Hannity falsely claimed Sen. Clinton "says immigration reform is un-Christian"March 24, 2006 6:40 PM EST ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN
In a teaser for a subsequent segment on the March 23 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, co-host Sean Hannity falsely claimed that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) "says immigration reform is un-Christian." Hannity promised viewers: "We'll play you the tape." In fact, the footage Hannity was referring to was of a March 22 press conference at which Clinton condemned specific legislation -- not "immigration reform" -- that opponents, including Clinton, contend would subject private citizens and charitable organizations to prosecution if they offer any assistance to illegal immigrants. Clinton told reporters that the bill "would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus." Contrary to Hannity's false claim, the Associated Press reported on March 22 that in the same press conference, Clinton called for a number of other immigration reforms, including increased border security.
Hannity & Colmes subsequently aired video of Clinton's comments but left out a portion of the press conference in which Clinton reportedly stated that the bill "would literally criminalize ... every person who helped, assisted, reached out [or] otherwise responded in a humanitarian way to the needs of immigrants." The video clip shown on Hannity & Colmes also did not show Clinton's call for other immigration reforms.
In December 2005, the House of Representatives passed the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act (HR 4437). Under a section titled "Alien smuggling and related offenses," anyone found to be engaged in any of the following would be subject to up to five years in imprisonment:
assists, encourages, directs, or induces a person to reside in or remain in the United States, or to attempt to reside in or remain in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to reside in or remain in the United States.
Similar immigration measures are currently under consideration in the Senate. The New York Times reported on March 23 that "[s]ome versions [of the Senate legislation], including one proposed by Senator Arlen Spector [sic] [R] of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, would expand the definition of alien smuggling to include help to illegal immigrants already here."
In a March 1 statement issued on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which "strongly opposes H.R. 4437," Washington, D.C., archbishop Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick warned that the bill "would extend to U.S. citizens ... including those, such as our own parishioners, who offer, in an act of mercy, basic sustenance to an undocumented migrant." In a March 22 New York Times op-ed, Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop of Los Angeles, wrote: "As written, the proposed law is so broad that it would criminalize even minor acts of mercy like offering a meal or administering first aid."
Clinton's complete March 22 press conference is apparently not available online. But according to a March 24 Los Angeles Times article, Clinton's comment that HR 4437 would probably criminalize Jesus followed her argument that the bill would expose to prosecution anyone who engaged in humanitarian work with illegal immigrants. From the Times article:
In a brief news conference Wednesday, Clinton (D-N.Y.) said that a bill the House approved in December "would literally criminalize not only every nondocumented immigrant in our country but every person who helped, assisted, reached out [or] otherwise responded in a humanitarian way to the needs of immigrants.
"It is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scripture, because this bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself," she said.
And contrary to Hannity's assertion that Clinton "says immigration reform is un-Christian," the AP reported on March 22 that Clinton called for a number of other immigration reforms during her press conference:
Among other things, Clinton said she would support legislation that would strengthen U.S. borders, boost technology to secure the borders, and seek greater cross-border cooperation with Mexico and other neighboring countries.
She also called for new enforcement laws, including penalties for employers who exploit illegal immigrants, as well as a system to allow the roughly 11 million illegal immigrants currently living in the United States to earn their citizenship.
Though Hannity's false claim went uncorrected, Fox News political contributor and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) later appeared to echo Clinton's position on HR 4437. Gingrich said: "[I]f I were asked by the Republicans in the Congress, I would urge them to drop the one section that relates to religious and other nonprofit institutions being good Samaritans. I think that that's actually a legitimate criticism and worth dropping."
From the March 23 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: We'll continue with the speaker. Stay right -- I want to talk about our trip coming up to Iowa, Mr. Speaker. And we'll also ask you about Hillary Clinton's attack against Republicans. She says immigration reform is un-Christian. We'll play you the tape.
ALAN COLMES (co-host): Welcome back to Hannity & Colmes. Conservatives are outraged at Hillary Clinton today. There's a shock. The senator announced yesterday that she would try to block Republican-sponsored immigration reform when it comes to the Senate next week, but it was her reference to Jesus Christ that has people upset.
CLINTON [video clip]: -- such a mean-spirited piece of legislation. And it is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scriptures, because this bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself.
GINGRICH: Look, let me be very clear about this, Alan. I think that Cardinal Mahony, in a statement he released in Los Angeles, made some very strong and some very valid points. And if I were asked by the Republicans in the Congress, I would urge them to drop the one section that relates to religious and other nonprofit institutions being good Samaritans. I think that that's actually a legitimate criticism and worth dropping.