Truth, Lies, and Illegal Immigration

You may have received an email like the picture above. The Immigration Debate is long on emotion, but short on facts. The Truth is Out There, and will likely surprise you…. whichever side of the debate you are on. Please consider the implications of these findings in the context of the immigration debate we’re supposed to be having (in between sex, Russian, mass shooting, and security clearance scandals).

1. Claim: 43% of all food stamps are given to illegals.  Lie, but with unknown degree of truth.

Clearly a lie. Also analyzed by Politifact My research is more recent but shows the same:

For Fiscal Year 2018 a total of 43.7 million people received food stamps, so 43 percent of that number would be 18.8 million. For obvious reasons, the number of illegal immigrants is much trickier to track. However, the most widely accepted number comes from the Pew Hispanic Center, which estimated that there were 11.1 million illegal immigrants in the United States in 2014, a number relatively unchanged since 2009.

So it’s mathematically impossible for more than 43 percent of all food stamps to be given to illegals because that would be more than exist. And this doesn’t take into account an even more basic reality: It is against the law for Illegal immigrants to receive food stamps. What is likely true is that CHILDREN of illegal immigrants are receiving SNAP benefits.

2. Claim: 95% of Warrants Issued for Murder in Los Angeles are for illegals.

Presumably this means the illegals are doing the killing, and not being killed. Snopes analyzed several of the other claims in that emailed chart. Strictly speaking, this is a clear lie. The relevant missing word is “outstanding”, as in “unresolved warrants” because there are warrants which remain open because the perpetrator flees the country, and the U.S. typically lacks extradition treaties with where they go. The LA times had an analysis of this 2005 claim, and several others, stating that they were a HOAX. The best conclusion on this I found was: “It would make sense that illegal immigrants would make up a disproportionate amount of outstanding warrants, since they are harder to track, and are much more likely to flee the country to avoid arrest. There don’t appear to be any reliable statistics on current murder warrants, as LA county doesn’t break them down by immigration status. [I have emails into the LA Country DA and Sheriff for more data.] Bottom Line: Lie, but with underlying kernel of truth.

3. Claim: Less than 2% of illegals are picking crops, but 41% are on welfare. Partially true.

The statement is a bit illogical to begin with. Presumably the point is that illegals are consuming welfare resources. Politifact and other sources find that 3 to 4% of agricultural occupations (2012) are held by illegals, so that part is only 50 to 100% off, depending upon the denominator you choose. As far as the percentage of households headed by illegals who are on welfare, the estimates range from 40% to 49% to 62%. And most of those households include citizen children. Supposedly, illegals are not eligible for benefits, but one of those articles finds that the laws are not well enforced. Politifact claims that most of the benefits are going to the citizen children, not the illegal immigrant heads of households.

To me, the main point is whether illegals are contributing, or taking, from the economy. That is a longer discussion, but a National Academy of Sciences study Advance Copy 9/22/16 did find that immigrants cost money over 3 generations (see Tables 8-1 and 8-2) under every one of 8 scenarios of cost assumptions used. That is a 495 page document that I have perused, but cannot claim to have read completely, and I don’t have the final copy. It will be interesting to watch the editing and arm-wrestling over that one.

A related point is the ‘value’ of birthright citizenship. You may have seen the MSNBC video on Russian women coming over for trips to have their children (“Miami Mama’s) at Trump resorts. I think there is a need to change who gets citizenship, and how, but that’s a longer discussion.

Bottom line: Partially True.

4. Claim: More than 66% of all births are to illegals on MediCal. When is an exaggeration a lie? The truth is about 15%.

68.1% of MediCal Births are to Hispanics, but they are not all illegal immigrants. Per Oct. 2014 presentation using 2011 data. This is a decline from 2007 when it was 71.8%. Medi-Cal has covered a smaller percentage of births year-over-year for foreign born and undocumented mothers since the recession began. As of 2011, 29.2% of MediCal births were ‘undocumented’, down from 39.2% in 2007. MediCal births are 50.4% of total statewide births, which means the correct combined percentage is 14.7% of all CA births are illegals on MediCal. This matches closely with a GAO report in 1995, which cited illegals at 14% of all births and 34% of MediCal births. So, 14.7% is about a 5th of the claim in the graphic, but still, 14.7% is a lot of money.

