Right-wing media are trumpeting a spurious Judicial Watch report claiming that an Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist camp has been set up near the Texas border, allowing ISIS terrorists to be smuggled into the United States, despite the fact that U.S. federal law agencies say the claim is unsubstantiated.
An April 14 report from Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog group, claimed that the terrorist group "ISIS is operating a camp just a few miles from El Paso, Texas," and ISIS terrorists are being smuggled "through the porous border," which is being targeted due to "understaffed municipal and country police forces."
Right-wing media outlets quickly echoed the dubious claim, and Fox News host Sean Hannity highlighted the Judicial Watch report on the April 14 edition of his radio show. Hannity read from the report, calling it "a very dangerous story," and stoked fears that Islamic State terrorists are being smuggled into the U.S., saying "we have said so many times for so many years that we need to secure America's borders." Hannity concluded by asking, "what are you going to do about that President Obama, anything?"
But federal law agencies involved with border security have said the Judicial Watch report of Islamic State terrorists near the U.S.-Mexico border is "unverified."
Right-wing media have a history of echoing dubious Judicial Watch reports to incite fear about terrorists crossing the U.S. border. Fox News parroted the group's September 2014 claim that a terrorist attack from the U.S.-Mexico border was "imminent," although the claim was roundly denounced by terrorism experts and rated "mostly false" by Politifact.
From the April 6 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
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Fox News misleadingly slurred immigrants with legal permission to work in the United States as "illegals" during a segment highlighting attempts by disadvantaged school districts around the country to boost bilingual education initiatives.
On the April 6 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy introduced a headline news segment by falsely claiming that a nonprofit group is "hiring dozens of illegals to teach disadvantaged students." Doocy acknowledged just seconds later that the prospective teachers could "apply for a work permit and earn a reprieve from deportation under the DREAM Act," but still felt it appropriate to label them with the "illegals" slur commonly used by Fox News:
The segment, which alludes to an April 4 report by the Associated Press about the recruitment of DREAMers as bilingual educators, mirrors a similarly misleading and smear-filled segment featured on Fox & Friends nearly one year ago in which co-hosts Doocy and Brian Kilmeade questioned Denver Public Schools' hiring of so-called "illegal aliens." As was the case today, the teachers in question actually held legal employment authorization.
Republican presidential-hopeful Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has faced criticism from Hispanic news media for his extreme conservative policy positions on health care and immigration, which are out of line with the majority of Latino voters.
From the March 23 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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A broad coalition of 39 major Latino organizations has issued a letter to the heads of six major U.S. English-language broadcasters asking them to work towards better Hispanic guest inclusion on the Sunday morning political talk shows.
The letter, issued by the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) and addressed to the heads of ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC, expresses the group's "deep frustration regarding the continued lack of Hispanic voices" on their agenda-setting Sunday political programs and urges them to "take immediate action to increase Hispanic guest bookings and broaden the scope of issues that include their voices."
Hector Sanchez, NHLA chairman and executive director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, said in a statement that the lack of Hispanic inclusion on those programs "results in distorting the image of our community's contributions to the life of our nation." Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), added: "It is irresponsible to exclude the perspectives of 17 percent of the U.S. population from the airwaves."
Only seven percent of guests on English-language Sunday shows during the last eighteen weeks of 2014 were Latino, according to a Media Matters study. While the letter notes that this proves "an increase from the two percent representation found in a 2011 report by the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts," these numbers remain significantly short of the 17 percent of Americans who identify as Hispanic.
In the letter, the NHLA encourages the network chiefs to take advantage of the "impressive list of Latino experts from across the country that specialize in issues ranging from education, health, immigration, public safety, the economy, civil rights, the media and beyond."
Right-wing media are baselessly accusing the Department of Justice of lying to the judge in Texas overseeing the legal challenge against President Obama's immigration actions. They are claiming that a DOJ attorney made false statements in court when she indicated that applications for two new deferred-action programs were not being processed. But these right-wing media figures are wrong. These two programs are not proceeding. The federal government has renewed 100,000 applications for deferred action for immigrants eligible under a 2012 program -- a third category of applicants who are not covered in the case.
Republican officials from 26 states sued the Obama administration after the president signed a series of executive actions on immigration in November. In part, these executive actions temporarily defer deportations for two new categories of eligible undocumented immigrants, such as parents of citizens. These acts of prosecutorial discretion also immediately changed the president's original 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by extending the deferral period from two years to three, in order to bring it in line with the expiration dates for the new programs. Before the federal government could start accepting applications from immigrants eligible for the two new programs -- a modified version of DACA and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) -- a district court judge in Texas issued an injunction temporarily blocking from going into effect. The third category, under the 2012 guidelines, was not enjoined.
In accompanying court proceedings, under questioning from the judge, the DOJ confirmed that applicants for the two new categories were not yet being processed, as the judge instructed.
Right-wing media have attacked Obama's immigration action since it was announced, and have commended the Texas judge for putting it on hold, even though the legal basis for the injunction is quite shaky. Now conservative media outlets are also claiming that the administration's lawyers lied because the Department of Homeland Security approved or renewed 100,000 applications from the original 2012 DACA program between November 2014 and February 2015 and applied the deferral for three years instead of two -- even though that change was required to be immediately applied.
From the March 18 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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MSNBC.com host Maria Teresa Kumar discussed the media's lack of inclusion of Latinos on issues important to Hispanics like education, the economy, and foreign policy, highlighting a Media Matters study, which found that Latinos were only included in policy discussions on Sunday news shows to talk about immigration.
