Monday’s New York Times contribution to the amnesty cause was a story purporting to show that a “consistent and solid majority of Americans” favor amnesty with a path to citizenship. As usual, both the story and the polling it’s based on are skewed. There’s no doubt that a significant number of people would favor amnesty as a means of clearing the decks, but only if the illegal immigrants applying for amnesty are held to high standards and only if people are confident the government won’t allow the settlement of another 12 million illegals in the future.
The report (from the Public Religion Research Institute) and the Times’ coverage fall short on both these central issues. Julia Preston, the NYT reporter, wrote that the Schumer-Rubio bill passed by the Senate in June “includes the hurdles mentioned in the poll: paying back taxes and passing English tests . . .” Actually, it doesn’t, and she should know that. Schumer-Rubio requires only that a legalized alien, in order to upgrade to a green card and the eventual path to citizenship, show that he “is satisfactorily pursuing a course of study . . . to achieve an understanding of English.” No demonstration of proficiency is required. What’s more, to apply for the initial amnesty, an illegal immigrant must show that he “has satisfied any applicable Federal tax liability” — defined as those taxes already assessed by the IRS, which is relevant only to the handful (if that) of illegal immigrants who have been audited. The collection of actual back taxes on past earnings was, according to Politico, “quickly dismissed during consultations with the IRS, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the drafting of the legislation.”
These are not quibbles. The lies about “back taxes” and “learning English” are integral to goosing the percentage in favor of amnesty. Another means of achieving that end is to present false choices. Here are the options presented by the Research Institute in its 2013 Religion, Values, and Immigration Reform Survey (funded by — surprise! — the Ford Foundation, co-authored by liberal columnist E. J. Dionne, and advised by amnesty activist Donald Kerwin):
The best way to solve the country’s illegal immigration problem is to secure our borders and arrest and deport all those who are here illegally.
The best way to solve the country’s illegal immigration problem is to both secure our borders and provide an earned path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the U.S.
So, the usual phony choice between deport everybody or “secure our borders” and then let illegals “earn” their citizenship. Respondents were elsewhere asked about attrition through enforcement, but only on its own, not as an alternative to either mass deportation or mass amnesty. The only three-way choice they were offered was amnesty with citizenship, amnesty without citizenship, or deporting all illegals. Respondents were also not asked whether they had any confidence that the government would actually “secure the border” to prevent a return of conditions requiring yet another amnesty. We asked just that earlier this year, and “not very” and “not at all” confident totaled 70 percent, compared with only 27 percent expressing confidence that future laws would be enforced. With the ongoing Obamacare debacle, that percentage is probably even lower now.
Not even mentioned in liberally funded polling: Central to “comprehensive immigration reform” is hugely increased future immigration, with the Schumer-Rubio bill doubling both regular admissions (from ≈1 million a year to 2 million) and guestworkers (from ≈700K a year to close to 1.4 million). The bill would be unacceptable to its supporters without these increases, so any polling that avoids mention of them is simply dishonest. And when you do ask people, it turns out they want less immigration and fewer guestworkers.
To revise the old saw, there’s lies, damn lies, and immigration polling reported by the New York Times.