Jeremy Beck's picture


  by  Jeremy Beck

Mickey Kaus isn't a fan of Politico's coverage of immigration polls. When Politico ran the story "Poll: Immigration didn't doom Cantor,"the Dave Brat booster "stay-paranoid-my-friends" amnesty watch dog had this twitter exchange with Politico's Seung Min Kim:

Mickey Kaus @kausmickey Jun 11
Can always count on @Politico to carry water for amnesty lobby by playing up their latest BS poll

Seung Min Kim ‏@seungminkim Jun 11
@kausmickey you're one of my favorite readers Mickey :)

Mickey Kaus ‏@kausmickey Jun 12
.@seungminkim Why don't you just stop doing that? You know it's BS. At least get reaction from someone who can point out why it's BS.

Here is Politico's summary of the "BS poll":

"About 72 percent of registered voters in Cantor's district polled on Tuesday said they either 'strongly' or 'somewhat' support immigration reform that would secure the borders, block employers from hiring those here illegally, and allow undocumented residents without criminal backgrounds to gain legal status - three key tenets of an overhaul, according to a poll by the left-leaning firm Public Policy Polling and commissioned by the liberal advocacy group Americans United for Change."

Here is the actual poll question:

"There is bipartisan immigration reform legislation being debated in Washington. The bill would secure our borders, block employers from hiring undocumented immigrants, and make sure that undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. with no criminal record register for legal status. If a long list of requirements is met over more than a decade, it provides eligibility for a path to citizenship. Would you support or oppose this proposal?"

Most readers of this blog will instantly recognize what Kaus was complaining about. Both the poll and Politico's interpretation imply that the legislation requires enforcement before legalization when in fact the truth (as Senators Schumer and Rubio will tell you) is exactly the opposite.

Why is this significant? Because no poll has found public support for granting legal status and work permits to unauthorized aliens before prevention measures are in place to give credibility to the numerical limits Congress has put on immigration.

Kaus is correct. It would not be difficult for reporters to find someone to point these things out. But instead of doing so, Politico doubled down on the B.S. in a story the next day:

"A group of Republican pollsters, in a stroke of ironic timing, released a set of surveys Wednesday that showed majorities of registered voters throughout the country support immigration reform -- including Republicans, and even tea party supporters. But the key, they told reporters, is that candidates have to explain what immigration reform actually is, step by step: stronger border security, employer checks to verify the legal status of their workers and then a path to legal status for immigrants who pass background checks, pay fines, learn English and wait at least 13 years.

"'They have to commit time and resources to talking about it and describing what they mean,' said pollster B.J. Martino of the Tarrance Group. That way, 'there's less gray area for opponents to describe it inaccurate.'"

The audacity of the pollsters is as notable as the obsequiousness of the reporting. They are not explaining "what immigration reform actually is." They are fabricating a bill that is fundamentally different than the legislation before Congress.

They claim the first step is "stronger border security". Here's Schumer again: "First, people will be legalized. In other words, not citizens, but they will be allowed to work, come out of the shadows, travel. Then we will make sure the border is secure." Two weeks later, Schumer told Univision's Jorge Ramos: "you have to have more people on the border, more drones on the border, and more enforcement on the border. But the 90 percent [effectiveness rate] which was listed in one of the papers is a goal. It's not the trigger."

As Frank Sharry of America's Voice put it: "The triggers are based on developing plans and spending money, not on reaching that [border security] effectiveness, which is really quite clever."

The second step according to the Politico story is to institute "employer checks to verify the legal status of their workers." The Senate bill called for E-Verify to be in place within 5 years (although not all employers would have to be using it) and was not a condition of illegal workers receiving work permits or legal status. In fact, Schumer was upset to learn that his counterparts in the House had agreed to an E-Verify trigger in their comprehensive bill. The Senate bill promised employers who had aided fraud by accepting false Social Security Numbers, or who had paid unfair wages, that they would not face prosecution or penalty.

The final step according to the Politico story is "a path to legal status for immigrants who pass background checks, pay fines, learn English and wait at least 13 years." Whoa! A path to legal status after a 13-year wait?

Schumer says the bill grants legal status and work permits "first". Politico says the bill grants legal status after a 13-year wait. Even the B.S. poll doesn't make that claim.

This was probably an honest mistake on Politico's part. If they stopped to think about it, they would change the wording to "path to citizenship."*

But Politico's error is exactly what the pollsters want people to think. The poll is worded to give the false impression (without making the claim) that the Senate bill requires enforcement before legalization. Politico just took the B.S. to the next level.**

*Even this statement would be inaccurate. The Senate bill provides for 5-year and 10-year paths to citizenship in addition to a 13-year path. According to one reader who raised this with Politico editors in the past, they never acknowledged that there was anything less than a 13-year path to citizenship in the bill.

**This could have happened to almost any mainstream media outlet. Nearly a year after the Senate passed S. 744 there has been almost no acknowledgment from the mainstream media that the bill grants legal status and work permits before any prevention measures are put in place to ensure future limits are observed. Low-information voters are the targets of these polls, but the media that keeps them that way are susceptible to manipulation as well.

JEREMY BECK is the Director of the Media Standards Project for NumbersUSA

Updated: Thu, Jun 26th 2014 @ 5:15pm EDT

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