CNN Publishes Push Poll, Promotes Amnesty

By Jon Feere on February 12, 2014

Yet another flawed push poll has been released and the media have used it to promote the idea that Americans support President Obama's amnesty agenda. This time, the flawed poll comes from CNN/ORC International. It was conducted January 31 through February 2 and included 900 registered voters.

Each of the questions asks about an immigration plan that has never been promoted by any amnesty advocate, has never been introduced in Congress, and likely will never be introduced. See if you can spot all the flaws in the central question asked of respondents:

Here are some questions about how the U.S. government should treat illegal immigrants who have been in this country for a number of years, hold a job, speak English, and are willing to pay any back taxes that they owe. Would you favor or oppose a bill that allowed those immigrants to stay in this country rather than being deported and eventually allow them to apply for U.S. citizenship?

This question contains so many flaws it's difficult to view it as anything other than a push poll. First, recent amnesty proposals would not require illegal aliens to have been in the country "for a number of years". Describing the plan as such encourages respondents to support legalization because it paints the image of a person who has put down roots in the United States. Yet S.744 does not require illegal aliens to have lived in the United States for a number of years; in fact, the bill would allow some previously deported illegal aliens who are living in their homeland to come back into the United States and obtain legal status.

CNN describes a plan that would apply to illegal aliens who "hold a job". This was added to the question because respondents likely respond positively to employment and hard-workers. Yet no recent amnesty proposal would require all illegal aliens to prove they are employed. S.744 would grant legal status to all illegal aliens without any inquiry into their employment. After the amnesty, to upgrade to full green card status (which would eventually permit citizenship), certain categories of former illegal aliens would have to show they worked for some time, but if they were "unable to work due to circumstances outside [their] control" — say, due to a bad economy and increased unemployment rates — the DHS secretary was instructed to simply waive the employment provision, a provision that did not apply to millions of amnesty recipients anyway. Bottom line: no amnesty has ever been, or will ever be, limited to working illegal aliens.

CNN includes a requirement to "speak English" in their flawed question. No amnesty has ever required applicants to prove they can speak English to obtain legal status. The Senate bill would grant legal status, work permits, Social Security accounts, and other benefits to illegal aliens as soon as they apply. Only if they wish to upgrade to a green card would the English provisions kick in. And even then, it simply requires applicants to show that they are "satisfactorily pursuing a course of study" that would help them "achieve an understanding of English". There are no exams, and no real requirement that illegal immigrants learn how to read, write, or speak English. CNN's reference to speaking English is clearly an effort to push respondents into supporting amnesty under false pretences.

Finally, CNN's poll also describes potential amnesty recipients as people who "are willing to pay any back taxes that they owe". Use of the phrase "are willing to pay" is apparently meant to characterize the amnesty applicants as likeable people who want to pay their fair share. It's completely unnecessary emotional language, but perfectly appropriate for a push poll. In any event, the idea of requiring illegal aliens to pay back taxes for the many years they have been working off the books was entirely abandoned in the recent Senate bill; as reported by Politico, it "was quickly dismissed during consultations with the IRS." The only requirement in the bill is that illegal immigrants must iron out any existing problems they may have with the IRS. If the IRS has ever audited the illegal immigrant and requested payment of unpaid taxes, they would be required to pay them before receiving amnesty. But the reality is that the 45 percent of illegal immigrants estimated to be working off the books are not even on the IRS's radar and are highly unlikely to ever have been audited. There simply aren't any tax forms to audit. Of the remaining illegal immigrants, the number who have been audited by the IRS is also likely extremely small, simply because historically the IRS audits only about 1 percent of tax filers. Since the tax provision in the latest amnesty bill would not recoup back taxes, and since it will not be of any consequence to the overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants who apply for the amnesty, it's odd to see CNN referring to back taxes in a poll that claims to illustrate public support for the ongoing amnesty effort.

Not surprisingly, people asked this misleading question responded positively: 81 percent favored an amnesty described in these terms. There are two other questions in the CNN survey; one refers back to the description in this flawed question, while the other refers only to "illegal immigrants who have jobs" (and includes mass deportation of all illegals as the only alternative). While this latter question is clearly flawed, only 54 percent supported the idea of legalizing the illegal aliens as opposed to deporting all of them. This suggests that removing much of the flawed terminology reduces public support for amnesty. Removing the jobs requirement from the question would likely reduce support even further.

If CNN wanted an honest assessment of the public's opinion of the amnesty proposals discussed in Congress in recent years, the question would be something more like this:

Would you favor or oppose a bill that enabled illegal aliens to become voting U.S. citizens even if they have been in the United States for a short period of time, were previously deported, are unemployed, are not required to speak English, and are not required to pay back taxes for any time they worked under the table or with a phony Social Security number?

The question may be harsh and leading, but it is an accurate reflection of the Senate immigration bill and its House counterpart.

There's also a significant portion of the Senate bill that nearly all pollsters are avoiding, namely the provisions that would double legal immigration.

If CNN were honest, it would also ask:

Do you support doubling legal immigration at a time when tens of millions of Americans are unemployed?

It is clear what the answer to that inquiry would be. Even if the question were asked without the reference to unemployment, CNN would have discovered that most Americans are not interested in doubling legal immigration. The fact that nearly all pollsters over the past year have avoided this question is inexcusable considering that the biggest impact of S.744 is the increase in legal immigration it would create.

Gallup finds that even with the constant drumbeat of propaganda, fewer than one out of four Americans supports increased immigration. National Journal found last year that a majority of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents supported lower levels of high-tech guestworkers and lower levels of construction guestworkers. The numbers were mixed on agricultural guestworkers, but there was no clear mandate for increases.

It is tiring to see transparently pro-amnesty pollsters continuously publishing flawed push polls for pro-amnesty media outlets to craft articles designed to push the myth that Americans are chomping at the bit to help foreigners get away with violating our laws.