O'Reilly: Cardinal Mahony "demagoguing" and "not telling the folks the truth" about House immigration billMarch 31, 2006 2:32 PM EST ››› ANNA DIMOND
On the March 29 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, during a discussion of a House bill that would impose new restrictions on immigration, host Bill O'Reilly accused Cardinal Roger Mahony and other opponents of the bill of "demagoguing the issue -- not telling the folks the truth." Mahony and other critics of the bill have argued that it would prohibit providing even the most basic charitable assistance to illegal immigrants. O'Reilly purported to "make [i]t clear to everybody" that the proposed legislation would not affect people like Mahony, but rather "the priests who would establish an underground railroad from Tijuana [Mexico] to L.A." In fact, the House bill specifically threatens up to five years of imprisonment to anyone who "assists, encourages, directs, or induces a person to reside in or remain in the United States," which critics say could result in the criminal prosecution of those who assist anyone in the United States illegally -- including Good Samaritans who help the needy.
As Media Matters for America has noted, O'Reilly questioned Mahony's reasons for opposing the House measure during the March 27 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio program, declaring that Mahony opposes immigration reform because he "knows he'll get those people in church when he doesn't have anybody in church anymore." Mahony has been an outspoken opponent of the bill, saying it could threaten the Catholic Church's ability to "provid[e] humanitarian assistance to those in need." During the same March 27 broadcast, O'Reilly also described the immigration debate as a "potential civil war in the U.S.A," and stated that Americans "all over the country" are finding that "the house next to you is turned into an illegal alien Club Med."
From a discussion with Fox News political analyst Dick Morris on the March 29 edition of The O'Reilly Factor:
MORRIS: The way to stop illegal immigration, which is part of the House bill, is a wall, a border fence. That's the only thing you need to have, a fence. The Democrats don't want the fence, but they feel that they can't make the case against it. So, what they're doing is taking a provision in the House bill that criminalizes being an illegal immigrant -- makes it a felony and forces churches to turn them over and employers and all kinds of stuff -- and making that the issue in their effort to kill the House bill, which has the fence that they don't want.
O'REILLY: OK. But that's spin --
MORRIS: Now, the House bill's provision is ridiculous --
O'REILLY: Wait, wait, wait, wait. Dick, calm down. Big breath. Feels good, doesn't it? All right, I don't want to get too far out. Now, that's spin. All right. In the House bill, nobody's going to be arrested for giving me a cup of water. It's people who are in the industry, in the illegal alien smuggling business, who -- people who keep them in their basements, who let them evade authorities, that's who would be prosecuted. I just want to make that clear to everybody.
Cardinal Mahony and all these people who are demagoguing the issue -- not telling the folks the truth. They don't care about Cardinal Mahony. They care about the priests who would establish an underground railroad from Tijuana to L.A. That's who they care about. All right. Go ahead.