Plucked out of thin air. That’s Chris Fitzsimon’s wild charge regarding our claim that there are an estimated 10,000 noncitizens enrolled as undergraduates in public higher education in North Carolina.
A quick look at the facts reveals Chris’ claim to be wrong and irresponsible. The 10,000 figure is derived from an analysis of American Community Survey (ACS) data. ACS is administered by the US Census bureau. Identified in the data are noncitizens (noncitizen is an ACS term) enrolled in public higher education as undergraduates. Our analysis excludes foreign students (UNC and NCCCS) as well as individuals with other academic or professional degrees. Specifically, the 10,000 figure is the number of noncitizens enrolled in public higher education in North Carolina who aren’t current foreign students or have other academic degrees. This information was all available when Chris inquired about our numbers. The point: the 10,000 figure is NOT derived from our data. It’s from ACS data (See: Higher Education Enrollment in North Carolina by Non U.S. Citizens).
Chris said he called the Census Bureau and no one had any idea of our analysis. I’m not surprised. The Census bureau makes thousands of data sets available so researchers can do all sorts of analyses. Our analysis was a simple query done on a PC, one of probably thousands of similar analyses conducted every day. There is no way census personnel can know how the data is being analyzed. Next time, if you have a question about the research, it might be more helpful to call the researcher.
I am not bothered by those who are skeptical of data or research. However, I am bothered by those who display an attitude of selective skepticism. While questioning our numbers, I am puzzled why Chris Fitizsimon fails to cast a second glance at statements many find debatable. For example: Does anyone honestly believe there are only 340 undocumented immigrants in North Carolina’s community colleges? Despite the shortcomings of how the data was obtained – and there are many – Chris sees no problem.It’s valid simply because the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) told him so. End of case, right?
Then of course there is the mantra that all the immigrants now eligible for community colleges were brought here as children. Where’s the evidence to support this claim? What we do know is the average age of students is 29. Finally, Chris says illegal immigrants really are subsidizing NCCCS. Figures from NCCCS might say one thing, but they are incomplete. To believe immigrants really subsidize NCCCS you also have to believe those who are here illegally would suddenly be willing and able to pay out-of-state tuition. Are those likely propositions? If you ask me, it seems Chris knows what he wants to believe –and doggone it — he’s not going to let any facts or questions muck it up. Once again, the double standard, played to perfection.