Roy Beck's picture


  by  Roy Beck

Shouts such as "concentration camps" and "holocaust" from one side and "send her back" on another side make it impossible to have the civil conversation that a public policy like immigration must have if practical and just solutions are to be adopted.

I will not here get into dissecting precisely how each politician and media outlet has misstated, misinterpreted, and misdirected in the current rhetorical bonfire lit by months of intense and understandable frustrations about . . .

  • the inability of our government to control our southern border in a way that protects our most vulnerable citizens
  • and also the inability to provide acceptable detention conditions for the people who have absolutely overwhelmed the government personnel responsible for protecting our borders.

Instead, I want to urge all who seek a restored order at the border and a reduction in immigration numbers to avoid even a hint of nativism in response to the challenges at hand.

Lest there be any doubt, I want to state clearly that NumbersUSA has always opposed nativism.

nativist policies that favor native‐born
U.S. citizens over foreign‐born U.S. citizens."
-- From the carrousel top of NumbersUSA home page

The very word "nativism" was developed in the mid-1800s to describe movements that sought to treat U.S. citizens who were born in other countries differently than U.S. citizens who were native to America. The idea was that immigrants who had been naturalized into U.S. citizenship were somehow a lower-level citizen than those who were born here. Out of such an idea could come justification for "sending them back home" when their behavior crossed some line into repugnance.

NumbersUSA has from our beginning in 1996 rejected any aspect of that nativist way of thinking.

To be sure, we at NumbersUSA believe that the annual numerical level of permanent immigration has been far too high for at least 40 years. But we do not believe that the immigrants who have been allowed in by our government bear any blame for the fact that too many of them were admitted.

And once those immigrants received their citizenship from our government, they are no longer "they" -- they're "us." The United States of America IS their home -- no matter how much we may disagree with what one or another of them might say or do.

We're talking about the future number that is best for both U.S.-born and foreign-born citizens."

That statement that has long been on our ABOUT US page underlines the way we look at immigration numbers. All reductions we seek are of benefit to both U.S.-born and foreign-born Americans.

To drive this point home some more so there can be no question where we stand and where we have always stood on this matter, let me include a few more clear official NumbersUSA statements that have long been on our website as guidance on how we believe immigration reduction should be carried out:

We oppose nativism in the law and private actions; Americans should be treated equally regardless of where they were born. Neither race nor ethnicity should be factors in setting or debating immigration policies."

NumbersUSA Education & Research Foundation provides a civil forum for Americans of all political and ethnic backgrounds to focus on a single issue, the numerical level of U.S. immigration. "
-- from our Mission Statement

Members act to persuade public officials to support immigration policies that protect all Americans--especially the most vulnerable and including the foreign-born--from losing wages, individual freedoms, quality of life, and access to nature due to excessive immigration numbers that indiscriminately enlarge the U.S. population, the laborforce and government costs."

NumbersUSA mirrors the pro-immigrant attitude of the (Clinton-era federal) commissions that immigrants who are given permanent residency should be allowed to integrate fully into all aspects of our society. We oppose nativism in the law and private actions."

And finally, one of our six foundational values in our STATEMENT OF VALUES:

Immigrant bashing, xenophobia, nativism, and racism are unacceptable responses to federal immigration policy failures. Race and ethnicity should play no role in the debate and establishment of immigration policy."

-- ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA

Updated: Thu, Aug 1st 2019 @ 7:00pm EDT

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