Immigration

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  • Refinery29 Properly Labels FAIR As An Anti-Immigrant Hate Group

    Refinery29 Gets Right What Many Mainstream Outlets Get Wrong

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    While reporting on the sponsored hashtag #BuildTheWall that trended on Twitter on April 19, Refinery29 got right what many mainstream outlets get wrong: it properly labeled the group behind the promotion, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), as an anti-immigrant hate group and showed evidence of the group’s white supremacist origins and nativist ties.

    FAIR paid to promote the #BuildTheWall hashtag on Twitter as part of its agenda to push President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant policies -- many of which have been lifted straight from the group’s wishlist and that of its sister organizations, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and NumbersUSA. When covering Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, mainstream media outlets often mischaracterize or outright fail to disclose these groups’ nativist intent of “limiting the number of nonwhites who enter the country,” thus helping hate groups sanitize their image. Media present these organizations merely as favoring “stricter control on immigration” or as calling “for added immigration restrictions” while giving them a platform to push their message. Trump has now tapped members of these groups for his administration and granted them a seat at the table, adding further legitimization to what started with media’s failure to properly identify “the nativist lobby” as hate groups.

    Refinery29 broke from this pattern, noting that FAIR has been labeled “an anti-immigrant hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Anti-Defamation League” and pointing out that the group is "very close to promoting a 'white-America only' point of view, under the guise of limiting illegal immigration." From the April 19 article:

    On Wednesday, #BuildTheWall was the top trend on the social network, thanks to an ad sponsored by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

    On its Twitter account, the organization says it "fights for a stronger America with controlled borders, reduced immigration and better enforcement. #NoAmnesty". The #BuildTheWall hashtag in itself isn't really a problem. Neither is the text below, which reads: "Help FAIR Push To Get President Trump's Wall Built." After all, people have the right to support the president's immigration policies, and Twitter has had political advertisements for a long time.

    The main issue for some social media users is that FAIR, the organization behind the trend, is considered an anti-immigrant hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Anti-Defamation League.

    "FAIR leaders have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists and have made many racist statements," the SPCL's description of the organization reads. "Its advertisements have been rejected because of racist content. FAIR’s founder, John Tanton, has expressed his wish that America remain a majority-white population: a goal to be achieved, presumably, by limiting the number of nonwhites who enter the country."

    It adds, "One of the group’s main goals is upending the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which ended a decades-long, racist quota system that limited immigration mostly to northern Europeans. FAIR President Dan Stein has called the Act a 'mistake.'"

    In other words, FAIR is very close to promoting a "white-America only" point of view, under the guise of limiting illegal immigration.

    According to the SPCL, Stein is the current executive director of FAIR. He has not disavowed the statements made by Tanton, who was one step away from calling himself a white nationalist and who wanted the U.S. to have "a European-American majority." In fact, Stein said in 2009 that his predecessor was "a Renaissance man."

    [...]

    Stein seems to have a particular disdain for Latin American immigrants, as shown in a 1997 interview with Tucker Carlson for The Wall Street Journal. "Immigrants don't come all church-loving, freedom-loving, God-fearing… Many of them hate America; hate everything that the United States stands for," he said. "Talk to some of these Central Americans."

    The #BuildTheWall hashtag was not welcomed by many users, who felt Twitter should have stayed away from promoting ads tied to a hate group.

    [...]

    However, a Twitter spokesperson told Refinery29 that even though FAIR holds certain views, the promoted hashtag itself doesn't violate the platform's advertising policies. Therefore, the group is able to advertise with the social media giant.

  • As He Leaves Fox, Here Are Bill O’Reilly’s Worst Moments On The Air

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN & KATHERINE HESS

    Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly has helped set the bar for the normalization and dissemination of right-wing hatred, offering incendiary commentary about sexual harassment and assault, gender, race and ethnicity, low-income people, the LGBTQ community, Muslims and refugees, immigrants, and reproductive rights. Now that O'Reilly has been forced to step down from The O'Reilly Factor after an advertiser revolt over revelations that Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, paid $13 million in settlements to women who came forward with reports that O’Reilly was a sexual predator, Media Matters takes a look back at some of the lowlights of his career, including his history of inaccurate and embellished reporting.

