Who Fact-Checks the Fact-Checkers?

By Andrew R. Arthur on January 14, 2019

President Donald Trump gave an address from the White House last week in which he argued for additional funding for border-security. Shortly thereafter, the Associated Press (AP) released an article captioned "AP FACT CHECK: Trump and the disputed border crisis". There are numerous "facts" in that fact check that are questionable themselves, but I will only address three.

Here is one:


TRUMP: "Democrats will not fund border security."

THE FACTS: That's not true. They just won't fund it the way he wants. They have refused his demand for $5.7 billion to build part of a steel wall across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Democrats passed legislation the day they took control of the House that offered $1.3 billion for border security, including physical barriers and technology along the U.S. southern border.

Senate Democrats have approved similar funding year after year.

Democrats have also supported broader fence-building as part of deals that also had a path to legal status for millions of immigrants living in the country illegally.

In 2013, Senate Democrats voted for a failed immigration bill that provided roughly $46 billion for a number of border security measures — including new fencing — but that legislation would have created a pathway to citizenship for some of the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

The 2013 Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act had money to double the number of miles of fencing, to 700 miles (1,126 km), as well as for more border patrol agents. It also had a mandatory employment verification system to ensure all U.S. employees are authorized to work in the country. In exchange, however, the bill allowed immigrants living in the country illegally to apply for a provisional legal status if they paid a $500 fine and had no felony convictions.

As well many Democrats voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which has resulted in the construction of about 650 miles (1,050 kilometers) of border barrier. But that legislation didn't authorize the kind of wall Trump has long been advocating since he launched his campaign.

Here is what the president actually said:

The federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security.

Again, the first part of AP's response was: "That's not true. They just won't fund it the way he wants. They have refused his demand for $5.7 billion to build part of a steel wall across the U.S.-Mexico border." A more correct way to put that statement is: "They just won't fund as much of it as he wants, or in the way he wants." As USA Today reported on January 8:

Legislation the Democratic-led House passed Jan. 3, with five Republicans voting in favor, would have devoted $1.3 billion for fencing and more for border security. The bill would have funded the Department of Homeland Security at current spending levels through Feb. 8 — but it would include no funding for Trump's border wall, which is at the heart of the current government shutdown.

Included in the House bill is:

  • More than $1.3 billion for new fencing in the Rio Grande Valley and funding to replace secondary fencing in San Diego and other existing pedestrian fencing.
  • $366.5 million for border security technology.
  • $7.7 million to hire 328 additional U.S. Customs and Border Protection customs officers.
  • $224.6 million for "non-intrusive Inspection equipment" at ports of entry.
  • $7.08 billion for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE].

Fencing in the Rio Grande Valley is important, but funding to replace existing fencing is more "upkeep" than security per se. I will note, additionally, that according to Politifact, Senate Democratic staffers have estimated the cost of a border wall at $70 billion, meaning that $1.3 billion would be enough to build 1.85 percent of a border wall. Given that the Southwest border is 1,954 miles long (more or less), the funding proposed would be enough for 36.28 miles. Regardless of what one thinks about a border wall, no one assumes that an additional 36.28 miles of it will make the border any more or less secure, except in some very discrete spots.

To close the loop, Dan Cadman and I have already discussed the shortcomings of technology without barriers. Further, Customs and Border Protection officers (CBPOs) are what used to be called "inspectors" at ports of entry, and therefore they are as likely to end up at Dulles Airport in Virginia as they are at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, so that is only technically "border security". Finally, ICE officers by definition work in the interior, so that is hardly "border security" except to the degree that ICE detains some of the aliens apprehended at the border. But according to the National Immigration Forum, the agency's FY 2018 budget was $7.5 billion, so $7.08 billion is actually a cut.

Of course, the $1.3 billion in funding for fencing may not be a serious offer, either. According to a January 3, 2019, article in Roll Call:

The new House Democratic majority passed two government funding bills Thursday to open shuttered federal agencies that President Donald Trump has said he will not sign, as Republicans predicted the partial government shutdown will be a long one.

Before the votes Speaker Nancy Pelosi reiterated that Democrats will not agree to a border wall but joked that she'd give Trump $1 for it.

"A dollar?" the California Democrat said when asked if there was any situation in which she'd even accept $1 for the wall. "A dollar. One dollar, yeah, one dollar."

In a more serious posture, Pelosi went on to vehemently reject the idea of funding the wall, which she says is immoral and ineffective.

