Nativist Leader Cites Shoddy Polling Data To Claim There Is A Rift Between The Pew And The Pulpit

The anti-immigrant group, NumbersUSA, posted a video today of its director, Roy Beck, on Fox & Friends touting recent polling by its unofficial sister group, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), which claims to show that religious leaders lobbying for comprehensive immigration reform are out of tune with the people of faith they represent. However, even Fox News religion contributor Father Jonathon Morris seemed to hesitate when it came to agreeing with the polling, despite Alisyn Camerota’s leading questions:

BECK: There’s about 5 billion people who would like to come the United States overall — they’re more impoverished than the average Mexican. And so, it’s just that the leaders have put their priorities on those where the members of those churches — their priority is on compassion within their own community — the 15 million Americans who are unemployed…

MORRIS: I believe there is a natural right of every human person to look for a better life — to emigrate with an “e.” But there’s also a responsibility of every country to control the amount of immigration. To make sure it’s sustainable, to make sure it’s safe — both for the immigrant and the citizens….

CAMEROTA: But is it religious leaders’ responsibility to lead the charge on this?

MORRIS: It’s the responsibility to give principles for decisionmakers and then for politicians to say “we’re going to implement policy that’s good for the human being.”

Watch it:

Morris’ logic echoes that of the Reform Immigration for America Campaign and the strategy he proposes resembles the approach that religious leaders have already adopted. Morris even referred to Kevin Appleby from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) as the “expert” on the polling. Appleby countered Beck’s claims by citing a “more scientific” survey conducted by the University of Michigan and Stanford University which found that 56 percent of Catholics support a legal path to citizenship and 61 percent say immigration levels should stay the same or increase. Another recent poll by Zogby showed that 69 percent of Catholics polled support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, provided they register with the government. Meanwhile, the poll Beck cites indicates that 69 percent of Catholics think immigration levels are too high with 54 percent opposing a path to legalization.


A recent memo written by Dr. Robert P. Jones, president of Public Religion Research, explains many of the discrepancies by pointing out that the CIS poll “is not based on a scientific random sample of Americans but rather on an opt-in online panel survey.” Though Zogby tries to make their online samples “representative” of the U.S., it’s still a self-selected pool of respondents. Jones also notes that “the question wording is problematic in several places.” Meanwhile, the poll that Zogby conducted for the USCCB used the “tried-and-true” method of a random telephone sample.