Robert Samuelson writes on journalistic “groupthink” and bad reporting.
The Senate passed legislation last week that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) hailed as “the most far-reaching immigration reform in our history.” You might think that the first question anyone would ask is how much it would actually increase or decrease legal immigration. But no. After the Senate approved the bill by 62 to 36, you could not find the answer in the news columns of The Post, the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. Yet the estimates do exist and are fairly startling. By rough projections, the Senate bill would double the legal immigration that would occur during the next two decades from about 20 million (under present law) to about 40 million.
One job of journalism is to inform the public about what our political leaders are doing. In this case, we failed. The Senate bill’s sponsors didn’t publicize its full impact on legal immigration, and we didn’t fill the void. It’s safe to say that few Americans know what the bill would do because no one has told them. Indeed, I suspect that many senators who voted for the legislation don’t have a clue as to the potential overall increase in immigration.
The increase of legal immigrants in the Senate bill is only one bad apple in a whole bushel basket of bad apples.
By the way, the higher figure Samuelson notes as coming from the Heritage Foundation is about 66 million over 20 years (which came down, thanks to Senator Session, from over 100 million). That’s something that only further illustrates Samuelson’s point. Let’s put that in a more concrete context, because 40 million and 66 million are big numbers to get our heads around. Remember also that this is just new incoming legal immigrants, not population growth thanks to new births or illegal immigration.
Right now, the population of Canada is estimated at almost 33 million people. So, by the White House’s estimates, the Senate wants, in 20 years, to essentially annex Canada (plus…say…Hong Kong). If you use the Heritage numbers, we’d be approximately annexing Canada and Hong Kong plus Saudi Arabia. To put it in other terms, according to our Census Bureau, if we took the immigrants we’d be adding over the next 20 years and made them their own country (and some might argue that we’ve done that already),that new nation – the Nation of American Immigrantia – would be either the 18th-largest or the 29th-largest in the world, depending on whose numbers you used.
How many folks know that legal immigration would be so radically increased by the Senate bill? How many folks know that there’s a serious dispute as to how much more immigration there’d be?
Precious few, I’d wager, because it’s not really been reported. The journalism, if you want to call it that, has been reprehensible on the entire recent immigration debate and it’s served us all very poorly.
Luckily, there is going to be a House bill coming very soon and the MSM has a chance to make up for its mistake and report the story completely and evenhandedly. Let’s hope that, at least this one time, they do their jobs.