USA Today Editorial: When the Immigration Debate Loses All Sense of Proportion

First a disclaimer: The USA Today editorial board does not agree with FAIR on immigration policies, and that’s okay. Nowadays, people are far too quick to demonize those who hold opinions that are different from their own. FAIR respects the right of people or editorial boards to be wrong.

Second, USA Today’s editorial board frequently invites FAIR to provide an opposing viewpoint when they run editorials on immigration matters, as they did in the January 24 edition of the paper. We appreciate that.

The point-counterpoint in the January 24 edition centered on an individual illegal alien whose story was recounted in a lengthy New Yorker article. A woman, identified only as Laura S., had come to the United States to get away from an abusive ex-husband. She was eventually deported back to Mexico. Tragically – and no one discounts the fact that it was a tragedy – Laura S. was killed by her ex.

FAIR contends that it was a consequence of Mexico’s callous neglect of its own citizens and its corrupt and failed justice system, and that the United States cannot reasonably be expected to provide protection to everyone in a dysfunctional personal relationship who lives in a country with a failed justice system.

USA Today argues that Laura’s death was a consequence of our decision to deport her – a weak argument, in our opinion, but not inherently objectionable. But then, their editorial veered from mere flawed logic to hyperbole. “Some argue that country-of-origin authorities — and not the United States — bear responsibility for these lost lives. Tell that to the hundreds of thousands of Jewish asylum seekers, turned away by America during the 1930s and 1940s, who perished in Nazi concentration camps,” states the editorial.

Comparisons to the Holocaust are bandied about all too casually and this is no exception. European Jews who were seeking asylum in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s were victims of religiously-motivated political persecution at the hands of an evil regime in Germany. By the 1940s, the political persecution had morphed into the largest genocide the world has ever witnessed. There is no valid analogy between a genocidal regime and an abusive spouse who could have been dealt with if the Mexican justice system had actually given a damn.

While it is impossible to entirely exclude emotions from political debates, it is all too easy to exclude ration. Whatever the issue, we would all do well to distinguish between opinions with which we disagree and those that are legitimately reprehensible. Likewise, no matter how passionately we feel about a particular issue, we would be wise to avoid mindless hyperbole in making our case.

About Author


Ira joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant to Gov. Richard Lamm (Colorado), and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more. He is an experienced TV and radio commentator.


  1. avatar

    One thing that is being ignored is the fact that these people return to the same neighborhoods and towns which they claim to be unsafe. Because that apparently is one of the questions that judges ask when considering asylum, whether they moved elsewhere in their home country to escape danger. If one were to live in one of the violence ridden parts of Chicago, one should move. It may be difficult but why would you stay in that environment.

    Mexico complains that it’s drug addicts in the US who are fueling the grip that the drug cartels hold on that country, and all the chaos that ensues from that. Ok, fine. But you would think that they would WANT a wall or double layer fence to control the movement of drugs across the border. It would benefit both countries. The answer seems obvious. The cartels don’t want a barrier and the Mexican government fights against having one. Make a choice and decide which side you are on. And that would also include the American politicians who oppose a barrier.

  2. avatar

    One must compare oranges to oranges, not huge boulders (Holocaust) to peanuts (tragic loss of a single life due to Mexican disregard for justice). Another HUGE difference here is that Mexicans live in a free democratic society, having the ability to vote out/replace any undesirable elements of the government as is done in Canada. The Jews back then had NO SUCH option! If the Mexicans don’t care to roll up their sleeves, get busy and reform their country to mirror our way of life, WHY the heck should I care?

  3. avatar

    USA Today forgets who’s policies led to the refusal of the Jewish people attempting to escape the Holocaust. It was a very progressive democratic administration that made that decision. One led by a hero to the progressive left, FDR.

    I agree, Linda S’s murder is a tragedy, but not one born by the taxpayers of the United States. Fault of her death lies with the corrupt government and judicial system of that place south of our southern border. If not for the governmental corruption and rampant crime that create the economic turmoil causing the abject poverty there, Mexican citizens wouldn’t be streaming across the border.

    • avatar

      The sad thing is that here in California there is a huge percentage that are criminals in both countries and we don’t need more gang members and out and out criminals here. We have enough of our own to deal with.