & Rogues and 5th Estate

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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 28, 2007 at 4:36 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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