Study: Immigration Skeptics Not Necessarily Xenophobic

Several interesting claims in a new European study:

“Given how central the immigration issue has been for the new radical right-wing parties in Western Europe, many have turned to immigration-related factors in trying to explain their emergence and electoral mobilisation. This research has convincingly shown that immigration scepticism (i.e., wanting to reduce immigration) is among the principal factors for predicting who will vote for a radical right-wing party,” investigators in Stockholm, Sweden report.

Can this be used for some comparative analysis? Are the immigration skeptics in the U.S. more likely to look for Third Party candidates on the ‘right’ or vote for a staunch nativist Republican (Tom Tancredo)? I think we do know how disgruntled the nativists were with the two primary choices in these past elections.

“However, earlier studies have often uncritically equated immigration scepticism with xenophobia or even racism. By using data from the first round of the European Social Survey (2003) involving six West European countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Norway), this article differentiates between immigration scepticism and xenophobic attitudes. The analyses strongly indicate that xenophobic attitudes are a far less significant factor than immigration scepticism for predicting who will vote for the new radical right. Moreover, this article analyses the extent to which anti-immigration frames employed by radical right-wing parties resonate with attitudes held by supporting voters, and to what extent they make a difference for people’s decision to vote for the radical right. The analyses indicate that frames linking immigration to criminality and social unrest are particularly effective for mobilising voter support for the radical right.

Help me out here. How is immigration skepticism not tied to xenophobia? Any type of ideology that calls for stricter border controls or place limits on immigration feeds into the political construct of borders, and hence reinforces the ‘foreignness’ of the Other across borders.

(Immigration sceptics, xenophobes or racists? Radical right-wing voting in six West European countries European Journal of Political Research, 2008;47(6):737-765).

ALIPAC stands for "Anti Latino Immigration"

Note: There is more where this comes from. Originally posted at ADreamDeferred.org by DreamActivist. img405/7188/antispanishbi5.jpg

William Gheen, the President of ALIPAC.us (not to be mistaken for ALIPAC.net) claims that his site is not a hate group and not anti-immigrant; they are in fact, pro-legal immigration and anti-(illegal)-immigration, and 1 out of 5 members belong to a minority ethnic group. He was incredibly upset by a Charlotte Observer article a few days ago that called him an immigrant-scapegoating bigot, after highlighting his rhetoric:

We have a destructive human tsunami headed our way,” said William Gheen of Americans for Legal Immigration, a political action committee based in Raleigh that pushes anti-immigrant legislation. “N.C. lawmakers must act now to protect American jobs, tax resources and lives. Our state must … batten down the hatches immediately.”

I decided to give him and ALIPAC.us the benefit of doubt and check out their discussion forum to see their discourse and what kind of actions they advocate against “illegal immigration.” The following is what I uncovered in a couple hours:

DreamActivist :: ALIPAC stands for “Anti Latino Immigrants”
1. William Gheen stating that placing a bounty on the heads of “illegal aliens” is a humorous idea. Pintobean – “…So, put a bounty on the head of every single illegal alien in this nation, and let the red necks and their shotguns go to work…you can bet in a year this place would be DEVOID of illegal aliens, and the price tag WELL WORTH IT. “Humorous idea Pinto, but I don’t think the American public would be happy with a bounty driven illegal alien hunt. Besides, US citizens do not have the ability to determine legal status…W” See here 2. After defending himself against the Charlotte Observer article and proclaiming he is not a racist, Gheen adamantly stated in reference to a post about an upper-class Mexican-American community (most of whom are legal):

THEY ARE NOT IMMIGRATING! THEY ARE COLONIZING! – W

See here. It seems as if even legal immigration is colonization for Gheen and his ALIPACers if that migration is from Mexico (and other Latin countries). 3. William Gheen purported that due to expanding ethnic minority groups, the White race was facing extinction, a popular statement among neo-Nazi groups. See here. FYI – Hitler used this as one of his arguments against the Jews and it is a sentiment shared widely by neo-Nazi groups today such as StormFront, AryanUnity.org, Aryan-Nations.org Oh, it gets worse. We go from fear-mongering over the extinction of white people to hating ethnic celebrations like Cinco de Mayo. What does this have to be with being against “illegal immigration?” 4. Expressing hatred against ethnic minority celebrations like Cinco de Mayo. See here.

