Following the Obama administration's announcement that it will grant certain undocumented immigrants the chance to be exempted from deportation, Fox News claimed President Obama had issued the decision as an executive order, implying he did so to circumvent Congress. In fact, the change is an exercise of prosecutorial discretion that is consistent with the current law and has decades of precedent.
From the June 15 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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In response to a Time magazine cover story by journalist Jose Antonio Vargas about how life changes after he and others revealed his or her status as an undocumented immigrant, Fox News hosted a member of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
Vargas, who has previously been the subject of Fox's scorn after he wrote an article last year revealing himself as an undocumented immigrant, wrote an article updating his status in a newly published issue of Time. The article details current struggles by people in Vargas' same situation -- where there is no available path to legal documentation. Vargas also details that "the long-stalled Dream Act is the best hope" for young people to gain a path to U.S. citizenship.
Rather than host a measured discussion on the issues Vargas brought up, Fox & Friends turned to FAIR for a "fair and balanced" debate with immigration attorney Francisco Hernandez. According to the SPLC, "FAIR leaders have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists and have made many racist statements. Its advertisements have been rejected because of racist content." FAIR has even promoted people who make violent threats and vicious smears against immigrants.
Today, FAIR media director Ira Mehlman kicked off the debate by saying "I think we've seen this in-your-face attitude before. Back in 2005 and 2006, you had hundreds of thousands of people marching in the streets of every major city in the United States demanding to be rewarded as a result of having broken the law." Attacks on undocumented immigrants such as these were a staple of the 2006 right-wing campaign against immigration reform.
Today's announcement that the Obama administration "will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives" (per the Associated Press) offers an excellent glimpse at how that tension plays out.
Republishing the AP write-up, Fox News Latino used the staid headline "Obama Administration Halts Deportations for Undocumented Children," and attached a photo of a DREAM Act activist in front of the Capitol:
Fox Nation also republished an AP write-up, but their headline and photo selection* spoke to a different tone and audience:
*UPDATE: Fox Nation has since removed the photo from the article, though the photo still appears on their main page.
On January 5, 2011, at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, a group called State Legislators for Legal Immigration held a press event announcing their intention to change meaning of the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment, which has granted citizenship to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof" ever since it was ratified in 1868. The group wants to force a reinterpretation of the amendment to prevent children of undocumented immigrants from obtaining citizenship, thus removing (in SLLI's view) an incentive for people to cross the border illegally.
Their primary weapon in this crusade is a model bill that says children must have at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen (or resident alien) in order to be eligible for state citizenship. The bill, which runs contrary to over 100 years of legal precedent, was designed so that legislators could take it back to their states, work to get it passed, and then get sued with the hope that the case makes it all the way to a Supreme Court which would then overturn that precedent.
The strategy, the legal reasoning, and the model legislation were devised by the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), the legal arm of the anti-immigrant Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Specifically, they are the brainchildren of Kris Kobach, counsel for IRLI and the Kansas secretary of state.
IRLI is not the only conservative organization pushing model legislation on this issue. A similar model bill approved by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in 2008 provides for state legislatures to call on Congress to "enact legislation clarifying the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution as denying citizenship status to children of illegal aliens."
From the April 28 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends Saturday:
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This Wednesday the U.S. Supreme Court will decide if portions of Arizona's controversial immigration enforcement law, Senate Bill 1070, are inconsistent with federal law and therefore must be struck down. Fox has taken this opportunity to push misleading talking points about Arizona's immigration enforcement law and to continue to fearmonger about crime in Arizona.
Right-wing media have attacked a proposed Obama administration rule change that would reduce the amount of time required for undocumented immigrants who are immediate relatives of American citizens to apply for residency as "stealth amnesty" by a "lawless regime." But the proposed rule change would allow eligible immigrants to obtain a lawful return visa without a long separation from their families; moreover, immigrant-rights activists have said that the current system encourages people to remain here illegally.
Right-wing media are demonizing the National Council of La Raza in order to object to President Obama's recent appointment of Cecilia Muñoz as director of the Domestic Policy Council, accusing the organization of being an "amnesty" group with "racist" ties. These attacks are not new: Conservatives have long described the civil rights group as "the Ku Klux Klan Of The Hispanic People."
Fox News' Fox & Friends made considerable contributions to the field of conservative of misinformation throughout 2011. The efforts of co-hosts Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson, and Brian Kilmeade -- as well as their rotating cast of fill-in hosts and Curvy Couch guests -- have made Fox & Friends the top misinformer on Fox News in 2011.
In a post on his blog yesterday, former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller, currently an op-ed columnist for the paper, answered readers who have repeatedly criticized him and the paper of record for their incessant use of derogatory term "illegals." Keller shared a handful of emails from readers, including from one who noted that the term "reduces human beings to a status label, and a morally loaded one at that."
The reader's email continued:
It reduces the essence of a person to an act of violation, an offense. When you use "illegals" as the object of a sentence it literally erases the human beings who the sentence is about and makes the grammatical object of the sentence an abstraction, a label of condemnation.
Keller was particularly criticized for using the term in his Monday column, which he did no less than four times. In defending himself to readers, he wrote:
Just to be clear, I used the word only to refer to people who are actually in this country illegally. I was careful not to apply it to families, which are often of mixed legal status. And I used it in a context where the subject was their legal status.
After consulting the paper's style book, which advised Times journalists to use "illegal immigrant ... rather than the sinister-sounding illegal alien," Keller contacted the Times' "arbiter of style and taste" Phil Corbett who explained that " 'illegals' as a shorthand noun has an unnecessarily pejorative tone, and it is routinely used by the anti-immigration side." Corbett added: "I think it's wise to steer clear."
Well, vigilant readers, the good news is, you seem to have gotten the style book updated. And I'll resist that particular shorthand in the future.
It was bound to happen. Fox's Eric Bolling was primed to have a talking to for his extreme views on immigrants and his repeated calls that the entire undocumented population be deported. On Friday, fellow Fox News colleague Geraldo Rivera did just that, slamming The Five co-host for his "hardline" attitude toward immigrants, which Rivera said is "way too draconian to be in any sense humane or American."
Rivera said of Bolling's view:
RIVERA: I think it really overstates the problem. I think it helps fuel this enormous hatred. I think it's rhetorical. And I think that it's not you. You are a thoughtful person. You are passionate -- I understand that. And I think that you are eloquent, but when you talk about this whole class of people, 11 million people -- that's larger than some countries -- in one broad brush, including the grandmothers, the babies, everybody else, I think that it is negative; it is counterproductive; and it's very divisive.
Indeed, what Rivera was describing could be applied to the lion's share of Fox News' coverage of immigrants. Two recent examples include segments in which a straight news anchor on the network used the pejorative "illegals" to refer to undocumented immigrants and another that pushed a false storyline to attack the Obama administration on immigration policy.
Fox rarely, if ever, discusses immigrants as Rivera did on the show. He pointed out the numerous economic benefits they have brought the United States, including reviving economically depressed towns and the fact that they pay taxes. Rivera noted: "They are a productive, hard-working population, generally speaking, Eric; they are not a criminal -- I'm all for deporting criminals; deport them. But to treat the 2-year-old baby and the felony murderer as the same class is wrong."
And yet that's what Fox has done, repeatedly. The network has advanced the spurious idea that the majority of undocumented immigrants are criminals. And one of the ways it has pushed that narrative is by its personalities' incessant reference of immigrants using the slur "illegals." Following Bolling's use of the word, Rivera interjected: "You call them illegals. That is a word that is designed to generate a negative reaction. You wanna talk about illegals? Let's talk about fathers who don't pay child support. Aren't they illegals? ... So why don't we call them illegals?"
From the November 29 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:
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On his Fox News show Monday night, Bill O'Reilly further widened the chasm that exists between him and his colleagues when it comes to illegal immigration. Discussing the issue with Newt Gingrich, O'Reilly outlined a program that would eventually lead millions of undocumented immigrants on a path to legal status -- a plan many of his Fox News colleagues would deride as "amnesty." Gingrich, who has been attacked recently for his "humane" stance on immigration, agreed with O'Reilly.
According to O'Reilly's proposal, undocumented immigrants would need to register in a national database before a review of their status could be implemented:
O'REILLY: The 11 million illegal immigrants already here have to be dealt with in some way. My program, which I've had up on BillO'Reilly.com for years, says you start with registering. You give illegal aliens a time period -- maybe a month, maybe two months -- that they have to register at the Post Office with their name, their address, and their status, all right. And if they have a Social Security number or something like that they have it. If they don't register within the time period that the government decides, it's a felony.
Indeed, O'Reilly has been publicizing his "no spin immigration solution" for years. Following the failure of comprehensive immigration reform in 2007, O'Reilly said on his June 8, 2007, show (via Nexis):
O'REILLY: [R]ight now, I'm going to give you the no spin immigration solution. It is simple because, as you know, I am a simple man. There are just four components. One, secure the southern border with 700, not 300 miles of barrier, double the border patrol and back them up with 10,000 National Guards people. That would effectively shut down human and drug smuggling from Mexico.
Two, require all illegal aliens in the country right now to register at the post office with Homeland Security. After registering, they would be given a tamper proof ID card, designating their status and their right to work temporarily in the USA. If the illegal aliens do not register, it's a criminal felony. Right now sneaking across the border is a civil action. Remember that. Subjecting the person to immediate deportation or jail time. The criminal penalty goes way up.
Three, any business that hires an illegal worker who doesn't have a tamper proof ID card faces draconian fines and possible prison time for the executives.
And four, each illegal alien would have his case reviewed by federal authorities. And they would decide who would receive a Z-visa to stay and who would not. That takes the blanket amnesty, something many American hate, off the table. It also allows the Feds to make rational decisions about who's helping America and who isn't.
In a November 7 editorial titled "Occupy America: Obama immigration policy erodes U.S. national identity," The Washington Times wrote that "President Obama is 'fundamentally transforming' the nation with a plan to flood the United States with individuals whose hearts belong to other lands" and that "Mr. Obama's leadership is a throwback to 19th century Marxism." From the Times:
This isn't your father's America. As promised, President Obama is "fundamentally transforming" the nation with a plan to flood the United States with individuals whose hearts belong to other lands. The message to illegal immigrants is if you can get in and keep out of further trouble, you're welcome to stay. The Land of the Free has become the land of the home-free.
The United States is the most ethnically and culturally integrated society the world has ever known. One of this country's strengths has always been its heritage as a "melting pot" that welcomes those who want to come to the country, learn its language and partake of the American Dream. In a crass political move, leftists are looking to reward those who ignore the laws with an eventual amnesty designed to swell the Democratic voting ranks. This comes at a great cost to society.
Far from progressive, Mr. Obama's leadership is a throwback to 19th century Marxism, characterized by the politics of resentment that pits groups against each other - in this case, illegal occupiers against legal Americans. By challenging states attempting to observe immigration laws, the Obama administration hastens the fundamental change that is unmooring the nation from its founding principles. That's not the change voters wanted when they sent Barack to the White House.