Today's Daily Express front page is one of those that you look at and know isn't true. You don't even need to read the rest.
It's not exactly surprising that an immigration scare story that leads the Express is sourced from Migrationwatch. What is noticeable almost straight away about this one is that it hasn't reported MigrationWatch's briefing paper accurately. At all.
Migrationwatch states: 'A two child family living on the minimum wage whose parents live to 80 years of age costs the taxpayer between £900,000 and £1.1million over their lifetime.'
So that's '£1million' for a family of four. Not 'each illegal immigrant to cost us £1m' or a 'staggering £1million for each newcomer'.
As for that £1million figure, that is also highly dubious, although that is down to Migrationwatch rather than the Express (it's too much to expect Express hacks to do anything like fact-check, it's copy-and-paste all the way with Migrationwatch press releases.)
For a start, the paper is titled: 'Potential lifetime costs of an amnesty'. The doubt implied by the word 'potential' is of course absent from the Express, who use 'would cost'.
But Migrationwatch are basing their figures on highly speculative circumstances. It assumes every illegal immigrant is 25. It is assumes every illegal immigrant is going to get married and have two children who will claim child benefit for 16 years each (although it doesn't appear to assume these children will grow up and start working/paying tax). It assumes they are going to be in a minimum wage job for 40 years. It assumes they will then retire and live on pensioner credit for 15 years before dying at 80. It assumes every one of these families will spend their whole life in rented accommodation and will therefore spend 40 years on housing benefit - which amounts to £505,000 of the £1.1million 'cost' for London based immigrants.
That figure alone - half the total - based on that joint assumption about rented accommodation and minimum wage, seems so highly speculative it makes the whole thing seem like pointless scaremongering. Which is, of course, what it is. The Express' editorial even admits 'the Government and the Border Control Agency are unwilling to contemplate an amnesty'.
The Express do mention, in one paragraph, an IPPR report claiming that if these illegal immigrants were given an amnesty, they could pay around £1billion per year in tax. Now why wouldn't it put that figure in a front page splash?