This Washington Times article contains a recent clip from “The View,” – featuring Republican strategist Ana Navarro – arguing that “illegal immigration slows the spread of the coronavirus,” and that if it wasn’t for both legal and illegal aliens working in agriculture, the nation would be starving. The crux of her argument is a vilification of President Trump’s recent Executive Order (EO) on immigration (which, in fact, does very little to curtail immigration).
First, watch the video.
Next, I’m going to offer some commentary about the strength of Navarro’s arguments based on her use of facts, personal expertise and citing credible third party experts familiar with either agriculture or immigration. Finally, I’ll grade Navarro’s effectiveness on using logic to move public opinion in her direction, and then will ask readers to offer comments and a grade as well.
- Navarro calls this EO nothing more than “a political point,” noting that Trump has repeatedly used immigration as an “attack” issue since 2016 and he hasn’t stopped doing that since. This EO was first sold to the public by the president in a Tweet as a way of helping American workers and ensuring the nation isn’t importing more of the coronavirus (like we did from China and Europe) while we’re in the middle of this pandemic. Simply attempting to regulate the flow of immigrants and foreign workers into the country at a time of an unprecedented unemployment and health crisis is not attacking immigrants, any more than plugging a hole in a leaking dam is anti-water.
- Navarro correctly cites the fact that there are many hardworking and successful immigrants in the U.S. who are not only achieving their American dream but also making the U.S. a better place to live. That has nothing to do with this EO, which only pauses admissions of a relatively small number of people who are currently outside of the U.S. and awaiting their green cards.
- Navarro implies that all of the fruit on our tables, the milk in our refrigerators, is there “probably because there are immigrants, undocumented immigrants in the fields of America.” Again, this EO has zero impact on legal or illegal aliens who are already here. But to imply that they are responsible for feeding the nation is an enormous stretch of the truth. According to Pew Research – which is certainly not a right wing research firm, immigrants, legal and illegal combined, don’t make up a majority of workers in any U.S. industry. In agriculture, 66 percent of the workforce is American.
- The only person who is demagoguing this issue is Navarro herself. Capitulating to pressure from business lobbyists, the EO completely exempts all foreign guest worker programs, including those used by farmers, who continue to rely on this modern form of indentured servitude to harvest some of the nation’s crops. Without these massive guest worker programs – that clearly take jobs from Americans and, unless a testing regimen is in place, could import more coronavirus into the U.S. – much of American agriculture harvesting would have mechanized by now, much like most of the agriculture in Europe.
- Finally, Navarro completely fails to establish herself as a credible advocate. Yes, I know she’s an immigrant, but that certainly doesn’t give her any instant street cred on the immigration issue as it applies to agriculture. My mother spent several early years of her life in an orphanage, but has never claimed to be an expert on adoption or running a children’s home. Navarro cites no data, no experts, nothing.
- As for my personal credibility on this issue and my critique of Navarro: I’m an agriculture economist who has worked on farms both in the U.S. and abroad and has spent 30 years in the immigration debate studying this issue.
Grade: Remember, you’re not grading Navarro on whether or not you agree with her, but rather how well she does of swaying the public to agree with her on this issue. On that front, I give her a C -.