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Media misleads: Rick Perry's in-state tuition for "children of illegal immigrants" was for illegal aliens *themselves*

It's an extremely rare occurrence when the mainstream media doesn't mislead about immigration. An example in the news lately is the misleading claim that Rick Perry signed a bill that gives in-state tuition to the "children of illegal immigrants" [1]. In fact, the bill was for those who are themselves illegal aliens, irrespective of their parents' status(es). Parents and children can have different immigration statuses. So, while many children of illegal aliens will be illegal aliens themselves, one or both parents could be illegal aliens with U.S. citizen children, or vice versa.

If you read the full text of the law, you'll see that it says nothing about the statuses of the parents.

I could fairly easily present a dozen examples of the media using the misleading formulation, raising the question why so many reporters would mislead. Certainly, they can read bills, can't they? Some might be so lazy that they just parrot what they've heard from others, but they've have to be very lazy: it was trivially easy to locate the full text of the bill Perry signed and that full text is very short.

It's also certain that no mainstream media reporter is going to spill the beans and tell us why they use that misleading formulation and if they got it from someone else. But, let me suggest three possibilities:

* It lets them to use the word "children" about those who are 18 or 19 years old (or even older). Saying "it's for the children!" has been used to sell many other things, and people would generally tend to be more sympathetic to a illegal alien who's a child than a 35 years old illegal alien who's attending college.

* Reporters also might want to give some people the false impression that the children were born in the U.S. and are (under the current interpretation of the 14th Amendment) thus U.S. citizens despite that not being true.

* Related to the last, reporters might be trying to shift the "illegal" adjective from the students to the parents.

I'm sure there are other possibilities, but if you want to strike back at the mainstream media misleading about immigration, here's your assignment: find reporters and others who use the misleading formulation and call them out.

Many reporters have Twitter accounts and some might have Facebook pages. And, many news stories now have comments sections. So, after you find a misleading article, take a few seconds and search for the reporter on Twitter or leave a comment on their article. Ask them why they're using that formulation and where they got it from. Ask them if they're going to change to using the correct formulation. Then, follow up: if they write about Perry after you pointed out they were misleading, see if they're now telling the truth and then start a new round of tweets or comments based on that.

For examples of me doing just that, see my feed: @24AheadDotCom_

UPDATE: Here's an example. An Esquire blog post uses the phrase "children of undocumented immigrants". I sent the following four tweets. In these, the 10841 in the first two is a link to this page, the peekURL link is a link to Esquire's post, and the 10842 is a link to the better option Perry had:

@ESQPolitics misleads, uses http://24ahead.com/n/10841 in peekURL.com/zbbW4qR #immigration #afire #teaparty #tcot #ocra #p2 #tlot #TopProg

@Esquiremag: @ESQPolitics misleads, uses 24ahead.com/n/10841 in peekURL.com/zbbW4qR #p21 #sgp #tpp #GlennBeck #WeThePeople

@ESQPolitics supports bad policy; cf peekURL.com/zbbW4qR to http://24ahead.com/n/10842 #immigration #afire #teaparty #tcot #ocra #p2 #tlot

@ESQPolitics pulls #p2 #tlot #TopProg strings to support cheap labor, enriching corrupt banks/businesses: peekURL.com/zbbW4qR #OccupyWallSt

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[1] "Children of illegal immigrants" might be re-phrased as the (progressively worse) "children of undocumented aliens", "children of undocumented immigrants", or even "children of undocumented workers". If you see anyone using the last, make sure and leave the URL in comments. Another way to say it would be "children whose parents are illegal immigrants" or similar. They're all misleading for the reason outlined above.

Other tags: dream act

Sun, 10/02/2011 - 09:04 · Importance: 4