Intuit-owned online financial tool Mint.com posted an item entitled "The Economic Impact of Immigration" to its MintLife blog earlier this week that quickly caught attention for all the wrong reasons.
The story, which featured an "infographic" and has since been taken down by the company, detailed the monetary impact that undocumented immigrants currently have on the U.S. economy, citing such numbers as 43 percent of all food stamps and 41 percent of unemployment benefits going to these individuals.
Besides being controversial, the numbers behind the imagery turned out to be questionably sourced. The Atlantic, which picked up on the story late Thursday, found that the chart had been sourced in part by Vdare, a site that has a history of posting anti-immigration articles, and has been classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Other figures for the chart were taken from places like Pew Research, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Department of Homeland Security's Web site.
Mint has had a long history of running infographics, though in the past they have been features on banks, monetary distribution, and taxation, and have usually come from a single source. The one for immigration cited 12.
As David Weigel notes over at The Washington Post, the inclusion of the credible sources into the mix did little to help separate the wheat from the chaff, since the chart was set up in a way that did not show you where each statistic came from. That means Vdare could have very well had its own legitimate source for the information, but without showing which numbers came from where puts the entire chart under scrutiny.
MintLife's editor Lee Sherman has since taken down the graphic and issued an apology, saying that the company went "too far" and that it won't happen again. "It's true that the tone [of the MintLife blog] is often provocative, seeking to engage readers in dialogue around important topics," Sherman said. "But the recent blog post 'The Economic Impact of Immigration' went too far, cited polarized sources, and did not receive the editorial judgment and oversight it deserved." The apology, though, was not good enough for some Mint users, who have removed their accounts from the service, and are posting about it on Twitter.