The Big Lie?

Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell got headlines throughout the region Feb. 21 by showing he was tough on both immigration and sex offenders. Boasting that his cooperation with federal and state law enforcement authorities could be a model nationally, McDonnell said that more than 171 immigrant sex offenders had been identified and set up for deportation.

A closer reading (see my column, “The Big Lie?”) shows that most of the foreign-born people on the sex offenders list weren’t here, had been deported or were about to be deported. That’s hardly a call to arms for ever tougher enforcement.

It doesn’t matter, though, because headlines boost McDonnell, GOP gubernatorial candidate in 2009, once again unfairly tainting newcomers for craven political purposes. Research can’t decide if immigrants are a bigger sex crime threat than native born Americans. But if right-wing politicians like McDonnell keep repeating a Big Lie, people will believe it.

(Posted on behalf of Peter Galuszka.)

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  1. Anonymous Avatar

    According to your column, 36 people were deported. McDonnell and the State Police should be commended for taking these dangerous criminals off the streets.

    I say KUDOS to Bob McDonnell and the rest of the team that put together this team.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    Are you serious? You are actually criticizing Bob McDonnell for sending sex offenders back to their countries of origin?

    I can’t believe Jim lets you post on this blog.He is articulate, reasonable and shows common-sense. You could learn from him.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Are people really that political that they would honestly say getting rid of illegal sex offenders is a bad thing if it gets Bob McDonnell good press?

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    Wow. Anonymous 11:58, 12:40 and 1:29 has really got knickers that are all in a knot over Bob McDonnell get hoisted. Makes me more sure than ever that Bacon is right.

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    Anonymous 11:58, 12:40 and 1:29 really need to go back and read my column or see their eye doctors.

    No where in my column did I say that enforcing the law is wrong. Hardly, I’m all for convicting true criminals as anyone else.

    My column criticized the attorney general’s grandstanding and his implication that ALL immigrants should be suspect presumably because they are MORE inclined to commit sex crimes than native born Americans. I say this thesis is simply wrong and I resent the state’s highest law enfocrment officer smearing thousands of perfectly decent, law-abiding immigrants for his gubernatorial campaign.

    Next time, before you comment, please take time to actually read my column. It’s fine with me if you disagree with it, but don’t claim I said things I did not. Thank you.

    Peter Galuszka

  6. Anonymous Avatar

    I guess the relevant inquiry is whether any of the sex offenders being deported would not have been deported anyway absent whatever it was that the AG’s office did in this context. In all the debate on Illegal immigration, I was never under the impression that serious criminals who are illegal aliens were not being deported after serving their sentences. Some people claim that, but I’ve never seen any data on it. I would be very surprised to find that any significant number of violent criminals are NOT deported after serving their time. If my impression (admittedly not the result of deep study) is correct, then the AG is grandstanding on this one and taking credit for something that would have happened in any event. I do find it hard to follow from the press release exactly what the AG did that caused a result different from the one that would otherwise have applied. Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s the PR people not knowing how to present it.

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    Never trust anyone with a law degree from Regent University

  8. Will Vehrs Avatar

    Nice hit job, Galuszka. For a moment, I thought I was reading the New York Times.

    The Hitler “Big Lie” reference was an especially smooth touch.

    Nowhere in your article did you quote the Attorney General or his press releases to support what you describe as “his thesis.” Nowhere did you quote any newspaper articles that you allege rolled over for the AG. Isn’t it a bit of a stretch, then, to claim that “his implication [is] that ALL immigrants should be suspect presumably because they are MORE inclined to commit sex crimes than native born Americans?” Where’s the big smear of all immigrants?

    All that we are left with from your diatribe against the AG is the charge that he was “grandstanding.” If that’s the scandal, then Richmond is a fetid cesspool on both sides of the aisle. I hope you’ll be exposing more of this smarmy behavior.

    Oh, and I love Anonymous 3:51. If you can’t address the issue, just spray something on the wall.

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    Vehrs, I specifically asked the AG’s office for any supporting material that showed that immigrants were worthy of such targetted scrutiny. I never got any.

    And thanks for the compliment about the NY Times. They’re still a hell of a lot more on the ball than many Virginia newspapers, especially the Richmond Times-Dispatch which lead its front page with the McDonnell grandstanding.

