NumbersUSA readers will quickly recognize the errors in Richard Cowen's description of DACA recipients ("Bipartisan group of lawmakers pushes DACA immigration bill," Reuters, April 17, 2018):
For years, Republicans have been deeply divided on immigration legislation, despite polling that shows a significant majority of voters want to help young immigrants who crossed into the United States illegally through no fault of their own."DACA has never been limited to people who "crossed into the United States illegally," or to those who did so "through no fault of their own." Nor do "immigrants" qualify for DACA. See USCIS guidelines.
The language Reuters uses to describe DACA is similar to what most polls and pro-DACA activists & politicians use -- but the description is not accurate; it narrows the group in question to the most sympathetic cases. It doesn't include people like Noe, profiled by NPR yesterday ("As DACA Debate Drags On, Some DREAMers Are Moving Back To Mexico Voluntarily," by Emily Green).
Noe entered the U.S. illegally "shortly before his 16th birthday." He wasn't brought by his parents through no fault of his own. In fact, reuniting with his parents was one of the chief reasons he chose to go back home. "I realized I needed something now," Noe told NPR, "That it wasn't DACA or it wasn't money. I needed my family, in other words."
Noe doesn't fit the Reuter's description of DACA, but he does fit the USCIS guidelines, which are what really matter. Noe received DACA.
Whether or not Noe's personal decision to come illegally as a teenager makes for a stronger or weaker case for amnesty than someone who was truly put in a difficult position by their parents is in the eye of the beholder; that's up to readers to decide. Either way, the media's job is to describe DACA in a way the accurately reflects the fact that people like Noe are part of the DACA debate.
Jon Feere (2015) and Mickey Kaus (2017) have broken down the false DACA descriptions in detail and there isn't much to add to what they have written. These errors - as persistent and common as they are inaccurate - reaffirm Nate Silver's observation after the 2016 election: "...the conditions of political journalism are poor for crowd wisdom and ripe for groupthink."
JEREMY BECK is the Director of the Media Standards Program for NumbersUSA
Updated: Thu, May 3rd 2018 @ 4:40pm EDT