Jon Stewart's 5 Best Moments on Immigration

by Joseph McKeown

How it all began (Photo credit: Comedy Central)

How it all began (Photo credit: Comedy Central)

In news that makes a lot of people very sad (including us), Jon Stewart is leaving the Daily Show in August after sixteen years as host. In a revealing and in-depth interview, he cited the weary prospect of covering the upcoming US election that led him to leave the show. While the Daily Show, of course, covered a wide variety of political and cultural topics, Stewart had many great and enlightening segments on immigration. And so as Comedy Central begins the goodbye to Jon Stewart by streaming 2,000 episodes of the show online beginning tomorrow, we thought it would be an opportune time to revisit the show's best immigration moments under Stewart's leadership. We're hopeful these types of segments will continue, because, fortuitously, the new Daily Show host is an immigrant himself.

America's Immigration Crisis - Kids' Edition

Last summer, the humanitarian crisis at the US/Mexico border with the surge of unaccompanied minors dominated the news. Stewart was keen to point out that despite some reports to the contrary, many of these minors were fleeing violence and extreme poverty in Central America. In this segment, Stewart examined the complicated and byzantine rules for applying for legal residence and work permits in the US and the absurdity of expecting children to navigate these rules and advocate for themselves. "These are children!" he said. Regarding the Republican's response to classify the surge in minors crossing the border as "an invasion" he responded: "Generally an enemy invasion force is not particularly dangerous until it can reach and open its own cereal." He concluded with this helpful observation: "We have always been a nation of immigrants who hate the newer immigrants."

Immigrant Disease

With the surge in unaccompanied minors last summer, many US lawmakers made an incredible charge about these undocumented immigrants coming across the border: they had serious communicable diseases and were creating a public health crisis. In this segment, Stewart and "Resident Expert" Jon Hodgman showed how absurd this claim was. The most startling one was that undocumented immigrants were responsible for an uptick in cases of leprosy and were also carrying tuberculosis. The best part, which is not in this clip unfortunately, is that Mexicans and Central Americans are statistically better vaccinated than Americans.

American Border Story

"So let's get immigration reform done this year," President Obama said in last year's State of the Union address, which reminds us how long this current round of immigration reform talks has been going on. Remember back in 2013—yes 2013—when the Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform and everyone (including us) was all hopeful? "But of course there was one major problem," Stewart said in this clip.  "Republicans." Republicans were stalling on immigration reform, Stewart noted, because they didn't want the Democrats to get credit and bolster their support with Hispanics. Stewart's suggestion: calling the immigration reform bill "The Republican Party Presents the 'Only We Love Hispanics' Act of Ano Dos Mil Catorce." To the Republicans, Stewart said: "Yes, immigration reform might alienate some of your base, but...Republicans could win some Hispanic support but apparently you'd rather they continue to cater to a group of voters who while loyal will also be dead before you can say the word 'Chipotle.'"

Guardian of the Amnesty

It's not only Republicans who get Stewart's criticism (though in terms of immigration issues, it's mostly them). In this clip, Stewart remembered the Valentine's Day when President Obama was asked what he would do about changing America's immigration laws to ensure that more people are not deported. His response: "I'm not the emperor of the United States." Stewart went on to examine President Obama's actions from failure to act to broad executive actions in light of the comment.

Interview with Jorge Ramos

Jorge Ramos is a highly influential journalist, author, anchor of the Univision news television program Noticiero Univision, the Univision Sunday-morning political news program, Al Punto, and the Fusion TV English-language program America with Jorge Ramos, and he was recently named as one of Time's 100 Most Influential People. "I'm an immigrant so I just need to get a lot of jobs," he told Stewart in this segment. Ramos is also a naturalized American citizen and in this interview spoke to Stewart about the Latinos in America he most admires. The interview displays Stewart's great interview skills and highlights the diversity of guests he's had on the show.

So farewell, Mr. Stewart. We hope the South African gentleman taking over your chair will continue to bring excellent commentary and humor. And there's also John Oliver, who during his guest hosting of the Daily Show had some great moments about immigration (such as the one about WWE and immigration) and who has also tackled immigration topics with wit and intelligence on his HBO show.