portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting oregon & cascadia

immigration

The FAIR is Irresponsible

Well at least the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is consistent when it comes to piss poor research and broad assumptions. The group has a history of publications that are rife with errors, and their recently released report "The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Aliens on Oregonians" continues this tradition of mediocrity.
The report was drafted by crusty old Jack Martin, who is known for classy little numbers such as "Baltimore Hangs New Sign Over the City Saying 'Welcome Illegal Aliens'". Here, he criticizes the city for prohibiting police and social agencies from asking anyone about their immigration status. The city adopted these standards to create a safer environment in the hopes of attracting people to the area, which has been suffering from a tradition of population loss. While census records show that Oregon hasn't experienced the same problem, they also show that our state has had the smallest population increase out of any in the Pacific Northwest.
To anyone bored enough to not pay attention, Martin's report has the veneer of a well-researched take on the cost of undocumented immigration in Oregon. It includes an impressive array of bar graphs and charts that don't really say anything and often reflect his inflated assumptions. This includes statements like:

"FAIR's estimate includes illegal aliens who have been granted temporary work permits and who will revert to illegal alien status once those temporary permits expire."

This kind of explains how Martin arrives at his statistics, and he has been criticized before for providing numbers based on delusions of grandeur. This isn't the only example he provides that shows careless measurement of immigrant influence. He takes the report to a whole new level when he attempts to forecast the cigarette tax revenue generated by the smoking habits of undocumented immigrants.
Martin has been accused before of providing shoddy numbers on things that are almost impossible to calculate. It seems like he may have heard some of these critiques by attempting to justify the accuracy of his predictions. He warns that because of their low-disposable income, undocumented immigrants should not be smoking cigarettes. He follows with:

"In the absences of any data on the smoking habits of illegal aliens, we assume that the incidence of smoking among illegal alien men is the same as for the overall U.S. population,"

He continues by estimating the amount of undocumented immigrants who are smoking a pack a day. He polishes it off with a chart showing total tax collections based on his numbers. By throwing an arbitrary chart in the mix, he gives the report a sense of organization, which can be enough for a disinterested policy maker to overlook crummy research.
Oregon has had the lowest population increase out of all its bordering states, but Martin's report certainly does not point this out. He even criticizes immigrants for increasing the need for public transportation, which has numerous benefits for pretty much everyone, regardless of whether or not you use it. He also hacks out glittering gallstones like:

"We also assume that car pooling-four to a car-is common among those illegal aliens traveling by car and that the cars that illegal aliens drive are not fuel-efficient."

Martin includes jabs at groups like Causa and Voz for being fiscal burdens and flagrant lawbreakers. This is a horribly-crafted misconception, but what is just as scary is the fact that Martin's work is used by the media and policy makers as a legitimate source of information. It's bad enough that people take Martin's report seriously, it's even worse to think that his mistruths could potentially be dispersed through the evening news or some other form of largely distributed media. Oregonians for Immigration Reform posted the report on their website with the heading:

"the true cost to Oregon taxpayers is spelled out in a clear, concise and difficult to contradict report showing that illegal aliens in Oregon now cost taxpayers over a billion dollars every year."

There's a na´vetÚ in this statement, and for a second you almost feel bad for them. Almost. Until you remember the work of Jack Martin, and realize that anyone who sees "The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Aliens on Oregonians" as a source of truth and insight is even more delusional and careless than he is.

A note about the above article. 23.Dec.2012 10:43

NevadoZ nevadozee@gmail.com

I should note that that census information I referred to in the article shows information between 1970 and 2010. This is the same period of time that FAIR's article "The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Aliens on Oregonians" refers to when speaking about immigrant population numbers.