Diane West’s Bogus Immigrant Number
Over at the Washington Times Diane West writes the following,
The bill’s crazy provisions for allowing 66 million new legal immigrants into the United States by 2026 (twice the population of Canada) aside, the Senate bill grants citizenship rights to 10 million to 20 million mainly Mexican illegal aliens who have sneaked into the country since the last U.S. amnesty for illegal aliens in 1986.
The numbers I’ve seen in regards to the number of illegal immigrants in this country ranges between 8 million to as high as 12 million. We could split the difference and say 10 million. Where does this 10 to 20 million that West has come up with come from…besides her backside? Beats me, but is sure does make the immigration sound bad, in fact if we split the difference with West’s number we’d get 15 million, half again as many as most other sources indicate. And if we go with the larger numbers, 12 million vs 20 million, West has increased the number by 80%.
Oh well, what is a “white lie” when you cause is “just”?
Update: Steven Taylor raises a good point about the 66 million people as well. To get a number like that over the next 20 years Mexico would practically have to empty itself into the United States (the population of Mexico is about 107 million). With the kinds of numbers that Diane West is throwing around in 42 years there wont be a single person left in all of Mexico. Basically, Diane West is an innumerate…hmmm I wonder if that qualifies her as a low-skilled worker? At any rate the Washinton Times is paying her too much. They should probably outsource her position to India.
Update (James Joyner): Robert Samuelson is using the 40 million number today as well. Deep in the piece, we get a cite:
The doubling of legal immigration under the Senate bill that I cited at the outset comes from a previously unreported estimate made by White House economists. Because the president praised the Senate bill, the administration implicitly favors a big immigration expansion. The White House estimate could be low. Robert Rector of the conservative Heritage Foundation has a higher figure. The CBO has a projection that the White House describes as close to its own. But all the forecasts envision huge increases, diverging only because they make different assumptions of how the Senate bill would operate in practice.
Our immigration laws involve a bewildering array of categories by which people can get a “green card” — the right to stay permanently. The Senate bill dramatically expands many of these categories and creates a large new one: “guest workers.” The term is really a misnomer, because most guest workers would receive an automatic right to apply for a green card and remain. The Senate bill authorizes 200,000 guest workers annually, plus their spouses and minor children.
The methodology of these estimates is not clear. Since the metric is “immigrants,” however, it may well be that some significant part of the increase would be non-Mexican and non-poor.
- CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE COST ESTIMATE S. 2611 Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 [PDF], May 16.
- Robert Rector, “Immigration Numbers: Setting the Record Straight,” Heritage Foundation, May 26.
- Leighton Ku and Stacy Dean, “CBO ANALYSIS SHOWS HERITAGE FOUNDATION CLAIMS ON THE COST OF IMMIGRATION REFORM ARE GREATLY EXAGGERATED,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, May 25.
The CBO report, though, gives a much lower number:
S. 2611 contains numerous provisions that would permit additional immigrants to enter the United States and allow certain undocumented immigrants (sometimes referred to as unauthorized or illegal aliens) now living in the United States to obtain legal immigration status. CBO estimates that enacting this legislation would increase the population in the United States by nearly 8 million residents by 2016 (see Table 2). [thumbnailed right]
Given that the nature of the report was cost estimates–which are themselves interesting–there is no real discussion of how the figures are obtained, other than the actual numbers in the bill for increased family migration and guest worker permits.