Yesterday I was writing about Shannon O'Neil's argument that U.S. policy makers have a distorted view of Mexico that negatively affects policy decisions. What I didn't know was that almost as I was publishing the post, Sen. Lindsay Graham was proving the point by spouting off nonsense that he believes is true.
“We have a Canadian border.... Why are we OK up there and not OK to the south?… Why is one a problem and the other is not? Because Canada is a place where people like to stay. They like Canada. We like Canada. We love to have them visit. They want to go home because it’s a nice place,” said Graham. “The people coming across the southern border live in hell holes. They don’t like that. They want to come here. Our problem is we can’t have everybody in the world who lives in a hell hole coming to America.”
Via ImmigrationProf Blog, here is the video clip in all its ignorant glory. It really sums up the challenge with immigration reform. Mexico has a number of problems, obviously, but blanket stereotypes are hard to shake. They've been around since Latin American countries became independent (the key work on this is Lars Schoultz's Beneath the United States). Graham wasn't referring just to Mexico, but to everywhere south of the United States.
We can expect more, likely much more, of this as the immigration debate in Congress moves forward. Do not expect anything more accurate the penetrate the bubble. For many policy makers, Latin America is a savage land of bandits and siestas, where dark-skinned people live in hovels and jungles. Hellholes, in fact.