Chicago resolution rejects anti-immigrant rhetoric

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CHICAGO – CNN’s Lou Dobbs has made a name and lots of money for himself by railing against immigrants, contributing to an atmosphere of hate and fear. When that happens, sometimes you have to say, “Enough!”

That’s what two city councilors said yesterday when they announced a resolution to be introduced into the Chicago City Council against anti-immigrant hate speech.

The resolution, introduced by Aldermen George Cardenas and Manny Flores, condemns such rhetoric and misinformation in the national immigration debate and reaffirms the city’s support for immigrant rights.

“Throughout our history, Chicago has welcomed immigrants from around the world, including my own family,” said Cardenas June 24, at the City Hall press conference.

“Our city was built by immigrants, and has respected the contributions that immigrants have made and will continue to make,” added Cardenas. “Unfortunately, the overall climate surrounding the immigration issue has turned more and more ugly, fed in particular by cable news and it’s time that our city took a stand against the hateful rhetoric.”

The media watchdog group Media Matters Action Network recently released “Fear and Loathing in Prime Time: Immigration Myths and Cable News,” a report documenting how Dobbs and Glenn Beck of CNN and Bill O’Reilly of Fox News use derogatory language and myths to stoke anti-immigrant attitudes almost daily on cable news.

Among the myths found, report authors said, is so-called reporting that immigration and crime are connected. Lou Dobbs Tonight also tell its viewers of a mythical explosion of leprosy cases and a mythical epidemic of voter fraud all due to undocumented immigrants. It seems that Dobbs is the most obsessed with immigration devoting some 70 percent of his program to the issue, according to the report, which is available at www.mediamattersaction.org

/fearandloathing.

Intolerance, demagoguery, and xenophobia have no place in describing the reality of immigrant workers and their families, says the resolution. There is an estimated 12 million people living in the U.S. without documents and branded “illegal.”

The resolution points out that the U.S. has traditionally welcomed immigrants from all parts of the world – including those who came without documents — and has benefited greatly from the talents, skills, energy and ambition of these immigrants and their families.

Despite the many opinions on immigration, the resolution adds the views by Dobbs, Beck and O’Reilly among others are inappropriate, misinformed and geared to generate resentment.

The resolution reaffirms Chicago’s support for humane, practical solutions on immigration reform.

Fred Tsao with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights joined the elected officials saying, “Obviously the issue involve very strong opinions but as the debate moves forward it’s important to note that tone matters and we cannot allow facts to be twisted. It’s time to restore civility in this discussion.”

Alderman Toni Preckwinkle welcomed the resolution and joined her colleagues at the press conference.

“It’s important to note that this issue affects the African American community as well,” said Preckwinkle, who is African American. “We cannot allow the media to demonize the immigrant community who are decent hard working people and here for economic opportunity.”

The aldermen are hopeful that there will be substantial new changes in moving immigration reform forward in this election year, especially if the Democrats increase their majority in Congress and win the White House.

“Things will be different and I would like to believe that they will heed the call for immigration reform,” said Cardenas.

plozano @pww.org