NPR has decided that anti-immigration activist Mark Krikorian's nativist dogma is worthy enough to be a featured "point of view" in the immigration debate. Never mind that the entirety of Krikorian's solution to the issue involves a scheme where all unauthorized immigrants and their children, American citizens or not, would be given "90 days or ... six months" to "pack up your things ... resolve your affairs" and "go home."
On its website on Thursday, NPR thought to contrast Krikorian's extremist views with those of journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who recently admitted he is an undocumented immigrant who has been in the United States since he was 12 years old. Vargas' take on immigration reform was highlighted in an interview with the station's Fresh Air program.
Krikorian, the executive director of "low immigration" think tank, the Center for Immigration Studies, and a columnist for National Review Online, explained why Vargas should leave the United States and why the DREAM Act shouldn't apply to immigrants like Vargas. From NPR:
"It's not so much that he's undocumented. It's that he's an illegal immigrant -- he had illegal documents," says Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that advocates a "low immigration, high enforcement" immigration policy. "He came here as a child [but] ... he came here with an identity formed as a Filipino. In other words, he came at 12."
Vargas says he was inspired to write his article after the Senate failed to pass the Dream Act, which would have granted amnesty to people younger than 36 who arrived in the United States as children, have lived here for five years or more and are currently attending college or serving in the military.
But Krikorian says legislation like the Dream Act shouldn't apply to people like Vargas -- because he arrived in the United States at the age of 12.
"The moral case that you can make for the Dream Act -- or something like the Dream Act ... really only applies, it seems to me, to people whose identities have been formed here, who have no memory of any other country, who really are -- as some of the advocates sometimes put it -- are Americans in all but paperwork," he says. "This doesn't really cover a lot of the people who would be covered under the current version of the Dream Act, including Mr. Vargas. The man has real abilities and real skills, and he should go home to his country of citizenship, the country he grew up in for most of his childhood."
Krikorian further stated: "The strongest case you can make for something like the Dream Act is for people who prudence suggests we should allow [to] stay because their identities have been formed here. They really are, psychologically speaking, Americans."
So, according to Krikorian's ridiculous logic, a child who moves here around age 12 will never be, "psychologically speaking," American? I'm sure Madeleine Albright, Patrick Ewing, and a host of others who immigrated here as pre-teens, like me, would have something to say about that. But putting aside the absurd notion that there is a cookie cutter formula to national identity, Krikorian has maintained that immigrants are considered truly American only if they embrace "Anglo-conformity."
Krikorian has previously used immigrant children to spread fears about national security. He has repeatedly suggested that the U.S.-born children of foreign nationals, because they will not be raised in the United States, could one day grow up to become terrorists. For example, referring to the purported practice of foreign women giving birth in the United States so their children will be U.S. citizens, Krikorian said the United States should "turn people down for being pregnant," adding, "Do you really think that's right that somebody here visiting Disneyland should have their children be U.S. citizens, which they'll then inevitably use to get access to the U.S.?"
Writing at NRO, Krikorian cited Anwar al-Awlaki -- the American-born Yemeni cleric who was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison by a judge in Yemen on terrorism-related charges -- to push the notion that it's not "a good idea to give away United States citizenship promiscuously to any child born here to a Latvian tourist or Japanese student or a Mexican Border-Crossing Card holder, who then promptly leaves and raises the child in a foreign country."
While a former FBI agent called the "terror babies" claim "ludicrous," a dubious CIS study based on nothing more than fertility rates claimed that the children of visitors may be "a national security problem in the making." And referring to his call that the State Department deny visa applications to pregnant women, Krikorian told the New York Times in March: "These people aren't doing anything in violation of our laws. ... But if anything, it is worse than illegal immigrants delivering a baby here. Those kids are socialized as Americans. This phenomenon of coming to the U.S. and then leaving with people who have unlimited access to come back is just ridiculous."
Is this really the sort of "point of view" NPR had in mind when it invited Krikorian, the grandson of Armenian immigrants, to sound off on immigration? Media outlets do have an obligation to present both sides of an issue but thinking that giving voice to extremism lends a debate balance is a mistake they too often make.