The Senate Judiciary Committee has spent the past week “marking-up” the immigration reform bill introduced by the “Gang of Eight.” The mark-up process allows the committee with jurisdiction over the bill to go over it section by section and discuss adding and changing elements through an amendment process. The language that is being used in the room is notable. At one point this week, Senator Graham said “The people coming across the southern border live in hell holes” in clear reference to Mexico. Juxtaposing that to Canada which he said is a “nice” place to live. In addition, the use of the word “illegal” is rampant, rolling of the tongue of some more than others, as well as “amnesty.”
We also witnessed the roll-out of a much-maligned report by the Heritage Foundation which exaggerated what immigration reform would cost the nation—framing immigrants as takers of a wide range of public services and benefits. Yet days after release, one of the report’s authors resigned from Heritage after the press uncovered the premise of his Harvard doctoral thesis: Hispanic immigrants have lower IQ’s than White Americans and not much hope of catching up.
Even though we seem to be moving forward on immigration reform, is the Senate being strategic in the language they use or have they just developed bad habits in how they talk about immigrants and the places they come from?
Is the Heritage Foundation creating ethnically biased data that encourages stereotypes of immigrants in America?
To what extent is the debate over immigration reform actually a debate about the nation’s racial/ethnic composition?