Adam Ruins Immigration

Sep 25 2016

Adam breaks through the wall of election year rhetoric to illustrate how a border wall wouldn’t keep out illegal immigrants who overstay their visas, how racist mass deportations have historically led to disaster and why immigration courts are a huge mess. These are his sources.


“It would have to stretch over 2,000 miles of terrain.”

U.S. Department of Homeland Security. U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Border in Miles. Washington, 2016. Web. 

And all of that destruction would be monstrously expensive. It would cost a whopping $12 to $25 billion just to build

Drew, Kate. “This is what Trump’s border wall could cost US.” CNBC. NBCUniversal Comcast, 9 Oct. 2015. Web.

It’d easily be one of the most expensive single pieces of infrastructure in American history. It would cost as much as 20 Hoover Dams or the entirety of NASA’s annual budget.

Granath, Bob. “‘Reach for New Heights’ -- NASA Budget Unveiled for Fiscal Year 2016.” National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Feb. 2, 2015. Web.

Because it’s estimated that between 27 and 40 percent of all undocumented immigrants came here on planes.

Greenberg, Joe. “Ramos: 40% of undocumented immigrants come by air.” Politifact. Tampa Bay Times, 8 Sep. 2015. Web. 

The left arm of a cactus represents a bar graph: “1990 - 3.5 million.” The right arm shoots up to over twice its size: “2007 - 12.2 million undocumented immigrants.

Wasem, Ruth Ellen. Congressional Research Service. Unauthorized aliens residing in the United States: Estimates since 1986. Washington, 2012. Web. 

Mexico’s economy is doing quite well and population growth has slowed way down, so there isn’t much pressure to immigrate. Illegal border crossings are actually at an all-time low.”

Massey, Douglas. “Donald Trump’s Mexican Border Wall Is a Moronic Idea.” Foreign Policy. The FP Group, 18 Aug. 2015. Web. 

The fact is, they’re already here. Nearly one out of every 30 people in America is an unauthorized immigrant.”

“Unauthorized Immigrant Population Trends for States, Birth Countries and Regions.” Pew Research Center, 11 Dec. 2014. Web. 

America’s deportation history is a disturbing cycle. Our story starts in 1846, when President James Polk provoked war with Mexico as an excuse to seize their land.”

“A Continent Divided: The U.S. - Mexico War.” University of Texas Arlington Library Special Collections, 2016. Web. 

Oooh, are you talking about how America straight-up attacked Mexico, taking half a million square miles of land just because they could?”

Griswold del Castillo, Richard. “War’s End: Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo.” Public Broadcasting Service, 14 Mar. 2006. Web.

But in the year 1930, President Herbert Hoover blamed those same Mexicans for the Great Depression.”

McGreevy, Patrick and Shelby Grad. “California law seeks history of Mexican deportations in textbooks.” Los Angeles Times. tronc Inc., 1 Oct. 2015. Web. 

CHYRON: “I urge the strengthening of our deportation laws so as to more fully rid ourselves of criminal aliens.” - President Hoover, 1930.”

McGreevy, Patrick and Shelby Grad. “California law seeks history of Mexican deportations in textbooks.” Los Angeles Times. tronc Inc., 1 Oct. 2015. Web. 

During the 30’s and 40’s, local and state officials deported up to 2 million Mexicans.”

Florido, Adrian. “Mass Deportation May Sound Unlikely, But It’s Happened Before.” Code Switch. National Public Radio, 8 Sep. 2015. Web. 

Actually, more than half of them were American citizens!”

Gross, Terry. “America’s Forgotten History Of Mexican-American ‘Repatriation’“. Fresh Air. National Public Radio, 10 Sep. 2015. Web. 

Soon after the deportations, World War II began! The United States changed their mind, and decided they do need Mexicans after all! Congress enacted the Bracero Program and welcomed Mexicans to the U.S. to fill jobs left behind by soldiers. “

“The Bracero Program: Bracero History Archive.” UCLA Labor Center. University of California, 2014. Web. 

UGH! Changed my mind. We hate Mexicans again! Let’s get em all outta here and implement: Operation Wetback. “

Linthicum, Kate. “The dark, complex history of Trump’s model for his mass deportation plan.” Los Angeles Times. tronc Inc., 13 Nov. 2015. Web. 

500 NABBED BY L.A. WETBACK RAIDERS: 5 Stray Rifle Shots Peril Woman.”

Dredge, Bill. “500 Nabbed by L.A. Wetback Raiders: 5 Stray Rifle Shots Peril Woman.” Los Angeles Times. tronc Inc., 18 Jun. 1954. Web. 

People were crowded onto boats described as ‘18th-century slave ships.’”

Peralta, Eyder. “It Came Up In The Debate: Here Are 3 Things To Know About ‘Operation Wetback’”. The Two-Way. National Public Radio, 11 Nov. 2015. Web. 

And those who went by sea were lucky. 88 braceros died after being left in the desert.”

Heer, Jeet. “Operation Wetback Revisited.” The New Republic. Hamilton Fish V, 25 Apr. 2016. Web.

Oof, this place is in rough shape. There are only 57 immigration courts in the entire U.S.”*

*NOTE: There are now 58.

U.S. Department of Justice. Executive Office for Immigration Review. Office of the Chief Immigration Judge. Washington: 2016. Web.

Think about that! We have almost 30 times more RadioShacks than we have immigration courts!”

Brustein, Joshua. After RadioShack Dies, There Will Still Be 1,000 Unchanged RadioShacks. Bloomberg Businessweek. Bloomberg L.P., 6 Feb. 2015. Web. 

And there are way more people with immigration problems than people who need blackberry holsters. Immigration courts currently have an insane backlog of 489,000 cases.”

“Immigration Court Backlog Tool.” TRAC: Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. Syracuse University, 2016. Web.

This system is so underfunded, there are only 250 judges in the entire country! Each judge handles 1,500 cases a year! That’s over three times as many as regular judges.”

Saslow, Eli. “In a crowded immigration court, seven minutes to decide a family’s future.” Washington Post. Nash Holdings LLC, 2 Feb. 2014. Web. 

Nope! Unlike regular - or, let’s be frank, real courts - immigration courts don’t provide lawyers. Not even to unaccompanied minors.”

Nzelibe, Uzoamaka Emeka. “Why are these children representing themselves in court?” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 14 Jan. 2016. Web. 

Yes. In fact, in 2009, I got to know a man named Mark Lyttle. He was a U.S. citizen with mental disabilities who was deported in what’s called a ‘mass removal.’”

Finnegan, William. “The Deportation Machine.” New Yorker. Conde Nast, 29 Apr. 2013. Web. 

CHRYON: “$11.64 billion in state/local taxes per year.”

“Undocumented Immigrants’ State & Local Tax Contributions.” Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, 24 Feb. 2016. Web. 

CHYRON: “300 Billion (10%) of Social Security Trust Fund.”

Davidson, Adam. “Do Illegal Immigrants Actually Hurt the U.S. Economy?” New York Times. The New York Times Company, 12 Feb. 2013. Web.


For More on this Topic

This episode of WNYC’s On the Media included a lengthy interview with our expert Douglas Massey, about the many misconceptions surrounding our national immigration debate.

Mae Ngai’s Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America discusses the history of undocumented people in the United States, and the political discourse surrounding them.

Eli Saslow’s moving Washington Post feature illustrates the human toll of deportation, and how families experience the court process.