Woe, the Republic. We already knew that the anti-immigrant zealots are so successful because they are incredibly vocal. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they are also successful because they lie.
There’s no disputing it. Mayor Barletta rode stereotypes about immigrants and crime all the way to his ordinance, now to the 3rd Circuit of Appeals, and maybe even to a run for Congress. Of course, never mind that we blew up his crime argument in court by presenting- get this- the facts.
Now there’s word that the anti-immigrant crowd is gearing up to use blatant nativism- factual inaccuracies be damned- to paint their political opponents. This today from the WaPo’s Ruth Marcus:
Bashing Democrats on immigration — accusing them of doing everything but carrying illegals’ luggage across the border — is a GOP mainstay. But the accusations that Republicans started to peddle last week reached a new low in dishonest nativism.
The first salvo involved the House version of the measure to extend the children’s health insurance plan, SCHIP.
“What we do is take, at the cost of seniors who get . . . choices of their own health-care plans, we take it away,” former speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) claimed during the House debate. “We wipe it out, and we give it to people who are illegal aliens.”
“That bill, if it becomes law, would take $197 billion out of the Medicare trust fund, from our seniors, to give to illegal aliens,” charged Rep. Ron Lewis (R-Ky.).
Leave aside the inflated numbers. Leave aside the scare talk about “our seniors.” (AARP, the seniors’ lobby, supports the bill.)
The provision at issue would repeal a 2006 requirement that everyone applying for Medicaid provide proof of citizenship — passports or original birth certificates. That might sound sensible, but it has been a cumbersome, expensive solution to a non-problem.
In 2005, when he was overseeing the Medicaid program for the Bush administration, Mark McClellan noted that an inspector general’s investigation did “not find particular problems regarding false allegations of citizenship, nor are we aware of any.”
Because many Medicaid applicants don’t have such papers easily at hand — they’re not the passport-carrying types — the requirement has resulted in tens of thousands of eligible children being denied coverage or kicked off the rolls and has cost states millions of dollars to administer.
The ACLU, of course, has no position on SCHIP. But we do have a big problem with people using nativism, xenophobia, and racism- all neatly tied up into a package of lies- to advance their causes. It’s wrong.
But I said, “Woe, the Republic,” at the top because people will buy it. The nativists wouldn’t use this line of attack if it didn’t work. We and our allies have to answer the misinformation and answer it with fervor and strength.
Andy in Harrisburg