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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Myths of Illegal Immigration and Crime

If you perused the Sunday edition of The Oregonian online this week, you may have read the hysterical op-ed by former writer for the now defunct Conservative Digest and Oregonians for Immigration Reform member, Richard F. LaMountain. In LaMountain’s op-ed, he went about the tired game of myth telling that undocumented immigrants “commit more serious crime than the population at large.”

The reality of Mr. LaMountain's claims is it is part and parcel of the same collection of myths that groups like Oregonians for Immigration Reform, Americans for Legal Immigration (ALIPAC) and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) have been touting to drum up fear of immigrants in an attempt to mislead Americans away from supporting a remedy to our broken immigration system. In fact, these myths have been debunked time and again by reliable sources that have examined the data. One study this year done by the Public Policy Institute of California found that U.S.-born men have incarceration rates that are 2.6 times higher than those of foreign-born men and that evidence suggests that foreign-born individuals have very low rates of criminal activity.

What LaMountain and his group, Oregonians for Immigration Reform, pride themselves on is obstructionism to fair, just and non-punitive immigration reform , pure and simple. They even go so far as to celebrate every time Congress fails to pass any sort of remedy or solution to our broken immigration system, which should make any Oregonian pause to what their real agenda could be.

As for LaMountain’s agenda, we can only refer to his profile for his 2005 candidacy to Portland Community College Director Zone 4 seat. A few notable components to his platform included his goal to “End efforts to recruit, enroll and employ students from abroad”, “Reject official "multilingualism", “mandate that English is spoken by PCC staff on PCC premises” and “End PCC "affirmative action" and "diversity" efforts”. In a letter to the editor to the Portland Mercury, LaMountain asked, “Can our nation retain the Anglo-European cultural attributes…without a majority Anglo-European population? What will remain of Western values if countless non-Westerners continue to flood into America?” So, as Mr. LaMountain and Oregonians for Immigration Reform continue to participate in myth spreading and obstruction to real immigration reform, one can only question their true motives.

In a special report released from Media Matters for America last week titled “Fear and Loathing in Prime Time”, MMA specifically addressed the false myths about undocumented immigrants and crime which we hear perpetrated on some of the most prominent cable news programs. They said, “When it comes to immigration, cable news overflows not just with vitriolic rhetoric, but also with a series of myths that feed viewers' resentment and fears, fostering hostility toward immigrants”.

What is the most common myth? According to Media Matters, it is the myth that undocumented immigrants commit a disproportionate amount of crime. In their report, MMA refutes this myth citing several studies that show overwhelmingly that immigrants in general are less likely to commit crimes, that immigrants committed fewer crimes than native-born citizens, and that a greater proportion of immigrants in a neighborhood was associated with lower rates of crime. Read the full report by linking here


Anonymous said...

I did not know you have this problem in Oregon.

Dave said...

I read the Media Matters report. It's very fact oriented. It's disturbing what Dobbs, O'Reilly and Beck are doing. It's even more distrubing that so many people accept their rhetoric without verifying the facts from independent sources.

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