facts

The Malleable Nature of Facts

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Election years are tough on science and numbers. Everywhere you go yet another politician or one of their supporters is citing numbers, throwing them out there, claiming their support, and reminding everyone that if we just followed the evidence we’d all end up agreeing with them. Their opponents, of course, claim the same thing. This is bad enough in formal debates, but when you wade in to Facebook or Twitter, it gets downright overwhelming. Everyone has “science on their side” or “the numbers back them up.”

Bordering on the Truth

DURING CONGRESS’ current debate about immigration reform, the realities faced by immigrants and border communities are all too often misunderstood and misrepresented. What are the facts about border issues?

Myth #1: Border walls are effective for keeping out unauthorized border crossers.
Reality: History teaches us that walls don’t work when economic opportunity is on the other side—but walls that are higher and longer do cause more injuries and death when people are forced to go over, under, and around.

The most recent era of migration across the southern U.S. border was caused primarily by economic factors, as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) caused millions of Mexican farmers to lose their livelihoods. The current border strategy, enacted hand in hand with NAFTA, envisioned deterring economic refugees by intentionally funneling migration to dangerous desert areas. The danger and death happened; the deterrence didn’t. It was the U.S. economic downturn, much more than the wall, that has caused the current net-zero immigration rate.

Myth #2: The border is safer today because the Border Patrol has doubled in number in less than a decade.
Reality: Since 2005, 144 Customs and Border Protection employees have been arrested or indicted on corruption charges, including smuggling people or drugs. A federally funded analysis correlates the problem with the surge in agents and a weak internal disciplinary system. Excessive use of force by Border Patrol agents is of increasing concern. Last October, an agent at the border wall fired into the streets of Nogales, Mexico, killing 16-year-old Jose Elena Rodriguez, the second Mexican teenager killed by Border Patrol fire into the city in less than two years. The autopsy reported that Elena Rodriguez was shot at least seven times from behind.

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Keystone XL: The Dirty Facts

In February, more than 30,000 people demonstrated in Washington, D.C., against the Keystone XL Pipeline. During his speech at the largest climate rally in U.S. history, 350.org founder Bill McKibben stated, “I’ve waited my whole life for this.”

Read the rest of Bill’s stirring speech in “The Battle is Joined,” featured in Sojourners magazine’s special climate change issue (May 2013). Join the battle to stop the construction of this pipeline. Check out the resources below to learn the dirty facts about Keystone XL.

Upworthy’s #NoKXL Video

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