5. Claim: 60% of HUD occupied properties in the U.S. are illegals – Lie, or huge exaggeration

According to HUD, the number of people receiving assistance under all HUD programs totaled 9.65 million in 2017 This would mean 5.8 million illegal immigrants live in HUD properties, if we are to believe the claim. In other words, roughly 50% of the entire population of illegal immigrants in the US, a ridiculously implausible claim.

According to the CIS study cited above for welfare use, while 62% of illegal immigrant households received some form of welfare, only 3.8% received housing assistance. If we use the Pew estimate of 11.1 million illegal immigrants, that means 422,000 receive HUD benefits, or just 4% would “occupy HUD properties”. If we use the higher estimate of 20 million illegal immigrants, that would mean 760,000 receive HUD benefits, or about 8%. Neither estimate is anywhere close to the 60% claim. Keep in mind that HUD rules allow illegal immigrants to live in public or assisted housing if at least one member of the household is a U.S. citizen – so it is possible this claim is a complete lie because children make the family eligible.

6. Claim: 39% of all California students are illegals. A huge exaggeration.

The truth is CA students with illegal immigrant parents are 12.3-13.2%% However, the vast majority of these children were born in the US themselves and therefore US citizens. Nationwide, 6 to 7% of children have unauthorized immigrant parents, while just 1.3% are illegal themselves. If we assume California follows the same trend as the rest of the country, about 3% of students would be considered “illegals”. The debate about whether undocumented parents should be able to create citizen children is a separate issue.

7. Claim: 75% of Los Angeles Most Wanted Criminals are illegals – Exaggeration; unknown.

This claim is difficult, if not impossible to check. The LAPD’s Most Wanted List includes attributes like sex, height, weight and ethnicity, but not immigration status. Furthermore, some of the suspects haven’t even been identified, only a sketch and description is given – so we can’t have immigration information. The Meme Policeman counted 221 suspects on the Most Wanted List. Here is the breakdown by ethnicity, although this doesn’t provide us any reliable immigration status.

White- 17
Hispanic- 174
Black- 21
Asian- 7
Middle Eastern- 2

So, that’s 78.7% of the Most Wanted are Hispanic, but it is unknown what percentage of those are illegal. As with the outstanding warrants statistic discussed above, one would expect illegal immigrants to be disproportionately represented in on the Most Wanted List, due to their difficulty to be found and their likelihood to flee. After all, these are suspects the police can’t find.

8. Claim: 50% of all gang members are illegals – Probably 5-10% nationwide, but unknown.

It’s not as if gangs have an official registration sheet they send to the authorities, let alone a breakdown by immigration status, but the FBI claims there are 1.4 million active gang members in the US. For the meme’s claim to be true, 750,000 illegal immigrants (or about 7% of all illegal immigrants) would need to be gang members. In their National Gang Threat Assessment, the FBI doesn’t break down gangs by immigration status, and it seems no government agency does.

The closest source to corroborate this claim is the Congressional testimony from Heather Mac Donald, over a decade ago. She says:

No one knows for certain the percentage of illegals in gangs, thanks in large part to sanctuary laws themselves. But various estimates exist:

–A confidential California Department of Justice study reported in 1995 that 60 percent of the 20,000-strong 18th Street Gang in southern California is illegal; police officers say the proportion is actually much greater. The bloody gang collaborates with the Mexican Mafia, the dominant force in California prisons, on complex drug-distribution schemes, extortion, and drive-by assassinations. It commits an assault or robbery every day in L.A. County. The gang has grown dramatically over the last two decades by recruiting recently arrived youngsters, most of them illegal, from Central America and Mexico.

–Immigration and Customs Enforcement conservatively puts the number of illegals in Mara Salvatrucha as a majority; police officers, by contrast, assert that the gang is overwhelmingly illegal.

–Law enforcement officials estimate that 20% of gang members in San Diego County are illegal, according to the Union-Tribune.

While 20 to 50% of certain gangs might be illegal immigrants, this only relates to a few in the Southern California area, not nationwide. It also relies from information over a decade old. The claim isn’t completely without merit, but there is no solid data confirming it.

9. Claim: U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill for ALL. True

Well, taxpayers ARE footing the bill, it’s just not as large as claimed. The issue seems to be: with a country $21.6 Trillion in debt, 15% in poverty, 30% at or near poverty, and 28 million citizens without health insurance (and rising with recent budget & tax cutbacks) what else would we do with the money? And should birthright citizenship continue to trigger these costs?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *