Immigration Reform

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  • Conservative Media Overruled The GOP's Own 2012 Autopsy -- And The 2016 Rhetoric About Immigrants Proves It

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    A February 27 piece in The New York Times illustrated how the Republican Party has allowed right-wing media to play a gatekeeper role on immigration issues.

    The paper reported that legislators working to pass immigration reform in 2013 had to seek support from media mogul and executive co-chairman of Fox News' parent company Rupert Murdoch, Fox News chairman Roger Ailes and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, but even those entreaties didn't win the backing of conservative pundits. Fringe media players attacked the legislation, spurring Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who was helping with the effort, to back away from the issue, The Times reported. Now, the 2016 election is marked by the same anti-immigration rhetoric emblematic of right-wing media figures -- an approach that runs counter to both national opinion and the pro-inclusivity strategy the GOP laid out after its 2012 presidential election loss. That's of no consequence to right-wing media, whose fortunes aren't tied to GOP electoral success, but it could be devastating for immigrants in this country.

    According to The Times, Rubio and other co-sponsors of the 2013 immigration reform bill -- known as the "Gang of Eight" -- knew that they needed to get Murdoch and Ailes on board to give their legislation "a fighting chance at survival." Aware of the eroding trust among their viewership -- which lately, as reported by CNN's Dylan Byers, doesn't think Fox News is "conservative enough" -- Murdoch and Ailes advised the legislators to also seek the blessing of Limbaugh, who "held enormous sway with the party's largely anti-immigrant base." The New York Times reported on February 27:

    Their mission was to persuade Rupert Murdoch, the owner of the media empire, and Roger Ailes, the chairman and chief executive of its Fox News division, to keep the network's on-air personalities from savaging the legislation and give it a fighting chance at survival.

    Mr. Murdoch, an advocate of immigration reform, and Mr. Ailes, his top lieutenant and the most powerful man in conservative television, agreed at the Jan. 17, 2013, meeting to give the senators some breathing room.

    But the media executives, highly attuned to the intensifying anger in the Republican grass roots, warned that the senators also needed to make their case to Rush Limbaugh, the king of conservative talk radio, who held enormous sway with the party's largely anti-immigrant base.

    The Gang turned to Rubio to reach out to Limbaugh, as The Times reported, but the lobbying was unsuccessful; right-wing media launched an offensive against the push for immigration reform and against Rubio personally. Despite the Gang of Eight's appeals specifically against the label, right-wing radio continued to attack the bill as "amnesty." Radio host Laura Ingraham slammed Rubio, saying that unless he walked back his support for the bill, he would "rue the day that he became the Gang of Eight's poodle." Similarly, conservative pundit Michelle Malkin stated that he should move away from the immigration bill. Breitbart News also demanded that Rubio vote against his own bill. Right-wing media not only effectively sank the bill, but their criticism so deeply impacted Rubio that he has spent a considerable amount of time during his presidential campaign running as far as possible from the immigration positions he once espoused, to the gloating satisfaction of conservative radio pundits.

    The rift between factions of conservative media has continued to deepen as the 2016 campaign has progressed, fueled in part by the polarizing presence of front-runner Donald Trump. After The Times published its piece, Rush Limbaugh tried to assuage his listeners. Limbaugh said he never even considered helping Rubio and the Gang of Eight on the immigration initiative. He portrayed the article as an attempt to "drive this wedge between" him and his loyal following by casting doubts on the purity of his anti-immigrant credentials.

    The way right-wing media relentlessly torpedoed the reform -- and Limbaugh's need to wear his opposition to immigration as a badge - demonstrates how conservative media has effectively obliterated the space for a compassionate approach to immigration policy. And that explains why the tone of the 2016 Republican presidential campaign has been marked by anti-immigrant rhetoric and extremism.

    The campaign's current anti-immigrant vitriol is a far cry from the goals the Republican Party espoused after its defeat in the 2012 presidential elections. After Mitt Romney's loss, strategists and campaign experts questioned the GOP's dependence on the right-wing media bubble: Keith Appell labeled it the "GOP's choir-preaching problem," while Mike Murphy asked that the party stop embracing viewpoints lifted from "Rush Limbaugh's dream journal." The Republican National Committee published the Growth & Opportunity Project -- more commonly known as the "autopsy" -- in which inclusion and a change in tone were deemed essential components of the road map toward 2016.

    And yet, the stark contrast between the road map's goals and the party's current anti-immigrant discourse demonstrates that Republican candidates will side with right-wing media over the party's own goals, even when doing so runs counter to the will of a majority of Americans:

    Right-wing media's strong influence on the GOP is likely to continue driving the party toward stances that alienate Latinos and other minorities. As Vox's David Roberts pointed out in a July 30, 2015, piece, because right-wing media's audience is mostly white and male, these outlets have no incentives to soften their policy positions or lessen the vitriol toward ethnic and racial minorities. And while changing demographics are lessening the dominance of the white/male constituency in general elections, right-wing media doesn't need to win elections to be profitable. According to Roberts:

    The problem is that right-wing media is in no way dependent on the political success of the GOP. In fact, it's almost the opposite: The more the party establishment fails to deliver on the far right's (wildly unrealistic) demands, the more the audience feels betrayed, and the angrier it gets. That means more clicks, more phone calls, more engagement. It is to right-wing media's great benefit for the party to engage in a series of dramatic, doomed protest gestures like shutting down the government or attempting to repeal Obamacare for the 47th time. It stokes the outrage machine.

