Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Tongues

Glenn Hutchinson • Oct 12, 2010

The media needs to feature more pro-immigrant voices.

Recently, my local newspaper published a letter that blamed immigrants for our economic woes.  I wrote a response where I pointed out that undocumented people pay taxes and contribute to the economy.

Before publishing my letter, the newspaper “fact checker” e-mailed me and wanted sources to back up my claim.  I happily sent her sources, including the National Immigration Law Center, that present the facts that undocumented people pay taxes.

Since 1996, our government has issued nine-digit Individual Tax Identification Numbers, so that people without a social security # can pay taxes.

Also, as noted in the Washington Post, in 2007 undocumented workers contributed $12 billion to social security.  Of course, without the rights of citizenship, they will not be able to benefit from social security in the future.

I’m glad that our newspaper was doing “fact checking,” but my sense is that this information was NEWS to my newspaper.  I don’t think the newspaper asked the letter writer who blamed the economic woes on immigrants for sources; however, I was asked for sources to back up my claim that undocumented people pay taxes.

Why is this?

One reason is the anti-immigrant bias in our media.  Notice how undocumented people are often labeled as “illegal” and the implication is that they are somehow sponging off the government.

We have to speak out.  We have to set the record straight.

We have to respond to public officials like Gov. Brewer of Arizona, who said this summer that undocumented people were beheading people in the desert.  After being confronted in a debate, she had to admit that there was no truth to the statements.

We need to stop believing misinformation, particularly the “facts” spread by the anti-immigrant groups FAIR, Center for Immigration Studies, and others of the so-called “Tanton Network.”  FAIR has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center; however, many newspapers continue to quote them as a legitimate source on issues of immigration.

It’s like quoting the Ku Klux Klan when you’re writing about civil rights!

We must not let the voices of hate monopolize the conversation.

We need more publications like Imagine 2050 and the Progressive Media Project that include diverse voices in the national debate about issues like immigration.

Unfortunately, these publications are fewer in number than the rest.

So, does your newspaper need a wake-up call?

Write a letter.  Speak out.  The time is now.

Imagine 2050 Newsletter

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