Fox is baselessly accusing President Obama of deliberately trying to distract the public and shift media attention away from problems with the health care rollout by continuing to push Congress to act on immigration reform. However, in the week leading up to his speech, Obama repeatedly urged Congress to refocus attention on immigration reform, which he has made one of the most pressing issues of his administration.
From October 25 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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Fox News cut away from President Obama's speech on immigration reform while MSNBC and CNN did not. Instead of covering the president's speech, Fox chose to return to its nearly two-hour-long coverage of House Republicans' committee hearing on Healthcare.gov glitches.
While MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News all covered the beginning of President Obama's speech on immigration reform live, Fox News promptly cut away after only two minutes and forty seconds to take a commercial break before returning to its nearly-two-hour-long coverage of House Republicans' hearing on the glitches affecting Healthcare.gov. MSNBC and CNN aired the less-than-10-minute speech in its entirety.
When Fox's America's Newsroom returned from break, co-host Bill Hemmer brought the focus back to the congressional hearings, mentioning Obama's immigration speech only to theorize that it was planned to distract from the hearing "going on right down the road."
Hemmer must have forgotten that Fox frequently cuts away from remarks given by the president -- often using trivial news stories as an excuse -- when he accused Obama of attempting to distract from the House's hearing.
From the October 23 edition of Cumulus Media Networks' The Mark Levin Show:
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From the October 23 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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Fox News is using falsehoods to discredit an immigration reform rally that took place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., claiming that activists were given preferential treatment by the Obama administration to stage their protest while parks remain closed. In fact, the National Park Service made it clear a week before the protest that First Amendment activities on the Mall and at Memorial Parks would be exempt from closures.
Fox News hosted discredited documentary filmmaker Dennis Michael Lynch to attack an immigration rally that took place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C, accusing non-English speaking participants of being undocumented and attacking participants for "climbing on some of the statues."
On October 8, several thousand demonstrators gathered on the Mall to call on lawmakers to pass comprehensive immigration legislation that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants:
[T]housands of activists -- from young children wearing white T-shirts that read "Don't Deport My Dad" to activists cheering and waving signs that proclaimed: "No Human is Illegal" -- gathered on the Mall on a cool October afternoon. More than a dozen congressional Democrats and four House Republicans came before the crowd to push for a reform bill in the House.
Fox News reported on the rally by hosting filmmaker Dennis Michael Lynch, who characterized the protest as an "illegal immigrant rally." On the October 9 edition of America's Newsroom, host Bill Hemmer spoke to Lynch who likened the protest to a "rock concert" and said, "I felt like I was back down in Texas along the border where there's no fence and you say, 'come on in!' I mean, they were welcomed."
From the October 9 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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Fox News misrepresented the TRUST Act, a California immigration bill that would limit law enforcement's ability to detain undocumented immigrants for deportation, claiming the legislation will allow criminals to go free. In fact, the bill is aimed at shielding undocumented victims and witnesses to crimes, as well as those who have committed only minor offenses, from deportation. It also seeks to stop criminalizing undocumented immigrants for the sole civil offense of being in the country illegally.
The bill, formally known as Assembly Bill 4, was passed by the California state legislature on September 10. Gov. Jerry Brown has until October 17 to sign it into law. The bill states:
This bill would prohibit a law enforcement official, as defined, from detaining an individual on the basis of a United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold after that individual becomes eligible for release from custody, unless, at the time that the individual becomes eligible for release from custody, certain conditions are met, including, among other things, that the individual has been convicted of specified crimes.
The bill lists some of the crimes that would prompt law enforcement to detain undocumented immigrants for the 48-hour immigration hold, including violent and serious felonies such as rape, assault, robbery, and selling drugs.
The bill also argues that Secure Communities (S-Comm) -- the controversial and widely criticized program under which law enforcement can detain undocumented immigrants for deportation -- "and immigration detainers harm community policing efforts because immigrant residents who are victims of or witnesses to crime, including domestic violence, are less likely to report crime or cooperate with law enforcement when any contact with law enforcement could result in deportation." The text continues:
The program can result in a person being held and transferred into immigration detention without regard to whether the arrest is the result of a mistake, or merely a routine practice of questioning individuals involved in a dispute without pressing charges. Victims or witnesses to crimes may otherwise have recourse to lawful status (such as U-visas or T-visas) that detention resulting from the Secure Communities program obstructs.
In an article on the S-Comm program, California's KPBS reported that in the city of Escondido, "collaboration between the city's police and federal immigration activists has caused tension in the city's Latino communities for years." The article continued:
Agents have been present at the police department's driver's license and sobriety checkpoints, and in the city's jails.
