Thursday, July 19, 2007

"the press is on your side"

Bill O'Reilly is a tool. This we knew. Most lately he's been--out of ignorance or malice, or some combination of the two--spreading misinformation about the state of immigration law as it relates to gay couples. Again, nothing unexpected about this. He says that American citizens can't sponsor their foreign gay partners for a green card, but that it is no big deal since then those people can just get a green card through the "normal channels," by showing ties to the community, getting a good job, relying on professional skills, or some other horse puckey like that.

First of all, many foreign spouses have overstayed their visas and are here illegally. Normally, overstaying a visa or working without authorization from the government will prevent you from obtaining a green card down the line. However, there is an exception for spouses of U.S. citizens. A gay spouse who has overstayed his or her visa or worked without authorization receives no such protection. Our immigration laws reflect the collective decision that, if the spouse of a U.S. citizen slips up along the line, doesn't file the correct form when he should, or waits too long to renew his work permit, we are not going to ship that person off to Pakistan, Mali, Thailand, or from whencever he came. That would be heartless and cause much suffering to citizens who had the misfortune to fall in love with foreigners. But gay couples get no such treatment.

Secondly, Bill's understanding of immigration law falls far short of the level someone who holds forth about it on television to millions of viewers should have attained. Rachel Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality, gives the example of a gay couple from Pennsylvania she knows who have been together 17 years and are raising two children together. When the foreign partner's visa expires, he's out on his ass. No problem, says Bill, he can just show "ties to the community" and other fluffandstuff that any decent hardworking immigrant can manage if they have a mind to, and presto chango, abracadabra, viola--green card!

No, Bill, no. It doesn't work that way. You can't just show that you have been here a long time and you're a hardworking individual and that people in the community will vouch for you. If it were that easy, we wouldn't have 12 million or more people in this country who the government says shouldn't be here. Immigrants who have been here for many years and find themselves in removal proceedings can sometimes apply for "cancellation of removal" based on potential hardship to a qualifying U.S. citizen relative, but if your relationship to a U.S. citizen is not recognized by the U.S. government, then that relief is not available to you.

Bill's point is doubly disingenuous, since he and others like him are working hard to make sure it is not easy for just anyone to get legal status through "the normal channels," whatever those are.

In short, what he's saying makes no sense and I have a hard time believing he doesn't know he's misleading people. That is his stock in trade.

My favorite line of his to Tiven: "The press is on your side." Such modesty--he has the number one cable news commentary show by a good margin, but he's still not managed to reach the hallowed ranks of the press. O'Reilly the underdog, always fighting for the little guy. It warms my heart.

(Via Andrew Sullivan)

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