You See Ten People Drowning. You Can Only Save One. What Do You Do?
This morning, a good friend sent me a video titled “Immigration, World Poverty and Gumballs.”
The e-mail that included the video had as ‘Subject,’ “A Very Interesting Perspective,” and it was a very interesting perspective, but, in my opinion, not necessarily a correct or moral one.
The video by Roy Beck — author, journalist and the Founder, President and CEO of NumbersUSA Education and Research Foundation — was uploaded to YouTube in 2010 and subsequently posted by NumbersUsa to its Facebook page a couple of years ago, calling it “the most important immigration video you’ll ever see.”
It is a very slick, expertly done video (below) that uses thousands of multi-color gumballs to illustrate the billions of people in the world living in poverty – according to Beck, “making less than $2 a day” — and one gumball to reflect the at-the-time one million people permitted to annually emigrate to the United States.
However, rather than presenting an “interesting perspective” on our immigration issues and polices, it conveys a very convoluted, disingenuous and misleading message.
The real purpose of the video becomes readily apparent at the very beginning when Beck starts with the strawman that “some people say that mass immigration in to the United States can help reduce world poverty” — something that is not all a consideration in U.S. immigration policy, explicitly, implicitly or otherwise.
Beck proceeds to suggest that the one million people the U.S. takes in annually to ostensibly reduce world poverty is not making a dent in it because, “Of course, we don’t pull our immigrants from these desperately poor populations, do we?” He continues, “These people are too poor, too sick, too disconnected, to make it here as immigrants.”
After insincerely trying to tug at our heart strings, Beck focuses on Mexico:
“We tend to pull our immigrants out of the better-off poor of the world,” he says, claiming that “Mexico tends to define the type of immigrant that we bring here because the plurality of people come from Mexico and Mexico is poor.” But, Beck adds, 5.6 billion people in the world live in countries with average incomes below that of Mexico. “That’s 5,600 gum-balls,” he says.
Yet, “the elites are telling us,” he continues, “when we take this one million immigrants…we somehow or another are tackling world poverty…regardless of the effect on our unemployed, the working poor, the most vulnerable members of our society. Regardless of the effect on our natural resources.”
Beck sounds genuinely concerned, doesn’t he?
Yet, even if it was part of U.S immigration policy to try to help reduce world poverty and misery (We are already doing some of that through our asylum, refugee and other humanitarian programs), what would be so un-American about taking in some of the world’s poorest? I remember reading something about “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore” at the Statue of Liberty.
Beck’s argument that taking in one million destitute immigrants a year will not put a dent in the world’s poverty — and therefore we should not take in any — does not morally hold water.
Trite as it may sound, it is akin to observing ten people drowning but not doing anything about it because “you can only save one.”
Regardless, the bottom line is that people are not gumballs; that “mass immigration” is not used by the U.S. government to help reduce world poverty; that NumbersUSA opposes “federal immigration policies that threaten [environmental sustainability, economic justice, the rule of law, and individual liberty] by forcing massive U.S. population growth.”
Why not say so without beating around the bush with strawmen about world poverty, humanitarian compassion and Mexican immigrants.
By the way, both the friend who sent me the video and I are immigrants to this great country, and I don’t think we have ever threatened environmental sustainability, economic justice, the rule of law or individual liberty — nor have we taken anyone’s job away.
Lead image: The Statue of Liberty, pictured during the flight to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, N.Y., July 17, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)