Wiki and DACA

 In its article about itself, Wikipedia writes:

Wikipedia must not take sides. All opinions and viewpoints, if attributable to external sources, must enjoy an appropriate share of coverage within an article. This is known as neutral point of view (NPOV).

Exactly how does this policy work out in practice?

Take one of the currently most controversial subjects of the day, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Under this policy, in the name of “prosecutorial discretion,” more than a million illegal immigrants -- ones who, prior to the magic year of 2007, were under 16 when they illegally entered the U.S. -- were given “temporary” legal status. (Lasting, in theory, apparently, only until such time as immigration authorities had finished their business with higher priority illegal immigrants (such as those minors who illegally entered the U.S. after the magic year of 2007.)

In its entry on DACA, Wikipedia devotes one section to its impact, which it divides into five categories: Crime, Economy, Education, Health, Migration Flows. Two of these of these -- Education and Health --  deal with whether DACA has had a positive effect on the DACA residents themselves, as if that were DACA’s purpose. Perhaps it was, but if so, then that purpose was something other than the “prosecutorial discretion” that was supposedly the basis for such policy.

On Crime, Wikipedia relies on FactCheck.org, which states:

"…there is no evidence that DACA holders are more likely to commit crimes than U.S. citizens.”

Interesting point. But why would anyone search for evidence about such a particular subset of illegal immigrants in any case? And, in fact, based on the citation provided by Wikipedia, no one has. That citation refers to sanctuary cities, with no mention of DACA.

Regarding Migration Flows, Wikipedia cites a study that found that DACA did not lead to greater illegal immigration. On the face of it, this seems hardly surprising, since it was enacted retroactively; specifically, it was enacted in 2012 to cover nonadults who, as previously noted, illegally entered the U.S. in 2007 or earlier. Anyone entering after that year, five years prior to the policy itself, would not be eligible.

On the other hand, for young, poor Mexicans and Central Americans, such a legality might be lost. Or they could conclude that if DACA was enacted retroactively once, it could be enacted retroactively again. And, in fact, there was in a surge of nonadult illegal immigrants from Central America in 2014, two years after DACA. (For some reason, Mexico relaxed its own usually strict controls over its southern border, apparently to facilitate this migration.)

The Obama administration claimed that this surge was caused by crime and lack of economic opportunity (as if these were novel conditions in Central America,) and made no mention of DACA. Wikipedia repeats this explanation without comment.

Finally, we get to the economy, where Wikipedia finds not simply a benefit to the DACA residents themselves, or the absence of a negative impact on America at large, but finds rather a positive impact on it.

According to the entry, “some” or “most” economists see the economic consequences of DACA as positive. Several economists and public policy researchers, for example from from the Center for American Progress, were cited and discussed. Of those finding a negative impact, however -- such as  the Center for Immigration Studies, or the Heritage Foundation -- none, zero, were either cited or discussed.

There are at least two categories missing: the fact that illegal immigration serves to turn American states from red to blue; from Republican to Democratic, and the impact DACA has on our jurisprudence.

The political flipping of American states is a consequence of more than the DACA program itself, but the DACA program contributes to it. In the words of former Obama Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri:

"The fight to protect Dreamers [DACA residents] is not only a moral imperative, it is also a critical component of the Democratic Party's future electoral success… If Democrats don't try to do everything in their power to defend [DACA residents,] that will jeopardize Democrats' electoral chances in 2018 and beyond."

Since DACA residents, in theory, cannot vote, it’s not clear (except in California) why they would have an impact on the 2018 elections. But, as former top-level advisor for the Obama administration and also for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, presumably Palmieri knows what she is talking about.

DACA also impacts our jurisprudence -- how we enact our laws in the first place. Do we do it through the legislative process, or by presidential executive order? In 2011, DACA failed the legislative approach. So in 2012, Obama resorted to executive order.

Wikipedia, with some basis, describes the legal opinion on the constitutionality of the creation of DACA as “divided.”

It is “divided,” on whether “prosecutorial discretion” authorizes not simply the nonenforcement of the law, but also the provision of benefits to such persons that would actually deter them from voluntarily complying with the law and returning to their native nations.

What if (as the Wiki editors appear to support) DACA were upheld? What would be the jurisprudential impact? It would be that “prosecutorial discretion” can justify everything done under the aegis of DACA. In other words, separation of powers would be crippled, if not fatally so, in favor of the executive. Of course, the executive would remain democratically elected. But then, so was Hitler, Juan Peron, and Hugo Chavez. If Wikipedia is going to “neutrally” venture into addressing the “impacts” of DACA, this is not one to be omitted, but to be put at the top of the list.

So does this article adhere to Wiki’s policy of NPOV? It is apparent that it does not.

But what about Wiki’s reader editing policy? Not for this entry -- due to “vandalism,” it has been designated as “semi-protected.” In that event, changes can be made only by a registered editor.

A seemingly more plausible policy would be a BPOV -- a “balanced point of view,” but the problem is, someone has to decide what that balance should be. Wikipedia should acknowledge that troublesome fact of life. And so, as an encyclopedia -- that is, an objective publisher of facts, not opinion -- it should not be addressing controversial issues, or the controversial aspects of them, at all; it should be leaving that for publications and authors that make no claims to neutrality.

Bert Peterson operates a website at 4thofjuly.info. He is author of Does Our Banner Yet Wave? which proposes a more painstaking approach to political debate.

