|Dennis Michael Lynch.|
You gotta love it when folks named Hannity and Kelly can sit around with a dude named Dennis Michael Lynch and moan about how the damn foreigners are just ruining America.
But this is what the debate over immigration has come to -- a bunch of conservative Irish Americans on Fox News implying that immigrants are to blame for everything from trans fats to terrorism.
And you know what? This tactic is working.
Movers and shakers in both the Republican and Democratic parties believe the time is now for substantial immigration reform. Last week, President Obama met with CEOs -- corporate titans, for heaven’s sake -- who were open to immigration reform.
As the Associated Press reported, “Obama said some ‘unlikely bedfellows’ are supporting immigration reform from the liberal and conservative side. The U.S. Chamber is sending 50 small business owners to meet with lawmakers...while the (labor union) AFL-CIO planned...to announce new political actions to push for passage.”
So, it sounds like people on both sides of the aisle are acknowledging that something should be done to secure the borders and bring the undocumented out of the shadows.
Obama -- still bruised by the horrendous roll out of Obamacare -- was hoping the labor unions and CEOs would build momentum for the passage of an immigration bill before Congress left Washington for the year.
Well, that didn’t happen. Congressional leaders now say there’s not enough time to take up the issue this year.
Why is the debate stalled? Irish Americans like Dennis Michael Lynch, for starters.
Lynch is a prosperous businessman who was born in Hicksville, Long Island. In recent years he has reinvented himself as a documentary filmmaker whose two movies, They Come to America One and Two, earned raves from those who believe immigrants are bent on destroying America.
“It’s a must-see,” gushes fellow Irish American and Fox news commentator Sean Hannity. Lynch has also appeared regularly on Fox with yet another Irish American, Megyn Kelly.
Lynch, and those who agree with him, generally argue they don’t hate immigrants themselves. However, they feel America’s borders are wide open, which leaves the country vulnerable to criminals and terrorists. They also believe immigrants are using up American services and taking jobs.
I guess at this point I should note that I don’t want America to face a hellfire apocalypse. And yes, I do love my children, even if folks like Lynch might make you feel otherwise, since they generally equate sympathy for immigration with sympathy for rapists and drug lords.
So, yes, of course American law enforcement should do everything they can to keep criminals out. The trouble for Irish Americans like Lynch is that much of his rhetoric sounds as if it comes right from the anti-Irish Know Nothing playbook.
The idea that only savage criminals and freeloaders are pouring into the U.S. was pushed for decades by anti-Irish bigots who wanted to “save” America. Yet somehow we survived the 19th century.
Irish Americans have a particular duty to at least be sensible when discussing immigration, mainly because their own grandparents and great-grandparents faced Lynch’s style of manipulative, paranoid nativism.
The fact is, from New York and Boston to tiny little towns across the mid-west, immigrants have generally revitalized local economies. Do you think the U.S. Chamber of Commerce would support immigration reform if it was bad for business?
As for crime, yes, immigrants have their fair share of bad people. Oh, as opposed to the well-behaved American-born population?
And let’s end this naive idea that all immigrants back in the good old days were legal. There were no federal immigration laws until the later 19th century, and so many families with immigrant roots have a secret about a grandfather who crossed the Canadian border or uncle who came to the U.S. for a “vacation” and forgot to go home.
Lynch is currently crossing the country, whipping up support for his ideas. If you’re Irish American, feel free to go hear him speak.
Just don’t mention that your grandfather once probably took a “real” American’s job. Because Lynch’s grandfather probably did the same.
(Contact “Sidewalks: at tdeignan.blogspot.com)