In the past few weeks, conservative pundit and radio host Laura Ingraham has positioned herself as the "voice of opposition" on immigration reform and has used her syndicated radio show to launch baseless attacks on the issue and demonize immigrants. However, her inflammatory rhetoric surrounding reform is at odds with her call following the 2012 election to change the language regarding Latinos.
Following the 2012 presidential election, Ingraham appeared on Fox News' America Live to discuss the GOP loss as well as calls for the Republican Party to soften on certain issues and broaden its appeal across ethnic groups. When host Megyn Kelly pointed out that Republican candidate Mitt Romney had underperformed with Latinos, Ingraham responded: "I think the language of dealing with Latinos has to be changed."
However, Ingraham has used the current debate over comprehensive immigration reform to demonize undocumented immigrants and smear Latinos. In fact, her opposition has been marked by an anti-immigrant and xenophobic fervor that is typical of nativist groups like the Center for Immigration Studies, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, and NumbersUSA.
Some examples include:
INGRAHAM: If you've been here illegally and you've been living here and you've been using our roads and using our schools and using our health care system, I don't believe you should ever be a citizen of the United States. No, I don't.
A day after yet another comprehensive fact-check poked holes into a study from the conservative Heritage Foundation on the costs of immigration reform, PBS' NewsHour aired a segment with the study's co-author in which it treated the report's conclusions as legitimate. But as experts and conservatives have noted, there is nothing remotely sound about the study's methodology, which renders its conclusion that reform would cost $6.3 trillion invalid.
On June 4, FactCheck.org published a definitive fact-check of the Heritage study that outlined several problems with the report's underlying assumptions, including the fact that the report is not an analysis of the bill currently being debated in the Senate.
FactCheck noted that one of the report's authors, Robert Rector, has admitted that "some aspects of the bill, such as increasing green cards or legal permanent residence visas for high-skill workers, would likely lower the cost projection." Other problems it identified included:
But on the June 5 edition of PBS' NewsHour, Rector's wild conclusions were treated with credibility. Host Ray Suarez introduced the discussion -- which also featured Center for American Progress visiting fellow Robert Lynch -- as a debate on the "contrasting views on what immigration reform would cost, and whether it would help or hurt the U.S. economy."
Fox News personalities have seized on the brutal killing of a soldier in London to rail against immigration, claiming that immigration policies are partly to blame for the attacks. Conservative media figures similarly used the Boston bombing to condemn immigration and undermine immigration reform.
At least six Fox News contributors have reportedly signed on to an open letter opposing the comprehensive immigration reform legislation currently being debated in the Senate. Fox News, which has admitted it is the "voice of opposition" on certain issues, has long ignored and even fostered such unethical behavior from its personalities.
According to Yahoo! News, conservative radio hosts, along with tea party and other conservative groups, have signed a letter opposing the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, a proposal from a bipartisan group of senators to reform immigration law. Among the "National Conservative Leaders" who have reportedly signed the letter are six current Fox News contributors:
However, their affiliation with Fox News was not mentioned in the letter.
Radio hosts Mark Levin and Lars Larson, who also signed the letter, are regular Fox News guests as well. Daily Beast editor and CNN contributor David Frum also signed the letter.
The letter expresses "serious concerns" with the bill and urges Senators to vote against it:
We oppose this bill and urge you to vote against it when it comes to the Senate floor. No matter how well intentioned, the Schumer-Rubio bill suffers from fundamental design flaws that make it unsalvageable. Many of us support various parts of the legislation, but the overall package is so unsatisfactory that the Senate would do better to start over from scratch.
Reforming our immigration system is an important priority. But S.744 is such a defective measure that it would do more harm than good. We urge you to vote against it and against any cloture vote to bring up the bill. Only then can a constructive, measured debate take place on how to improve America's immigration policy.
The letter also repeats some common myths about immigration, including the debunked notion that granting undocumented immigrants legal status "[h]urts American job-seekers, especially those with less education." The letter also compares the Senate immigration bill to the health care law, calling it "bloated and unwieldy."
Fox News has been criticized for unethical behavior in the past and for operating like a political organization. In fact, Crowley crossed the ethical line during the 2012 presidential election when she spoke at an anti-Obama rally sponsored by the Koch-funded conservative advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity.
Fox News has long styled itself as an anti-immigrant network even as it purports to reach out to Latino viewers. Rush Limbaugh, for example, stated in January that it's "up to me and Fox News" to defeat immigration reform. As Yahoo! News noted however, Limbaugh was "notably absent" from the list of signatories.
By all accounts, the Heritage Foundation study that would have been the conservative media's cudgel to defeat comprehensive immigration reform a second time is all but rotting in the ground, buried under accusations of anti-immigrant and race-based bias. Beyond losing all credibility, its conclusions that reform will total at least $6.3 trillion have been exposed as bogus by the most respected conservative groups and immigration experts.
In fact, the only people left willing to defend Heritage are part of an anti-immigrant movement that mainstream conservatives are reportedly trying to confine to the fringe. But that hasn't stopped right-wing media outlets from amplifying these voices in an effort to tank a bipartisan immigration proposal currently being debated in the Senate.
In a column published by WND and Human Events, Pat Buchanan defended Heritage and Jason Richwine, the co-author of the study whose writings that race and intelligence are genetically linked forced his resignation.
As The Washington Post reported, Richwine wrote in his Harvard doctoral dissertation that Latinos are undesirable as immigrants because, he argued, they have lower IQs than white Americans. Other controversial comments by Richwine surfaced, including his claim that "psychometric testing has indicated that at least in America, you have Jews with the highest average IQ, usually followed by East Asians, and then you have non-Jewish whites, Hispanics, and then blacks."
After citing a series of examples he argued showed "greater 'underclass behavior' among Hispanics," Buchanan warned that by granting legal status to the country's population of undocumented immigrants -- most of whom are from Latin American countries -- "America in 2040 is going to look like Los Angeles today." He added: "America in 2040 will be a country with whites and Asians dominating the professions, and 100 million Hispanics concentrated in semiskilled work and manual labor."
In his criticism of the Heritage study, American Action Forum president and former Congressional Budget Office head Doug Holtz-Eakin explained to a congressional committee:
You have to be very careful about the assumptions you make. We know that the labor force participation of first-generation immigrants is higher than the native-born. If you go to the second generation where people often worry about the take-up of public programs -- there are more college degrees in the second-generation immigrants than the native-born. There are more advanced degrees, graduate degrees. There's higher rates of labor force participation among those. So it's not the case that program participation is higher than in the native born population on the whole.
Buchanan has repeatedly stated that the influx of undocumented immigrants is "not immigration" but "an invasion of the United States of America." He has warned that America is "committing suicide" while "Asian, African, And Latin American children come to inherit the estate." He once argued against immigration reform by citing the views of white nationalists.
This is the core group of people who have joined Buchanan in defense of Heritage and Richwine's scholarship. It is basically a "who's who" of the anti-immigrant extremist establishment that continually argues against non-white immigrants and groups:
According to the Washington Post, the Cato Institute has identified another major flaw with the conservative Heritage Foundation's immigration report that further invalidates Heritage's conclusions: Heritage has repeatedly touted the use of "dynamic" scoring, as opposed to the "static" scoring used in its immigration studies, as the more accurate model for gauging fiscal impact.
As Cato Institute immigration expert Alex Nowrasteh explained, estimating a proposed bill's fiscal impact using dynamic scoring involves taking into account how legislation "will affect the rest of the economy, also changing tax revenue and government spending." He added: "Since increased immigration will increase the size of the economy, it will also increase tax revenue and some government spending."
As Nowrasteh went on to note, however, Heritage used "static" scoring to analyze immigration reform in 2007 -- which assumed the bill would not affect the rest of the economy.
Heritage has also employed the "static" method in a new analysis claiming that granting "amnesty" to undocumented immigrants would cost U.S. taxpayers $6.3 trillion, leading immigration experts and economists to dismiss it. The American Enterprise Institute stated that using such a model "fails to capture indirect but important economic impacts of immigration such as increasing economic activity or positively affecting American employment."
As the Post reported, this directly contradicts Heritage's views on "dynamic" scoring:
The libertarian Cato Institute has also rebutted the Heritage Foundation's analysis and said Monday that it fails to take into account the economic benefits of immigration reform.
"We're very disappointed that our fellow free-marketers at Heritage, who have done such great work promoting dynamic scoring methodology for so long, would fail to employ it on immigration reform," Cato spokesman Chris Kennedy said.
Indeed, as Cato noted, Heritage Foundation founder and former president Ed Feulner championed the use of dynamic scoring in a 2002 column. Fuelner called the "static" model "wrong-headed" and advised Congress to "switch to a method many business owners use-'dynamic scoring'-which assumes that if you change the way you do business, customers will react in relatively predictable ways."
Fuelner added: "Would 'dynamic scoring' always give lawmakers perfect estimates? No, but it surely would get much closer to the true cost than 'static scoring' does."
In a 2002 research piece on taxes, then-senior fellow Daniel Mitchell (now a senior fellow at Cato) similarly warned about the "perils and pitfalls of static forecasting" and advised against continuing to use "outdated and inaccurate static models." He wrote:
An objective examination of the historical evidence, however, demonstrates that dynamic scoring gives policymakers more accurate information. Dynamic scoring does not predetermine outcomes; it simply ensures that lawmakers will have the most comprehensive data when making decisions.
The strong theoretical argument for dynamic scoring is buttressed by a great deal of historical evidence. The United States has experienced significant shifts in tax policy over the years, and the historical record both demonstrates the shortcomings of static analysis and provides ample proof that the revenue-estimating process should be modernized.
William Beach, Heritage director of data analysis, argued in prepared remarks to the House Ways and Means Committee in September 2011 that "the absence of dynamic economic analysis in major policy debates should be enough to stop such a debate until it is informed by such analysis."
