Over the past several weeks, Fox News has persistently used inflammatory rhetoric in attacks against the Dream Act -- which would provide legal status to certain unauthorized immigrants who came to the United States as children.
Fox News figures, including several purportedly objective journalists, have also taken to referring to the Dream Act as "a nightmare" in the eyes of its opponents. Did they get a memo or have they all independently arrived at the same uninspired pun?
Here are several examples:
Fox & Friends: Is The Dream Act A "Nightmare For Hard-working Americans?" On the November 30 edition of Fox & Friends, teasing a segment on the DREAM Act, co-host Gretchen Carlson said: "Harry Reid's Dream Act could give millions of illegal immigrants citizenship. Is the senator's dream a nightmare for hard-working Americans?" [Fox & Friends, 11/30/10]
Jarrett: "Those Who Oppose It Call It A Veritable Nightmare." On the November 23 edition of America Live, Fox host Greg Jarrett stated: "You know, for millions of illegals, the DREAM Act is a propitious title because it would fulfill their dream of jumping right to the front of the line and becoming U.S. citizens. Those who oppose it call it a veritable nightmare, granting amnesty right away to more than 2 million illegal immigrants, and in the end, maybe as many as 6 million or more illegals." [America Live, 11/23/10]
Baier: Dream Act Is "A Nightmare For Some Opposed To Citizenship For Illegal Aliens." On the November 16 edition of Special Report, Fox host Bret Baier stated that the DREAM Act is "a nightmare for some opposed to citizenship for illegal aliens." [Special Report, 11/16/10]
Fox Reporter McKelway: "To A Lot Of Republicans" The Dream Act "Is A Nightmare." On the December 8 edition of America Live, Fox News reporter Doug McKelway asserted: "To the Democrats it is indeed the Dream Act, but to a lot of Republicans it is a nightmare, and it's not just the provisions of this particular bill that troubles them. It is that the Dream Act represents one larger piece of a puzzle -- a puzzle of changing demographics across the United States that some believe favor the Democrats." [America Live, 12/8/10]
Hannity: "Democrats Call It The Dream Act, But Republicans Say It's Really An Amnesty Nightmare." On the December 2 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity stated, "Democrats call it the Dream Act, but Republicans say it's really an amnesty nightmare." [Hannity, 12/2/10, via Nexis]
According to a Media Matters analysis, Fox News gave guests who oppose the DREAM Act, a bill that would provide a path to legal status for certain immigrants who came to the United States as children, more than 40 minutes of airtime from November 23 through December 6 but only about 7 minutes to supporters during that same period.
Dr. Manny Alvarez is Fox News' senior medical contributor. He comes on TV to talk about the latest health scare or the new fad diet or whatever overhyped medical story is helping to fill the 24-hour cable news maw. But Dr. Alvarez apparently wants to expand his bailiwick beyond matters of medical science and try his hand at political punditry. And, given that he works at Fox News, you can already guess where this is going.
In a December 7 column for Fox News Latino, Alvarez channels Glenn Beck in accusing Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) of mimicking "leftist dictators in Latin America," and calling him one of the "so-called progressive politicians here in America [who] do not represent the Constitution." What was Gutierrez's crime? In Alvarez's words: "Encouraging Latinos to participate in protests, marches and sit-ins, reminiscent of the civil-rights movement by African-Americans in the 1960s."
Alvarez was referring to a December 1 Daily Beast article that reported on Gutierrez's frustrations with Obama's slow movement on immigration legislation:
The DREAM Act, Gutiérrez says, is for now his final legislative maneuver. He's finished waiting for the mythical 60th vote to materialize in the Senate. No, when the lame duck ends, Gutiérrez and his movement allies will ask for a divorce -- from the Democratic Party, from the entire lawmaking process. To hear Gutiérrez tell it, Hispanic leaders are about to stage a full-tilt campaign of direct action, like the African-American civil-rights movement of the 1960s. There will be protests, marches, sit-ins -- what César Chávez might have called going rogue. The movement will operate autonomously, no longer beholden to wavering Democrats, filibustering Republicans, and -- perhaps most tantalizingly -- no longer beholden to Barack Obama.