"We're not doing a wall," she said. "Does anybody have any doubt about that? We're not doing a wall. So that's that."

For those not attuned to the legislative branch, the speaker of the House has more or less absolute control over bills that are brought before that body. If the speaker says "We're not doing a wall," and means it, there will be no wall. As a practical matter, there is no difference between fencing and a wall, so that suggests that there will not be any fencing at the end of the day, either.

I am not going to touch the line "Senate Democrats have approved similar funding year after year," because Senate Democrats can only "approve" anything in conjunction with Senate Republicans (which we call "Senate approval"), except when there are 60 of them, a situation that has not existed since February 4, 2010. It would be more correct to say "Senate Democrats have agreed to/voted for similar funding" in the past; lest you think I am splitting hairs, remember that this is a purported "FACT CHECK". More significantly, however, determining whether a "fence" or a "wall" is a more appropriate barrier is one of those things that would logically be left to the experts (Border Patrol) who are requesting that barrier, not, say, a former vintner or professional linebacker.

Which brings me to the last part of the AP analysis: The 2013 Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act. It is hardly a surprise that congressional Democrats would have agreed to fund 700 miles of wall in exchange for amnesty for non-felons with $500, but that hardly contradicts the president's statement. If anything, it supports it, because (1) 700 miles of wall would still leave long sections of the border without barriers and (2) an amnesty of that size would just spur even more illegal immigration, as happened after the last amnesty.

The next AP "fact" has to do with what it terms "violence":

TRUMP: "Over the years thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country and thousands more lives will be lost if we don't act right now."

THE FACTS: His statement that people in the country illegally are a special menace to public safety is at odds with plentiful research.

Multiple studies from social scientists and the libertarian think tank Cato Institute have found that people here illegally are less likely to commit crime than U.S. citizens, and legal immigrants are even less likely to do so.

A March study by the journal Criminology found "undocumented immigration does not increase violence."

The study, which looked at the years 1990 through 2014, said states with bigger shares of such people have lower crime rates.

As well, a study in 2017 by Robert Adelman, a sociology professor at University of Buffalo, analyzed 40 years of crime data in 200 metropolitan areas and found that immigrants helped lower crime. New York City, for example, has the nation's largest population of immigrants living in the country illegally — about 500,000 — and last year had only 289 murders among a total population of 8.5 million people, according to preliminary data. Those numbers mean a person's odds of becoming a victim of homicide in tightly packed, diverse New York City were about the same as they were last year in Montana.

And Ruben Rumbaut, a University of California, Irvine sociology professor, co-authored a recent study that noted crime rates fell sharply from 1990 to 2015 at a time when illegal immigration spiked.

I will leave it to my more statistically savvy colleagues to discuss whether illegal aliens commit more or fewer crimes than the native population. For example, as my colleague Preston Huennekens has noted:

The Bureau of Prisons is responsible for the custody and care of federal inmates. As of December 2017, BOP has custody of 38,132 known or suspected aliens. This represents approximately 21 percent of the total BOP population — meaning that one in five BOP inmates is an alien.

Of the 38,132 known or suspected aliens, approximately 66 percent were unlawfully present in the United States.

Some analysts charge that the reason there are so many aliens in federal custody is that they are there for primarily immigration-related offenses. This is certainly true, as about 29 percent of aliens in BOP custody have committed immigration offenses such as illegal reentry after removal.

But most of the aliens are incarcerated because of other federal crimes they committed. According to the report, 46 percent of these aliens committed drug trafficking or other drug-related offenses, which was the largest crime category committed by aliens in BOP custody. The remaining 25 percent committed a variety of other criminal offenses, including fraud, weapons charges, racketeering, and sexual crimes. Clearly, the large population of aliens in BOP custody cannot simply be explained away by immigration crimes.

This is an actual analysis based on publicly available statistics examining an actual population of criminals. Even if the AP did not want to cite to one of the country's leading immigration think tanks (employees of which have testified before Congress more than 100 times, and have been cited in the press thousands of times, as opposed to say, two sociologists), they could have at least mentioned the BOP data, which is undisputed.

As for criminology in states and localities, Huennekens states:

The Department of Justice has for years tried to tally the number of aliens in state and local jails. The inmates in these facilities make up 90 percent of the total incarcerated population. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) collects data from local facilities using the Annual Survey of Jails, but this data cannot accurately estimate the total number of aliens in local custody at this time. The DHS Office of Immigration Statistics is "evaluating potential strategies to estimate the immigration status of individuals in state and local custody based on information available in the Census Bureau's American Community Survey." Whether this will produce reliable estimates of aliens in state and local prisons and jails remains to be seen.

Some states have released information about the alien population within their total inmate counts. The FY 2018 Quarter 1 Alien Incarceration Report included information released by the Texas Department of Public Safety regarding aliens in the state's jails. The report notes that this data does not include all aliens in the Texas criminal justice system, but only those who have had prior interaction with DHS.

Over 250,000 criminal aliens were booked in Texas local jails between June 2011 and April 2018. These individuals were charged with more than 663,000 offenses, including:

  • 1,351 homicide charges
  • 79,049 assault charges
  • 18,685 burglary charges
  • 79,900 drug charges
  • 815 kidnapping charges
  • 44,882 theft charges
  • 50,777 obstructing police charges
  • 4,292 robbery charges
  • 7,156 sexual assault charges
  • 9,938 weapons charges.

Again, these are actual crimes committed by actual aliens reported by one state. And, if as the Cato Institute reporting cited by AP that "legal immigrants are even less likely to" commit crimes than those here illegally is correct (which is logical because legal immigrants are screened for criminal histories before they are allowed into the United States), the appropriate conclusion is that many if not most of these crimes were committed by illegal aliens.

By the way, the Criminology study cited by AP contains the following:

Lastly, it should be noted that we did not examine the impact of transnational criminal organizations that operate along the border (e.g., drug cartels). Rather, in line with virtually all immigration–crime research, we examined how the settlement of foreign‐born individuals affects crime in the United States.

Kind of an important point for "AP FACT CHECK: Trump and the disputed border crisis" (emphasis added).

Moreover, taking the last part of the excerpt above to its logical conclusion, unlimited illegal immigration would eventually drive crime rates to close to zero. Does anybody really believe that to be true, though?

Perhaps other factors, aside from the illegal alien population, are to thank for New York City's low murder rate. Like possibly better policing in Gotham than in, let's say, Baltimore, which has had four police commissioners since 2015 (and currently has an acting one) according to the Baltimore Sun. New York City, on the other hand, has had two in the last five years, including William Bratton, who was serving a second go-around as New York City's top cop. By the way, Chicago, which the Pew Research Center identifies as number three on the list of cities with the most "unauthorized immigrants" (140,000) as of February 2017, had 653 murders in 2017, which even then was down from an astounding 765 in 2016, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

But here is the president's actual statement:

In the last two years, ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of aliens with criminal records, including those charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 violent killings. Over the years, thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country, and thousands more lives will be lost if we don't act right now.

Those are facts. Donald Trump did not state, contrary to AP's assertion, that illegal immigrants are a "special menace", but it is a fact (independent of the president's actual statement) that any crime that any alien who has entered illegally commits is one that could have been avoided by preventing that alien's illegal entry.

The president also stated the following:

Some have suggested a barrier is immoral. Then why do wealthy politicians build walls, fences, and gates around their homes? They don't build walls because they hate the people on the outside, but because they love the people on the inside. The only thing that is immoral is the politicians to do nothing and continue to allow more innocent people to be so horribly victimized.

America's heart broke the day after Christmas when a young police officer in California was savagely murdered in cold blood by an illegal alien, who just came across the border. The life of an American hero was stolen by someone who had no right to be in our country.

Day after day, precious lives are cut short by those who have violated our borders. In California, an Air Force veteran was raped, murdered, and beaten to death with a hammer by an illegal alien with a long criminal history. In Georgia, an illegal alien was recently charged with murder for killing, beheading, and dismembering his neighbor. In Maryland, MS-13 gang members who arrived in the United States as unaccompanied minors were arrested and charged last year after viciously stabbing and beating a 16-year-old girl.

The first part of that statement is self-evident (except for the last sentence, which as an opinion is not really amenable to factual analysis). For example, in a prior house, I put up a fence on one side after my family was awakened by drunken partiers who were running from the police through my backyard and did not see the side of my house or my deck furniture in the dark. I didn't hate those over-served revelers — I just did not want a repeat appearance or, worse, the liability.

The rest is recitation of facts: The young police officer? As the Modesto Bee noted, he was Newman (Calif.) Police Cpl. Ronil Singh. "Paulo Virgen Mendoza, 32, who officials said was in the United States illegally, was arrested on a murder charge two days later."