Moreover, a section in its April 23 report, "America's Opportunity for All" -- for which former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) co-wrote the foreword with Fuelner -- calls for using dynamic scoring "to make more practical and useful fiscal information available to Congress":
Budgeting has all but collapsed in recent years, reflecting an erosion of both fiscal policy and Congress's ability to govern. Process reforms should focus first on compelling Congress to budget regularly in a systematic and responsible way. Enforcement procedures should be strengthened to ensure spending discipline. Finally, the process should incorporate realistic projections of fiscal outcomes. For example, lawmakers should estimate and publish the projected cost over 75 years of any proposed policy or funding level for each major federal program, especially entitlements. Any major policy change should also be evaluated over a long-term horizon. In addition to calculating the costs of proposed congressional actions without regard to the economy's response to those actions (known as "static" scoring), the government should require a parallel calculation that takes that response into account (known as "dynamic" scoring) to make more practical and useful fiscal information available to Congress when it decides whether to pursue certain actions.
In criticizing the report, economist Tim Kane, a former Heritage fellow whose 2006 report on immigration for the organization concluded that the "argument that immigrants harm the American economy should be dismissed out of hand," wrote:
The net effect of this Special Report does real damage to the cause of dynamic analysis. For more than a decade, Heritage has called on CBO to add dynamic analysis to its tax reform studies. I could not agree more. And now, ironically, I can only hope CBO does an analysis of immigration reform that will show how skewed the Heritage immigration work has become.
Media outlets are reporting that a new immigration report from the conservative Heritage Foundation found that passing the proposed Senate comprehensive immigration bill will cost $6.3 trillion. In fact, the Heritage report is not an analysis of the entire Senate's "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act," and does not take into account costs or savings of the proposal's broader reforms.
According to Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace, the conservative Heritage Foundation is set to release a report that claims immigration reform will cost taxpayers billions of dollars. But Heritage's analysis is reportedly based on a 2007 study that was widely discredited by experts for its faulty methodology and dubious conclusions.
On KFTK's Allman in the Morning, Wallace stated that he plans to host Heritage Foundation president and former Republican Sen. Jim DeMint to introduce the report this weekend. Wallace said that the report will show that the proposed Senate immigration reform bill will "cost the Treasury billions of dollars" because "people would be eligible for Obamacare and various welfare programs."
In fact, as Wallace himself noted, undocumented immigrants who are granted legal status under the Senate bill will not be eligible for federal public benefits or subsidized health care for at least a decade. Moreover, immigrants are less likely than native-born Americans to rely on such programs.
Wallace went on to criticize the conservative myth that immigrants come to the United States to gain access to government benefits.
Here are five facts media should know about the Heritage Foundation's previous problematic immigration report:
Fox News hosted anti-Islam activist Steve Emerson to repeat the disputed claim that a Saudi student he named as a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings is slated for deportation, one of several claims that Emerson got wrong about the bombings this week.
Emerson, who styles himself as some kind of expert on terrorism and Islamic extremism especially, has a tenuous history with the facts. Indeed, his analysis of Boston is reminiscent of his blunders about the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 -- when his certainty that Islamic terrorists were behind the incident was exposed as false.
On April 16, C-SPAN hosted Emerson to discuss the Boston bombings. As Salon reported, Emerson cited "classified information" when he fingered a "Saudi national" as a possible suspect because, he stated, "the burns on his skin match the explosive residue of the bomb that exploded."
A few hours later on Fox News, Emerson recanted, saying: "We're back to square one in terms of suspects because the Saudi suspect has been ruled out." Indeed, the Saudi student has been cleared of suspicion and according to law enforcement was never in custody.
But on Fox, Emerson continued to tie the bombings to "jihadists," claiming that the "actual fragment, which were nails and ball-bearings" used in Boston are "a hallmark, by the way, of jihadist suicide bombings." As The Daily Beast pointed out in response to Emerson's incorrect musings:
[T]he Boston Marathon bombs don't appear to have been suicide bombings at all, but just as he did in Oklahoma City, Emerson is attributing widely used modi operandi and ascribing it to Muslim terrorists. Just as Tim McVeigh and Anders Breivik might have been surprised to learn that only Middle Easterners seek to "inflict as many casualties as possible," so too would Ted Kaczynski (an anti-technology zealot known as the Unabomber) and David Copeland (a British neo-Nazi known as the Nailbomber) be surprised to learn that putting nails in bombs as shrapnel qualifies them as "jihadists." And actual terrorism expert Will McCants Tweeted a 2011 case where white supremacists had used ball bearings in a bomb.
Indeed, it is now being reported that two brothers who may be from Russia's Caucasus region are believed to be responsible for the Boston bombings.
Immigration experts dispute right-wing radio claims that the comprehensive immigration reform proposal is "amnesty." Indeed, the legislation introduced in the Senate on April 17 by a bipartisan group of senators includes a number of provisions undocumented immigrants would have to meet before they could apply for citizenship -- along with waiting at a minimum 13 years.
To attack the legislation, conservative radio talk hosts such as Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham are claiming that the immigration proposal is "amnesty" and that undocumented immigrants would not have to earn citizenship. In fact, the bill places a number of conditions on undocumented immigrants before they could apply for citizenship. Moreover, the federal government would have to meet several border enforcement guidelines before undocumented immigrants could take advantage of such a path.
Here are five immigration experts who also dispute right-wing radio claims that the proposal is "amnesty":