According to Alvarez, calling for Latinos to peacefully protest in the vein of the '60s civil rights movement means Gutierrez is no different from Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez:
In the 1960s, Fidel Castro took that playbook to the streets of Havana, convincing people that they should rally in order to bring effective change. By employing a strategy of empty promises and radical ideals, Castro used the Cuban people to create an isolated, socialized, communist land where millions of people have been imprisoned -- many executed - and massive exodus of Cubans to foreign lands remains a theme in this country that hasn't done anything for its peoples' growth and prosperity in over 50 years.
Now, I know many of you are thinking that I'm always referring back to the Cuban Revolution, but history speaks for itself when you look at other Latin American countries that have used the same tactics to move toward socialism. Just ask any Venezuelan who has left their country in the last year.
Venezuela once was a stable democracy with great resources. Yes, it had problems -- what country doesn't? But there was a basic, underlying democratic process running the country.
Now, with President Hugo Chávez and his socialistic agenda becoming progressively more radical during his 11 years in power, the people of Venezuela don't have legitimate forums for democratic dialogue and the system to institute much-needed change.
Last week I wrote about how Fox News Latino doesn't quite mesh with the network's broader stance toward Latinos, which is rooted in demonizing undocumented immigrants. Alvarez's op-ed, though, reminds us that Fox News Latino is, in the end, still Fox News.
In his December 7 Washington Post column, Michael Gerson, columnist and former aide to President George W. Bush, argued that Republicans should support the DREAM Act:
The Dream Act now before Congress is similarly clarifying. The legislation would create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children. Applicants must have graduated from high school or have gotten a GED. They would be given a conditional legal status for six years, in which they must complete two years of college or serve at least two years in the military. If they failed to meet the requirements - or committed a crime (other than a non-drug-related misdemeanor) - they would lose their legal status and could be deported. If they succeeded, they would be granted a green card and could apply for citizenship.
It would be difficult to define a more sympathetic group of potential Americans. They must demonstrate that they are law-abiding and education-oriented. Some seek to defend the country they hope to join. The Defense Department supports the Dream Act as a source of quality volunteers. Business groups welcome a supply of college-educated workers. The Department of Homeland Security endorses the legislation so it can focus on other, more threatening, groups of illegal immigrants.
No one is proposing the mass deportation of this particular group, which would be last on the target list of even the most enthusiastic immigration restrictionist. The actual choice is between allowing these young men and women to develop their talents and serve in the military, or not.
Whatever its legislative fate, the Dream Act is effective at stripping away pretense. Opponents of this law don't want earned citizenship for any illegal immigrant - even those personally guilty of no crime, even those who demonstrate their skills and character. The Dream Act would be a potent incentive for assimilation. But for some, assimilation clearly is not the goal. They have no intention of sharing the honor of citizenship with anyone called illegal - even those who came as children, have grown up as neighbors and would be willing to give their lives in the nation's cause.
During the current lame-duck session of Congress, Republicans have been correct to emphasize economic concerns, which the public prioritized in the recent election. But supporting the Dream Act would send a useful message - that some Republicans in victory are capable of governing for the sake of everyone.
From the December 3 edition of Talk Radio Network's The Savage Nation:
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In recent weeks, Fox hosts and guests have attacked the DREAM Act -- which would provide a path to legal status for certain immigrants who came to the United States as children -- with a barrage of inflammatory rhetoric.
Fox & Friends hosted William Gheen, president of the anti-immigrant Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC), to attack the DREAM Act. Gheen not only rehashed falsehoods about the bill, but also levied several absurd claims, such as that the bill would "displace and replace" millions of American citizens and that its passage would mean that Americans can "kiss the borders of the United States goodbye." Gheen and ALIPAC have a long history of extreme nativist rhetoric and have been linked to white supremacist groups.
In an editorial today, the Wall Street Journal called on Republicans in Congress to support the Dream Act, a proposal that would provide legal status for certain unauthorized immigrants who came to the United States as children. From the editorial, titled "A Worthy Immigration Bill":
Restrictionists dismiss the Dream Act as an amnesty that rewards people who entered the country illegally. But the bill targets individuals brought here by their parents as children. What is to be gained by holding otherwise law-abiding young people, who had no say in coming to this country, responsible for the illegal actions of others? The Dream Act also makes legal status contingent on school achievement and military service, the type of behavior that ought to be encouraged and rewarded.