Activists say this kind collaboration diminishes public safety because immigrants are less likely to trust police or report crime if they fear that interacting with police could get them deported.
But in a segment on the TRUST Act for Fox News' Special Report, correspondent William La Jeunesse suggested the bill would allow violent criminals to go free and avoid deportation if they are in the country illegally. His report included Marin County Sheriff Robert Doyle saying, "If you or I were victimized by someone stealing our identity, or selling drugs in our community, or burglarizing our homes or embezzling our money, that that's OK. That's a minor crime."
Fox News is continuing its practice of appealing to conservative viewers while also pandering to the growing Latino influence in the United States.
In a report on American children in Los Angeles County whose parents are undocumented, Fox News used phrases such as "Alien Nation" and "Children of the Corn" to illustrate the story. In another report, the cable channel celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month -- a month-long tribute to Hispanic Americans starting on September 15 -- with a feature on the immigrant roots of Goya Foods.
On the September 19 edition of Fox News' Special Report guest-hosted by Chris Wallace, the program used several inflammatory graphics during a segment called "The Grapevine" to highlight a new analysis by Los Angeles County officials that an "estimated 100,000 children of 60,000 undocumented parents receive aid in Los Angeles County." According to the data, the projected cost to the county would equal $650 million in 2013.
On Special Report, Wallace stated that the LA County data is "more proof of the economic impact of the immigration debate." As he cited the numbers, several graphics bearing the image of a man appearing to vault over a border fence lined with barbed wire flashed on-screen. One read: "Children of the Corn":
"Children of the Corn" is the name of a 1977 short horror story by Stephen King, which tells of a murderous cult of children in a remote town who kill everyone over the age of 18. The story was adapted for film in 1984; at least eight other movies followed.
Wallace nor Special Report explained or referred to the graphics during the segment, which also featured one reading: "Alien Nation":
From the September 19 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Right-wing media have seized on a report noting that American children in Los Angeles County with undocumented parents are receiving millions in benefits to revive the spurious smear that undocumented immigrants come to this country only to receive welfare. However, these outlets are missing the facts surrounding the data, including that studies show immigration reform could raise these children's standard of living.
In a September 16 article, the local CBS affiliate in Los Angeles reported that according to a new analysis by county officials, an "estimated 100,000 children of 60,000 undocumented parents receive aid in Los Angeles County." The article added that the projected cost to the county would equal $650 million in 2013.
County supervisor Michael D. Antonovich was quoted as saying that the total cost to taxpayers could exceed $1.6 billion per year after factoring in health care and public safety costs, adding, "These costs do not even include the hundreds of millions of dollars spent annually for education."
Right-wing media outlets, including the Daily Caller, The Blaze, and Breitbart.com, highlighted the report, with the Power Line blog using it to accuse undocumented immigrants of putting a "burden" on "the nation's welfare system, along with driving down wages for working Americans." American Thinker commented: "To open borders crowd: Please make your donations here to cover the cost of allowing destitute, jobless, skilless, poorly educated people to cross the border. We can't bill the Mexican government so you're the next best target."
Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham read the news on her radio show and used it to call for the end of birthright citizenship -- which, under the 14th Amendment, makes anyone born in this country an American citizen. She also argued that the news should end all talk of immigration reform.
But these reports leave out key facts. In 2012, according to Antonovich's office, the total cost of food stamp benefits and Cal WORKs -- a welfare program that gives cash aid and services to eligible needy California families -- to Los Angeles County was a little over $3 billion. Families headed by an undocumented parent received about $636.5 million or a little more than 20 percent of the total.
One of the most repeated claims against immigration reform from conservative media is that legalizing immigrants would negatively impact the U.S. economy. Another is that immigrants take jobs from American workers. And that the economy should take precedence over immigration reform, despite the fact that immigration is an economic issue.
A new study that examined government data over a 40-year period has punctured all of these myths, finding that immigration -- vital to hard-hit communities across the nation -- has a positive effect on the country and the economy, especially in the manufacturing sector.
As CBS News reported, a study by the Americas Society/Council of the Americas and the Partnership for a New American Economy found that immigrants "are boosting job growth, raising home prices and more broadly helping to revive thousands of economically distressed communities." Many of those communities, CBS News pointed out, are in rural areas with a heavy manufacturing focus.
The study, prepared by Duke University economist Jacob Vigdor, used data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the American Community Survey to assess the impact of immigration on "the number of middle-class manufacturing jobs," "the health of the housing market," and "the size of the local U.S.-born population." It looked at nearly 3,100 counties within a 40-year period from 1970 to 2010.