Koobster – “I dont celebrate Chinco, di, mayonais” AmericanPatriot – “I don’t even know what or when Cinco Demayo is and I don’t want to know.” AE – In our house we call it “Stinko-de-mayo”. mdillion1172: “…these “new immigrants” want to celebrate everyday…in fact we seem to celbrate all kinds of minorities all the time…. no wonder the white middle class is faced with eventual extinction”

Uh-oh, we were right back to the extinction of white people due to a day of ethnic celebrations. The ignorance, cultural insensitivity and intolerance was shocking. Time to get out of here. 5. ALIPACers advocating segregated schools for children who speak Spanish and disparaging Latino leadership. I quickly took one last look through the forum for latest posts. It turns out that today (as in June 7), the ALIPACers were very upset about this news article “Services Sought for Growing Latino population.” Again, the news has no connection with “illegal immigration” or breaking the “rule of law” and yet, these were the comments who can see here:

Since Hipanics think they are TOO SPECIAL TO ASSIMILATE, let them build their own Spanish schools. – butterbean

Since they don’t want to assimilate here, they should just go home. – Usa-born

I say we go back to segregation…separate the non-English speaking foreigners from the American schools…and let them fund and support their own schools! – AmericanbornThis is what makes me madder than a wet hen!!! Who gives a rat’s behind about LATINO LEADERSHIP!!! American leadership is, or should be, the only thing that counts in AMERICA! … Go back to Mexico or Central America if you want to be LATINO LEADERS! God know they NEED leadership!!! Just get the (bleep) out of my country…all of you…LaRaza, LULAC, MALDEF, MeCHa, and all 48 Mexican Consulates! – AmericanMe

They have issues with the teaching of Spanish in schools and some even purport returning to an era of school segregation. The discourse reflected on this page is not just anti-‘illegal’-immigration, it is directed against Latinos, bi-lingualism, diversity, and multi-culturalism.

With a preponderance of evidence gathered in just a few hours, it was crystal clear to me that ALIPAC is a hate-group ranging from subtle and disguised discourses of anti-Latino racism to outright neo-Nazi statements from their members and even the founder. Do you need more evidence?

A History of Xenophobia in U.S. Immigration Policy and the new McCarthyism

Discrimination against those that are seemingly foreign-born and ‘different’ from the

(White Protestant) norm is pervasive in the immigration control history of United States.

It goes back to when the United States was a budding new nation of (illegal) immigrants from Europe and conscious of the ‘dangerous’ Irish and ‘revolutionary’ French migrating into the country.

Response: Congress passed legislation in 1798 lengthening the period of years required for citizenship from five to fourteen and also gave the President the power to deport any alien deemed a threat to public safety.

Next came discrimination against Chinese laborers most of whom had been welcomed into the country as cheap labor in the 1860s but with the economic crisis of 1873, faced nativist fears.

Response: The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which created the category of ‘illegal immigrant’ for the first time, establishing border controls and sparking violence against Chinese migrants.

But the country still needed cheap labor and migrants continued to flow into the United States to fulfill that role, this time from Southern and Eastern Europe.

Response: Besides the many acts of violence against these immigrants, Congress passed the National Origins Quota Act in 1924 that strictly limited immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe.

Entering the Cold War period, we are struck with the lunacy of McCarthyism, and hence heightened fear of ‘strangers’ and dissent.

Response: The McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 set quotas of 100 immigrants only from each country in Asia, while immigrants from the United Kingdom and Germany consisted seventy percent of the annual immigrant quota. On top of this, noncitizens faced deportation for simply harboring radical and supposedly subversive ideas.

The witch hunts were truly on at this shameful period in United States history. However, we came out of our ‘temporary insanity’ made progress in the 1960s with the Immigration and Nationality Act that abolished discriminatory quotas and gave preference to skilled workers.

As immigration from across the border increased and we noticed a proliferation of ‘brown’ skin and Spanish languages in school, anti-immigration efforts were launched again, this time squarely at Latinos. In the 1990s, Proposition 187 in California was an act to deny public education to children of illegal immigrants, and soundly defeated by the Courts.

The anti-immigrant fervor did not let up, especially with 9-11 and the economy taking a nose-dive, again we were more fearful of ‘difference.’

Response: International students were restricted and hassled by immigration authorities, visa petitions incredibly backlogged especially from China, India, Mexico and the Philippines, and for a short while, even post-operative transsexuals denied residency based on marriage to partners of the opposite sex.

Now we have ICE agents conducting raids, separating children from their parents and locking teenage students in detention centers for months, deporting students for being truant and even going after sanctuary cities.

I am having a déjà vu of the witch hunts conducted during McCarthyism. Think about the similarities for a second. This anti-immigration climate is ideologically-driven and we are using countless resources to round-up and question hard-working Americans all over again, separating them from loved ones and smearing their names.

I wonder what we would call this era when we look upon it shamefully in the distant future. Let’s hope we wake up from this period of temporary insanity soon.