Fox News' Newest Dishonest Chart: Immigration Enforcement
Blog ››› ››› SOLANGE UWIMANA & BRIAN POWELL
Fox News used a dishonest graph to distort the Obama administration's record on border enforcement and claim that the border is less secure. Fox's chart painted a misleading picture of Southwest border apprehensions by using an arbitrary time period and an improper scale -- even as illegal border crossings under President Obama are at historic lows.
In several segments on Fox News, correspondent William La Jeunesse highlighted the graph to claim that the Southwest border "is actually less secure," pointing to what he called the "double-digit surge" in border apprehensions from 2011 to 2013 to make his point:
La Jeunesse reported that the numbers for October-April 2013 were released exclusively to Fox News from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
In a report on Happening Now, La Jeunesse touted the graph and highlighted the fact that apprehensions of Central American nationals have risen 13 percent -- leading him to claim that by this standard more people are getting into the United States illegally.
La Jeunesse gave a similar report on Your World using the same graph.
However, the graph La Jeunesse used suffers from several misleading characteristics. First, it depicts an arbitrary time period: October through April, though we're only a few days into the month, for the years 2011 to 2013 -- which takes into account only half of Obama's first term. Moreover, the graph has a skewed scale -- making the 27,000 jump from 2011 to 2013 seem more dramatic than it actually is.
Here is the actual record of Southwest border apprehensions in Obama's first term, which shows a sharp decline from fiscal year 2009 through 2012 (October through September):
At the height of illegal immigration, apprehensions numbers along the Southwest border routinely topped one million. For example, in FY 2004, the Border Patrol counted nearly 1.2 million apprehensions. By FY 2009, that number had declined to 540,865. Even if Fox's six-month projection for 2013 stays on pace, the total will be a far lower 384,596 apprehensions -- context that was missing from Fox's reporting.
During his report, La Jeunesse emphasized that there has been an increase of apprehensions from nationals from countries other than Mexico but failed to contextualize what that actually means. Apprehensions from Central America and other countries have historically made up a tiny part of all apprehensions -- between 8 to 26 percent for the last few years.