The Air Force veteran? As the Santa Maria Times reported in June 2018: "Victor Martinez, an undocumented immigrant who broke into the home of Santa Maria resident Marilyn Pharis in July three years ago and beat and strangled her, was found guilty of special circumstances murder Wednesday by a Superior Court jury." That article continued: "The jury also found the special circumstances of robbery, burglary, sexual penetration and the personal use of a deadly weapon — a hammer — to be true."

The Georgia murder? As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted on January 8, 2019:

During Tuesday night's speech to the nation, President Trump cited details of a recent Clayton County homicide — a gruesome killing involving dismemberment — in making his case for constructing a wall along the southern U.S. border.

The man charged with murder in the November case, Christian Ponce-Martinez, had moved to Morrow three months before allegedly killing one of his neighbors, Robert Page, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported. According to the White House, Ponce-Martinez was in the U.S. illegally from Mexico.

Page, a 76-year-old grandfather, was reported missing in early November by his wife of nearly 50 years. Officers searched the area and found Ponce-Martinez hiding behind his house and acting nervous and suspicious, police said. A trail of blood led investigators to Page's remains. He had been dismembered, and part of his body was located in a cooler. Ponce-Martinez was arrested and charged with malice murder.

The 16-year-old girl in Maryland? As the Baltimore Sun reported:

That didn't exactly happen.

But there have been similar cases in Maryland that include elements of the scenario Trump depicted, as MS-13 members have committed assaults and killings — primarily in the Washington suburbs. The international gang was born in Los Angeles and most members have Salvadoran heritage.

Here's a rundown of some of the more prominent cases from the last few years that bear resemblance to Trump's MS-13 anecdote.

  • In June 2018, brothers Lenin Mancias-Callejas and Bryan Mancias-Callejas, both 16 and alleged members of MS-13, were charged in the killing of 19-year-old Herson Mejia-Alvarez. Mejia-Alvarez's body was found in Silver Spring in May 2018, according to the Washington Post.
  • Also in June, Marcos Melendez-Gamez, a 17-year-old from Annapolis, was charged in the 2017 death of Neris Giovani Bonilla-Palacios, 17. Prosecutors alleged Medelez-Gamez acted as a lookout while Bonilla-Palacios was murdered by MS-13 members.
  • In February 2018, a 16-year-old boy was stabbed outside Parkdale High School in Prince George's County. Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said the stabbing was related to MS-13, the Washington Post reported.
  • In January 2017, 15-year-old Damaris Reyes Rivas, of Gaithersburg, was tortured and killed by Venus Romero Iraheta in the woods of Northern Virginia. Iraheta, 18, was sentenced to 40 years in prison in November and overall, 10 associates of MS-13 were convicted of the attack, the Washington Post reported. The case has been used in the past by the Trump administration to highlight the resurgence of MS-13 in the Washington area.
  • Last year, six alleged members of MS-13 were indicted on murder, conspiracy and racketeering charges in March. And in June, two dozen alleged MS-13 members were also indicted on federal charges of conspiracy to participate in racketeering related to murders, kidnapping, extortion and money laundering from 2015 until 2017.

Frankly, that is worse than the president portrayed the issue. Based on this list, the 16-year-old was actually 15, and was from Maryland, but killed in Virginia. The Washington Post described the gruesome details of Damaris Reyes Rivas' death:

Damaris's slaying played out on the frigid afternoon of Jan. 8, 2017. Iraheta blamed Damaris for helping lure her boyfriend, Christian Sosa Rivas, an MS-13 associate, to his death roughly a week earlier.

Sosa Rivas, who claimed he was the leader of the gang's Harrison clique, was killed by other MS-13 members, possibly because they thought he was falsely claiming his title. Federal prosecutors are pursuing a separate case in that slaying.

Damaris was lured to Lake Accotink Park in Springfield under the pretense of smoking marijuana. When she arrived, 10 MS-13 associates between the ages of 15 and 21 walked her into the woods and began interrogating her about the killing of Sosa Rivas.

The ghoulish cellphone videos, which were played following Iraheta's plea hearing, captured the moment. The MS-13 associates stalk around Damaris, who stands in the snow-covered woods, and yell at her in Spanish. One clicks a cigar cutter and tells her she could lose a finger, before the video ends.

A second video picks up after Damaris was walked to a second location. She is shivering in the woods with no shirt or shoes in the 21-degree weather. The MS-13 associates wanted Damaris to feel the same cold Sosa Rivas felt when his body was dumped in an icy Potomac River.

