Email #108: Subject: “lax immigration enforcement”?

I am disturbed by your use of a fourteen-year-old’s rape to promote false information about the Obama administration. According to your March 22 press release, you wrote to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly about “two suspects who allegedly raped a young girl at Rockville High School in Rockville, Maryland.” You stated that one of the suspect’s “entrance into the United States coincides with the surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America that flooded the Southwest border during the Obama Administration seeking to benefit from lax immigration enforcement.”

But there was no such “surge.” The Southwest border was not “flooded.” Immigration enforcement was not “lax.” According to “data show that the Obama administration has met its enforcement mandate to prioritize the deportation of immigrants with criminal convictions, which has resulted in a substantial increase of such deportations.”

As chair of the House Judiciary committee, immigration policy is one of your top responsibilities. I hope that you, like the President, are not using Fox News for your intelligence. Since you have included links to Fox News in your e-newsletters, perhaps you were influenced by several Fox News segments that used a false report issued by the Center for Immigration Studies last March.

According to the American Immigration Council: “A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) makes a range of false claims about deportation data.” The Southern Poverty Law Center concludes: “every one these claims, each of them at the heart of a different recent report from CIS, are either false or virtually without any supporting evidence.” The same is true of your letter to Secretary Kelly.

Although the Obama Administration’s enforcement was not “lax”, you repeat the phrase in your next sentence: “Once again, we have an example of how the Obama Administration’s lax immigration enforcement policies resulted in a life being seriously harmed – in this case, the life of an innocent 14 year-old-girl who was simply attending school.”

You then repeat the phrase “Obama Administration” to almost comic effect: “There is no doubt that such heinous crimes by illegal immigrants who were encountered by the Obama Administration, not removed by the Obama Administration, and instead actually set free in American communities by the Obama Administration, will continue to occur until sufficient enforcement has occurred.”

Your statements of course are not comic. They exploit the rape of a fourteen-year-old to propagate misinformation convenient to your political agenda. Your use of dehumanizing language–human beings are not a surging flood–and your implied linking of all undocumented immigrants to violent criminals betrays your intent. You are not concerned for the victim, but for how her suffering can benefit you.

The crime was heinous. Your use of it sinks below the dignity of your office.

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

One thought on “Email #108: Subject: “lax immigration enforcement”?”

  1. This isn’t about immigration. It is about rape. These guys would have done that anywhere. Would Goodlatte have cared if a girl in another country was raped?


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