Data Biscotti and a Hot Cup
“Facts are to the mind what food is to the body.” - Edmund Burke.
When it comes to fighting the ever-increasing wave of ill-informed, and sometimes willfully ignorant, rhetoric from those who seek to vilify the undocumented people in our country, it's sometimes necessary to resort to cold, hard facts. Supported by numbers mined from studies and statistics, facts can be a refreshingly lucid shot of reality, amidst what is normally a murky brew of emotions and opinions mixed unappetizingly with politics and religion. Unadorned by commentary, facts allow one to draw her own conclusions.
This is not to say that data can't be skewed sometimes, depending on who has funded and conducted a study, how the data is presented, who has published it. Data can be used to further one's own agenda. So you still have to use your head when looking at data, check the sources, and consider the motivation behind the researchers. But there is an undeniable comfort in delving into facts and figures. You leave behind the necessity of reading between the lines, and allow yourself to bask in the clear light of fact for a little while.
Furthering my agenda here - to urge understanding of the roots, causes and effects of the unfathomably complex issue of human migration, in an attempt to arrive at workable solutions that respect the dignity and rights of all people - is exactly my goal. Compiling and presenting data on a particular subject in a way that compels one to actually read it is no easy task, however. No one wants to try to digest a wall of numbers. Lucky for us all, the hard work of making immigration related data accessible and verifiable, has already been done by Luis Alberto Urrea. He has created a mind-blowing, but effortlessly readable, list of relevant facts from Harper's Index. He has also compiled an impressive list of things you need to know, culled from a variety of sources, that feels warmer than raw data, but stark enough to inform without the baggage of anyone's interpretation but your own .
In the time it takes to sip a mug of coffee, you can find your ability to form opinions and arguments greatly enhanced by the relative reality of numbers. Go ahead, indulge. If you prefer to skip the philosophical intros, just scroll down a quarter of a page. The entirety of each entry, though, is worth your time.