The Atlantic occasionally employs a unique and ingenious way to engage their readers’ perception of hot-button issues in a manner framed around their agenda: The “A and Q,” which flips the standard Q and A format to pose more detailed questions than answers. The concept provides a sentence or two about a commonly proposed solution to a polarizing problem before asking seemingly valid questions that change the reader’s perception. This allows the magazine to editorialize on an issue while providing minimal information on opposing arguments, cloaking it in objectivity.
On March 8, their A and Q addressed immigration. Two particular rhetorical questions in the article can be addressed substantively and effectively, which the author declines to do. The first addresses border security and the second misleads readers about the history of immigration in America.
Concerning border security, the magazine poses a brief solution before tearing it down in a more detailed manner, dismissing concerns over a porous border:
Atlantic’s answer: “If one thing is certain, it’s that [illegal immigration] has been an ongoing problem. The government needs to secure the border and build a wall.”
Atlantic’s question: Where does the money to pay for the wall come from, and how would it get built? To completely block off the U.S.-Mexico border, the wall would have to extend roughly 2,000 miles, from California to Texas’s Gulf Coast. In 2006, President George W. Bush signed the Secure Fence Act into law, authorizing the construction of a 700-mile wall of double-layer fencing on the U.S.-Mexico border. Covering a mile of the border averages between $2.8 million and $3.9 million, according to the Government Accountability Office. And the Department of Homeland Security has already paid millions to maintain existing fences.
The goal behind this question is to plant the idea that securing our southern border is fiscally ludicrous, a position shared by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. However, the math shows otherwise. FAIR estimates illegal immigration costs the United States $113 billion dollars annually. If securing the border costs $15-$25 billion as is commonly proposed, with an additional $700 million each year for maintenance, the fence need only result in a 5 percent drop of the overall annual cost of illegal immigration to pay for itself within six years. Securing the border is certainly possible and indeed, it represents an opportunity to lighten the load for American taxpayers.
The second question presents a false pretense that compares immigration levels today to those of the past:
Atlantic Question: “U.S. history is rooted in immigration, so how would the country morally justify blocking immigrants?”
This question suggests that immigration levels and policy today are historically consistent. But in fact, the waves of chain immigration today are incomparable to any previous trend. The highest amount of immigration the U.S ever experienced prior to the modern era occurred during the period from 1901-1910, when an average of 880,000 immigrants entered the states every year. This amounts to roughly half of the estimated 1.75 million immigrants, legal and illegal, who currently enter the United States on an annual basis. Furthermore, the immigration policies that allow for such out-of-control immigration levels are not part of the country’s “roots,” rather they were instituted in 1965, overturning prior strategies of caution and moderation. Since 1965, the yearly average of immigrant admissions has steadily risen to unprecedented numbers.
It is very important that immigration is covered by the media. However, it is imperative that they do so without a manipulative agenda. Americans crave honest and balanced journalism, and the mainstream media has again failed to deliver.