A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of May 25-May 31

This week, readers sent us comments about VA benefits, endangered jobs and partial immigrants.

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.

Pension Prevarication?

Regarding the FactCheck item regarding the illegal immigrant mom in Florida getting $1,500 a month ["A Mythical Florida Mom (And Other False Claims About Immigrants)," May 14]:

While you certainly set out the facts very well regard[ing] the Florida benefits, you completely skipped over the veterans’ benefits bunk.

I am a Vietnam veteran drawing 80 percent disability (combat service connected), and work full time. My VA disability is not reduced because I earn additional income like he claims his is. He claims it takes about 3 months to draw $1,500 from the VA, which would seem to me means he has a disability rating of considerably less than 50 percent. So why isn’t he working like I am? Seems like a considerable amount of bogus information, not just what you highlighted.

Keep up the great work!

James W. England
Opelika, Ala.

FactCheck.org responds: Disability compensation and disability pension are different VA programs. Pensions are income-dependent, and a single vet maxes out at $11,830 per year. Our reader is correct that if d’Lynn Morrison, the veteran who wrote the letter, were receiving disability compensation, his disability would have to be rated 60 percent or less (not 50) in order for it to be true that $2,470 is "two and a half times what I’m allowed to receive," as he claims. But Morrison is clear that he receives a "veterans administration disability pension," not the compensation.


Tar Balls vs. Tourists

Our gulf beaches in southwest Florida are VERY clean and should remain that way. Articles like yours ["Obama Says Gulf Beaches ‘Clean.’ Really?," May 27] are keeping tourists away when we need them most. There is a huge coastline here and just because a couple beaches in the panhandle might be affected in the future, doesn’t mean you should tell people the president was wrong. The only tar balls found anywhere have been a couple in the Keys which is a normal situation. They come from tankers, not oil spills. Please don’t make this situation any worse than it is with bogus claims.

Peggy Zink
North Port, Fla.


Illegal Immigrants and Jobs: Do Numbers Matter?

I greatly disagree with your findings in this article ["Does Immigration Cost Jobs?," May 13]. I live in Greeley, Colorado, and it is a town that has a long history of immigrants both legal and illegal. The illegal immigrants were in the beginning farm labor, now they have spread into construction, food service, sanitation, automotive, etc… These used to be jobs performed by American workers who supported families on these incomes. Now many have been pushed out of their industries and are either struggling or have had to incur debt to retrain or working multiple jobs just to keep their heads above water. At a point in time, people that only had a high school education did the above jobs and supported families on it. So with the logic used in your article these high school educated people are now in competition with people that don’t speak a lick of English and will do a job for far less than the American worker. So ultimately, if you do not get a college degree you will struggle like hell. Furthermore, what happens when you have way more college graduates than there are jobs?

You can talk numbers and hide this in a concept of an economy as much as you want but at the end of the day, there is for every action an opposite and equal reaction. This concept holds true even beyond physics. If we as Americans continue to ship labor jobs offshore and give amnesty to illegal immigrants so they can continue to drive down wages, then the high school graduate will suffer more and more. This someday can also begin to affect college graduates because there are more graduates than jobs. You can make numbers say whatever you want them to say, but at the end of the day there are real and tangible effects. As for the statement that illegal immigrants create their jobs or even create more jobs I find hard to swallow. Since the illegal immigrants shop at ethnic-based stores that sell product from their native countries, it does not seem to be creating jobs, just importing of products. As long as we allow illegal immigrants to flood our borders, they will affect the lower income portion of Americans. I find your article grossly misleading, because the only benefit I see is to the richer portions of Americans, importing goods and cutting the cost of their labor expenses. Along with the American government collecting taxes. We are creating a paradox that does not allow portions of Americans to live the American dream.

Douglas Hoag
Greeley, Colo.



I had faith in you up until this reporting. You’re going to tell me that 20 million people who have infiltrated this country illegally has no effect on jobs for Americans — come on now — give me a break. You’re doing the same thing they did with NAFTA — saying how many jobs it would create in this country. And we all know the effects of NAFTA. This infiltration is going to change the whole landscape of this country in approximately 20 years. We all know that already. As stated, the Democrats want the votes, and the Republicans want the cheap labor. I’m afraid you’re out of touch.

Look what they did to California for starters. Crime ridden, bankrupt, etc., etc.

Janet Marmaro
Lincroft, N.J. 

FactCheck.org responds: Credible estimates of the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. are much less than 20 million. The Department of Homeland Security put the number at 10.8 million in January 2009, and the Pew Hispanic Center estimated in 2008 that there were 11.9 million illegal immigrants.

Also, as we reported in our May 10 article "NAFTA/CAFTA Blame Game," "several economic studies say trade deals, like the North American Free Trade Agreement, have had a small impact, or even a positive one, on American jobs."


Incomplete Immigrants

Near the end of the article ["‘Dishonesty’ in New Mexico," May 23], you mention "A 2008 report by the Pew Hispanic Center used Census data to estimate that about 11.9 illegal immigrants resided within U.S. borders." What happened to that last tenth of an immigrant? Did one person lose an arm, or did all of them lose a finger or two? Is one of them still crossing the border?

(Presumably you’re talking about 11.9 million, which makes much more sense.)

(And by the way, thanks for doing the balanced research and reporting on these ads.)

Steve Shockley
Warminster, Pa.

FactCheck.org responds: You got us! We’ve corrected the typo.