If Republicans hope to limit President Obama to one term, they'll need to win in Mountain West states--Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico--with fast-growing Hispanic populations. The Dream Act is an opportunity for the GOP to send a welcoming signal to these voters. More important, it would do right by undocumented youths who did nothing to deserve their current vulnerability to deportation.
For their part, Fox News -- which, like the Journal, is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. -- has reported inaccurate claims and forwarded misleading attacks on the Dream Act. For instance, Fox hosted anti-Dream Act crusader Michelle Malkin to falsely claim that the legislation creates "an illegal alien student preference program." Malkin also asserted that the Dream Act should be "worrisome" to "all law-abiding people" and that it "raises a lot of troubling national security questions."
Fox's purportedly objective news team has also falsely claimed that the Dream Act provides citizenship for certain unauthorized immigrants, advanced the misleading claim that the Dream Act would "encourage more people to come to this country illegally," and misleadingly reported that the Dream Act would allow "millions of illegals" to "jump right to the front of the line and become U.S. citizens."
Fox correspondent Gregg Jarrett also uncritically repeated talking points against the legislation that were circulated by Sen. Jeff Sessions. And at least two "straight news" figures on Fox have characterized the Dream Act as a "nightmare" in the eyes of its opponents.
Greg Jarrett continued Fox News' distortion of the DREAM Act today on America Live -- one of Fox's "straight news" shows -- offering his own mischaracterizations and uncritically repeating GOP talking points.
After host Megyn Kelly introduced Jarrett, he began his segment by saying:
You know, for millions of illegals, the DREAM Act is a propitious title because it would fulfill their dream of jumping right to the front of the line and becoming U.S. citizens. Those who oppose it call it a veritable nightmare, granting amnesty right away to more than 2 million illegal immigrants, and in the end, maybe as many as 6 million or more illegals.
Jarrett is wrong that the DREAM Act would allow some immigrants to "jump right to the front of the line." In a document addressing myths about the DREAM Act, the Immigration Policy Center stated:
DREAM Act students do not compete for visas with other applicants for legal permanent residence. Instead, DREAM Act creates a separate program for students that requires them to earn legal permanent residence by attending college or serving in the military for two years while in a temporary legal status. DREAM will not affect the number of visas available or the time it takes to get a visa for those entering through traditional legal immigration."
Jarrett also falsely suggested that the bill would grant immigrants immediate citizenship. In fact, the versions of the DREAM Act pending in the House and Senate both state that eligible unauthorized immigrants could have their status adjusted to "conditional permanent resident status," which "shall be valid for a period of 6 years" and subject to termination should the immigrant cease to be eligible. Following the 6-year period, Dream Act immigrants would have to meet further requirements to gain permanent resident status and could only apply for citizenship (provided they meet further requirements) after they obtained such status.
Conservative columnist and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin forwarded numerous false attacks against the Dream Act, which would provide a path to legal status for certain immigrants who came to the United States as children.
This morning, Fox & Friends hosted a segment on the effects of Prince William County, Virginia's "strict immigration enforcement policy," by cherry-picking from a recently released report on the policy to claim that it has worked to reduce crime because of a reduction in reported assaults and hit-and-runs.
However, the study itself concluded that "we find that the policy has not affected most types of crime in Prince William County, in large part because illegal immigrants account for only a small percent of arrests overall and a small to modest share of offenders for most types of crime." They go on to note that about 70% of "arrests of illegal immigrants were for just three specific offenses: public drunkenness, driving while intoxicated, and driving without a license." They also "caution" that "some of" the drop in assault rates "may also have been due to a reduction in reporting of assaults by illegal immigrants (and perhaps legal immigrants as well).
The county's ordinance was passed in 2007 (and later modified in 2008), and it directs County Police Officers, when they arrest people, to "inquire into the citizenship or immigration status of the detained person if there is probably cause to believe such person is in violation of federal immigration law and when such inquiry will not expand the duration of the detention." Despite having operated quietly for a number of years, the ordinance gained national prominence last summer due to its similarity to the Arizona immigration law SB1070.
