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Why immigration reform should pass, but won’t [Video]

Photo by John Moore / Getty Images

Shannon K. O’Neil, senior fellow for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, provides the most convincing case for immigration reform that I’ve read so far by countering the arguments anti-reformists tend to give.

Here she answers the concern that “The U.S. Economy Already Has All the Workers It Needs”:

Not for long. The United States is going through a demographic shift of its own, as the nearly 80 million baby boomers get ready to retire. In January 2011, the first members of this generation celebrated their 65th birthdays, and 10,000 more will reach this milestone every day until 2030. The succeeding ‘Generation X’ is more than 10 million individuals smaller, making it unable to fill the vacated spots alone.

Already, business leaders, politicians, and columnists are touting the need for more engineers, doctors, and technology geniuses — hoping to ensure that the next Google, Ebay, or Intel (all founded by immigrants or children of immigrants) begins in the United States rather than elsewhere. …

But the United States will also need those without fancy degrees or patents in hand, willing to clean buildings, to watch children, to maintain landscapes, or to care for the elderly and infirm. The United States is producing fewer and fewer (willing) candidates. Not only are the rising generations from smaller families, but they are also better educated, as the number of Americans without a college degree has declined over the past 30 years. It is doubtful that those working hard to invest in higher education will settle for these positions, which will likely number in the tens of millions.”

Ms. O’Neil guts four more arguments in similar fashion, and I encourage any who cares about the issue to take a few minutes to read the entire article.

Having read the O’Neil piece yesterday, I was better prepared with what I was confronted with this morning — a YouTube video showing Stephen Steinlight, senior policy analyst at the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, talking to a room of Texas Republicans about the inherent inferiority of Mexicans. (“I’m really focusing on Mexicans.”)

In his speech, delivered in November of last year, Dr. Steinlight explains that Mexicans and other immigrants from Central America are poorer, stupider and more dependent on the government than the average American poor person:

“Only days after the defeat, we have a lot of Republican surrender monkeys, and they are telling us that we should change our policy on immigration. They are buying the line — and it’s a suicidal line — that we must win over the Mexican vote at all cost. Note, by the way, that I say not Hispanic, Mexican — that’s what we’re talking about. …

If a person has a choice of choosing his or her punitive values and all the goodies that the federal government will give you by way of entitlement, I can promise you that the entitlements will prevail over the values. That’s why Mexicans register Democrat 4 to 1 or (correcting himself) 5 to 1. In addition the notion that this community is conservative is simply laughable. A recent survey showed in fact that Mexicans in this country support gay marriage, the once intact Hispanic family has collapsed in this country, nearly 60 percent of children are born out of wedlock, church attendance among Hispanics – I’m sorry Mexicans – is 100 percent female. Hispanic kids have the highest dropout rates in the United States. One third of our prison population is composed of illegal aliens, 40 percent of the federal prison system is composed of illegal aliens. These are conservatives? I’d like to know by what definition. …

Most people predict, just to get to the same level as the American poor, it’s going to take Mexicans about 22 years. …

Hispanic folks — they’re poor, they’re working. And what do they want? They want a big, fat entitlement state. That’s what they want. They don’t want the vision of America that you want. They have different needs, different desires. They’re not looking for this entrepreneurial system showing how the markets work; they want to be taken care of.”

There are, of course, many more gems in his speech — which apparently wasted a whole hour, though the video below is little more than 13 minutes long — but you get the picture.

A close friend of mine asked me this week if I was excited to see that immigration reform will finally be passed this year. “Who says it will?” I asked her, prompting a bewildered look.

Even if an immigration reform bill passes the Senate — and that’s a Huge-LQG-sized if — it still needs to get past the backwoods inhabited by barefooted swamp people, known more commonly as the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. And I don’t doubt for a millisecond that much of its membership wholeheartedly agrees with Dr. Steinlight’s assessment of the immigration issue.

I’m not Mexican (though I married one), and I’m no immigrant (though I married one). Nonetheless Dr. Steinlight’s words offend me as a Latino and, more importantly, as an American — as they should offend you, as well. He clearly doesn’t “want the vision of America that you want.” He dreams of an America that’s divisive and hateful.

But the only thing truly worthy of hate is hate itself.

So, to quote Ben Affleck’s recent blockbuster: Dr. Steinlight, “Argo fuck yourself.”

About Hector Luis Alamo, Jr.

Hector Luis Alamo, Jr., is the associate editor at Being Latino and a native son of Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood. He received a B.A. in history at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where his concentration was on ethnic relations in the United States. While at UIC, he worked first as a staff writer for the Chicago Flame and later became the newspaper's Opinions editor. He contributes to various Chicago-area publications, most notably, the RedEye and Gozamos. He's also a cultural critic for 'LLERO magazine. He has maintained a personal blog since 2007,, where he discusses topics ranging from political history and philosophy to culture and music.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

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