Iraheta is seen wielding the hunting knife, before someone off camera shouts in Spanish: "Just stick the steel in her."

But the ordeal would not end.

The group returned Damaris to a car and drove her to a nearby location, where a Beltway overpass vaults over some train tracks, prosecutors said at Iraheta's plea hearing. MS-13 graffiti still marks the pilings and underside of the bridge.

Some of the gang members peeled away, while others punched and kicked Damaris. After a while, Iraheta climbed on top of Damaris and asked her if she had slept with Sosa Rivas, prosecutors said. Damaris admitted she had and asked for forgiveness, but prosecutors said Iraheta flew into a rage.

Iraheta later told Fairfax County detectives and an FBI agent that she did not feel bad about what happened next. The interrogation was videotaped, and the FBI agent translated what Iraheta told them.

" 'You're going to remember me until the day we see each other in hell,' " Iraheta said she told Damaris. " 'Don't forget my name,' and I told her my full name. ... I told her to never forget who I was."

A Fairfax County detective then asked what happened next. Iraheta replied in English: "I killed her."

The FBI agent testified at a preliminary hearing that Iraheta sliced a tattoo off Damaris and plunged the knife into her 13 times. As Damaris lay on the ground, another MS-13 member stabbed her with a large tree branch.

A third video picks up soon after. Damaris is seen lying on her back amid dead leaves on the floor of the woods. Blood trickles onto the leaves from her abdomen and is smeared on her forehead.

Another MS-13 associate enters the frame and jabs a bloody stick into her neck again and again, before the video abruptly ends. Prosecutors said Damaris was left to die and slowly expired over about 20 minutes.

Those are facts that the AP could have contested, but did not. Reasonably so, because the real facts are just as bad as (if not worse than) the president described them.

Or, he could have mentioned MS-13 member Yervin Josue Romero-Rivera, a 21-year-old foreign national illegally present in the United States. According to Montgomery County (Md.) police, Romero-Rivera, along with other members of the gang, beat a 15-year-old sex-trafficking victim with a baseball bat 28 times, reportedly because "the victim was 'not doing a good job as an MS-13 prostitute,'" as I reported in a February 2018 post.

The final "fact" from the AP "fact check" is set forth under "Immigrant Cost/Benefits":

TRUMP: "America proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation but all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages."

THE FACTS: The U.S. is not experiencing "uncontrolled" illegal immigration. The debate is over whether the controls are strong enough.

As for the costs, a major academic study in 2016 by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found the job impacts of immigration, when measured over at least 10 years, are very small. It found immigration — legal and illegal — is an overall benefit to long-term economic growth.

Some evidence suggests that skilled immigrants boost wages. Native-born Americans without a high-school degree are most likely to suffer.

The academy study said estimating fiscal impacts of immigration is complex. Young and old immigrants tend to drain government resources while working-age immigrants contribute.

Respectfully, any illegal immigration is, by definition, uncontrolled, in much the same way as drug trafficking is "uncontrolled pharmaceutical sales" and theft is "uncontrolled commerce". So the fact-checkers fact is demonstrably untrue by definition.

Even if the issue, however, were that the current rate of immigration is "uncontrolled" compared to the past, (1) that is a subjective statement not amenable to factual analysis; and (2) is borne out by factual analysis. While this may seem like a contradiction, it is not.

When there were few, if any, immigration laws, all immigration was "uncontrolled" by definition, but there was no "illegal immigration". While today there are immigration laws, and the number of those aliens crossing illegally is below historical highs, illegal immigration is "uncontrolled" in a way and to a degree that it was not in the past.

On January 8, 2019, the White House issued a fact sheet captioned "President Donald J. Trump Calls on Congress to Secure our Borders and Protect the American People". Included in that fact sheet is the following:

We are facing a growing national security and humanitarian crisis at our Southern Border.

This crisis is only worsening as 2,000 inadmissible migrants arrive at our border every day and overwhelm our immigration system.

We do not have the resources needed to hold them, and legal loopholes and activist court rulings prevent authorities from promptly returning them.

Immigration courts are overwhelmed, with a backlog of over 800,000 cases.

Each one of these statements is factual. The Washington Post reported on January 9 that in December 2018, "authorities detained 60,782 migrants attempting to enter the United States without authorization." It continued: "It marked the third consecutive month that the figure — the most widely used barometer of border trends — topped 60,000, remaining near the highest levels of the Trump presidency." That is, more or less, 2,000 inadmissible migrants per day.

