Using ‘Weasel Words” to Depict the Supposed Benefits of Immigration
Lena Groeger, a journalist at ProPublica, provided an example of the use of ‘weasel words’ and biased analysis to convey the false impression that immigration is an economic boon (See ehttps://projects.propublica.org/graphics/gdp). It demonstrates the need to use critical thinking to evaluate the claims of mass immigration proponents.Example 1: In the article, an economist claims, “…with immigration, you can flip a switch and massively grow the size of the country.” Groeger notes, that claim is “…referring to overall GDP, not per-capita GDP, which the analysis does not address.” The point is that an overall increase in GDP as a result of increased immigration may result in a decrease in per-capita GDP, i.e. the average earner is worse off.Example 2: Groeger cites a report of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) that found “little evidence that immigration significantly affects the overall employment levels of native-born workers.” Of course, “little evidence” means there is some evidence. And the effect on the employment level of native workers is not stated, but in context surely means negative effects. So the NAS was in effect dismissing negative effects on native workers.Example 3: Groeger cites the claim of a labor economist that immigration “…boosts economic growth for years.” She notes that this assertion ignores the fiscal effect on governmental budgets at all levels down to the local school district budget. The lesson is that the advocates of mass immigration are often proponents rather than even-handed analysts. By contrast, FAIR’s estimates of the fiscal impact of illegal immigration include estimates of tax contributions of illegal aliens. (See http://www.fairus.org/publications/the-fiscal-burden-of-illegal-immigration-on-united-states-taxpayers)Example 4: Addressing the possibility of increased deportation of illegal aliens under the Trump administration, Groeger cites advocates of mass immigration alleging that “…removing so many people at once would have a significant economic effect.” Implicit is that this refers to a negative effect. But, this statement ignores the fact that no one is advocating an overnight mass deportation, and it ignores the potential fiscal benefits of meaningful immigration enforcement for governments and job benefits for unemployed and under-employed natives.This latter discussion demonstrates that the author, despite some otherwise balanced analysis, falls into the trap of being enamored with the prospect of an economic panacea that supposedly could result from more than doubling today’s million-plus annual immigration.