In the face of an incredible tragedy in New York City, once again our country is confronted with a question of how we define American. Are we a nation of laws, which embraces diversity and our American immigrant heritage, or one that demonizes large groups of people based on the horrendous actions of a single person?
While we do not yet know all the facts of this terrible tragedy, many are already using this moment to politicize and distract folks from caring for the community in New York, the injured victims, and grieving families of the deceased victims of this heinous act.
Define American urges all reporters to ask themselves the following questions when writing a story about the senseless attacks in New York:
- Is this story actually about immigration and immigrants, or is it a story about one man acting on his own twisted impulses?
- How are hate groups like NumbersUSA using this as a moment to forward their agenda? Is that different than how the administration is approaching the topic?
- What is the appropriate amount of time to let families grieve before politicizing an issue? Certainly many in political leadership felt it was too soon days after the Las Vegas terror attack to do so. How is this different?
- In the wake of Charlottesville, many so-called “right-to-drive” laws have been proposed to give immunity to drivers who hit protesters. Have those proposed laws or our reaction to Charlottesville in some way have contributed to the thinking of this terrorist?
- Who commits the majority of mass violent crimes in the United States? Hint: it is not immigrants. Source
- Are we going to let some very loud demagogues turn a story of one person’s violent actions into a referendum on all American immigrants?
- Are we going to let an act of terror be used to further a xenophobic agenda, dishonoring the lives of people, both immigrant and American-born, who were tragically killed?
Important facts to know at this moment:
- The President mentioned the diversity visa in his tweet this morning. That visa law was signed by President George H.W. Bush. The Gang of Eight, whom Senator Charles Schumer was a part of, proposed ending that system as a part of bipartisan immigration legislation that Congress refused to hold a vote on.
- Nearly two-thirds of Americans (64%) say an increasing number of people from different races, ethnic groups and nationalities in the U.S. makes the country a better place to live; fewer (29%) think growing diversity in the country does not make much difference, and just 5% think it makes the country a worse place to live.
- If Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov was here on a diversity lottery visa, then he was a legal immigrant and would have gone through the a rigorous screening process which already includes extensive background and security checks, fingerprinting, digital photographs and electronic applications. This is far more than can be said about Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas domestic terrorist who committed the nation’s most deadly mass shooting last month.