SCOTUS decision on SB 1070 cites incorrect information - CBS 5 - KPHO

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SCOTUS decision on SB 1070 cites incorrect information

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

[Editor's note: The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) contacted CBS 5 News to say FAIR does not fund the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), as was originally reported in the following story. In fact, FAIR does not currently fund CIS. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, CIS originally started as a program run by FAIR and shares many of the same donors and fund raisers.]

When you look at the Supreme Court's decision there's a statistic that really sticks out. It states illegal immigrants are responsible for 21.8 percent of all felonies in Maricopa County.

"Off the top of my head it sounds like it's impossible," said Bill Straus, with the Anti-Defamation League.

The group that provided that information to the Court is the Center for Immigration Studies.

CBS 5 News found their original report and saw a big problem.

The study said illegal immigrants make up 21.8 percent of felonies, inmates, arrests or bookings, not just felonies.

How did that so-called fact make its way into the Supreme Court's decision?

"You can call that sloppy. I think that's a good term," said ASU law professor Paul Bender.

Bender said the Court can use any information from any source it wants in its opinions.

"Now they should be careful when they do that and only use things that are accurate. There's no excuse for having an opinion say something that's different from the studies because somebody, a law clerk, can read the studies and just make sure it's right. And should," Bender said.

Setting aside the numbers issue, CBS 5 News took a look at where that data comes from.

The Center for Immigration Studies was founded by FAIR.

"The Federation of American Immigration Reform and that's an organization the ADL is well aware of," Straus said.

Straus said one word describes FAIR.

"No question about it, they are an extremist group," he said.

Straus said knowing FAIR founded the group that provided those numbers to the Supreme Court seems a little fishy.

"That's not only sad but it's very scary because we see the information coming out of FAIR and they're anything but objective," he said.

Bender said those misleading numbers didn't shape the Court's decision, but that the justices need to be very careful, not only about fact checking, but also checking where those facts come from.

Copyright 2012 KPHO (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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