Advocates’ Immigration Polling Dishonest, Deceptive, Devious

Published on August 24th, 2015

When critics ask the California Latino Legislative Caucus how it can justify passing entitlement bills for illegal immigrants that never get to the ballot box, its leaders say that California is onboard with expanding rights to aliens. Citizens didn’t vote on whether aliens should get driver’s licenses, receive permission to practice law, benefit from expanded in-state tuition under the Dream Act or access taxpayer funded Medi-Cal services.

The caucus often points to a 2014 Pacific Policy Institute of California poll which shows a large, in-state majority favors more rights for illegal immigrants. Reporters often rely on the PPIC poll and include it in many of their stories.

Curious about the poll and skeptical of how the queries were posed, I went online to look it up. See page 20 for the two pertinent immigration questions.

1. “Please indicate which statement comes closest to your own view – even if neither is exactly right: Immigrants today are a benefit to California because of their hard work and job skills; or immigrants today are a burden to California because they use public services.”

That’s deceptive. PPIC should classify “immigrants” as either legal or illegal. Change “immigrants” to “illegal immigrants,” and the poll results would be dramatically lower than the 65 percent of all adults who responded that “immigrants” benefit California. Applying the terms “hard working” and “job skills” to all “immigrants” is dishonest, since some immigrants don’t work and many, especially illegal immigrants, are unskilled.

2. “Would you favor or oppose providing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the U.S. if they met certain requirements including a waiting period, paying fines and back taxes, passing criminal background checks, and learning English?”

The second question is even more disingenuous than the first. Since the poll has already generously but inaccurately identified all “immigrants” as “hard working” with valuable “job skills,” it influenced 86 percent of the poll’s participants to support “a path to citizenship.”

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Beware bogus push poll results.

More important about question #2, none of the conditions PPIC identified – waiting periods, fines, taxes, criminal background checks and learning English – will ever be required. These are myths that amnesty defenders promote. A more honest question would anticipate that rigid qualifying standards might be written into amnesty legislation, but are unlikely to be imposed. A forthright question therefore should be: “Would you support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who don’t pay fines, don’t undergo background checks and never learn English?”

Push polling like PPIC conducted asks questions in a suggestive way to elicit the desired response, and are a favorite tool of immigration advocacy groups. Unfortunately, journalists don’t research the actual questions. If they did, they’d see how phony push polls are.

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