WaPo Editorial Board Calls Out Republican's "Fact-Free Rhetoric" On Immigration


The Washington Post editorial board called out Republican presidential candidates' anti-immigrant "rancor and outright nativism" that falsely gives "rise to the impression that illegal immigration has soared to unprecedented levels" when in reality recent studies show that illegal immigration is "now at its lowest level since 2003."

Right-wing media have emboldened Republican presidential candidates' use of "alarmist" rhetoric and disparaging terms to describe immigrants, have pressured them into taking hardline anti-immigration policy stances, and defended the candidates who have been criticized for adopting extreme positions.

In a January 24 editorial, The Washington Post editorial board wrote that "Republican rhetoric on immigration has not caught up" with data showing that the percentage of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. "is at its lowest point since the turn of the century." The board pointed to two recent reports from the Pew Research Center and the Center for Migration Studies (CMS) showing declining immigration rates, and called on Republicans to "grapple with that reality":

THE ANTI-ILLEGAL immigrant rancor and outright nativism afoot in the Republican primary field give rise to the impression that illegal immigration has soared to unprecedented levels and that the border is no more than a line in the sand, scarcely monitored and easily crossed. The truth diverges wildly from that rhetoric, as a pair of recent studies demonstrate.

Notwithstanding the demagoguery of Donald Trump and some of his GOP rivals, the number of illegal immigrants in this country, which has declined each year since 2008, is now at its lowest level since 2003, and the percentage of undocumented immigrants likewise is at its lowest point since the turn of the century.


That Mr. Trump has leveraged fact-free rhetoric for political advantage is not news. Still, it is noteworthy that so much of the GOP-primary oxygen, at least until the terrorist attacks in Paris, was consumed by alarmist rhetoric about border security, when in fact the border is more tightly patrolled than ever, and apprehensions at the southwestern border, a rough measure of illegal crossings, have been cut by about two-thirds since Sept. 11, 2001.


Republican rhetoric on immigration has not caught up to those numbers, nor to the reality that the U.S. economy, like other Western economies, cannot function without low-wage, low-skill labor, which Mexico has supplied. An estimate 7 million-plus undocumented immigrants, most of them Mexicans, are employed in this country. Mr. Trump's fantasies of mass deportation notwithstanding, they will not be replaced by native-born Americans. At some point, Republicans will need to grapple with that reality.

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