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Horrendous Murder Of Ecuadorian Man On Long Island Reminds Why We Say No To Immigrant-Bashing Language

by Roy Beck

Considerable national media attention is being given to a disgusting murder of an Ecuadorian man in Long Island, New York, allegedly by a group of seven teenagers who in the middle of a drinking binge decided to go "beat up a Mexican."

My guess is that these teenagers are opportunistic thugs who would have found somebody else to beat up if they hadn't had some animus toward Latin Americans.

But it is incumbent on all of us who fight for lower immigration to emphasize the importance of not allowing our language about the problems of immigration policies to stir up hatred, and especially not violence, against immigrants or people who may look like immigrants.


Perhaps predictably, the open-borders groups have politicized this tragedy and are trying to use it to suggest that those of us who want lower overall immigration should keep our mouths shut -- or be muzzled.

With the New York Times editorial board serving as their most prominent mouthpiece, the pro-illegal-immigration crowd is saying that the blame for this murder lies with people on our side who have stirred up hate toward Latinos.

Their exploitation of this atrocity is distasteful and aggravating. But I feel the first priority for us at NumbersUSA is to make sure that we in the immigration-reduction movement are clear about the issues of language -- and the importance of not inciting inadvertent hostility and even violence against immigrants, illegal aliens or U.S. citizens who appear of foreign origin.

In fact, this has always been a priority for NumbersUSA.

  • Soon after NumbersUSA started its website in 1996, we ran a prominent link called NO TO IMMIGRANT BASHING.
  • My book published by W.W. Norton & Co. (NY 1996) had a section with the same message.
  • Earlier that year, I produced a video (now seen by more than 7 million people) that began with an admonition that if immigration makes you angry, don't get angry at immigrants, or even illegal aliens. Rather, the video admonishes people to direct their ire at policy makers who won't protect American workers and families or restore the rule of law in immigration matters.
  • Our point has always been that immigration NUMBERS are too high and create economic injustice, loss of individual liberty and make environmental sustainability impossible. It is the NUMBERS, not the character or characteristic of the foreign citizens who move here that causes problems.

Of course, no legitimate member of our movement wishes physical harm on illegal aliens or immigrants. But it is easy for people to make unguarded comments in the heat of frustration that reflect badly on all people of a certain ethnic origin. It is these unguarded comments that draw the attention of pro-illegal-immigration groups who claim that they fan hate and violence.

My sense is that this concern about language is blown out of proportion, but language DOES matter. The majority of Americans follow Jesus who radically taught that expressing hateful words is tantamount to murder. My own interpretation is that Jesus didn't mean that hateful words are just as bad as murder, but that the origins of murder lie in first having hateful thoughts and expressing hateful words. And we never know how our words might influence somebody else of less stable mind, emotion and character.

We at NumbersUSA have always gone overboard on this, and we have often been harshly criticized for our unwillingness to deal with problems from immigration that rise from significant differences in the culture of the immigrants.

While we are not saying that all characteristic concerns are illegitimate, we have tended to avoid even mentioning ethnicity and national origin. To whatever degree cultural and origin issues may be real, we believe they will be resolved if we get the NUMBERS down to where they no longer contribute to economic injustice and environmental/quality-of-life deterioration.

A great benefit of this kind of carefulness in language is that we can be assured that we never contribute to a climate that could possibly breed the immoral cesspool in which the murderers of Marcelo Lucero apparently swam.

I know that every one of us who reads the story of what happened on Saturday night, Nov. 8, can put ourselves into his shoes and imagine the horror and indignity of his last minutes. This was truly a breakdown of a civil society, an orderly society and the rule of law.


"Words have consequences. Steve Levy, the Suffolk County executive, is learning that the hard way during a horrible week. ... Mr. Levy's past harsh words and actions against undocumented workers have now left him cornered with a tragically limited ability to lead the county in confronting a brutal act that surely pains him as much as anyone."

For years, the New York Times editorial board has conducted a vendetta against Steve Levy. I have always suspected that the level of vehemence against him by the Times, many other journalists and pro-illegal-immigration groups is rooted in the fact that Mr. Levy is a Democrat.

