Thursday, July 31, 2008

Media Misses Distinction Between Correlation and Causation...

The New York Times reported on a new study by the Center for Immigration Studies saying that 1.3 million "illegal" immigrants have left the United States in the past year. The group attributes the drop to tough new enforcement measures.

Unfortunately, readers don't find out that the group is a "policy advocacy group that favors reduced immigration and opposes legislation to give legal status to illegal immigrants" until the 7th paragraph. CIS is in fact a far right, anti-immigrant group that opposes almost all immigration, legal or otherwise.

CIS director Mark Krikorian once said that "immigrant communities ... serve as the sea, as Mao might have put it, within which the terrorists swim as fish" and that "immigration is incompatible with modern society." According to the Progressive Research Associates, CIS was "founded in 1985 as a think tank to support the more activist work of the anti-immigrant Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)." Through their academic and non-fanatical style they, in contrast to FAIR, have successfully insinuated themselves into the think tank world.

Independent analysts and immigrant rights activists, surprise surprise,  attribute the drop in undocumented immigration to the contracting economy. Other analysts have also questioned CIS' methodology and say that the 1.3 million number is way too high. CIS measured the "likely illegal population" which it defines as less-educated, foreign-born Hispanics age 18 to 40. CIS seems so enthralled with cowboy theatrics that changing "push and pull" factors like, you know, the global economy, don't get much credit.

And The Times appears to be too concerned about potential charges of "liberal bias" to accurately report who these groups are. The Times and many newspapers have a troubled history with citing industry sources--or worse, publishing their op eds--and not revealing them as such. (If anyone can find an article on that, send it my way. I can't remember where I was reading about that...)

And of course, representatives of La Migra were quick to endorse CIS' fuzzy math: “It reinforces what we always thought, that comprehensive enforcement is a critical part of the reduction,” said Kelly A. Nantel, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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