It’s been a while since I talked about fact-checking, so I might as well do so while I wait for my blood supply to top back up. You’d be surprised how much blood can come out of a half-inch cut on your finger. How the floor escaped becoming a bloody mess I’ll never know. The bathroom sink and trash can have seen things, though …
I’ve had to put some Voices letters aside lately not just because I can’t read them (if your handwriting is horrible, it might be best to dictate … please, I no longer have the person who could read chicken-scratch), they were from out of state (Arkies only), they were poetry (despite the fact that we don’t print poetry), or the writer insisted on remaining anonymous or on the letter not being edited (everyone needs an editor, and much of the time it’s the people who think they don’t who need it most).
I’ve told letter-writers many times before that if they would just attribute statements to their source and/or make their opinion clear that they can often make it past some fact-checking. Some apparently don’t want to listen though, since they keep sending me letters I can’t use, especially, lately, in regards to illegal aliens. And of course, I can usually tell where the statements originated … it’s pretty obvious.
For example, you can’t say the citizenship question was included in the census until 2010 when Barack Obama removed it unless you attribute that statement to whoever said it. Why? Because it’s not quite true, and it really had nothing to do with Obama.
The citizenship question hasn’t been a part of census questionnaires for all U.S. households since 1950. In 1970, the Census Bureau started sending out short forms for basic information about the population, and more detailed long-form supplements, but only to about one in six households. Since then the citizenship question has shown up on the long form, ending in 2000. In 2010, all households got a short form, and there was no long form at all; it had been replaced with the American Community Survey (done annually for about 3.5 million households since 2005, asking many of the same questions as the long form, including citizenship).
So since Obama was in office by 2010, didn’t he have a hand in that census’ questionnaire? Not really. The bureau had outlined a plan in 1997 to eliminate the long form after 2000 in favor of the American Community Survey, so it was in the works long before the Obama administration.
NPR reported that if the 2020 census form did include the citizenship question, it would be “the first time the U.S. census has directly asked for the citizenship status of every person living in every household.” Well, someone does always want to be first and greatest.
The 14th Amendment states that the purpose of the census is to count “the whole number of persons in each state,” whether legal or illegal; it’s not just counting citizens. By not doing that, it would mean that we weren’t getting an accurate count of everyone living in the U.S., which would have an impact on infrastructure funding and the like.
The fear among immigration advocates is that the citizenship question might discourage even legal immigrants to answer, which would result in undercounts, or that we could have a replay of the internments from World War II. Under the Second War Powers Act during World War II, census microdata from 1940 was made available to the FBI, and resulted in Japanese internment (two of those camps were in Arkansas, in Jerome and Rohwer). However, census confidentiality provisions were reinstated in 1947, strengthened by Congress later, and affirmed by the courts.
That confidentiality holding in this instance would allay many fears. Lord knows we don’t want the FBI or others in the administration (regardless of who’s in power) to have access again to those records. It just invites too many dystopian worries, and I prefer those be kept in books and on screen, and even then I’m not much of a fan unless Terry Gilliam’s involved.
Another overblown claim I’ve gotten is that 4,000 illegal immigrants have crossed the border every day this year. On the bright side, it wasn’t as overblown as the claim of millions of illegals from all over streaming over the border every year. Need I remind readers that the majority of illegal immigrants in the U.S. come here legally and overstay their visas, and that most of the aliens in the current border wave are turning themselves in at legal points of entry seeking asylum? Apparently so. Hyperbole is one thing, but what I’ve been sent is way past hyperbole. And again, we know where the majority of this is coming from. People, calm down; it’s not an invasion.
Back in the 1990s, about a million were apprehended at the border each year, but that’s been coming down steadily for years until very recently. Using Border Patrol numbers for the southwest border, I found 501,718 total apprehensions from January through June (which includes those who turn themselves in). That works out to an average of 2,777, which is a bit off from 4,000. That’s more than The New York Times’ average of 2,200 in March, but the numbers topped 100,000 for the next three months. The only references to 4,000 I found were in a report of a daily high of about 4,000 crossing in one day (and one day only), and in a statement by Sarah Huckabee Sanders that 4,000 terrorists had been apprehended at the border. Most of the nearly 4,000 terrorists the administration said were apprehended in 2017 were caught at airports, according to a Homeland Security report.
It’s not good that the numbers of illegal aliens have come up in the last couple of years, especially since the Border Patrol positions that Congress has funded (21,370) are not all filled—the agency is about 2,000 agents short. Both the previous and current presidents have added funding for more Border Patrol, ICE and Customs agents, but it’s a tough job to fill. Having even 1,000 people come through a day with insufficient staffing is just asking for trouble.
And for everyone who thinks Obama was luring more illegal immigrants to the U.S. (to vote Democratic, of course 🙄), I’d ask you to look at the numbers now, which are higher. Perhaps if someone started looking at what’s causing so many to risk their lives to get here and addressed that, the rest would fix itself.
Yeah, I know, not gonna happen.
Immigration isn’t the only topic that’s been the subject of fact checks, but it’s the leader for the letters that have been rejected lately.
So again, just to be safe, if you send a letter to Voices at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, just tell us in your letter where you got the information if you state something as fact. A simple attribution may be all you need to save your letter for publication. I’ll still check it, but it makes a difference. And if I contact you for permission, please respond.
It’s not that hard … unless you make it that way.
But some people seem to like it that way.
They owe me a lot of chocolate. And links to funny cat pictures and videos. It also wouldn’t hurt to give me some hope that reality will prevail again sometime soon. Please.