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For a year or so, I have seen Roy Beck’s “Gum Ball Immigration” video floating around social media. It has frequently been shared and used as an example of why we should dramatically reduce immigration to America. Now, I am often reminded by many people, that the contention most individuals have is with ILLEGAL immigration and not immigration in general. Before, getting into any of the other problems with Beck’s video “evidence” I want to make sure I am clear in pointing out that Beck does not make a distinction in his condemnation of immigration policies as being only illegal immigration. Beck very clearly, and repeatedly addresses the “harm” of immigrants. Here is the video, if you haven’t seen it before.
Ok, first of all, let me be very direct, Roy Beck’s “gumball” video is at best anti-immigration propaganda. At worst, it is in support of a racist nationalist ideology. My views on immigration often draw wide criticism from some people. However, the topic is something I am passionate about. Why? Well, because as a Jew, I am well aware that “The Immigration Act of 1924” was structured to limit immigration by European Jews and Italians. It also restricted immigration by Africans and completely banned entry to Arabs and Asians. The Act was designed to preserve American racial homogeneity. The law was the American immigration standard until the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. After 1965, immigration was limited to one immigrant per 1000 American citizens. Now, imagine a neighborhood or an apartment complex with 1000 residents. Do you think that you would even notice if one new resident moved in?
That standard of entry for people to America was so insignificant that it wasn’t really immigration of others, at all.
To Beck, the immigration rule of 1965 is the golden age of American settlement policy. Basically, you allow just enough people in the country to say you aren’t anti-immigrant, but not enough to really notice. Now, the most important piece of deception Beck frequently uses in his video is the intermixing of unrelated subjects. One of the first, gasp evoking claims Beck makes is that American infrastructure would be depleted if America accepts too many immigrants. Beck gives this impression of a bleak future of American dystopia should too many foreigners be allowed in.
Beck’s claim of the United States plunging into a Mad Max world of immigrates is the epitome of demagogy. For one thing, out of 242 sovereign nations in the world, the United States ranks 176th for population density. In fact, virtually all of Europe and Asia are ahead of the U.S. regarding having a higher population density. Additionally, regarding the largest economies by GDP rate, 8 out of the top 10, all have higher population densities than the United States.
It is a reckless, ridiculous and unsubstantiated claim for Beck to suggest that allowing more immigrants into the United States would plow America into an economic or environmental catastrophe. Not to mention, that the mass transport of goods and services is affordably moved around the globe in contemporary times. The cold hard fact that many Americans such as Beck do not want to face is that the American worker already competes with workers in China or Mexico. The only difference immigration makes, to that fact, is whether someone born in China or Mexico will be spending their wages in America or their country of birth.
Beck also makes an astounding claim in his video that, “public officials have set immigration numbers without regards to the effect on the American people.” The point that is being missed with this statement is that for every immigrant working in America there is a business giving them employment. If immigration, illegal or legal is so contrary to the American economy, then why the heck do American employers keep hiring immigrants?
Immigrants are not just employees who take American jobs or resources. In fact, they are also consumers. Every single good and service that Americans require or use (i.e. food, housing, clothing, recreational goods, etc.) are necessities for immigrants. In reality, immigrants increase economic demand and push organizations to expand operations, which ends up creating more jobs in America.
Another argument that Americans make against immigration is that immigrants unfairly utilize government welfare services. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 cut back on welfare extended to immigrants. Under the 1996 Act, refugees and green card holders are “qualified” for welfare services. Conversely, undocumented workers are “not qualified” for welfare services. Now, another important fact to note is that qualified immigrants have to be in America for at least five years until they can apply for welfare benefits.
The report that is often used as evidence in support of the burden of immigration is a 2015 study by the Center for Immigration Studies. In that report, it is stated that 51% of immigrant households report using at least one welfare system. Comparably, only 30% of native households claim to use welfare. Now, the big problem with this report, which has been widely pointed out by the CATO Institute, is that it measures households as a unit of analysis.
So long as any member of a household is an immigrant, everyone in the household is lumped into being an “immigrant household.”
Imagine, a family of five, with two parents, one who is an immigrant and one who is a naturally born citizen, with three children, all who were born in the U.S. Now, if only one of the children receives subsidized lunch at school, the entire household would be considered “immigrant household on welfare.”
Regarding Americans having to pay for immigrant’s welfare services, the American Immigration Council has said that immigrants earn approximately $240 billion a year. Out of that earned income, immigrants pay $90 billion annually in taxes. Conversely, immigrants use $5 billion dollars in public benefits. Additionally, the United States Chamber of Commerce reports that immigrant tax payments are $20 to $30 billion dollars more than the number of government services used. Basically, the immigrant “moocher” opinion is not supported by facts.
Now, Beck intermixes the idea of immigrants ruining economic resources with this concept that it hurts the world’s impoverished, rather than helps them. First of all, what is seemingly lost on an overwhelming number of people who watch the video, is that Beck’s claims are inherently in conflict with each other.
He plainly says that America is taking the “best and brightest” foreign immigrants from their native lands. Now, this isn’t even remotely or logically consistent with the idea that immigrants harm the American economy. How, can the best and brightest talent in one country suddenly become a huge dredge once they come to America? Bear in mind; Beck says that if these immigrants stay in their countries, they could transform them into better lands. So what changes the moment they become Americans?
Ultimately, this is where Beck’s argument also becomes absurd. He is presenting the conflicting themes of keeping America great, with a humanitarian concern for world poverty. To simplify his gumball argument even more than it already is, consider America as a business. What Beck is saying is that America shouldn’t hire the “best employees” of another business. The basis behind the logic that we shouldn’t hire those “best employees” is because, even though America is a larger and more dominant company, those employees should just stay in their smaller and inferior business so they can make that business better? Does that make sense? Have you ever been asked in a job interview, “so why do you want to work here?” When you answered, “for a better opportunity than my current employer can provide.” Then had an interviewer say, “Oh well, I’m sorry we can’t hire you. You should just stay at your crappy job and make it better.” Does that make sense to anyone?
I also have to point out that Beck, clearly states that helping immigrants from poorer countries will not assist the world’s poverty situation, “at least not in this century.”
Ohhhhhh ok, Mr. Beck, so basically, you admit that eventually, it could help global poverty. However, it won’t be in your lifetime huh? It all makes perfect sense now.
That’s exactly what our ancestors did, July 4th, 1776, at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The Continental Congress said, “Hey everybody, we could sign this Declaration of Independence. However, it will be like 100 years before America will be a world power (almost exactly, roughly in the 1870s to 1890s). Let’s just not do it.” No. No, that’s not what our ancestors did actually.
Lastly, Beck’s entire argument is ridiculous if you consider his suggestion is that people should stay where they are to have opportunities to enrich their lives. Sigh… Roy, if people could have the opportunities to enhance their lives in their country of origin, they wouldn’t want to come to America. Remember, that whole “Land of opportunity” thing that encompassed the American Dream. You remember the American Dream, right Roy? It is the national ethos of the United States of America, which was coined by writer James Truslow Adams in 1931. Oh, and by the way, Roy, James Truslow Adams, was the son of Venezuelan immigrant to America. Just throwing that Jeopardy trivia out there for you in case you happened to be curious.
In the end, Roy Becks "gumball video" is exactly like all those colorful gumballs he uses to prove his point. Initially, it might look colorful and enticing. At first, it might also even taste sweet. However, the longer you deal with it, the blander and more arduous it becomes. Eventually, you just need to throw it out, once it reaches the point it doesn’t serve you or anyone else any good.