Last June, Fox & Friends advanced the false claim that the ordinance lowered crime rates. We noted at the time, that Doocy was selectively picking statistics to boost the ordinance, and that violent crime had increased while, according to a University of Virginia study, "[T]he policy has not reduced most forms of crime in PWC." Recently, a new study came out, evaluating the policy's effects on crime rates in 2010. Fox & Friends was on the case, reliving their previous set of falsehoods:
Fox News advanced the misleading claim that the Dream Act would encourage further illegal immigration and grant in-state tuition for unauthorized immigrants. In fact, those not already living in the United States would not be eligible for legal status under the Dream Act, and the bill would affirm state authority to determine in-state tuition rules.
On November 9, Fox News hosted former Republican congressman J.D. Hayworth to discuss drug-related violence near the border with Mexico. Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade introduced Hayworth by stating: "Our next guest says this is America's third war and we're losing":
KILMEADE: One person's head found in a giftwrapped box. Seven gunned down at a birthday party and dozens more killed in gang-fueled shootouts in the city of Juarez. And that's just this weekend. Our next guest says this is America's third war and we're losing.
DOOCY: Former U.S. congressman and former candidate for US Senate, J.D. Hayworth joins us live from Phoenix. Good morning to you, J.D.
HAYWORTH: Morning Steve. Morning Brian. It's not so much that we're losing a war. We're failing to fight it.
A week after Hayworth's appearance, Fox News debuted a "new series" about the Southern border called "America's Third War." On November 15, Fox's "straight news" programs America's Newsroom, Happening Now, and America Live all featured reports from, in the words of anchor Martha MacCallum, "our new series called 'America's Third War.'" FoxNews.com also published an article titled, "America's Third War: National Guard's New Mission."
And they made graphics:
Fox News claimed that the Dream Act would give citizenship to certain unauthorized immigrants and that the legislation creates "an illegal alien student preference program." In fact, the proposal would provide conditional permanent residency status, not citizenship, to those eligible, and it does not give Dream Act students a "preference" over citizens and other legal permanent residents.
On November 8, Slate published an article asking, "Are a small number of immigrant wives faking domestic abuse to stay in the country?" It alleges that immigrant women are pretending to be abused by their spouses in order to exploit a provision of the Violence Against Women Act, which in certain cases allows abused non-citizens married to citizens or permanent residents to avoid deportation and/or petition for a green card rather than relying on their spouse to do so on their behalf.
That's a pretty inflammatory allegation. I sure hope the author has some real evidence to substantiate this supposed trend and isn't just casually fueling anti-immigrant extremists by casting doubt on the claims made by battered immigrant women.
The article claims that "hundreds of American men say" their wives exploited VAWA to stay in the country, but provides no source for this already ambiguous figure, "hundreds." Should we assume the author spoke to all of these men? Did she also verify their claims?
The author recounts the story of a Virginia man who says he was wrongly accused of abuse by his Russian immigrant spouse, who he met on an online dating service. Was the woman permitted to stay in the U.S. through the VAWA provision? Who knows? The author doesn't say.
The article goes on to claim that "the intimations of fraud aren't just coming from angry ex-husbands (and a few wives). Immigration agents, lawyers, and the brokers who facilitate marriages between Americans and foreigners say that VAWA is sometimes exploited." Again no source for the claim that agents, lawyers and brokers say this is happening, and no details on what "sometimes" means. From what we're given in the article, the author appears to be basing this assertion on the opinion of John Sampson, a former ICE investigator, who "says immigration authorities make no effort to validate documents submitted by a wife claiming abuse, do not interview her, and discount evidence from the American husband that contradicts the abuse claim."
What the article doesn't tell you: Sampson runs a "Consulting and Investigations" firm whose clientele consists of people who say they were "victimized not only by cold and calculating foreign national brides, but by the 'system' itself." In other words, he makes money by helping men prove that their spouses are faking domestic abuse. Sampson has also signed affidavits used by Orly Taitz in her birther lawsuits seeking to prove that Barack Obama is not eligible to be president.