The report highlighted three key findings:
The study found that the "arrival of high-skilled immigrants as well as workers that are part of the essential economy has also greatly contributed to the growth of the manufacturing industry in places like Los Angeles, Houston, and in southern Arizona." To illustrate, the study contrasted Los Angeles County with Cook County in Chicago and found:
A wave of new foreign-born residents moved to both areas between 1970 and 2010, but the growth was proportionately much larger in Los Angeles. There, the immigrant population nearly quintupled, compared to the doubling experienced in Cook County.
Bearing in mind that when 1,000 immigrants move to an area 46 manufacturing jobs are created or preserved, the fact that Los Angeles added 2.7 million immigrants over this time period -- rather than Cook County's 600,000 -- accounts for about half of the difference in total manufacturing jobs between the two areas in 2010. Immigrants now account for more than 35 percent of the population in Los Angeles County, a substantial share of the population.
Rush Limbaugh conflated the constitutional right to vote with access to health care, using undocumented immigrants and their lack of health care to attack the Obama administration and mock criticism of voter ID laws. He also falsely asserted that the Affordable Care Act covers undocumented immigrants.
On his radio show, Limbaugh attacked the Obama administration as hypocritical for requiring proof of eligibility to access health care under the ACA while suing Arizona following the state's 2010 discriminatory "show me your papers" law. The Arizona law included a provision requiring state and local police officers to check the immigration status of anyone they suspected of being in the country illegally.
Limbaugh stated that it "is outrageous that you need a photo ID to get medical treatment," adding, "Where is the social justice? What are you trying to do, kill all the minorities?" He continued:
LIMBAUGH: You know what they're trying to do, they're trying to keep minorities from going to the doctor. This is doctor suppression. By requiring a photo ID to go to the - well if that's what they say about elections. If you need a photo ID to go vote -- Jesse Jackson says that's voter suppression. Well this is not just suppression. They're trying to keep minorities from getting treated.
He went on to falsely claim that the ACA already covers undocumented immigrants.
In fact, undocumented immigrants and legal immigrants who have been in the country less than five years are not covered under the ACA. As the National Immigration Law Center noted, these residents are not even allowed access to the health care exchanges to purchase private insurance at full cost. They are not eligible for subsidized health care or Medicare, nonemergency Medicaid, or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Immigrant activists and health care experts have repeatedly cited these facts as vital reasons to pass immigration reform. This population is one of the most vulnerable when it comes to health care. In fact, almost 7 million of the uninsured are undocumented immigrants, but Limbaugh chose to mock their plight to make a point about discriminatory voter ID laws.
Limbaugh has made similar statements in the past, claiming in September 2012 that requiring IDs at the Democratic National Convention meant that "apparently Democrats are trying to suppress their own delegates." This was also repeated on Fox News, where hosts complained Democrats were guilty of a "double standard" for requiring press to show ID at the DNC, a security measure to protect the president of the United States.
The Daily Caller's Mickey Kaus, who headlined a tea party event in August to stoke fears of how comprehensive immigration reform "would change America irrevocably, and for the worse," has a piece out detailing how Republicans can filibuster immigration reform and show that "[a]mnesty as we know it can go away." What Kaus is advocating of course is the same level of GOP obstructionism conservative media have been calling for to kill immigration reform.
In his September 4 piece, Kaus lamented the fact that immigration reform supporters, with help from "La Raza and Mark Zuckerberg, big business lobbyists, the Catholic Church and the Media-Amnesty Complex," will continue to advocate for a path to citizenship until an immigration bill becomes law. He then went on to describe his "tentative simple, four step plan," which began with exhorting Republicans to block all immigration bills that don't first enforce the border.
Kaus is giving preference here to the "enforcement-first" approach that immigration restrictionists have long favored, which seeks to militarize the border and take other extreme steps to cut off illegal immigration. As Kaus pointed out, this approach has been rejected by supporters and Democrats who will accept nothing less than "an inclusive, immediate path to legal status for the 11 million, and an achievable and clear path to eventual citizenship," in the words of America's Voice executive director Frank Sharry.
This approach would create an impasse designed to effectively kill reform efforts. A number of conservative media figures have similarly agitated for such outright obstruction.
However, this seems to be going against the grain, as more and more congressional Republicans express support for reform that includes a pathway to citizenship. As the Miami Herald reported, tea party Rep. Steve Southerland is the most recent Republican to do so:
[W]hen asked Friday in Miami, Southerland sounded more open to the idea of a general pathway to citizenship, Still, he drew a distinction between young people brought as children and those who came when they were older and knew they were breaking the law.
Southerland said he wasn't sure about whether they should be granted a special path to citizenship or legal residency.
"If there's going to be a chance to create a legal path, there has to be a recognition of the wrong done," Southerland said, indicating they would need to pay fines and express contrition. "But I believe in reconciliation."