"T'was the night before Christmas when all through the house/
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse."
Except for a couple of rats in the White House. There George W. Bush and his sidekick Karl Rove were gift-wrapping and leaking to the Washington Post a great big ugly Christmas Surprise for America: a massive guest worker program that will "match any willing employer with any willing employee." Read: "any willing Mexican employee currently residing in Mexico."
The White House announced that this program—still being finalized—would be discussed with Mexico's omnipresent Vicente Fox during their summit meeting in Monterrey in early January.
I wonder: will Bush and Fox seal America's fate with a kiss?
Bush hopes to the use his guest worker program as part of his 2004 campaign "compassion agenda."
But where is Bush's "compassion" for the nine million unemployed Americans and nine million more under-employed?
I believe that Bush has underestimated America's coast-to-coast disgust with incessant pandering to illegal aliens. A year's worth of e-mails I've received from across the country indicate that Bush has lost many voters because of his immigration blindness. I further believe that Bush does not have the cushion he thinks he does in his re-election bid. Who, save for Halliburton and its executives, has really prospered under the Bush administration?
In the summer of 2001, when amnesty last seemed imminent, we endured a spate of unprofessional journalism on the subject. And one thing we can count on from Bush's upcoming meetings with Fox is a more of the same.
With that in mind, let's turn to today's topic:
THE SECOND ANNUAL VDARE.COM AWARD FOR LOUSY IMMIGRATION REPORTING.
And the 2003 VDARE.COM award for the worst immigration coverage by a daily newspaper goes to—the Los Angeles Times!
The Times withstood ferocious challenges by the usual suspects—its east coast rival New York Times, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, to name but a few.
And the Times also repelled vigorous attempts to report more unprofessionally by promising upstarts like the Salt Lake Tribune, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Denver Post.
In the end, though, the Los Angeles Times stands alone. For twelve months, the LA Times has editorialized, Op-editorialized and indirectly editorialized through its biased news stories for driver's licenses, matricula consular cards, amnesty, guest worker programs, the Dream Act, and Cal grants—all on behalf of illegal aliens.
No self-respecting fish would permit itself to be wrapped in the Los Angeles Times.
Still, the race for the crown went down to the wire–until December 23, when the Times published Pulitzer Prize-winner(!) Michael Hiltzik's (e-mail him: firstname.lastname@example.org) column in the business section titled "Clearing Out Bad Data on Illegal Immigration."
Hiltzik's piece performed the journalism hat trick: insulting, inaccurate and ignorant.
According to Hiltzik, his intention is to ferret out "how big of a drain" illegal immigration is on the California budget. With a new Proposition 187 on the horizon, Hiltzik accuses those who favor immigration reduction of stooping to "contrive their own statistics to back up their positions."
Hiltzik takes a pot shot at FAIR's Executive Director Dan Stein even though the Stein quote referenced contained no "statistics."
" 'California is being bankrupted by cheap immigrant labor,' Dan Stein, executive director of a Washington group called the Federation for American Immigration Reform, wrote this summer in the San Jose Mercury News."
Stein has a telephone; why didn't Hiltzik call him? I'm quite sure Stein would be delighted to answer any media inquiry about illegal alien costs.
Who are the people who favor immigration reduction? Hiltzik is happy to share what we're like by quoting—totally out of the blue—a recent reader e-mail.
Regarding illegal aliens, Hiltzik's correspondent recommends:
"Put a bounty on them. Shoot them as they cross, men, women, children, who cares?"
Journalists would be hard pressed to wallow lower in the muck. I have been involved in immigration reform for 15 years—longer than most—and have met concerned people of similar mind from all walks of life in all corners of the country.
Never, at any time, I have I heard any statement that even begins to approach the content of that e-mail.
But the e-mail quotation sets the tone for what follows—a tedious string of omissions and half-truths that characterize LA Times immigration "reporting."
I will not bore you by detailing them. Even the most cursory review of Hiltzik's column reveals glaring errors.
VDARE.COM's Ed Rubenstein was similarly dismayed by Hiltzik's failure to grasp the complexities:
"It was very selective and omitted more than it included. For example, there is no mention of taxes. As we know, many if not most illegal aliens work off the books and therefore pay no taxes. So, even if they don't directly receive social benefits, they use roads and schools for which citizens pay taxes.
"And speaking as an economist, I was disappointed that Hiltzik never mentioned how a continued influx of illegal aliens depresses wages and displaces native workers. When 'on-the books' workers are laid off, tax revenue for California declines accordingly and unemployment insurance costs rise."
Still, despite the most superficial possible analysis of illegal alien costs, Hiltzik admits that Californians ante-up $4.6 billion annually to subsidize their presence.
The good news is that we can now say that even the Los Angeles Times, an open-borders advocate that has few rivals, acknowledges that illegal immigration costs California taxpayers $4.6 billion a year.
But Rubenstein's own, professional, estimate, based on an extrapolation of National Research Council findings, is that California's immigrants receive an annual net subsidy from the state of nearly $10 billion—or nearly $22 billion if federal and state subsidies are included.
Hiltzik concludes smugly that:
"As long as its legal residents continue insisting on both higher spending and lower taxes, the budget crisis will stay with us."
Yes, true enough as far as it goes. But even the understated $4.6 billion is quite a tidy sum!
And the lingering question is why should Californians pay even 46 cents to accommodate illegal aliens?
The answer is that we shouldn't.
(For the one bright spot in Los Angeles Times immigration reporting, see Fred Dickey's July 20 2003 Los Angeles Times Magazine piece titled, "Undermining American Workers" —which does address the impact of illegal aliens on wages and taxes.)
Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.