Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The immigrant plague

vpltz at DKos brings us the hair-raising account of a fine Texas Republican legislator who wants to blame illegal immigrants for everything from cancer to his bad hair day:
A Texas State Representative called for a "challenge" to the 14th Amendment and blamed illegal immigrants for increases in communicable diseases following debate on a border security bill in the Texas House of Representatives Monday night.

State Rep. Leo Berman (R-Tyler), who made national news late last year for introducing a slew of anti-immigrant legislation — including one bill which would strip legally born children of immigrants of rights to state services including public education — made the comments during a point of personal privilege following the passage of House Bill 13, a border security bill which passed to engrossment 140-5.

"This is probably the only time you are going to hear anyone talk about illegal aliens on the floor of the House of Representatives because we've been shut out of this bill at every turn," Berman said.

During his remarks, Berman railed against Rep. David Swinford (R-Dumas), chair of the House State Affairs Committee, and said that Swinford "unilaterally decided no illegal alien legislation would be heard on the floor of the House this year."

... Berman also waxed nostalgic about the olden days of immigration in America.

"In the early part of the century when my parents came through Ellis Island, they were given a physical examination. If anything wasn't right, they were put on the boat and sent back. Note I say 'immigrant,' because they are the people who...assimilate into our culture and pay their taxes and eventually raise their hands and become citizens."

Berman then proceeded to claim that illegal immigrants were bringing Polio, the plague, leprosy, tuberculosis, malaria, Chagas Disease and Dengue Fever to the United States in alarming numbers.

Well, it's not like we haven't heard that before. You may recall that the Washington Times and Michelle Malkin both propagated the notion that immigrants were responsible for bringing disease to America, as did anti-immigrant activists in Colorado a short while later.

It is, of course, a classic eliminationist gambit: link your target to disease and vermin and filth, thus rendering them ripe for elimination. As I noted at the time:
All this has a familiar ring to students of American history. The very same kind of associations -- equating immigrants with pestilence -- were part and parcel of previous nativist outbreaks in the United States, particularly those in which the targets were Asians. ... The same kind of charges of being spreaders of disease appeared early in the campaign against Japanese immigrants, at the turn of the century ...

In any event, Berman predictably proceeded to spout more eminently debunkable nonsense about the costs of immigration, with again a predictably eliminationist solution:
Berman also claimed that the El Paso Independent School District was being forced to hold a $290 million bond election all as a result of an influx in illegal aliens to the school district.

Berman also alluded to his bill which would have denied legally born children of illegal aliens any state benefits including education saying that the original legislative intent of the 14th Amendment was that it would not apply to "foreigners."

"I thought it was time for us to challenge the 14th amendment because we are creating more than 350,000 new U.S. Citizens a year and I believe they are being created erroneously."

Ah yes -- the nonexistent anchor baby problem, for which the nativists of the right want to amend the Constitution -- not to mention blame them for abortion. Nothing like scapegoating children for your lousy immigration policies.

But then, that's par for the course from this crowd.

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