Fox News host Sean Hannity left viewers with the false impression that illegal immigrants cannot be prosecuted for murder, only deported. In fact, illegal immigrants are prosecuted on a regular basis; according to the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, 17 percent of all inmates in federal prisons are illegal immigrants. One of Hannity's own guests had cited this figure only two days before, and fellow Fox host Bill O'Reilly also mentioned it on his show one hour before.
In an interview with W. Garrett Chamberlain, police chief of New Ipswich, New Hampshire, on the May 4 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Hannity asked whether U.S. authorities are "allowed to prosecute" illegal immigrants accused of murder or other serious crimes. Chamberlain answered: "I don't know." Hannity then ended the segment.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the United States spent $281.6 million to reimburse state governments for the cost of incarcerating illegal immigrants in fiscal 2004 under the DOJ's State Criminal Alien Assistance Program. The guidelines for the program report the average per diem, per inmate, reimbursement at $27.25 in 2004. Therefore, illegal immigrants spent an estimated 10.3 million days -- more than 28,000 years -- in state prisons nationwide last year, clearly indicating that they are regularly prosecuted by U.S. law enforcement. This figure indicates that no fewer than 28,000 illegal immigrants served time at in state prisons in 2004.
Two days earlier, on the May 2 edition of Hannity & Colmes, Hannity himself interviewed former Sen. Zell Miller (D-GA), who asserted that "one out of five" of those in federal prisons are illegal immigrants. Miller was apparently referring to a 2004 report by the Center for Immigration Studies, which found that illegal immigrants constitute roughly 17 percent of the U.S. federal prison population. Further, on the May 4 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, which directly precedes Hannity & Colmes in Fox's primetime lineup, O'Reilly stated: "One out of five people in federal penitentiaries across the country are illegal aliens."
From the May 4 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: What would happen if a major crime is committed or a murder is committed, are we allowed to prosecute at that point?
CHAMBERLAIN: I don't know. I don't know if they would prosecute or just deport.
HANNITY: Yeah. All right. Thanks, Chief.
From the May 2 edition of Hannity & Colmes:
MILLER: We're not treating our own people decently. Whenever we're using all of our resources to look after and care for 12 million illegal immigrants who are here breaking the law, and yet, they are crowding into our schools.
They are draining our health-care resources. They make up one out of five in our prison system. If they were altogether in one state, it would be the sixth-largest state in the nation. That's taken away from our people.
From the May 4 edition of FOX News' The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: One out of five people in federal penitentiaries across the country are illegal aliens. And they're not there because they crossed into the United States illegally.
KRIS KOBACH (former adviser to former Attorney General John Ashcroft on immigration issues): That's correct.
O'REILLY: They're there because they committed crimes while here, correct?
KOBACH: Yes, that's correct.