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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of June 15-June 21

This week, readers sent us comments about illegal immigration, Obama’s oil spill speech and FactCheck’s heavenly provenance.

In the FactCheck Mailbag, we feature some of the e-mail we receive. Readers can send comments to editor@factcheck.org. Letters may be edited for length.

Letter-Writers Missing the Point on Immigrants

I really wish you guys would stick up for yourselves and respond to the letters attacking you for distinguishing between illegal immigrants and Mexican crime cartels [FactCheck Mailbag, June 1-June 7, June 8-June 14]. What people seem to fail to understand is that the crime cartels are engaged in smuggling, going back and forth across the border. Illegal immigrants are here to stay (or try to stay). The difference is VERY important, because for a member of a crime cartel, being caught and deported is completely meaningless, they’ll just get right back to work. For an illegal immigrant, however, it is a big deal.

So, the Arizona law is much more likely to affect the lives of illegal immigrants than members of the crime cartels. Both are here illegally, but the members of the crime cartels are not illegal IMMIGRANTS. As a result, the fact that the justifications for the law, which targets illegal immigrants, not the criminal cartels (anything targeting criminal cartels would be focused on stopping them from getting here in the first place, not just sending them back once they’re here) is in fact a justification for driving out the cartels is a very important distinction to make, as it means the law is not likely to achieve its claimed purpose.

Sam Leven
Vienna, Va.

It seems there are many folk that like to sum things up into single categories and general descriptions to suit their opinions.

Maybe some Dixie flying folks should consider the general description of a serial killer and come to the conclusion that white men with domineering mothers should not be allowed to buy weapons? Oh, I’m sure distinguishing circumstances would just all of a sudden become really important. Americans that like to stereotype should not live in glass houses.

Don’t get me wrong, my folks jumped through hoops to always be legal in America. I am first generation.

I do not appreciate undocumented immigrants taking advantage of open borders and adding to our state and national debt.

If my folks could do it legally, then so can others. However, undocumented immigrants are not the same as undocumented immigrant murderers.

Ram Campos
Lubbock, Texas


Finer Points on Oil Speech

I am a relatively new reader to your site, and I am impressed by the work you do. I am tempted to say something flattering but meaningless like "Your site should be required reading for every American citizen," but I will refrain.

I have noticed in a couple of instances where your fact-checking, although right on the money in terms of numbers and statistics, may be a bit nit-picking. For example, in your article "Fact-Checking Obama’s Oil Spill Speech" [June 16] you seem to have taken him to task for understating our oil usage and oil reserves. The president said, "We consume more than 20 percent of the world’s oil, but have less than 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves." But you showed that the numbers were actually 22.2% and 1.6%, respectively.

But really, is his statement wrong? 22.2% is certainly "more than 20 percent", and 1.6% is undoubtedly "less than 2 percent." I disagree with you that his statements were incorrect or misleading. It’s perfectly acceptable, when using phrases such as "more than," "less than," or "nearly," to round your numbers off a bit, as long as you don’t stray too far from the actual figures.

Terry Connors
Keene, N.H.

FactCheck.org responds: We said that the president "slightly understated" oil consumption, and that he was correct on oil reserves.

FactCheck neglected to mention that President Obama was not entirely forthright when he said "that’s part of the reason oil companies are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean — because we’re running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water."

We are most certainly not running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water. We simply lack the will to do so.

Allen Simen
Moorpark, Calif.


Facts Above All

You are doing the work of the angels. There may be two sides to most issues but sometimes there is what is true and what is false. The world would be a better and safer place if all of us, whatever our views, could begin any conversation with a shared reverence for objective fact.

Mark Salo
Brisbane, Australia