Skewing the data

January 5, 2010, 4:46 pm | Posted by

Fox & Friends, the morning Fox show, hosted a discussion on Sunday on a recent immigration poll. Joining the host were Kevin Appleby, director of the Office of Migration and Refugee Policy at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Roy Beck, executive director of anti-immigration group Numbers USA, and Fr. Jonathan Morris, a regular religion contributor on Fox.

It’s good to see Fox paying attention to the role of people of faith in the immigration debate. Unfortunately, the poll in question (sponsored by anti-immigration group Center for Immigration Studies and conducted by Zogby) is fraught with flaws, as Kevin eludes to in the segment.

Public Religion Research president Robby Jones has a helpful rundown of the problems with the poll, including the fact that the poll “is not based on a scientific random sample of Americans but rather on an opt-in online panel survey.” The wording of the survey questions is also quite slanted, and problematic, in several places.

Here’s Kevin’s take:

Immigration reform is a nuanced issue, and Americans certainly hold a variety of views on pathways to citizenship, border protection, family unity, and the host of other sub-issues tied up in immigration reform. But wouldn’t be all be benefited by Fox– and other media outlets– paying a little more attention to polling methodology to be sure our public dialogue is informed by accurate and valid data?

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Home for the Holidays lifts up Iowa immigration stories

November 24, 2009, 4:04 pm | Posted by

Following up on last week’s rollout of the “Home for the Holidays” nationwide campaign to support comprehensive immigration reform, a series of events across the country are lifting up the faith community’s commitment to pass just, humane policies that keeps families together rather than keeping them apart.

As Allison at Sojourners pointed out at God’s Politics today, the initial event in Decorah, Iowa, last weekend received solid news coverage, including a segment on the Iowa City NBC affiliate KWWL and an article in the local newspaper, which reported that

A group of about 100 people gathered in support of immigration reform Sunday afternoon at the high school in Decorah. Although there were not specific immigration reforms suggested as part of the event, the consensus was clear that current immigration policies and practices are seriously broken and in need of reform…

Local stories of immigration were shared, from that of a sixth generation Norwegian American (Marilyn Anderson) to that of Rosa Zamora, who tearfully told of her experience of separation from her children and husband during the Postville raid. Cheuang Kavan, a resident of Decorah since 1985 shared emotional stories of his family being North Vietnam and Laotian refugees…

Events like these can help turn the tide on difficult issues by showing the local consequences of national policies and demonstrating the grassroots will to change them. Through the holiday season and into next year, expect more stories like these.

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Home for the holidays

November 16, 2009, 12:47 pm | Posted by

Imagine for a moment that it’s Christmas Eve or the first night of Hanukkah. Your family is gathered for an evening of celebration and prayer, but where there ought to be joy there’s profound sorrow because Mom isn’t there. She’s been deported, and an impenetrably byzantine system has barred her from returning, even if she is legally cleared to do so. Not such a happy holiday.

With such situations — along with the general injustice of our broken immigration system — in mind, faith groups across the country today launched “Home for the Holidays,” a major escalation of their effort to press Congress to pass reform that keeps families together.

The mobilization is innovative and widespread. Tens of thousands of people of faith across the country will send holiday postcards to Congress urging passage of immigration reform that unites families rather than keeping them separated, and faith-based networks are mounting statewide call-in days to Congress in seven states (OH, PA, MN, AR, MO, SC and NC), and large scale events such as prayer services and town halls in AR, IA, OH, and TX.

The campaign is especially timely not only because of the holiday season’s poignant reminder of the importance of family togetherness, but also because the White House announced on Friday that it intends to push for comprehensive immigration reform legislation early next year. Here’s hoping Congress takes that cue, and that it hears the faith community’s message loud and clear.

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Immigration back on the front burner

November 13, 2009, 3:33 pm | Posted by

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced today that the Obama administration will push for passage of comprehensive immigration reform legislation early next year, rather than waiting until after the midterm elections. This comes as welcome news for the countless families that are separated by the current system, as well as faith leaders at the forefront of the movement for humane and just immigration policy.

In election years and off years alike, diverse religious organizations work continually for comprehensive immigration reform that protects workers, families and detainees who are exploited, imprisoned and deported by our unjust and inhumane system. A new campaign in this ongoing effort, which will roll out next week, aims to ensure that Congress and the White House keep the issue on the front burner over the holiday season. More on Monday!

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Quick hits

November 12, 2009, 3:50 pm | Posted by

A few thoughts coming off the midweek holiday:

- To my grandfather who served at the Battle of the Bulge and my father who served in the Air Force, happy belated Veterans’ Day. That goes for all current and former military personnel.

- To religious right fearmongers who claim Muslims should be discriminated against or prohibited from serving in the military in the wake of the Ft. Hood massacre, I’d like to direct your attention to some especially poignant remarks by Colin Powell on Meet the Press last year.

- Kudos to CNN for showing Lou Dobbs the door. It reflects well on the network and is a step forward for civil debate on immigration, which will be especially important in the coming months as congregations across the country mobilize to pass comprehensive reform.

- The LDS Church has endorsed a Salt Lake City ordinance that protects LGBT people from workplace and housing discrimination. What a surprising and uplifting development.

- Faith leaders worldwide have responded to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s solicitation of their leadership in the fight against climate change.

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