Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Don't shoot the messenger

In relation to my first post this morning, I found an op/ed that counters Nick Coleman's rant.

Article attacked messenger

Instead, Minnesotans ought to be discussing the impact of illegal immigrants on our schools, our health care and our criminal justice system.

The Star Tribune and other supporters of illegal immigration resorted to a classic attack last week: If you don't like the message, attack the messenger. And what a weak attack it was.

Reporters David Peterson and Dan Browning raised questions about the validity of a Pawlenty administration study on the number and cost of illegal immigrants in our state ("Validity of immigrant report is questioned / State demographer is worried about a Pawlenty-released report on undocumented workers," Dec. 22). As it turns out, the people questioning the report were the Star Tribune reporters and editors. Rather than reporting news, they appear to have sought out viewpoints that met their worldview and wove a story around it.

The truth is that the number of illegal immigrants cited in the report was in the article: The well-regarded, nonpartisan national immigration expert said once again that his "best estimate" is 85,000. Of course, that fact was buried deep in the story.

While people may quibble about the exact number of illegal immigrants in Minnesota, numbers that deserve attention reflect the recent explosive growth of illegals in our state. That number increased from 13,000 in 1990 to at least 80,000 in 2004, a 515 percent jump. This includes a 33.3 percent increase since 2000. These numbers come from the federal government.

Instead of attacking the messenger, we should commit to having a broad conversation about the impact illegal immigration is having on our schools, health care and criminal justice systems. Gov. Tim Pawlenty will continue to lead in this area, working to reform and improve a chaotic system into one that is orderly, fair and legal.

Perhaps the Star Tribune's next article will delve into the validity of another immigration report, cited by columnist Nick Coleman and others, that claims illegal immigrants contribute $300 million to the Minnesota economy each year. The state's leading economists criticized that report for overstating the impact of illegal immigrants in Minnesota, but I won't hold my breath waiting for that news to appear on page A1.

Brian McClung is director of communications for Gov. Tim Pawlenty. (Source: Star Tribune, Dec. 28, 2005)



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