    Peter Galuszka

  10. Anonymous Avatar

    Will Vehrs, what a hoot. “Can’t address the issue then…” Your blowback ain’t much different. Don’t worry, McDonnell won’t be cracking any white-collar guys soon. Not till their contribution checks clear, at least.

  11. Anonymous Avatar

    A lot of this swirls around the usual misapprehension of what the AG does in Virginia. His role is much more like a corporate counsel to the Commonwealth than a crime fighter – those duties are largely with the individual Commonwealth Attorneys.

    In this instance, the question is, as stated above, what happened because of the AG’s intervention that wouldn’t have happened anyway. It may be that while federal felons are routinely deported, the State isn’t as hooked into the federal system as it should be. Maybe someone who knows what’s going on can sort that out for us.

    NoVA Scout

  12. Anonymous Avatar

    Hey fellow Bloggers! Here’s a “Close Encounter of the Vehrsian Kind,” from the front page of this morning’s Wall STreet Journal:

    Immigrants on average are far LESS LIKELY (emphasis mine) than U.S.-born citizens to commit crime in California, a study found.”

    Peter Galuszka

  13. Anonymous Avatar

    St Paul Pioneer Press
    Her name is Olga Franco. She’s 24 and Guatemalan.
    Investigators uncover the identity of the driver in last week’s fatal school bus crash
    By John Brewer
    Pioneer Press
    Article Last Updated: 02/25/2008 11:50:10 PM CST

    Olga Marina Franco, 24, of Guatemala. The woman charged with killing four students and injuring 15 other people in the Cottonwood, Minn., school bus crash last week has been identified.

    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Monday the van driver is Olga Marina Franco, 24, of Guatemala. Franco initially identified herself as Alianiss Nunez Morales, 23, of Mexico.

    Lyon County authorities charged Franco with four felony counts of vehicular homicide and two misdemeanors in the Feb. 19 crash. Witnesses said Franco was driving a minivan that sped through a stop sign and struck the side of the Lakeview School bus carrying 28 students. The bus then rolled on top of a passing pickup truck.

    Working with the Minnesota State Patrol, ICE first interviewed Franco on Thursday — the day she was arrested — and determined she probably was in the United States illegally and was not providing her true identity.

    During the interview, Franco told ICE she was from Mexico. A fingerprint check drew no match, meaning she had no prior contact with immigration officials.

    If Franco is released from Lyon County custody for any reason, immigration officials said, she would face deportation proceedings.

    Franco’s next court appearance is scheduled for April 21. Her attorney, Manuel Guerrero, did not return a telephone call seeking comment Monday.

    ICE officials had tracked down a woman named Alianiss N. Morales to Puerto Rico last week, but an interview with the woman’s grandmother determined she was not the same woman in the Lyon County Jail. E-mails and telephone calls from the Pioneer Press to an Alianiss N. Morales in Chester, Conn., were not returned.

    ICE would not say how it determined Franco’s identity.

    The investigation into the crash continues.

    Authorities released Franco’s identity the same day Jesse and Hunter Javens, the 13- and 9-year-old brothers killed in the crash, were buried in Cottonwood.

    It was the same day Hunter would have turned 10. During the funeral in the Lakeview School gymnasium, mourners sang “Happy Birthday” to his twin sister, Sasha.

    Clutching one of her presents, the 10-year-old girl led her parents out of the service.

    The funeral for crash victim Emilee Olson, 9, was Sunday. The funeral for Reed Stevens, 12, is Thursday at the school.

    Five people remain hospitalized since the accident. At Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, two students are in good condition, one student is in fair condition, and the driver of the truck is in fair condition.

    One student was in fair condition at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.



  14. Paradox13VA Avatar

    Anonymous 9:29, one incident does not a trend or even statistic make. By the logic of your story cite, we should also lock up or deport all caucasians because there are anecdotes and stories about caucasian meth dealers in Missouri.

    Many thanks to Peter G for the coverage and contribution to this discussion.

