The mainstream media routinely distort the position of those opposed to illegal immigration. For example, the Oct. 25, 2010, issue of High Country News called Tom Tancredo, who lost the Colorado Governor's race, "an anti-immigration rabble-rouser." Actually Tom Tancredo -- as well as the overwhelming majority of Americans -- is not "anti-immigration," but anti-illegal immigration. The late Sen. Patrick Daniel Moynihan said, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." In this era of hyper-partisanship, news organizations of all types are becoming little more than advocates for political ideologies.
In the immigration debate, language and logic tend to get mangled. I realize that Tom Tancredo and others refer to themselves as "anti-illegal immigration" as opposed to "anti-immigration." Neither term is perfect, but I believe the latter is more accurate.
As you note, most Americans oppose illegal immigration. Their differences lie in how they would fix the problem. The "open borders" lobby would legalize all immigration; moderates would make it easier to get into the country legally and to obtain citizenship; and others, like Tancredo, would deport all undocumented immigrants, and either hold steady or halt all legal immigration.
Imagine for a moment that all undocumented immigrants were given citizenship or visas, and that anyone coming here to work could do so legally. That would effectively eliminate illegal immigration. Then Tancredo, if he is, indeed, merely anti-illegal immigration, could find a new cause.
However, Tancredo wants to stop or slow all immigration to the U.S. from certain parts of the world, namely Latin America and Islamic countries, be it legal or illegal. He’s repeatedly said as much. Therefore, "anti-immigration" describes him best.
freelance journalist (and former HCN editor in chief)