Cokie Roberts: Japanese Internment Was an Immigration Issue?

Why is it that lefties always get history wrong? The Jewish World Review recently published an editorial by NPR commentator Cokie Roberts and her hubby meant to urge the country toward “comprehensive” immigration reform by praising America’s history of immigrant labor. But even as much of what the two Roberts say is dead on, there are still a few glaring errors one of which is their claim that Japanese internment during WWII was an immigration issue.

Cokie, whose full name is a mouthful — Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs — garbled history at the tail of her piece by saying that the internment of Japanese during WWII was little but “anti-immigrant sentiment.”

American history has been scarred by outbursts of anti-immigrant sentiment… In the 1940s, we interned Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast.

But this is an absurd statement to make. Japanese Americans were not interned into holding camps during WWII merely because they were immigrants, it was because their distant fellow Japanese relatives were at war with us. In fact, Franklin Roosevelt also interned Germans and Italians in similar camps, though in lesser numbers, because he was worried that they might be enemies within. This was no “anti-immigrant sentiment,” it was war. Right or wrong, it was war.

Of course, the Robertses piece was also a bit misleading in another way. The pair tout immigration as the “answer” to economic decline and urge immigration reform this year but they conflate two important immigration issues as one and the same when they aren’t.

The editorial focuses on the need for highly educated immigrant workers all of whom need a better, more responsive H-1B visa program. Here I agree wholeheartedly with the piece. We do need to reform our H-1B visa program so it better fits the needs of American businesses. But the problem is that Roberts then lumps this issue in with the whole of the Democrat’s immigrant agenda.

Farsighted legislators such as Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham have recently proposed awarding green cards to immigrants who receive advanced degrees here in science, engineering or technology. President Obama has endorsed the idea, and Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, has promised to take up immigration reform this year.

Notice how Roberts mentions the visa issue, then lumps it right in with Harry Reid’s promise to “take up immigration reform this year” as if it is one and the same? This misleads because the two, the visa issue and the Democrat’s “reform” agenda, are not necessarily one and the same.

Yes, let’s address the H-1B visa problem, but, no, we do not need to accept the Democrat’s whole amnesty agenda because that agenda does not in any way help U.S. business find those highly educated foreign immigrants. In fact, the amnesty ideas of Democrats would simply admit millions of uneducated and undesirable immigrants to enter and stay in this country to the detriment of everyone.

The two Roberts should have taken greater pains to distance their subject (that of the need for highly educated immigrants) from the Democrat’s full “comprehensive reform” agenda which does little to solve the problem that the Robertses wanted to address.

It is a singular failure that reveals their own bias in favor of Democrats and their legislative agenda and serves to damage their own supposed desire to improve the H-1B visa situation.

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