Right-Wing Media Find Another Flawed Immigration Study To Highlight

Photo credit: Larry Downing/ReutersRight-wing media outlets are hyping a new study by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) -- a Southern Poverty Law Center-labeled nativist organization -- which claims that the Senate's immigration bill would double the number of guest workers admitted into the country each year. The study, however, is just the latest in a series of flawed, debunked studies that CIS has released.

The outlets - including the Daily Caller, NewsmaxThe Washington Times, Breitbart.com, and Drudge Report -- have all highlighted the study which claims that in the first year of the Senate's proposed comprehensive immigration reform bill, “nearly 1.6 million more temporary workers than currently allowed” will be admitted to the United States. The study also claims that the bill would double the number of temporary workers admitted each year compared to current levels.

What these outlets fail to mention is that, like many of CIS' previous studies -- and others they have latched on to in order to undermine immigration reform -- this study is flawed and its conclusions are bogus.

Philip Wolgin, senior policy analyst for immigration at the Center for American Progress, emphasized the top five reasons the CIS study “misses the mark,” including its lack of methodology, double-counting temporary and permanent immigrants, misrepresenting who will actually compete with American workers, and the miscounting of visa categories. Wolgin explained that CIS makes significant statistical errors, including what he calls the “absurd” idea that 950,000 people would apply for and be granted the V Visa in the first year after the immigration reform bill's passage.

The V visa is a temporary visa that allows the family members of legal permanent residents to remain in the country legally until they are granted permanent residency as well. As the Center for American Progress explained, even though 75 percent of spouses and children of permanent residents are exempted from per-country quotas, some families still face up to 19 years apart due to backlogs in the immigration system.

Wolgin also pointed out that among the three visa categories that make up 83 percent of the increases in the CIS study, CIS over-counted by more than 255,000 people.

CIS has a track record of releasing flawed and deceptive findings, including the misleading link between immigrants and native-born Americans' wages and job prospects, and flawed conclusions on immigrants and welfare use. Its consistently flawed reports led The American Prospect to explain that “convoluted logic and paranoia is typical of the research” CIS produces:

Being the scrupulous researcher that he is, Krikorian hopped over to the websites of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) -- the two federal agencies whose primary responsibility is immigration enforcement -- and found some press releases about cyber crime and drug smuggling. This naturally showed the report was lying because ICE and CBP don't spend all their money regulating immigration; they also enforce customs laws. Its authors, Krikorian concludes, were just cooking up numbers to support President Obama's open-borders, amnesty agenda. His organization followed up with a press release saying much the same thing a few days later.

This convoluted logic and paranoia is typical of the research Krikorian's group puts out, but it illustrates an important point about the immigration debate: No amount of money or resources will ever be enough to convince the enforcement-first crowd that the border is finally “secure.” This sets up a road block: So long as securing our borders is a precondition for tackling immigration reform, opponents can always claim -- citing a recent crime committed by an immigrant or anecdotal evidence of border violence -- that we're just not there yet. In effect, “enforcement first” ends up being the “enforcement only.”

Due to the group's lack of credibility and association with nativist and hate groups, the Center for New Community warned that CIS is not a “credible voice in the debate on immigration.”  

Right-wing media have a tendency to hype flawed studies from anti-immigrant groups that contradict immigration reform. Last month, they trumpeted a report from the Heritage Foundation that claimed immigration reform would cost $6.3 trillion. That study was repudiated by immigration experts and conservatives, and a co-author was found to have links to hate groups, including the Pioneer Fund and The Federation for American Immigration Reform.