Do two-thirds of the American people really support legalization?

A poll conducted by the New York Times and CBS News finds that

Two-thirds of those polled said illegal immigrants who had a good employment history and no criminal record should gain legal status as the bill proposes, which is by paying at least $5,000 in fines and fees and receiving a renewable four-year visa.

The phrase “as the bill proposes,” is mischievous, because, as the Times makes clear elsewhere in the story, the questions in this poll were not tied to the actual provisons of S.1348. Respondents were only asked how they felt about legalization as it was described in the question.. While the Times does not tell us the actual wording of the question, we can safely assume that it presented legalization in the most attractive light possible. Meanwhile Fox News says that only 26 percent of Americans support S.1348.

So, some purely abstract legalization, cast undoubtedly in the rosiest of colors, gets two-thirds support, while the actual proposed legalization that is being debated right now in the U.S. Senate and that the Times and CBS fervently want to see passed into law, gets only one-quarter support. But the Times uses the approval for the first to create the false impression that the public overwhelmingly supports the second.

It would be like running a news story that reported a poll showing that 90 percent of the American people support the ending of all man-made greenhouse gases, while ignoring a poll showing that only 20 percent of the American people supported the actual measures that would be needed to achieve that attractive-sounding goal.

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Howard Sutherland writes:

NYT/CBS poll purports to find that “Taking a pragmatic view on a divisive issue, a large majority of Americans want to change the immigration laws to allow illegal immigrants to gain legal status and to create a new guest worker program to meet future labor demands.”

I would love to know whom they asked, as this seems to show American attitudes about this have essentially reversed in a few weeks’ time. This must have been a carefully cherry-picked selection of poll-ees. All the Times will tell us is the poll “was conducted May 18 to 23 with 1,125 adults, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.”

When the New York Times and the Bush administration are in complete agreement about the pressing need for some massive federal program, you can be sure the point of it is to screw Americans.

Mark Krikorian writes at the Corner:

The Upper West Side’s community daily shocks America by finding that the public favors amnesty. [LA: for non-American or non-East Coast readers who may not get the reference, that’s the NY Times he’s talking about—not that the Times is located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, but that its most typical readers reside there.] To see the actual questions, you have to go to the CBS News site, and there you find the same mistake as in other MSM polls; at the beginning of the section on illegal immigration (see Q61), they offer only two choices — either “most illegal immigrants who have lived and worked in the United States for at least two years [where did they get “two years” from? — MK] … should be given a chance to keep their jobs and eventually apply for legal status” or they should be “deported back to their native country”. This ignores the actual alternative to amnesty, newly embraced by George Will and Peggy Noonan, which is to enforce the law and permit the illegal population to decline through attrition. My research director talked to a pollster a few weeks back at a major polling organization about this specific issue, and that guy said they just read the newspapers to see what they should ask people about, and all he’d seen in the papers was politcians offering the choice between amnesty and mass deportations.

A less overtly political organization than the Times, Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, has also just done a poll with more balanced questions, finding a preference for attrition. And Rasmussen’s recent poll that found only 26 percent support for the bill, actually asked about the bill, rather than just about various disembodied possibilities.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 25, 2007 10:54 AM | Send

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