CBS Falsely Reports Rand Study on the Cost of Illegal Immigration

CBS Falsely Reports on Illegal Immigration | NewsBusters.orgAn April 7 CBS Evening News report on the health care monetary burden of illegal aliens on American taxpayers has just now drawn the ire and the fire of the two largest Hispanic grievance groups -- the National Council of La Raza (translation: "The Race") and the Mexican American Legal and Educational Fund (MAL (not Mos) DEF).

Byron Pitts' piece is fairly mild and pretty much down the middle of the fairway, and CBS News and their (for now) flagship girl Katie Couric deserve kudos for at least addressing the issue.

But the Latino Intolerance Duo (LID -- as in flipped their's) can not let stand unchallenged the reporting of the costs of the invasion. Pitts pointing out that someone somewhere (that would of course be us) must pick up the tab -- when the likes of Fabiola (the illegal alien mother featured in the story) does not -- is to them an "anti-Latino falsehood". They do not offer how or why something so obvious as this is either "anti-Latino" or a "falsehood" -- we are left to assume that their asserting it empirically makes it so.

On our end, there was bit of a bone to be picked with the Tiffany Network's numbers.

The tally CBS offers for the aggregate damage done to federal, state and local budgets by the unremitted health care bills of illegal aliens seems far short of what seems to be reasonable. It is in actuality false.

CBS cites a Rand Corporation study that asserts that the cost to the taxpayer for health care for "all undocumented men, women and children" -- their words, both spoken and in chyron -- is $1.1 billion per year. That jumped out -- at least to me -- as woefully underselling the drama.

And so it is. The Rand study cited is in fact NOT for "all undocumented men, women and children" as CBS claims, but examines only "nonelderly participants -- those between 18 and 64" as so described in the Rand report's executive summary.

In other words, it does NOT include children as claimed by CBS, nor does it contain those of advanced age, the two age groups that far and away partake of the most health care -- and dollars therefore.

CBS inaccurately stretching the findings of the report to include children and the elderly, when it so CLEARLY does not, is decidedly false and minimizes substantially the impression left with the viewer as to the costs attending the illegal alien population in our midst.

Many thanks to La Raza and MALDEF for bringing this old story to our attention anew, else this egregious error might have slipped permanently into media bias and falsehood oblivion.

An aside: Even confined to the actual parameters, the $1.1 billion in costs per annum Rand claims still seems extraordinarily small. One perusing the Center for Immigration Studies' "Costs" report page will find their inkling supported in study after excellent study.

In but one 2004 report, "The High Cost of Cheap Labor - Illegal Immigration and the Federal Budget", we find Executive Summary Point #1:

Households headed by illegal aliens imposed more than $26.3 billion in costs on the federal government in 2002 and paid only $16 billion in taxes, creating a net fiscal deficit of almost $10.4 billion, or $2,700 per illegal household.

Emphasis ours. Here we have already hurdled by a factor of 10 Rand's $1.1 billion total -- just at the federal level and in only a portion of the illegal alien population here in the United States.

CBS's uncritically accepting Rand's paltry number -- and falsely applying it to the broader illegal alien population -- looks more feeble still.

Seton Motley
Seton Motley
Founder and president of Less Government.