  15. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear TMT:

    Please consider these:

    By Lauren King The Virginian-Pilot PASQUOTANK COUNTY A school bus driver faces charges in a crash Monday that occurred when the bus was …
    Four hurt in bus accident on Hatteras IslandContent Type: News

    Section: News
    Published: 09/30/2007

    By John Warren The Virginian-Pilot Four people were injured on northbound N.C. 12 on Friday night after a Jamesville High School activi …

    TMT, your point is what, exactly? Touche
    Peter Galuszka

  16. I’ve gone back and forth on this issue. When I first started reading Black Velvet Bruce Li I thought they were a bunch of Republican racists who just didn’t like Hispanic people. However, after bypassing their worst hyperbole I started to think they had a point. Too much immigration changes communities too fast. And if the people of Prince William County want to enforce the laws – why shouldn’t they be allowed to enforce the law? What right do I have to tell then not to enforce the law of the land?

    I then read Pat Buchanan’s book, Stste of Emergency. While it was a bit repetitive and whine-y it provided some pretty stark facts and figures (all cited). We may have let immigration – legal and illegal – get too far ahead over the last 20 years. It is a reasonable position to oppose continued immigration for cultural and economic reasons.

    To ensure my mind would not become too Republican, I bought and read Joe Beagant’s book Deer Hunting with Jesus where uber leftie Joe moves back to Winchester and discoveres that society has left “his people” behind.

    Mr. Buchanan seems to think that everything is the individual’s fault, nothing can be blamed on society. Mr. Beagant believes that everything is society’s fault, nothing can be blamed on an individual.

    Both men make some good points and both miss a few “easy ones”.

    However, with illegal immigration I am siding with a “kinder, gentler” verion of Buchanan’s philosophy. Immigration need to be cut back. The laws we have need to be enforced. Government needs a plan to pay for things like English as a Second Language instruction and US – born and legally arrived poor people need some tome to “catch up” before they are undercut by the next wave of legal and illegal immigration.

  17. Anonymous Avatar

    Kudos to you for examining several sides of the issue.
    The problem with “cutting back” on immigration is that it smacks of bigotry and racism. Example: back in the early 1900s, Anglo Saxon Protestants complained that too many of the “wrong kind” of immigrants were coming into the U.S., namely largely Catholic Italians and Poles and Jewish Russians, Belorussians and Rumanians. Strarting about 1920, the immigration policies were changed to restrict more new arrivals. Years later, it turns that those “wrong kind” of people are some of the wealthiest and most productive Americans.
    Today the target seems to be Hispanics even though a recent study says that Hispanic Virginians are better educated and more law-abiding than the native-born Virginians. The study does say that very recent Hispanic arrivals are not as far up the education ladder, but they will be, given time.
    So when you start a backlash by cutting immigration, a lot of ugly stereotypes come to the fore. On NPR this morning, GOP startegist Grover Norquist (not exactly my kind of guy)said that the GOP needs to take a more enlightened approach, that is, sealing borders but not starting mass deportations. As he notes, one of the reasons the Republicans took a whooping in 2006 was because their hysterical anti-immigrant campaigns aliented Hispanic voters they badly need. Think of it: Hispanics represent exactly those so-called GOP values, such as family and hard-work. Not that I want the Republicans to win, mind you.

    Peter Galuszka

  18. Anonymous Avatar


    I think the Big Lie strategy has taken hold in a number of other public policy areas as well, on the lieral and conservative side.

    We have become so adept at telling half the truth, we can’t even tell when it becomes a lie. We have lost any kind of ethical sense when it comes to attempting to show that our arguments make rational sense.

    “one of the reasons the Republicans took a whooping in 2006 was because their hysterical anti-immigrant campaigns aliented Hispanic voters they badly need”

    To get a win/win deal you need one that incorporates your enemies rather than alienates them.

    Keep up the good work.


  19. Anonymous Avatar

    Policy-wise, I think I’m a bit closer to Peter than to Groveton re overall limits on immigration. However, I believe that a nation-state has a right to control its borders and let in as many or as few immigrants as it desires. Similarly, I believe that a nation-state can adopt any rules for qualifications that it wants.

    But it makes little sense, in my mind, to worry about the national origin of an immigrant — so long as other qualifications (health, income, education, etc.) are satisfied. I think that we are a better nation because we have immigrants from many countries. I also believe that we need to encourage immigration of educated and skilled individuals from any country and not the unskilled with limited education.