  • Fox's Hannity Attacks A NY Times Article For Showing How Marco Rubio Used Him To Push Immigration Reform

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Fox News host Sean Hannity lashed out at a New York Times article detailing how Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) pushed the "Gang of Eight" immigration reform bill with the help of right-wing media. Hannity criticized the article as a "bald faced lie," despite calling the immigration reform proposal "thoughtful" during a 2013 interview with Rubio.

    A February 27 New York Times article detailed efforts Rubio took to push his immigration reform bill with executives and hosts at Fox News as well as right-wing talk radio hosts Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham:

    A few weeks after Senator Marco Rubio joined a bipartisan push for an immigration overhaul in 2013, he arrived alongside Senator Chuck Schumer at the executive dining room of News Corporation's Manhattan headquarters for dinner.

    Their mission was to persuade Rupert Murdoch, the owner of the media empire, and Roger Ailes, the chairman and chief executive of its Fox News division, to keep the network's on-air personalities from savaging the legislation and give it a fighting chance at survival.

    Mr. Murdoch, an advocate of immigration reform, and Mr. Ailes, his top lieutenant and the most powerful man in conservative television, agreed at the Jan. 17, 2013, meeting to give the senators some breathing room.


    Mr. Rubio also reached out to other conservative power brokers, including the radio hosts Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham, telling them that the legislation did not amount to amnesty. The Fox anchors Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly became more supportive.


    Mr. Rubio publicly and privately worked to assuage the fears of Mr. Limbaugh, who on air called him a "thoroughbred conservative" and assured one wary listener that "Marco Rubio is not out to hurt this country or change it the way the liberals are."

    Hannity responded by attacking The New York Times article on the February 29 edition of his show claiming author Jason Horowitz does not have "the decency to pick up a phone" to discuss article before publishing and describing the article's claims "a blatant lie."  

    But on January 28, 2013, eleven days after the reported meeting with Fox News, Rubio appeared on Fox's Hannity to discuss the immigration proposal. Hannity applauded Rubio's bill, calling it "the most thoughtful proposal that I have heard." During the interview Hannity also admitted to taking a meeting with Rubio stating, "I read the framework and when you first explained it to me last week and I spoke to you, I said this was the most interesting proposal that I had ever heard."

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): How do you respond to those people -- I read the frame work and when you first explained it to me last week and I spoke to you.


    HANNITY: I said, this was the most interesting proposal that I had ever heard. It seemed like you were really sincere in putting this to bed once and for all and also, it seemed like a very, very difficult process with a lot of penalties involved for people who did not respect our laws and sovereignty. What do you say to people that say, "Well, ultimately in the end if people can get a green card, they can stay, that it's a back door form of amnesty." What's your response to that?

    RUBIO: Well, first of all, the bottom line is, that it would have been cheaper and easier for them to have done it the legal way than the way they're going to get it now. In essence, we're not creating an incentive and we're not rewarding it. Because, quite frankly, for many of these people, they would have been better off doing it the right way.

    This is going to cost them penalties, this is going to cost them taxes, this is going to cost them a significant wait and then after they do all of that, the only thing they're going to have access to is the opportunity to apply for a green card. You still have to qualify for the visa you're applying for. So they would have been better off doing it the right way from the beginning. Amnesty is different from the proposal in 2007 that created a brand new thing called a Z-visa, which basically was a blanket and you had to do very little to qualify for it. So, look, the reason, this is not, we're not trying to punish anybody here. This is not about that we're angry at immigrants. This is about the fact that we don't want this to ever happen again and we don't want to be unfair to the people that have done it in the right way.

    Sean, I have hundreds of people a month come to our offices to talk about the fact that they have family members that are waiting in line to come here the right way. Our message to them cannot be come illegally because it's cheaper and quicker. On the other hand this is a reality. We have 11 million human beings in this country that are going to be here for the rest of their lives. We have to solve that problem in a way that takes care of --

    HANNITY: They go back to the back of the line that will be part of the legislation, correct?

    RUBIO: Yes, not only do they go to the back of the line and wait behind everybody who applied before them the right way. But when their turn comes up they have to qualify for the visa they're applying for. Not a special pathway.

