Thursday, June 15, 2006

Lou Dobbs and immigration

I hesitate to address Lou Dobbs, because he is a ridiculous blowhard. But when you have a scare monger with a high media profile who makes things up to frighten people, then I can’t help saying something. He just published this article about the congressional debate on immigration reform.

He states that “The Congressional Budget Office has just released its own analysis of the legislation, and it concludes that nothing in the Senate bill will end the overwhelming torrent of illegal immigration.” This is not true. That report says “CBO projects that the current undocumented population would shrink over time as emigration occurs and as some individuals become LPR [legal permanent residents]” (p. 43 of the PDF file).

He also makes the point (over and over) that a restrictionist policy is the “will of the people,” sanctimoniously quoting Thomas Jefferson. So what is the will of the people? Is there even any such thing? As I have written before (here, here, and here), polls generally show that Americans tend not to be up in arms about immigration, no matter what pundits say.

The WSJ and NBC News just released a new poll, where 50 percent of Americans prefer the Senate version of immigration reform (less fence and guest workers), while 33 percent favor the House version (more fence and deportations). Just less than half (49 percent) would be very or somewhat upset if no immigration bill is passed this year.

So what do you do when your “will of the people” argument is consistently contradicted? You conduct your own poll to suit your purposes. He asked such questions as whether you think the number of illegal immigrants should increase, decrease or stay the same. Since 67 percent thought it should decrease, he comes to the conclusion that it is the will of the people to support the House bill.

Look, this is an important issue, and many people do feel passionately about it. It deserves real debate. But if we disagree, let’s do so without being stupid.


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