NY Times uncritically reported anti-immigrant groups' contention that they represent a "majority of Americans"

››› ››› JOSH KALVEN

In a May 2 article, New York Times reporter Monica Davey uncritically reported anti-immigration advocates' claim that their "voices were actually more representative of the views of Americans as a whole." In fact, polling data show that a majority of Americans do not share the views expressed by these advocates.

In a May 2 article, New York Times reporter Monica Davey reported anti-immigration advocates' claim that their "voices were actually more representative of the views of Americans as a whole." Davey went on to quote several such individuals saying of the approximately 11 million illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States: "[T]hese people are hurting our country and they need to go back," and "They should all be put on a bus and deported." But Davey ignored polling data showing that these views -- and others espoused by immigration opponents in the article -- are not supported by a majority of Americans.

On May 2, the Times published three articles on the massive pro-immigrant rallies that had taken place a day earlier in cities across the country. Times reporter Randal C. Archibold devoted a lengthy article to reactions to the protests from participants, opponents, and employers nationwide. Reporter Michelle O'Donnell wrote about the various rallies that took place in New York City. Davey, meanwhile, covered those who attended the protests "to speak for the other side."

But while Archibold and O'Donnell cited contrasting opinions on both the broad issue of immigration reform and the efficacy of the protests themselves, Davey quoted only those who oppose efforts affording illegal immigrants an opportunity to attain legal status. Moreover, she uncritically reported these advocates' assertion that they represent a silent majority, as the headline made clear -- "Producing Small Numbers, But Laying Claim to Majority." From Davey's May 2 article:

Compared with the hundreds of thousands who marched urging Congress to consider legal status for some of the 11 million illegal immigrants in this country, far fewer went to speak for the other side.

But advocates for tighter border security and increased enforcement of immigration laws said that their quieter voices were actually more representative of the views of Americans as a whole.

"I think the majority of Americans are very, very upset," said Fred Elbel, the co-chairman of Defend Colorado Now, an organization pressing for the amendment to bar illegal immigrants from receiving some social services.

In fact, polling data show that a majority of Americans do not share the views expressed by these advocates. For instance, Davey quoted Las Vegas resident Jackie Pinjuv saying, "I believe that these people are hurting our country and they need to go back." Later in the article, Davey quoted Leslie Wetzel of U.S. Border Watch, who was a contributor to the now-defunct Talon News, saying, "They should all be put on a bus and deported." But recent polls have found that most Americans oppose the idea of deporting all illegal immigrants:

  • A USA Today/Gallup survey conducted April 7-9 found that only 18 percent of respondents favored sending all illegal immigrants back to their home countries. Eighty percent supported either a guest worker program or a plan allowing illegal immigrants to earn citizenship if they pass a number of hurdles.
  • An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll conducted April 21-24 found that 35 percent of respondents favored deporting all illegal immigrants, while 61 percent supported allowing them to stay in the United States.

Davey further reported that Cicero, Illinois, resident Susan Masek had driven past immigration rights protesters with a sign in her car window that read "No Amnesty." But so-called "amnesty" proposals -- which would provide certain illegal immigrants a path to citizenship -- are supported by a majority of Americans:

  • The recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 68 percent of respondents supported a Senate proposal which would provide a path to citizenship to those illegal immigrants who have lived in the United States for more than two years. Twenty-eight percent of respondents opposed the proposal -- which anti-immigration advocates have repeatedly branded as "amnesty."
  • A Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll conducted April 8-11 found that 66 percent of respondents backed a plan to allow illegal immigrants who have been living and working in the United States for a number of years to start on a path to citizenship; 18 percent of respondents opposed the proposal.
  • A CBS News poll conducted April 6-9 found that 74 percent of respondents supported offering legal residency to those illegal immigrants who have "paid a fine, been in the U.S. for at least five years, paid any back taxes they owe, can speak English, and have no criminal record."

Davey also reported that "Dave Gorak, the executive director of the Midwest Coalition to Reduce Immigration, said the demonstrations did not represent another group of people losing out to illegal immigrants: millions of 'underemployed Americans, who would love to have a fulltime job.' " But again, polls show that a majority of Americans believe that illegal immigrants do not take jobs away from Americans:

  • The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that only 28 percent of respondents felt that illegal immigration has a negative effect on the availability of jobs, 17 percent believed it has had a positive effect, and 48 percent said it has had "no real effect at all."
  • The CBS News poll found that 34 percent of respondents believed illegal immigrants "take jobs away from American citizens," while 53 percent of those polled agreed that these immigrants "mostly take jobs that Americans don't want."
Posted In
Immigration
Network/Outlet
The New York Times
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