During the March 17 edition of Changing America, Kumar discussed the findings of the Media Matters report with Danny Vargas, founder and president of VARCom Solutions and Raben Group's Lawrence Gonzalez. Vargas responded to the study commenting that for Latinos, "immigration is important, but so is education, jobs," and foreign policy. Gonzalez chided the news shows asserting that "people who are making these decisions at the news stations need to be thinking about what their impact is in our community."
Kumar also explained that Spanish-language media has also fed into the stereotype that immigration is the only issue important to Latinos, ignoring important needs of the Hispanic community which can affect their future. Watch:
From the March 13 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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The right-wing media's calls to end birthright citizenship -- a constitutional guarantee -- have been repeated incessantly over the years and have once again found a sympathetic ear in Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), who recently re-introduced legislation that would supposedly "prevent children born in the U.S. of foreign national parents from gaining automatic U.S. citizenship."
Conservative media figures going back to Glenn Beck in his Fox News days have railed against so-called "anchor babies" and "birth tourism," the former a derogatory slur and debunked myth used against U.S. born children of non-citizens, the latter of which represents a sliver of births that experts have repeatedly pointed out are "extraordinarily rare" and an insignificant immigration problem. As Salon's Simon Maloy recently wrote, this "grossly nativist and legally dubious" rhetoric has nevertheless found a receptive audience in Republican legislators on both the state and federal levels.
At the same time, right-wing media continue their drumbeat on this issue, most prominently ABC contributor and talk radio host Laura Ingraham, who has called ending the constitutional guarantee of citizenship at birth a "common sense step." This is nothing new for Ingraham, a self-proclaimed influence on Republican politics who has repeatedly condemned "birthright citizenship nonsense."
On the March 10 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly joined the chorus when he heard that children born in the U.S. automatically receive citizenship -- "the baby gets the passport" -- and declared, "That law's got to change." In the segment, which focused on "birth tourism" by Chinese parents, O'Reilly concluded, "This law is being abused like crazy. It's got to be changed. That should not be a hard thing to do."
In fact, that would be an extremely hard thing to do -- it would require amending the U.S. Constitution or overturning centuries of post-Civil War Supreme Court precedent.
O'Reilly and his guests -- Fox host Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former prosecutor, and contributor Lis Wiehl, also a lawyer -- ignored the fact that it's not merely a "law" that confers citizenship to children born in the United States -- it's the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. That amendment, intended to ensure equal protection for all in the wake of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, unequivocally states, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States ... are citizens of the United States." This amendment has long been understood to grant birthright citizenship, and that interpretation has been re-affirmed by the Supreme Court since as far back as 1898. James C. Ho, the former solicitor general of Texas, explained in 2011 that birthright citizenship was intended "to reverse the Supreme Court's notorious 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford ruling denying citizenship to slaves" and their children, and challenging its legality is "wasting taxpayer funds on a losing court battle, reopening the scars of the Civil War, and offending our Constitution and the rule of law."
But conservative media's radical calls for the end of birthright citizenship continue to make headway with Republicans in Congress.
On March 10, Vitter re-introduced his Birthright Citizenship Act, which would "close a loophole by clarifying that birthright citizenship is only given to the children of U.S. citizens and legal resident aliens." In announcing this legislation, Vitter claimed that allowing birthright citizenship is based on "a fundamental misunderstanding of the 14th Amendment," suggesting that the framers of the amendment, the Supreme Court, and legal experts have been wrong about its plain language for the last 150 years.
An alternate explanation for Vitter's legislation -- other than pure confusion -- is that this is intended to be unconstitutional and represents a "test case" expected to be repeatedly struck down in the federal courts on the way to the Supreme Court. Although GOP senators have shied away from acknowledging this, right-wing anti-immigration activists like Kansas' Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach have plainly admitted as much.
Right-wing media is not quite so honest in its calls to rewrite the U.S. Constitution, choosing instead to baselessly scaremonger about "anchor babies" and "birth tourism."
Observers of the Latino media have responded to Media Matters' "Single Issue Syndrome" report on the lack of Latino representation on Sunday morning political talk shows by starting a conversation about how to address the problem.
In response to the report, Latino Rebels, a Latino-focused media website, started the #AskMeMás Twitter campaign. According to Latino Rebels, the report "led to a conversation among a few people in our group: what other topics matter to U.S. Latinos?"
Latino Rebels followed up the #AskMeMás campaign by publishing a list of Hispanic experts who could speak about issues of importance to the Latino community as well as the population at large.
From the March 6 edition of Fox News' Your World With Neil Cavuto:
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From the March 6 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Mark Levin Show:
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MSNBC's The Rundown with José Díaz-Balart highlighted a new study by the Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ) and the Asian American Federation, which found that immigrants have a major positive impact on the American economy.
According to the study released by AAAJ, immigrants play a "vital role" in the American economy. The study reported a drastic increase in buying power of immigrants and minorities from 2000 to 2014:
The study also found that minorities and immigrants far outpace the majority starting small businesses:
Host José Díaz-Balart and MSNBC anchor Richard Lui highlighted the study during the March 2 edition of The Rundown, noting the positive impact immigration continues to have on the American economy. Lui also explained potential impact of immigrants affected by President Obama's action on immigration, reporting that the action translates to "potentially over 200 thousand new businesses and 200 thousand new jobs" for Americans: