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Fox News cherry-picked from President Obama's statements at a town hall event to falsely suggest Obama is illegally enforcing his immigration directives in violation of a court order temporarily blocking the directives from going into effect -- but the Obama administration has already suspended implementation of the executive action to comply with the ruling.
On February 25, Obama spoke "directly to the Latino community" at an MSNBC town hall. Speaking with Telemundo and MSNBC host José Díaz-Balart, the president discussed the implications of the recent halt on his immigration actions put in place by a federal judge in Texas, a ruling that is currently being appealed by the Department of Justice.
During the February 26 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox News anchor Heather Nauert played an out-of-context clip of the president's remarks at the town hall, suggesting he was illegally enforcing the immigration actions at issue in the Texas case. Nauert claimed that Obama was "warning" Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents who did not follow his executive action and aired a clip of Obama saying:
OBAMA: The bottom line is, is that, if somebody's working for ICE and there's a policy and they don't follow the policy, there're going to be consequences to it.
After airing the clip of Obama's remarks, Nauert alleged that "there's just one problem" with Obama saying ICE agents would have to follow his directives -- "a federal judge has issued a ruling halting the executive immigration order in its tracks":
Later in the program, host Steve Doocy again played the cropped clip of Obama's remarks and claimed that the president was "essentially threatening ICE agents." Doocy added that Obama's policy was to "let everybody stay, but the laws say, if you're in the country illegally, you should be deported":
But the full context of Obama's statements show the president was speaking broadly about ICE agents following policies that are in place, making clear that a federal judge has currently blocked his most recent executive order. In the portion of the town hall directly prior to the remarks Fox aired, Obama told Díaz-Balart that while the administration appeals the Texas ruling, agents are expected to prioritize deportations properly and consistently with existing directives provided by the Department of Homeland Security and the administration (emphasis added):
DIAZ-BALART (Reading question from social media): How do you guarantee that an immigrant who is in the middle of legalizing his status, that he or she is not going to be deported by ICE? Mr. President, my husband was deported during the process, and this, she says, happened just last week.
OBAMA: You know, I would have to know the details of exactly what happened. But what I can tell you is that, until we pass a law through Congress, the executive actions that we've taken are not going to be permanent. They're temporary. We are now implementing a new prioritization. There are going to be some jurisdictions, and there may be individual ICE officials, or border patrol, who aren't paying attention to our new directives. But they're going to be answerable to the head of the Department of Homeland Security, because he's been very clear about what our priorities should be. And I've been very clear about what our priorities should be.
And the -- I don't know what the particular circumstances here are. But what I can tell you is, people who have signed up, for example, under my executive action in DACA, there are seven, 800,000 people who have signed up. They haven't had problems. It's worked. So we know how to make this work. Right now we've got a judge who's blocking it from working. And in the interim, until we can actually process all these applications, then what we're going to do is do what we can in terms of making sure that we're prioritizing it properly.
But the challenge is still going to be that not only do we have to win this legal fight, which we are appealing very aggressively, but ultimately we're still going to have to pass a law through Congress. The bottom line is, Jose, that I'm using all of the legal power vested in me in order to solve this problem. And, you know, one of the things about living in a democracy is that we have separation of powers, we have Congress, we have the judicial branch. And, you know, right now, we've got some disagreements with some members of Congress, and some members of the judiciary in terms of what should be done. But what I'm confident about is ultimately this is going to get done. And the reason it's going to get done is it's the right thing to do. And it is who we are as a people.
DIAZ-BALART: But what are the consequences? Because, how do you -- how do you ensure that ICE agents or border patrol won't be deporting people like this? I mean, what are the consequences?
OBAMA: Look, the bottom line is that if somebody's working for ICE and there's a policy, and they don't follow the policy, there are going to be consequences to it. So I can't speak to a specific problem. What I can talk about is what's true in the government generally. In the U.S. military when you get an order, you're expected to follow it. It doesn't mean that everybody follows the order. If they don't, they've got a problem. And the same is going to be true with respect to the policies that we're putting forward.
The Obama administration has already delayed the implementation of their executive action on immigration in response to the court's ruling on the matter. As The New York Times explained, "administration officials ... postponed President Obama's sweeping executive actions on immigration indefinitely, saying they had no choice but to comply" with the judge's order to halt the policy.
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Fox News is actively promoting what it claims are "shocking" details about newly hired immigration enforcement attorneys at the Department of Homeland Security, asserting that the Obama administration is "stacking" the agency with "pro-open borders amnesty attorneys," because the lawyers either previously worked in immigration law or for immigrants' rights organizations.
Fox News hosted discredited former Justice Department attorney J. Christian Adams twice in two days to attack the Obama administration over its recent DHS hires, attacks which were also highlighted on the Fox Nation website. Adams, who is best known as the fabulist behind the New Black Panther Party pseudoscandal, accused the Obama administration in a piece for the conservative PJ Media of improperly hiring these attorneys, claiming that the hires "undermine confidence that the federal government will vigorously enforce federal laws, notwithstanding any congressional 'mandates' to do so." Adams listed all the attorneys hired, along with information about their employment history or immigration background.
Among the work experience Adams cited were stints with immigrants' rights organizations like the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the Advancement Project, the National Immigration Law Center, and the American Immigration Council. He also highlighted the work experience of an attorney who volunteered for Planned Parenthood, and those of two others who studied Arabic in Africa while in college.
On Fox & Friends, co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck teased an interview with Adams by claiming that "a shocking new report" shows that "President Obama [is] stacking his immigration enforcement office with pro-open borders amnesty attorneys." She added: "Are illegal immigrants getting a free pass thanks to the government?"
During the segment, co-host Steve Doocy said: "Even if the Obama Administration can't officially change immigration policy, these lawyers can help illegal immigrants stay in the country regardless of the law." He added: "The Obama administration, they're brilliant in getting around the rules." Adams then repeated his allegations, including that the lawyers are "all on the far left, open borders side of the equation."
Adams singled out two lawyers he claimed supported his points that they would follow an ideological agenda: Jennifer Lee and Maura Ooi.
Fox News contributor and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol ignored President Obama's history of improving border security when he suggested on Fox News Sunday that the president may choose not to enforce the border security provisions in the Senate's immigration reform bill.
The comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate on June 27 includes strong increases in border security measures. These measures include the placement of 17,000 additional Border Patrol agents, at least 700 miles in fencing along the border, and dozens of additional helicopters and marine vessels to help with border surveillance.
On July 14, Kristol claimed that Republicans can't trust Obama with the border enforcement provisions of the comprehensive immigration bill, asking, "[c]an anyone seriously believe he's not going to waive pieces of, piece of, aspects of a piece of legislation he doesn't like -- border security?"
Washington Post editorial writer Charles Lane responded to Kristol on the show by noting the high level of deportations under Obama's presidency. The facts show that Lane is correct -- deportations are at record highs, with more than 400,000 people deported in FY 2012:
The facts also show that Obama has done much to tighten border security. The number of immigrants with criminal convictions has surged under the Obama administration, nearly doubling from 2008 to 2011. The number of Border Patrol agents has more than doubled since 2001. The number of apprehensions at the Southwestern border has dropped dramatically as these border security measures have increased.
During their significant coverage of his stand against the Obama administration's drone policy, the media have failed to examine Republican Sen. Rand Paul's support for surveillance drones in border states. Now that Paul has come out in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, media outlets have an opportunity to highlight this dichotomy -- especially in light of the fact that his immigration framework requires that drones be used to target immigrants.
In a February 11 Washington Times op-ed announcing his support for immigration reform, Paul wrote:
As a matter of both national security and immigration policy, though, it is absolutely essential that we both secure our border and modernize our visa system so we know who comes and who goes on travel, student and other temporary visas. It is vital all other reforms be conditioned on this goal being met.
Border security, including drones, satellite and physical barriers, vigilant deportation of criminals and increased patrols would begin immediately and would be assessed at the end of one year by an investigator general from the Government Accountability Office.
During an interview on Sean Hannity's radio show, Paul similarly stated that border enforcement should include "a combination of a lot of things," such as satellite imagery and drones. He then went on to dismiss his earlier stance against drones, adding that "for border security, you can use drones for surveillance. That's protecting our country." Hannity did not question Paul over the disconnect between these positions.
Similarly, media have largely ignored Paul's comments calling for drones to target immigrants, even though his stance is not new.
A Fox News host dismissed the threat of furloughs from automatic budget cuts known as sequestration as a "convenient excuse" that allows agency heads to exaggerate the effects of the cuts. However, hundreds of workers have already been laid off due to the budget cuts and more are likely to be fired or furloughed if the cuts continue.
ICE director John Morton faced criticism From Republicans during a House hearing on Tuesday where he testified about the budget decisions ICE made to avoid furloughs. Fox & Friends host Alisyn Camerota dismissed Morton's explanation of his difficult choices as a "handy and convenient excuse," and downplayed the threat of furloughs and layoffs:
This is just what you constantly hear now with sequester. It's either this or furlough. It's either this or laying off. We don't want to take money out of the pockets of workers, and that is a handy and convenient excuse when, you know, you end up not cutting something that people think is expendable.
But local reports from around the country demonstrate that many Americans are already dealing with the serious repercussions of sequestration. Thousands of workers face pay cuts as high as 20% as a result of sequester-induced forced time off, or furloughs. Many more have already experienced layoffs. Citing other news reports, the Huffington Post highlighted several examples of layoffs and furloughs around the country:
On Monday, 250 workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state received pink slips, while another 2,500 others found out they're facing furloughs. Approximately 9,000 people work at the nation's most contaminated nuclear site, and the Associated Press reports that "cleanup is likely to be slowed" because of the budget cuts.
