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Public Religion Research Institute's misleading poll (immigration, DREAM Act, Brookings Institution)

The Public Religion Research Institute ("PRRI") has released a poll called "What it Means to be American: Attitudes in an Increasingly Diverse America Ten Years after 9/11" (publicreligion.org/research/?id=680) which includes a few questions about immigration. I'll explain how two of the poll questions are misleading (see immigration poll for other misleading polls about this issue).

Others involved in the poll are the Brookings Institution (brookings.edu/reports/2011/0906_american_attitudes.aspx) and EJ Dionne.

They write:

Americans express strong support for the basic tenets of the DREAM Act: allowing illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to gain legal resident status if they join the military or go to college (57 percent favor, 40 percent oppose).

The actual question asked was:

[Do you strongly favor, favor, oppose, or strongly oppose] Allowing illegal immigration brought to the U.S. as children to gain legal resident status if they join the military or go to college

Now, compare that to the discussion on the DREAM Act page. If they had revealed that the DREAM Act would let the illegal aliens covered by it take college slots and potentially discounts away from U.S. citizens, do you think so many would support it? Most people are who've heard of the DREAM Act have probably done so from mainstream media propaganda pieces (see PIIPP for many examples). Those PIIPPs tend to do things like spend 25 paragraphs pulling heartstrings over the bill, and then (if we're lucky) one or two sentences on the downsides. PRRI is piggybacking on that propaganda push and obtaining results based on people who haven't been fully informed.

They write:

Americans’ views on immigration policy are complex, but when Americans are asked to choose between a comprehensive approach to immigration reform that couples enforcement with a path to citizenship on the one hand, and an enforcement and deportation only approach on the other, Americans prefer the comprehensive approach to immigration reform over the enforcement only approach by a large margin (62 percent vs. 36 percent).

The misleading question used to obtain that result was:

First Statement: The best way to solve the country's illegal immigration problem is to secure our borders and arrest and deport all those who are here illegally

Second Statement - The best way to solve the country's illegal immigration problem is to both secure our borders and provide an earned path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the U.S.

Those were the only two statements, and that's an example of the deportations false choice. See the link for an explanation and examples of others who've tried to mislead with the same false choice between amnesty and mass deportations. PRRI didn't ask about other options, such as attrition. If they had, there's a very good chance they would have obtained a much different result.

And, of course, they're using secure the border and they aren't revealing the many downsides of comprehensive immigration reform. As with the DREAM Act, the mainstream media has avoided discussing those many downsides, and PRRI is piggybacking on that disinformation campaign.

Tue, 09/06/2011 - 16:38 · Importance: 4