Hiding behind distorted data?
Yesterday, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law held an “ethics of immigration reform” hearing, to which they invited faith leaders and advocates from both sides of the issue to offer moral and religious perspectives on various reform proposals. In his opening statement, Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas) made the dubious claim that people of faith support an enforcement-only approach to immigration, rather than a comprehensive approach, and drew on a methodologically flawed Zogby poll – which we have debunked before – to make his case.
The Zogby poll– sponsored by the Center for Immigration Studies, whose fellow James R. Edwards spoke at yesterday’s hearing to urge delay of any immigration reform based on faulty economic arguments about unemployment– falls far short of industry standards . The poll relies on an opt-in online panel that is not representative of the general US population and also employs problematically worded questions. A national survey (PDF) released by Public Religion Research Institute in March, and conducted in accordance with the gold standards of polling (a scientific random sample), finds that people of faith from all religious groups support comprehensive immigration reform over enforcement-only policies by two-to-one margins.
The CIS/Zogby poll was also front-and-center in a “Dear Colleague” letter Rep. Lamar Smith sent to all Members of Congress, further circulating misinformation about people of faith’s perspectives on the issue. On a day when numerous faith leaders offered powerful testimony in support of comprehensive reform, it was unfortunate to see their opponents deploy faulty data to undermine their arguments.