Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Miami Herald Latino hack pushes anti-immigrant nativist propaganda

"Visa overstays are common among foreign nationals visiting the U.S.," says the headline on the (usually paywalled) Miami Herald web site article by Alfonso Chardy, but which --at least for the  time being-- you can see cached at this link.

It's an example of the normal output of a journalistic hack, seizing on one individual's story to illustrate a (supposedly) broader situation. God knows I've been part of perpetrating hundreds if not thousands of these stories over the decades. But at least I never did it to lie to people and promote a racist agenda, which is what Chardy, one of the Herald's house Latinos, has done.

Mister Chardy's headline says "visa overstays are common." Let's look at the claim.

There were more than 170 million non-immigrant visitors to the United States in 2013, according to the official "Annual Flow Report" issued a year ago by Homeland Security.

So out of the 170 million, how many result in visa overstays?

The Chardy article cites the widely accepted Pew Hispanic Center estimate of "up to" 4.9 million of the unauthorized immigrants in the country having entered with a temporary tourist or business visa but failed to leave the country once the visa expired.

But according to another Pew analysis published last September, as of 2013, the median number of years an undocumented immigrant had been in the United States was almost 13 years. This means that, as a very rough estimate, there had been nearly two and a half million visa overstayers in the United States who arrived in this century and were still here as of 2013; the other half had come earlier.

However, until 2008 the unauthorized immigrant population was growing; since then it has declined. For our back-of-the-envelope guesstimates, let's just say before 2008 the yearly rate of visa overstays was well over 200,000, and since then less than 200,000. 

Out of nearly 200 million non-immigrant admissions a year, less than 200K would be roughly around one tenth of one percent.

For Alfonso Chardy and the Miami Herald headline writers, this makes visa overstays "common."

But would the Miami Herald write that crime is "common" in the United States, with about 10 million a year, according to government statistics? That works out to one crime for every 25 adults, not one out of 1000 visitors, as in the case of Visa overstayers.

Would the Herald say crimes of violence are "common," since there are more than a million each year, but only a couple of hundred thousand (give or take) visa overstayers?

Or what about rape? There were 173,000 victims of rape in 2013 according to a Department of Justice survey cited by Wikipedia, a victimization rate of 0.1% of the population that is 12 years of age or older. This is roughly the same as our back-of-the-envelope number for visa overstays that year. And if you focus on only the number of rapes committed by males between the ages of 15 and 50, the rate would quadruple or more.

Can the Miami Herald point to an item it has published where a case of an individual sexual assault was used to publish a headline about how rapists are "common" among men living in the United States, just as it says that "Visa overstays are common among foreign nationals visiting the U.S."?

I think the Miami Herald has just shown us once more that it is a despicable racist rag suitable for wrapping fish or --in the case of an extreme shortage of toilet paper-- perhaps one other use. But toilet paper shortage or not, it's still full of shit.

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