In LA Times op-ed, Krikorian cherry-picked "anecdotal evidence" on immigration crackdown


In a Los Angeles Times op-ed, Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, claimed that there is "extensive anecdotal evidence" that "more illegal aliens are going home, leading to improved conditions for American workers and communities." He cited five newspaper articles for support, but four of those articles also reported that the departure of illegal immigrants might have caused or may yet cause local businesses to experience a drop in revenue and eliminate jobs.

In a September 24 Los Angeles Times op-ed headlined "Fewer migrants mean more benefits," Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, claimed that there is "extensive anecdotal evidence" that "more illegal aliens are going home, leading to improved conditions for American workers and communities." Krikorian attributed the reported departure of illegal immigrants to "a series of victories for supporters of tighter controls [on immigration], including the Real ID Act of 2005, the Secure Fence Act of 2006, proliferating enforcement efforts at the state and local levels and a new package of modest but meaningful enforcement measures announced last month by the Department of Homeland Security." However, Krikorian previously criticized "immigration policy made by anecdote," and several of the print articles he cited actually include information that undermines his argument. In fact, four of the five newspaper articles that Krikorian cited to support his assertion also reported that the departure of illegal immigrants might have caused or could cause local businesses to experience a drop in revenue and eliminate jobs.

Despite criticizing "immigration policy made by anecdote" in a December 2002 National Review book review, Krikorian cited "extensive anecdotal evidence" for his claims of illegal immigrants leaving the United States while benefiting the local community. Krikorian referred to articles in the August 26 Arizona Republic; the September 26, 2006, Atlanta Journal-Constitution; the December 26, 2006, Rocky Mountain News; the October 27, 2006, Chicago Tribune; and the January 17 Wall Street Journal, as well as broadcasts on Boston public radio station WBUR and New England Cable News (NECN).

In his September 24 column, Krikorian wrote: "The Arizona Republic ran a story last month explaining how migrants were leaving the state in anticipation of tough new immigration rules." But an August 26 Arizona Republic article that reported that "at least several hundred [undocumented immigrants] have left [Arizona] since Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano signed the [employer-sanctions law] on July 2" also stated that "[t]he departures are drawing cheers from immigration hard-liners and alarm from business owners already seeing a drop in sales." The article went on to report that according to Don Wehbey, senior economist at the Arizona Department of Economic Security, an exodus of illegal aliens from the state could, in the Republic's words, "make the labor market tighter, which could lead to higher wages but also higher costs for goods and services." It added:

A study released by the [University of Arizona's Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy] in July concluded that economic output would drop annually by at least $29 billion, or 8.2 percent, if all non-citizens, which include undocumented workers, were removed from Arizona's workforce.

In his September 24 column, Krikorian also wrote:

When illegal aliens were removed from a Crider Poultry plant in Stillmore, Ga., the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the Wall Street Journal documented the benefits to local workers. The plant raised wages significantly, began offering free shuttles from nearby towns and provided free rooms in a company-owned dormitory. For the first time, Crider sought applicants from the state unemployment office and began hiring probationers and men from a local homeless mission.

But while the September 2006 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article reported that since the raids, Crider has increased its base pay, it also reported: "Today, Crider's work force stands at about 550, compared to 1,000 last spring. Crider has outsourced their deboning operation to Alabama, sending 250 jobs out of the county." The article also reported that the departure of immigrants from Stillmore, Georgia, has had a negative impact on some local businesses:

Small businesses also have taken a hit. Doug Wilkinson, owner of the Plaza Pharmacy in Swainsboro, said his business is down and his daughter, Teri Meyers, lost all of her tenants from a boarding house in Stillmore.

The "old hotel," as people call it, housed 32 Mexican men and all but one were taken in a raid. Meyers said she is losing about $750 per week in rent.


David Robinson was so upset about losing the tenants in his mobile home park, who paid about $12,000 a month in rent, that he flew the American flag upside down for a few days as a sign of distress.

Moreover, while the January 17 Wall Street Journal article reported that following "a wave of raids by federal immigration agents ... Crider suddenly raised pay at the plant," the same article also reported that in months following the raids, "[t]he plant has struggled with high turnover among black workers, lower productivity and pay disputes between the new employees and labor contractors." It added:

Crider is still about 300 people short of its work force before the immigration raids. It is now bringing Laotian Hmong immigrant workers and their families from Minnesota and Wisconsin, with hopes that they'll stay on the job and build new roots in Stillmore.