    HANNITY: And there's going to be a lot of penalties and security checks -- I will say this Senator, it's the most thoughtful proposal that I have heard and you've explained it better than anybody, but the devil will be in the details. (emphasis added)

  • During GOP Debate, Telemundo's Maria Celeste Arrarás "Showed The Value Of Spanish-Language Media"

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    Telemundo, the second largest Spanish-language network in the U.S., and Maria Celeste Arrarás -- co-anchor of the network's daily news show Noticiero Telemundo -- illustrated the value of Spanish-language media as they joined CNN to host the February 25 Republican presidential primary debate. Arrarás' understanding of the Latino community helped her press the candidates and provide clarity on the issues that Latinos care most about. And her participation shined a spotlight on both the value of diversity in newsrooms and the important role Latinos in the media play in empowering their communities to "engage at a higher level."

    The Republican National Committee (RNC) avoided further alienating the Hispanic community by reinstating the only RNC-sanctioned debate to air on a Spanish-language network, which had originally been canceled back in October.

    The Washington Post's Callum Borchers wrote that Telemundo "showed the value of Spanish-language media," in the debate, and Arrarás "made meaningful contributions" as a panelist, by pressing "all the candidates on the GOP's outreach to Latinos." He said she forced Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to clarify his shifting immigration policies, including his pledge to end President Obama's executive action on immigration "on his first day in office," and confronted Trump with the reality of his consistently unfavorable polling numbers with Latinos. She also framed the border-wall issue in a manner that "might make some voters think about it in a new way."

    While many journalists have called out Rubio for his shifting positions on immigration, Arrarás' push to get specifics out of the candidate was particularly poignant for the Hispanic community, which has greatly benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that Rubio says he would end.  

    While moderators in other GOP debates have used the slur "illegal immigrants" to refer to undocumented immigrants, the Telemundo debate was free of that language. Arrarás' presence created a more diverse panel, and her understanding of the Latino community may have deterred others from referring to immigrants offensively.

    Arrarás' performance at the debate illustrated experts' finding that diversity in the media has the benefits of reaching new audiences and improving the quality of coverage. It can also help combat problematic trends. Advancement Project co-director Judith Browne Dianis has explained that pundits, anchors, and newsrooms often contribute to criminalized media depictions of people of color, portraying them as inherently criminal, violent, adverse to authority, lacking innocence, and deserving of brutal treatment. A lack of newsroom diversity greatly affects the accuracy of media narratives. According to Dori J. Maynard, president of the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education "there are stories being missed due to a dearth of diverse perspectives ... not to mention critical nuances tied to culture and background, all of which ultimately make for better journalism."

    Yet Latinos -- who make up 17 percent of the population and whose voting power is expected to deeply impact the 2016 election -- like other people of color, are still underrepresented in the media. This underrepresentation leads not only to an absence of substantive coverage of the issues that matter the most to Latinos, but also to inaccurate portrayals that perpetuate harmful stereotypes. Prominent Latino leaders have remarked on the need to improve Latino visibility in the media. The National Council of La Raza's (NCLR) Janet Murguía has emphasized the importance of Hispanic media figures, saying they have "a real understanding of the Latino community" and are therefore uniquely positioned to make "sure that our community is more informed" and "can engage at a higher level."

  • Media Note Cruz's Rightward Lurch On Deportation

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Media outlets are calling out Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) "marked shift" on immigration reform after the GOP presidential hopeful "significantly sharpened" his position on utilizing federal law enforcement to search for and forcibly deport undocumented immigrants. While Cruz previously spurned the idea of a "deportation force" going "door to door" looking for undocumented immigrants, he recently stated he would "of course" direct law enforcement to go to the homes of undocumented immigrants to deport them.

  • Media Call Out Rubio For Shift Right On Immigration

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN Versión en español

    Media are calling out Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) for his "mad rush to the right" on immigration after he promised to -- on his "first day in office" -- end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program instituted by President Obama to protect some undocumented immigrants from deportation. Right-wing media have pushed Rubio to take a stronger stance on immigration because of his past sponsorship of bipartisan reform.

  • David Gregory Ignora Que Rubio Ha Adoptado Una Nueva Postura Migratoria Mas Rigida Para Decir Que Podria "Acercar A Los Conservadores" Al Tema

    ››› ››› KATIE SULLIVAN English language version

    David Gregory, antiguo presentador de Meet the Press, argumentó en CNN que el candidato presidencial Republicano Marco Rubio podría "acercar a los conservadores, potencialmente, al tema migratorio", ignorando cómo Rubio ha cambiado su postura migratoria, retirando su anterior apoyo a una reforma migratoria comprensiva mientras gradualmente adopta posturas conservadoras más extremas.

  • David Gregory Ignores Rubio's Shift To Hardline Immigration Stance To Claim He Could "Bring Conservatives Around" On The Issue

    ››› ››› KATIE SULLIVAN Versión en español

    Former Meet the Press host David Gregory argued on CNN that Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio could "bring conservatives around, potentially, on immigration," failing to note that Rubio has changed his stance on immigration, walking back his previous support for comprehensive reform while gradually adopting extreme conservative positions.