    Where I part from Peter is on the issue of legal versus illegal. There is a difference between those who are here legally and those who are not. The Minnesota tragedy is different from that in North Carolina. The question I pose to Peter and to others is: If some can chose to ignore the immigration laws, why can’t others chose to ignore other laws? Where is your rule of law? What is your standard for when a law can be ignored and when it must be followed? Screaming racism is not an answer.

    There are huge costs to illegal immigration that are not being borne by those who benefit most from illegal immigration — employers and the professional caring class. We need government at all levels to go after employers of illegal aliens with zeal. Put 100 companies into bankruptcy and we will see compliance.


  20. Anonymous Avatar

    Put 100 companies into bankruptcy and we will see compliance.

    And, before you put them into bankruptcy, offer them a chance and a way to make their best employees compliant.

    If you just go after them saying “Your employees are illegal and they are going to stay illegal, then you offer no way out of the bind that (they put themselves in and ) you are suddenly turning the screws on.

    If you decide that employers of illegal aliens are your enemies, and you have 7 million illegal employees, then you’ve got a lot of enemies. You want to turn the screws on them in such a way that they wind up on your side.

  21. Anonymous Avatar

    I appreciate your comments and want to respond to the legal/illegal issue.

    If a citizen of another country sneaks in under some kind of subterfuge, that is obviously illegal and wrong. But immigration is a lot more complicated than that. It takes years of dealing with bureaucracy at times to even visit a foreign country and the U.S. is getting very bad about that. Sometimes an alien comes in legally but the rules change. I spent a good ten years of my working life dealing with issues like this all the time. In my case, I was “accredited” by a foreign ministry but I could have been arrested and thrown out at any time. Just after I arrived in Moscow in 1986 to work, Nick Daniloff of U.S. News got busted, spent a few weeks in jail and got deported. He inadvertently got caught up in a spy situation.

    There are some mirror cases here but most are just everyday average Joes or Joses. Someone who comes regularly to visit a spouse or child is suddenly banned. The Immigration Act, drawn up in the heyday of the Cold War in the early 1950s, allows a U.S. consular officer to deny visas for any reason. Often they don’t give one.

    So, once you get into the nuts and bolts in many real world cases, it all gets very sticky. What was legal in December is no longer legal in April. Etc.

    Peter Galuszka

  22. Jim Bacon Avatar

    I plucked this quote from an e-mail circulating through cyber-space. I assume that’s accurate, though I have not verified it. This purports to be a 1907 quote from Theodore Roosevelt.

    “In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any
    such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an
    American… There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for
    but one flag, the American flag. We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language… and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”

    I don’t recall that historians remember T.R. as a know-nothing nativist.

  23. Anonymous Avatar

    Peter — thank you for you comments. I’m somewhat familiar with the immigration requirements and know that they change quickly. My two kids were born overseas, and we needed to jump through the then-INS’ hoops. It was not fun or without effort. Yet, I also suspect that bringing children to the U.S. under our circumstances might have been easier than what others may face in trying to immigrate here.

    I would also agree that there may be circumstances where some immigrants have followed the rules, only to see them changed unfairly. I’d support fairness in those situations. That might well require allowing some to stay in the U.S.

    But I strongly believe that the facts demonstrate the majority of “illegal” immigrants weren’t caught up in these types of situations. Rather, they’ve come lawfully under a visa, but didn’t leave as required by law. Or they just crossed the border without any regard to the law. These people simply cannot make the fairness argument. There is no universal right for a resident of one country to move to another. If there is, name five countries that recognize it. There is no universal right to have access to cheap labor.

    We need to enforce the law, primarily against employers. Even if we were to create a guest worker law (which might be reasonable under certain conditions), we need enforcement against employers.

    The cheap labor crowd and the professional caring class operate as attractive nuisances. We need to shut down the attractive nuisances, which will, in turn, discourage much additional illegal immigration and encourage self-deportation by others. If and when we can control our borders, we should look at a fair guest worker program and one that cannot be undermined by the hiring of illegal workers.


  24. Anonymous Avatar

    Well, Bully and Harumph! Let’s charge San Juan Hill! Remember the Maine and down with Spain! Let’s get the Great White Fleet on course and show the world what muscular Protestant Americanism means! Let’s keep our jack boots on the little brown men!

    Exactly what kind of nonsense is your comment?


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