Thursday, May 04, 2006

Their own facts

One of the reasons the nativists keep resorting to cockamamie nonsense like the Reconquista theory is that, well, it's about the best they've got. Their arguments regarding immigrants and immigration are so poorly grounded that they're forced to just make shit up.

A lot of times, this disinformation circulates through e-mail mass mailings of dubious authorship, the kind your Dittohead brother-in-law likes to send around to everyone on the planet. One recent version of this was the video game that let you take potshots at Mexican border crossers.

Another is the list of supposed costs to American taxpayers inflicted by illegal immigrants, reproduced in all its gullible glory by those geniuses at ChronWatch:
1. 40% of all workers in Los Angeles County (Los Angeles County has 10 million people) are working for cash and not paying taxes. This was because they are predominantly illegal immigrants, working without a green card.

2. 95% of warrants for murder in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens.

3. 75% of people on the most wanted list in Los Angeles are illegal aliens.

4. Over 2/3's of all births in Los Angeles County are to illegal
alien Mexicans on Medi-Cal whose births were paid for by taxpayers.

5. Nearly 25% of all inmates in California detention centers are Mexican nationals here illegally.

6. Over 300,000 illegal aliens in Los Angeles County are living in garages.

7. The FBI reports half of all gang members in Los Angeles are most likely illegal aliens from south of the border.

8. Nearly 60% of all occupants of HUD properties are illegal.

9. 21 radio stations in L.A. are Spanish speaking.

10. In L.A.County 5.1 million people speak English. 3.9 million speak Spanish (10.2 million people in Los Angeles County).

(All 10 of the above facts are from the Los Angeles Times)

Less than 2% of illegal aliens are picking our crops but 29% are on welfare.

Over 70% of the United States annual population growth (and over 90% of California, Florida, and New York) results from immigration.

The cost of immigration to the American taxpayer in 1997 was a NET
(after subtracting taxes immigrants pay) $70 BILLION a year, [Professor Donald Huddle, Rice University].

The lifetime fiscal impact (taxes paid minus services used) for the average adult Mexican immigrant is NEGATIVE.

29% of inmates in federal prisons are illegal aliens.

Fortunately, the folks at are good at sifting through this kind of crap:
The various figures quoted above were not taken from a 2002 Los Angeles Times article. They appear to have been gleaned from a variety of sources and vary in accuracy ...

The piece goes on to examine the claims and determines that only one -- regarding the number of Spanish-language radio stations in L.A. -- was factually accurate. Some are made up out of whole cloth; others have a grain of truth to them but are otherwise distortions.

Those that aren't just made-up shit have been debunked. A Professor Donald Huddle did write something similar to the claim in the list. On the other hand, his work has been rather publicly torn apart, as Michael Fix and Jeffrey Passel of the Urban Institute have done with aplomb; their work on immigrants and welfare reaches similar conclusions. (See this report from Migration News for an overview.) The most important finding of the Fix/Passel study:
Overall, annual taxes paid by immigrants to all levels of governments more than offset the costs of services received, generating a net annual surplus of $25 billion to $30 billion.

Of course, facts don't matter much to the nativists. What matters is spreading their message: Latinos are the problem. And we won't solve it until we send them back.

So, even though this disinformation has been debunked, it takes on a life of its own through those regurgitated e-mails from your forgotten uncle. Then it makes its way into letters to the editor. And, bit by ignorant bit, the bullshit grows deeper.

UPDATE: The L.A. Times does its own fact-checking. Key point:
As Readers' Representative Jamie Gold has pointed out, this list, which is being forwarded around the world at lightning speed, is a hoax.

We combed our archives to see whether the paper has indeed written anything like these facts, and found just one Op-ed column -- by leading anti-immigration figure Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Col.) -- that comes close to stating what the e-mail hoax claims.

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