Because so many of his critics are Democrats, they are outraged that he continues to show what it is like for a Democratic official to be true to some of the best principles of the Democratic Party, such as real concern for vulnerable American workers -- in their jobs, their communities and their schools.

"Immigrant advocates assailed him for having poisoned the atmosphere. Some called for his resignation."

To these critics, Suffolk Executive Levy has created a climate of hostility against all Latinos in his county because he has worked for Attrition Through Enforcement -- not against Latinos but against illegal aliens (who happen to come from every country on the planet).

The Times and others continue to slur Latino Americans by equating Latinos and illegal aliens. But Levy knows that most Latinos in his county are NOT illegal. He knows that they probably benefit more from his anti-illegal efforts than anybody.

But the New York Times sees only horribly sinister motives and outcomes to Levy's assertive efforts:

"Local lawmakers often complain about immigration, but Mr. Levy went much farther than most. He founded a national organization to lobby for crackdowns. He went on "Lou Dobbs." He tried to deputize county police to make immigration arrests and to rid the county work force of employees without papers. He sought to drive day laborers from local streets, yet rigidly opposed efforts to create hiring sites.

Oh, my gosh, Levy committed the unpardonable sin of actually DOING something and not just mouthing platitudes.

Everything the Times cites as fanatical is a perfectly legal and common tool available to protect American workers and communities from out-of-control immigration. With the official unemployment rate of perfectly legal Hispanic Americans much higher than other Americans, Levy's efforts to keep Suffolk County employers from having an illegal workforce stand to be of most benefit to the Hispanic Americans under his jurisdiction.

ABC News called me this afternoon for comments about Levy.

I said I thought he had probably done more than anybody else on Long Island to reduce bad feelings toward Latinos.

We see in every continent that when citizens feel that immigration numbers are overwhelming them, some develop very negative feelings toward the immigrants. When their government understands this and takes action through lawful channels and trained personnel to reduce the flow and the tensions, the legal immigrants and ethnic minorities are protected.

That is what Steve Levy has been trying to do, although his state's U.S. Senators and the federal Administration has done little to support him.

Repeatedly in Europe, we have seen what happens when those in power refuse to protect their citizens from out-of-control immigration. The backlash often is ugly and violent. The foreign-born victims never deserve what happens to them. But the villains -- other than the direct perpetrators -- are not those who have tried to restore immigration sanity (like Steve Levy) but those who have allowed the rule of law to disintegrate so that the weakest and lowest-character citizens, in their dark-soul ways of thinking, come to believe they have justification for their foul deeds.

If the New York Times wants to point fingers at politicians who contributed to a killing climate, they might want to point at the Members of Congress in their state who get the F's and D's on our grade cards for refusing to hold accountable the illegal cheap-labor importation industries.

This article originally appeared in NumbersUSA.

About The Author

Roy Beck is a former journalist and public policy analyst who has served as the Executive Director of NumbersUSA since 1997. Beck was a journalist for three decades before founding NumbersUSA. He is former Washington D. C. bureau chief of Booth Newspapers and one of the nation's first environment-beat newspaper reporters. Beck was also the Washington DC editor of John Tanton's magazine The Social Contract, and a frequent speaker on population, labor, and immigration issues. Critics have often pointed out his use of unscaled charts to recruit members for NumbersUSA[citation needed].A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Beck won national awards during the 1970s for his coverage of urban expansion issues, including honors from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Izaak Walton League. In addition to the advocacy of immigration reduction, much of his work focuses on urban planning and sprawl-related matters.Beck's April 1994 article in the Atlantic Monthly, "The Ordeal of Immigration in Wausau," brought national media attention and commentary to the issue of mass immigration. The New York Times credited Beck's NumbersUSA organization with applying enough pressure to U.S. Senators to defeat a comprehensive immigration bill in June 2007. He has been described as a "tutor" for U.S. Representative Tom Tancredo on immigration issues. Beck has also served as the spokesperson of the Coalition for the Future American Worker and authored the book The Case Against Immigration (ISBN 0393039153).

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

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