Continental Maritime, a contractor that repairs U.S. Navy ships, expects to lay off 185 employees, effective April 12. Other contractors have issued conditional layoff notices -- meaning that jobs are safe if Congress restores some funding to the Defense Department -- to thousands of employees.
Four-hundred eighteen contract workers tied to the Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania are losing their jobs due to sequestration. Two-hundred sixteen people will be dismissed on April 15 and 107 on April 30, the Morning Call of Allentown, Pa., reports. The paper noted that the Tobyhanna Army Depot is losing 35 percent -- $309 million -- of its government funding through the end of the fiscal year, and that more than 5,100 of the people who work there are being forced to take 22 furlough days.
At least eight municipal employees in Monterey County, Calif., are losing their jobs as a result of a decrease in the number of military contracts.
In early March, 23 people who work with the parks and recreation and maintenance departments in Tooele County, Utah, were laid off in order to grapple with the federal budget cuts. "I have four kids. This is my livelihood," said Scott Chance, a 12-year employee. "It pays my health insurance. It gives me my house."
Engineering Services Network is an engineering and technology company and one of the top Latino-owned companies in Virginia. President and CEO Raymond Lopez Jr. told NBC Latino that he has "lost about 20 employeesthrough sequestration."
The Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, Texas, announced in February that it was cutting 414 jobs -- about 10 percent of its workforce. "I don't know how we're going to make it," Raymond Wyrick, whose last day was scheduled to be March 9, told CNN Money.
Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of Fox News' parent company News Corp., plans to join New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg today for a forum on immigration policy. Despite Fox News' history of demonizing immigrants and their constant use of anti-immigrant rhetoric, Murdoch plans to highlight the role of immigrants in American economic successes.
Fox Nation is claiming that the Obama administration is "selling amnesty for $465" through a policy that allows some young undocumented immigrants to stay in the country and possibly avoid deportation. In fact, the $465 is the cost of the application process for deferments from deportation; it is not "amnesty" since applicants are not guaranteed approval and the policy does not confer legal status. The policy is simply a temporary reprieve from deportation that allows immigrants to apply to work in the country legally.
On June 15, the Department of Homeland Security announced:
[C]ertain young people who were brought to the United States as young children, do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria will be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings. Those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization.
Of course, Fox Nation's claim isn't true. The website linked to an ABC News blog post stating:
The Department of Homeland Security today announced details of the application and approval process for the DREAM Act-like program, outlining specific eligibility requirements and a $465 fee. It will begin Aug. 15.
A Detroit Free Press article explained that "[t]he total cost for the application process will be $465," but applying for deferment from deportation does not mean it will be granted. As has been explained before, DHS announced that the policy will allow undocumented immigrants who arrived in America as children and meet other eligibility requirements to request "consideration of deferred action" on a "case-by-case basis" starting on August 15.
Fox News is falsely accusing the Obama administration of "thumbing its nose" at the Supreme Court's recent decision to strike down most of Arizona's controversial immigration law. In fact, the federal government is continuing to enforce immigration law in a manner consistent with the Supreme Court decision.
The court on Monday struck down most of the law, but allowed the so-called "show me your papers" provision of the law to go into effect. In response, the Department of Homeland Security announced that federal officials will not respond to every traffic stop at which Arizona authorities claim to have an undocumented immigrant in their custody. Federal officials will continue to take into custody immigrants with a criminal record and other people who meet federal immigration enforcement authority. DHS is also rescinding its immigration enforcement partnership program with Arizona.
While this announcement is in no way at odds with the court's ruling, Fox News is citing as evidence that the Obama administration is in defiance of the court.
Sean Hannity claimed that Obama was "basically thumbing his nose at the judiciary branch."
Other Fox commentators made similar comments. Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer claimed that Obama was acting "high handed and lawless." And Fox News host Greta Greta Van Susteren claimed the president "snub[bed] his finger, a little bit, at the full court."
In fact, the DHS announcement is perfectly consistent with the Supreme Court's decision. The Supreme Court said that ICE must "respond to any request made by state officials for verification of a person's citizenship status." And DHS will indeed continue to verify an individual's immigration status on request. But the Supreme Court did not impose additional limitations on the federal government such as a requirement that the federal government must arrest all the people that Arizona wants arrested.
Under the court's ruling, the federal government retains its well-established power to use its discretion to decide who it wants to deport.
Fox News attacked the Justice Department for setting up a hotline for Arizonans to report civil rights violations by Arizona authorities enforcing the "show me your papers" provision of the state's immigration law. But commentators from across the political spectrum have acknowledged that Arizona's immigration law could lead to civil rights violations such as racial profiling.
Frequent Fox News guest Jay Sekulow falsely claimed that the Department of Homeland Security would not accept phone calls from Arizona law enforcement seeking to verify an individual's immigration status. In fact, DHS will continue to verify immigration status over the phone, but "will not respond to the scene of state or local traffic stops or similar law enforcement encounters to enforce immigration laws unless the individual meets DHS enforcement priorities."