The Daily Beast reported in November 2018 that ICE was detaining 44,000 aliens; the article in fact contends that is 4,000 detention beds more than was appropriated for that purpose. That includes aliens detained within the interior of the United States. If ICE is only capable of detaining 44,000 aliens, and 60,000 aliens are entering each month, then the government does "not have the resources needed to hold" all those entering illegally. This is particularly true given the fact that it takes more than a month for aliens who have passed credible fear (89 percent of those referred in FY 2018, or 74,534 claimants, as I noted in a November 2018 post) to have their asylum claims adjudicated in removal proceedings.

I wrote about the loopholes in a May 2018 Backgrounder, and they have not been plugged since. As for the backlogs, there are more than 800,000 cases in the immigration courts; in fact, there were "809,041 pending cases before the immigration courts as of November 2018," as I stated in a recent post.

The most salient point, however, is the fact that the makeup of the population of aliens has changed significantly over the years. As DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen recently stated:

We are also facing a humanitarian catastrophe. For the first time, families and children make up the majority of those entering illegally. Why? Because word has gotten out that our broken legal framework will give them a "free pass" into the United States. This has dramatically changed the migrant flows, and it is a crisis because our system wasn't built to handle it.

In the early years of the millennium, the majority of aliens entering illegally were adult males, many if not most of whom were from Mexico. They could be returned to that country rather quickly after apprehension.

By contrast, according to CBP statistics, in FY 2019 CBP is now averaging 31,188 family units and UACs detained at and between the ports of entry a month, a 136 percent increase over FY 2017. In December 2018, in fact, almost 61 percent of all aliens deemed inadmissible at the ports of entry and apprehended entering between the ports were family units or UACs. Of those family units apprehended between the ports of entry, 95 percent are from El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras. Under the Flores settlement agreement and the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), the children in those family units must be released in 20 days, as I explained in my May 2018 Backgrounder, and to avoid separating families, DHS releases the whole family within that period.

So yes, illegal immigration is uncontrolled.

Then there is AP's statement:

As for the costs, a major academic study in 2016 by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found the job impacts of immigration, when measured over at least 10 years, are very small. It found immigration — legal and illegal — is an overall benefit to long-term economic growth.

Some evidence suggests that skilled immigrants boost wages. Native-born Americans without a high-school degree are most likely to suffer.

The academy study said estimating fiscal impacts of immigration is complex. Young and old immigrants tend to drain government resources while working-age immigrants contribute.

First, as my colleague Steven Camarota explained in a February 2017 Backgrounder, the fiscal costs of illegal immigration are not that complex:

There is agreement among researchers that illegal immigrants overwhelmingly have modest levels of education — most have not completed high school or have only a high school education.

There is also agreement that immigrants who come to America with modest levels of education create significantly more in costs for government than they pay in taxes.

A recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) study estimated the lifetime fiscal impact (taxes paid minus services used) of immigrants by education. Averaging the cost estimates from that study and combining them with the education levels of illegal border-crossers shows a net fiscal drain of $74,722 per illegal crosser.

So whatever the "job impacts" of immigration are, the fiscal costs of illegal immigration, that is the costs borne by taxpayers, are pretty high.

Second, AP states: "Some evidence suggests that skilled immigrants boost wages. Native-born Americans without a high-school degree are most likely to suffer." As Camarota points out above, however, "illegal immigrants overwhelmingly have modest levels of education." They are, in fact, most likely to compete with American workers (both native-born citizens and legal aliens) without a high-school degree. Respectfully, AP is rather cavalier about those "suffer[ing]" Americans. Putting their statement a different way, immigration adversely impacts those who are the most disadvantaged to begin with, but so what?

This contrasts with the views of the late Barbara Jordan, civil rights icon and former chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform. In her August 3, 1994, testimony before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Jordan stated:

Unlawful immigration is unacceptable. Enforcement measures have not sufficiently stemmed these movements. Failure to develop more effective strategies to curb unlawful immigration has blurred distinctions between legal and illegal immigrants. ... The Commission is particularly concerned about the impact of immigration on the most disadvantaged within our already resident society — inner city youth, racial and ethnic minorities, and recent immigrants who have not yet adjusted to life in the U.S.

AP should stick to reporting facts, not "checking" them.