In the strange world of the “mainstream media,” numbers often take on a life of their own. One such number is that there are 11 million illegal immigrants inhabiting our nation. From where did that number come? Does it have any basis in reality?
OK, Doctor, enlighten us, say you. From where did the number come? The answer to that, say I, is simple. The number comes from the Pew Research Center and they “say” the number is 11 million. That is why every media outlet uses the “11-million-number.”
[Source: You Only Think You Know How Many Illegal Immigrants Live in the US, by William Campenni]
As my readers know, I often quote statistics from the Pew Research Center. They are one of the more balanced analytical research groups. However, “for a decade now, no number has been given greater certitude and less investigation than that (number). Not even the number of planets in our solar system has enjoyed such constancy and acceptance.” But the “11-million-number” has some obvious flaws. So, ask you, what is the correct number. The truth is that no one knows, answer I.
Let’s say we wanted to know how many Americans were the descendants of Italian immigrants. Likely one would create a survey that asks: 1) Was one or more of your ancestors Italian immigrants to the United States? 2.) Are you an American citizen? You would probably come up with a reasonably accurate estimate.
Now let us apply that logic to the U.S. Census Bureau, a Congressionally funded agency headed by a political appointee, and ask them to find the answer to the “Italian question.” Oops! Things get complicated in a hurry! Our simple survey takes on new impedimenta.
First, you can’t actually ask the respondents if they are of Italian descent or if they American citizens! Such queries are strictly verboten! You have to do workarounds and make inferences by asking such questions as “Do you eat spaghetti at least twice per week and listen to Frank Sinatra songs?”
Other than a “warning” to “be truthful” there is no enforcement process that guarantees the respondents will answer the mail-in survey accurately, truthfully or completely. Now let’s assume it was illegal to be a descendant of Italian immigrants. Do you really think I would say, “Here I am. Come and get me!” If you identify yourself as such, you will not be able to get a job legally, your family won’t get any welfare benefits, you might get thrown in jail and you could be deported back to Italy. (The latter would not be the worst thing to happen.)
Well, that’s how we get that “11-million-number.”
[From the Campenni article] Three main players were involved in generating that number of 11 million illegal immigrants: Pew Research Center, the Center for Immigration Studies and the Department of Homeland Security. But they were only masseurs of the source data, which comes from the Census Bureau by means of two surveys: the Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey…
The Census Bureau’s surveys are conducted both by mail and in-person visits to selected homes. Neither asks directly, “Are you in the United States illegally?” In fact, the instruction manual for Current Population Survey canvassers states explicitly:
We do not ask for nativity data to identify illegal immigrants… (and) we do not ask whether he/she… has a green card or some other legal residence status.
Those who have followed the invasion by illegal immigrants have noticed that, in spite of their own observations and a wide-open southern border, the 11 million number has been used for more than a decade.
Think about that. Our “official” sources tell us that between 300,000 to 3 million people (peak years) enter our nation illegally every year. Let’s use the low estimate! Over the decade since the “11-million-number” was calculated, our total would have risen to 14 million.
In order for the “11-million-number” to remain a near constant, one would need to assume equal numbers of illegals were repatriating themselves, or dying off in similar amounts. “Has anyone reported a southbound crush on the Rio Grande bridges, or a plague attacking illegal immigrants?”
Pew researchers are not idiots and understand these problems, but they must make certain assumptions – a lot of “certain assumption.” Some of the assumptions are clearly circular in nature. I won’t bore you with the assumptions. If you are interested you can read the Campenni article. “Other equally credible studies have produced numbers quite different from the now doctrinal 11 million. In 2005, a Bear Stearns study estimated the total number of illegal immigrants at 20 million using other data perhaps more valid than sole reliance on Census Bureau surveys.”
The “11-million-number” is a not a wild guess, but it is most definitely “a guess!” The answer to the question, “How many illegal immigrants reside within our borders” is unknown, but almost certainly is greater than the “11-million-number.”