The media in recent years have written thousands of words about immigration, most notably the illegal kind, and they have framed their "news coverage" of this public policy issue in terms of a "debate."
Actually, what passes for a debate reads more like an indictment of those who support enforcement of those laws that were created primarily to protect American workers from unfair competition from foreign workers.
Pro-enforcement advocates are routinely described as being "mean-spirited," using "harsh rhetoric" to promote their agenda that includes lurking around every corner looking for any opportunity to engage in "racial profiling."
"Immigrant-rights" activists, meanwhile, use reporters and editors to tell the American people what they can do with the rule of law and their national sovereignty, and wringing their hands over a "broken" immigration policy that is victimizing illegal aliens by forcing them to "live in the shadows" in a "climate of fear" as their families are "torn apart."
Illegal alien advocates have even put together a well-crafted campaign to pressure the media to stop using the term "illegal immigrant" to describe those who entered this country illegally or deliberately overstayed their visas.
So it's really no mystery that many readers of newspapers are left feeling as though only the foreign-born are now entitled to search for a better life.
I think if we are to have a genuine debate about what our immigration policy should look like, then the media must deal with the subject within this framework:
"With 23 million Americans and legal immigrants unable to find full-time employment, should the federal government continue its annual issuance of more than 1 million permanent work permits to foreign workers and allow 7 million illegal aliens to keep their non-farming payroll jobs?"
I recently posed this question to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Wisconsin State Journal.
Scott Milfred, the State Journal's editorial page editor, responded this way:
"I don’t think immigration is a black-and-white issue. I think it’s very complicated and cuts multiple ways. I do think we need to keep allowing more people into our country to invigorate it. I do think there should be limits and enforcement of rules. Because of the challenging economy, fewer people are coming here from other countries, especially Mexico. I think immigration can and should be fair, even if our unemployment rate is not low. I don’t think our immigration system is working well now.
"Just my opinion. We publish lots of other opinions – including yours – on the Opinion page."
But this isn't about individual opinions, Milfred's or mine. It is about whether newspapers like the State Journal that continue to harp about putting Americans back to work think its fair that the federal government is forcing millions of unemployed Americans to step aside in favor of foreign workers, many of them here illegally.