Krikorian also quoted the October 29, 2006, Chicago Tribune article, which reported that "over the summer, when Hazleton [Pennsylvania] officials created the nation's first ordinance aimed at driving away undocumented residents, thousands of people apparently packed up and left." But the next three sentences stated that although there had been a decrease in crime, there had also been a decrease in business as a result of immigrants leaving: "Much of the crime vanished on Wyoming Street, but so did the customers. 'Some people, even if they're legal, they don't want to come,' said Isabel Rubio, 50, who has seen business plunge at the small gift store she has run for eight years. 'We are very worried for the future here.' "

In addition to the six newspaper articles, Krikorian also cited two broadcast reports, one from NECN and another from WBUR. Krikorian noted that WBUR reported "something unusual is happening in Massachusetts: Brazilian immigrants are quietly packing up and leaving." However, in the August 13 report that Krikorian cited, WBUR host Bianca Vazquez Toness also stated: "[S]ome industries that depend on Brazilian labor are suffering." Toness concluded her report by stating: "There are already a handful of empty stores in downtown Framingham [Massachusetts] abandoned by Brazilian businesses. But there is one new shop just opening up. Problem is it's is a shipping company. A shipping company that helps people send their belongings back to Brazil." According to Krikorian, NECN "reported that only after a raid on a plant making leather goods for the military in New Bedford, Mass., were Americans and legal immigrants able to get hired." Krikorian wrote that the NECN report featured a new employee of the plant stating, "In a way, you know, it's sad, and then in a way it's good because at least it gives people that were not employed for so many years ... a break to be able to work and support their families."

While Krikorian stated that his evidence is all anecdotal, media reports have included quotes from economists and local business owners arguing that immigration raids hurt the economy. For example, a September 5 New York Times article reported that since a recent "crackdown on employers of illegal immigrants," "an increasing number of farmers have been testing the alternative of raising crops across the border where there is a stable labor supply." The article went on to report: "While there are benefits for Mexico, as American farmers bring the latest technology and techniques to its crop-producing regions, American farm state economists say thousands of middle-class jobs supporting agriculture are being lost in the United States." It added that according to Stephen Levy, an economist at the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, "most unemployed workers are not available to replace fired, unauthorized immigrant workers," as in The Times' words, "very few of the unemployed are in farm work."

Moreover, a September 5 Denver Post article also provided anecdotal evidence suggesting that a departure of illegal immigrants from Colorado farms may have a negative effect upon American workers and communities, in contrast with Krikorian's assertion. The Post reported that "[f]armers across Colorado are complaining about a worker shortage, with some leaving fields fallow or food on the ground to rot" due to "a lack of illegal workers and a growing concern about the repercussions of hiring them." The Post went on to quote Barb Marty, a state agricultural commissioner and board member for the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, saying, "We're going to be shipping more food in from overseas and not knowing how it was processed or raised or what was put on it."

In addition to advocating tighter immigration enforcement, Krikorian has also asserted that the only way to produce " 'moderate' Islam" in countries like Iran is to wholly separate Islamic societies from the West and allow a "tsunami of violence" to overtake the people living under "Islamic regime[s]." Indeed, while discussing the future of Islam in an August 19 post on National Review Online, Krikorian wrote that Islam is "a failure as an ideology and way of life in the modern world" and added that "[o]ur long-term strategy, then, should be to create two, three, many Islamic republics, each one inevitably an example of Islam's bankruptcy."

In a subsequent NRO posting on August 22, Krikorian again referred to the "bankruptcy of Islam as a modern political ideology" and wrote that Islam will only change if "we pursue" "separationism," which he defined as "the isolation of Islam from the rest of the world through military action, restrictions on immigration, and other means, presumably including a radically more aggressive search for alternative automobile fuels." Krikorian went on to explain that by isolating countries like Iran, "whose people have had quite enough of Islam," the "Islamic regime[s]" will "unravel[]" and citizens will turn to other faiths. Krikorian went on to assert that the "remaining fundamentalists will start beheading newly Christian school children and raping newly Zoroastrian women and blowing up newly constructed Bahai temples, intensifying the existing popular disgust with the Islamic faith and thus accelerating conversions to other faiths." Eventually, according to Krikorian, "the various keepers of Islam will see the need for a new version of the faith that people won't abandon -- thereby ushering in the long-awaited but ever elusive "moderate" Islam." He concluded:

It will take a lifetime to work its way through the Islamic world, and we must do our best to ensure that relatively few of our own people are killed in the inevitable tsunami of violence that is coming, but there really isn't any alternative.

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