 In its article about itself, Wikipedia writes:

Wikipedia must not take sides. All opinions and viewpoints, if attributable to external sources, must enjoy an appropriate share of coverage within an article. This is known as neutral point of view (NPOV).

Exactly how does this policy work out in practice?

Take one of the currently most controversial subjects of the day, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Under this policy, in the name of “prosecutorial discretion,” more than a million illegal immigrants -- ones who, prior to the magic year of 2007, were under 16 when they illegally entered the U.S. -- were given “temporary” legal status. (Lasting, in theory, apparently, only until such time as immigration authorities had finished their business with higher priority illegal immigrants (such as those minors who illegally entered the U.S. after the magic year of 2007.)

In its entry on DACA, Wikipedia devotes one section to its impact, which it divides into five categories: Crime, Economy, Education, Health, Migration Flows. Two of these of these -- Education and Health --  deal with whether DACA has had a positive effect on the DACA residents themselves, as if that were DACA’s purpose. Perhaps it was, but if so, then that purpose was something other than the “prosecutorial discretion” that was supposedly the basis for such policy.

On Crime, Wikipedia relies on FactCheck.org, which states:

"…there is no evidence that DACA holders are more likely to commit crimes than U.S. citizens.”

Interesting point. But why would anyone search for evidence about such a particular subset of illegal immigrants in any case? And, in fact, based on the citation provided by Wikipedia, no one has. That citation refers to sanctuary cities, with no mention of DACA.

Regarding Migration Flows, Wikipedia cites a study that found that DACA did not lead to greater illegal immigration. On the face of it, this seems hardly surprising, since it was enacted retroactively; specifically, it was enacted in 2012 to cover nonadults who, as previously noted, illegally entered the U.S. in 2007 or earlier. Anyone entering after that year, five years prior to the policy itself, would not be eligible.

On the other hand, for young, poor Mexicans and Central Americans, such a legality might be lost. Or they could conclude that if DACA was enacted retroactively once, it could be enacted retroactively again. And, in fact, there was in a surge of nonadult illegal immigrants from Central America in 2014, two years after DACA. (For some reason, Mexico relaxed its own usually strict controls over its southern border, apparently to facilitate this migration.)

The Obama administration claimed that this surge was caused by crime and lack of economic opportunity (as if these were novel conditions in Central America,) and made no mention of DACA. Wikipedia repeats this explanation without comment.

Finally, we get to the economy, where Wikipedia finds not simply a benefit to the DACA residents themselves, or the absence of a negative impact on America at large, but finds rather a positive impact on it.

According to the entry, “some” or “most” economists see the economic consequences of DACA as positive. Several economists and public policy researchers, for example from from the Center for American Progress, were cited and discussed. Of those finding a negative impact, however -- such as  the Center for Immigration Studies, or the Heritage Foundation -- none, zero, were either cited or discussed.

There are at least two categories missing: the fact that illegal immigration serves to turn American states from red to blue; from Republican to Democratic, and the impact DACA has on our jurisprudence.

The political flipping of American states is a consequence of more than the DACA program itself, but the DACA program contributes to it. In the words of former Obama Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri:

"The fight to protect Dreamers [DACA residents] is not only a moral imperative, it is also a critical component of the Democratic Party's future electoral success… If Democrats don't try to do everything in their power to defend [DACA residents,] that will jeopardize Democrats' electoral chances in 2018 and beyond."

Since DACA residents, in theory, cannot vote, it’s not clear (except in California) why they would have an impact on the 2018 elections. But, as former top-level advisor for the Obama administration and also for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, presumably Palmieri knows what she is talking about.

DACA also impacts our jurisprudence -- how we enact our laws in the first place. Do we do it through the legislative process, or by presidential executive order? In 2011, DACA failed the legislative approach. So in 2012, Obama resorted to executive order.

Wikipedia, with some basis, describes the legal opinion on the constitutionality of the creation of DACA as “divided.”

It is “divided,” on whether “prosecutorial discretion” authorizes not simply the nonenforcement of the law, but also the provision of benefits to such persons that would actually deter them from voluntarily complying with the law and returning to their native nations.

What if (as the Wiki editors appear to support) DACA were upheld? What would be the jurisprudential impact? It would be that “prosecutorial discretion” can justify everything done under the aegis of DACA. In other words, separation of powers would be crippled, if not fatally so, in favor of the executive. Of course, the executive would remain democratically elected. But then, so was Hitler, Juan Peron, and Hugo Chavez. If Wikipedia is going to “neutrally” venture into addressing the “impacts” of DACA, this is not one to be omitted, but to be put at the top of the list.

So does this article adhere to Wiki’s policy of NPOV? It is apparent that it does not.

But what about Wiki’s reader editing policy? Not for this entry -- due to “vandalism,” it has been designated as “semi-protected.” In that event, changes can be made only by a registered editor.

A seemingly more plausible policy would be a BPOV -- a “balanced point of view,” but the problem is, someone has to decide what that balance should be. Wikipedia should acknowledge that troublesome fact of life. And so, as an encyclopedia -- that is, an objective publisher of facts, not opinion -- it should not be addressing controversial issues, or the controversial aspects of them, at all; it should be leaving that for publications and authors that make no claims to neutrality.

Bert Peterson operates a website at 4thofjuly.info. He is author of Does Our Banner Yet Wave? which proposes a more painstaking approach to political debate.