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Melissa Harris-Perry: I Worry ‘About Our Good Versus Bad Immigrant Narrative’

MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry stated that she worries “about our good versus bad immigrant narrative” after a discussion on immigrant labor on Saturday.

Harris-Perry said, “I still worry about our good versus bad immigrant narrative that emerges, and it’s in part, actually, even if we think about DACA, activists themselves have used this as a way of getting what they can through politically palatable.”

Earlier, after discussing the amount of foreign-born players in the MLB, Harris-Perry remarked, “say the phrase ‘immigrant labor’ in the context of politics, instead of a Major League ballpark, and the conversation changes dramatically. During this week’s GOP debate, the discussion focused on H1-B visas.”

After playing clips of GOP presidential candidates Donald Trump and Florida Senator Marco Rubio talking about H-1B visas, and saying they want skilled people, Harris-Perry stated, “It comes down to a kind of foreign-born respectability politics. The ones we want, and those we don’t. And although, I got to say, maybe we don’t even know what we really want and need. Because immigrants make up nearly 50% of workers in private households, and nearly a fifth in construction, food services and agriculture. Immigrant labor is the foundation of the American economy, but listening to Wednesday’s debate, you’d think the only thing the country needs from immigrants are skills that are the tech equivalent to throwing a 95-mile-per-hour fastball.”

She added, “this isn’t just immigrant labor, these are often precisely the immigrants, black, brown, Spanish-speaking immigrants that we hear most often denigrated in our public discourse around immigration. And yet, when I was looking back at some data about high-skilled and highly educated immigrant labor. In fact, there’s a 2008 report from the Migration Policy Institute saying that if you are high-skilled and highly educated from Africa, or from Latin America, they actually have trouble finding jobs, whereas those from Asia and Europe are able to find these jobs. So, I wonder if it’s really about high skill or something else.”

Harris-Perry also stated, “I’d love to put it on the GOP, I’d love to say that this is all GOP, but it’s not, right? I mean, I just want to say that good versus bad immigrant thing, we actually even heard this from President Obama in a conversation he was having about deportation.” She then played a clip of President Obama talking about deporting criminals, security threats, felons, and gang members as opposed to families and children.

She concluded the discussion by saying, “respectably politics cannot save you.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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