Slate’s Maps Fail Again: What Happens When We Remove Mexico?

May 20, 2014
8:18 AM

It appears that Slate’s new obsession with maps is doing anything and everything to avoid talking about the obvious. Last week it was all about a viral language post which didn’t even stop to acknowledge how mainstream Spanish has become. This week Slate and Ben Bratt are trying to replicate viral love by focusing on another issue: immigration.

So, in Bratt’s post, we are introduced to this image:


Bratt could have spent at least a paragraph discussing this map before he changed it. Instead, after presenting a very top-line explanation about legal immigration statistics, Bratt writes this: “What happens when we remove Mexico from the sample?”

That’s the problem once again. Do Americans even know that more than half of the country’s states list Mexico as the most common country of origin for legal immigrants? No, because Bratt just wants to “remove Mexico from the sample” to make a supposedly more important point about “variance.” It’s as if Bratt just wants to deny the facts. Let’s not face the reality about Mexico and how the US grants permanent legal status to about 145,000 Mexicans each year. Why not bring up that point? Maybe because it goes against the current narrative about the immigration debate? (By the way, did anyone expect Cuba to be listed in Kentucky? Or the Dominican Republic in Massachusetts?)

Listen: we know what Bratt is doing here. We’re just asking that he takes a moment or two to not just “remove Mexico from the sample.” Instead of using the data to educate his readers, Bratt once again ignores it.

For the record, here are the numbers, without misleading maps: