Post hoc ergo Propter hoc

Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

After this, therefore because of this. What follows must be caused by what came before.

The Coalition for the Future American Worker (CFAW) recently released this American worker ad.  The CFAW is a joint operation of NumbersUSA and FAIR, two groups recently decried as nativist hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s February publication.  This tragic commercial ran on Fox earlier this week.  The text of the advertisement fallaciously links America’s current unemployment of 2.5 million to the 1.5 million immigrants who allegedly enter every year.  Shameless, this morally bankrupt syllogism ignores the mortgage crisis, the foreclosures, the $780 million spent on the Iraq War every single day, the American auto industry that has been hemorrhaging for decades, the lack of corporate oversight – none of these make it into the 30-second spot that is currently being beamed into American homes during primetime television.

Often decried by groups like FAIR for burdening the American economy, many immigrants actually pay their taxes every year – from 1996 to 2003, immigrants paid $50 billion in taxes.  Unauthorized immigrants often file their taxes, risking detection because of a moral obligation and in hopes that this might help them on the path towards citizenship.  On October 17, 2008, “Operation Number Games” [an awful euphemism] raided thousands of confidential tax records under the pretense of searching for identity theft.  40 people were arrested for identity theft; 1300 for unauthorized immigration.  Most of these tax-paying workers will face removal proceedings. (Moloney, Kevin. New York Times)

The American Civil Liberties Union recently filed a lawsuit in the Colorado state court arguing that taxpayers’ rights were violated when the onfidential records were confiscated.  “If the sheriff and the D.A. can comb through thousands of records in a tax preparer’s office on the theory that some of their clients are doing something wrong, then none of our confidential information is safe,” said Mark Silverstein, legal director of the ACLU.  At a time when our nation needs immigrants the most, when every tax dollar is vital and every person sacred, fear is being piled upon fear in the immigrant community.  District Attorney Ken Buck, when asked about the terror Operation Number Games was causing among legal and extralegal immigrants, said , “Am I apologetic for spreading fear amongst people committing felonies? No.” (Moloney, Kevin. New York Times)

The Visitor, a movie released in April 2008, details the way several unauthorized immigrants affect the life of a disillusioned economics professor in New York City.  The Senegal woman and the Syrian man were denied asylum, and removal proceedings were initiated against them.  This excellent film highlights the human aspect of immigration, something trite euphemisms such as Operation Number Games, removal proceedings, immigrant processing center, and ICE purposefully excise.  As people suffer from coast to coast and around the globe in this depression, GDPs and stock prices and interest rates and quarter earnings are in the news everyday, all too often the human element is forgotten. As Martin Luther King said in his speech “Remaining Awake through a Great Revolution,”

There is another thing closely related to racism that I would like to mention as another challenge. We are challenged to rid our nation and the world of poverty. Like a monstrous octopus, poverty spreads its nagging, prehensile tentacles into hamlets and villages all over our world. Two-thirds of the people of the world go to bed hungry tonight. They are ill-housed; they are ill-nourished; they are shabbily clad. I’ve seen it in Latin America; I’ve seen it in Africa; I’ve seen this poverty in Asia. (http://homelessalliance.wordpress.com/2008/01/21/dr-martin-luther-king-jr-on-poverty/)

Immigrants, like so many middle and lower-class Americans, are hurting this February.  To hunt them down for paying taxes or criminalize them  for working necessary jobs is to doubly victimize them.  This depression will end, whether in a year or a decade, but who we are as a people is determined by how we treat the most vulnerable among us.  Post hoc ergo propter hoc.


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