Dobbs's immigration reporting marked by misinformation, extreme rhetoric, attacks on Mexican president, and data from organization linked to white supremacistsMay 24, 2006 6:06 PM EDT ››› SIMON MALOY
On the May 23 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, host Lou Dobbs claimed that a Senate immigration bill, which includes numerous provisions targeting illegal immigration, does "absolutely nothing for border security." Later, during the same broadcast, CNN correspondent Casey Wian characterized Mexican President Vicente Fox's trip to Salt Lake City, Utah, as a "Mexican military incursion," and claimed that "[y]ou could call" Fox's trip to the United States "the Vicente Fox Aztlan tour" -- drawing a baseless link between Fox and the reconquista movement, which maintains that portions of the American Southwest (territory referred to by supporters of the theory as "Aztlan") belong to Mexico. During Wian's report, CNN featured a graphic of "Aztlan" that was sourced to the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) -- an organization linked to white supremacists.
Reporting on the Senate immigration bill, Dobbs said: "Still ahead here, as the Senate moves closer to voting for a bill that would give amnesty to illegal aliens and do absolutely nothing for border security, one of the legislation's leading critics joins me, Senator Jeff Sessions [R-AL]. Senator Sessions says the Senate should be ashamed of itself." As Media Matters for America has noted, however, the proposed immigration legislation includes numerous provisions to increase border security. On March 27, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved an immigration bill based on the "Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act" -- sponsored by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and co-sponsored by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA). A fact sheet provided by Kennedy stated that, in addition to providing a guest worker program and a path for illegal immigrants to gain citizenship, the bill that emerged from the Senate Judiciary Committee would:
- Double the strength of the Border Patrol by add[ing] 12,000 new agents (2,400 each year for the next 5 years)
- Double interior enforcement by adding "1,000 investigators per year for next 5 years"
- Create a "[n]ew [s]ecurity [p]erimeter" by "add[ing] new technology at the border to create [a] 'virtual fence' "
- "Tighten [c]ontrols" by "expand[ing] exit-entry security system at all land borders and airports"
- Call for the "[c]onstruction of [b]arriers" by "mandat[ing] new roads and vehicle barriers at borders"
- Call for the "[c]onstruction of [f]ences" by "provid[ing] additional border fences at specific vulnerable sectors"
- "[A]uthorize new permanent highway checkpoints near border"
- Demand a "[c]omprehensive [s]urveillance [p]lan" that would "mandate new land and water surveillance plan[s]"
- "Create new crime for construction, financing, and use of unlawful tunnels."
Reporting on Fox's Utah trip, Wian said: "This Mexican military incursion was fully authorized. A Mexican air force jet carrying President Vicente Fox was not just invited to Utah, but encouraged to visit by Governor [Jon] Huntsman [Jr.]." Wian was likely alluding to a January 17 Washington Times article, which reported: "The U.S. Border Patrol has warned agents in Arizona of incursions into the United States by Mexican soldiers 'trained to escape, evade and counterambush' if detected -- a scenario Mexico denied yesterday." Wian went on to report:
WIAN: It's estimated Utah has about 100,000 illegal aliens, and the number is growing rapidly. Utah is also a part of the territory some militant Latino activists refer to as Aztlan, the portion of the Southwest United States they claim rightfully belongs to Mexico.
As Wian was speaking, CNN showed a graphic of "Aztlan" sourced to the CCC.
As Media Matters has previously noted, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SLPC), the CCC "has described blacks as 'a retrograde species of humanity,' compared singer Michael Jackson to an ape, and promoted neo-Nazi and Holocaust denial materials."
According an Anti-Defamation League report, the CCC was "[e]stablished by former activists in the segregationist White Citizens' Councils," and "[a]lthough the group claims not to be racist, its leaders traffic with other white supremacist groups and its publications, Web sites and meetings all promote the purportedly innate superiority of whites."
Wian then linked Fox to the concept of "Aztlan," reporting:
WIAN: You could call this the Vicente Fox Aztlan tour, since the three states he'll visit -- Utah, Washington, and California -- are all part of some radical group's vision of the mythical indigenous homeland.