  • Right-Wing Media’s New Favorite Immigration Statistic Reflects Misguided Policy

    ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Right-wing media celebrated a new report from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that showed a significant drop in border apprehensions since President Donald Trump took office, suggesting that fewer immigrants are making the journey to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump campaigned on preventing dangerous criminals from entering the country, but officials and experts report that the drop reflects the administration's focus on women and children and that the new policies incite fear in noncriminal immigrants and largely deter asylum seekers fleeing violence. In fact, these policies fail to address the proliferation of transnational crime organizations that Trump promised to tackle and undermine counter-crime operations within the United States.

  • Media Fall For And Reinforce Trump’s Spin On “Buy American, Hire American” Executive Order

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Multiple media outlets and figures uncritically reported on President Donald Trump’s planned executive order promoting policies that encourage the federal government to “buy American” and “hire American” wherever possible. These outlets and figures did not note that the executive order only calls for a review of current policy, and does not meaningfully change it, and some other outlets buried those crucial details in their reporting.

  • VIDEO: Media Can't Ignore The Voices of Activists

    Blog ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH & JOHN KERR

    In a time of historic protests and activism against bigoted and hateful policies of President Donald Trump and his administration, news outlets need to scrap the so-called “fair and balanced” panels of pundits and politicians speculating and judging protests from a studio.

    Since day one of the Trump administration, there have been organized efforts around the country to protest the president’s policies. These include the Women’s March On Washington in January which mobilized an estimated 3.6 to 4.6 million protestors around the world, demonstrations at airports across the U.S. a week later to protest banning and detaining Muslim travelers, the International Women’s Day Strike, the upcoming Tax Day March in April to pressure Trump to release his full tax returns, the People’s Climate March in the same month, and the Immigration March in May. Journalists can no longer ignore the activists, organizers and protestors who are taking to the streets and to town halls across the country to demand accountability and change.

    Media have dismissed the protests as spectacles, alleged that they are being staged, or falsely claimed that the protesters are paid to show up. Activists have been central to the evolution of American democracy and have fought for policies that are more inclusive and that better their communities.

    News outlets need to let activists tell their stories.

  • This Is How Right-Wing Myths About Sanctuary Cities Spread

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    On Telemundo’s Sunday news show, José Díaz-Balart demonstrated how the host of a news program can allow misinformation to take root and fester by failing to correct misinformation about immigration detentions.

    On the April 2 edition of Enfoque, Díaz-Balart hosted Jorge Silva of the Latino Victory Project and Alfonso Aguilar of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles to discuss the Trump administration’s recent threat to block federal grants to sanctuary cities. Aguilar -- who supported Trump during the campaign, then briefly withdrew his support following Trump’s hardline immigration speech in September, and then in December declared that he supported Trump “100 percent” -- falsely claimed the Trump administration is focused on detaining only those undocumented immigrants with serious criminal records. He said it “is simply not true” that all undocumented immigrants sentenced for crimes are reported to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Silva corrected the misinformation, but Díaz-Balart failed to explain the facts, potentially leaving viewers unclear which of the guests was correct. From the April 2 edition of Telemundo’s Enfoque:

    Translated transcript:

    JOSÉ DÍAZ-BALART (HOST): Alfonso, is this a wise policy on the part of President [Donald] Trump’s administration?

    ALFONSO AGUILAR: Look, I think so. What has happened is that this debate has become highly politicized. There is no standard definition for what is a sanctuary city. It is not a technical term. There are different cities that treat undocumented immigrants in a different way. There are cities that give some local benefits to undocumented immigrants. This is not what the Trump administration is focused on. What the Trump administration wants -- and it’s something basic, I don’t understand why someone could be opposed to this -- is that the local authorities, if they arrest an undocumented immigrant who has a criminal record or is involved in serious criminal activity, they refer them to federal authorities to be removed.

    DÍAZ-BALART: Jorge?

    JORGE SILVA: Let’s remind the viewers that, in this moment, an undocumented immigrant who has been sentenced for a crime is immediately referred to the deportation agencies, to the federal immigration agencies.

    AGUILAR: That is simply not true. You are alarming the community unnecessarily. This is not what is happening. What they want to address are situations like that of Kate Steinle in San Francisco, a woman who was murdered by an undocumented immigrant who had a serious criminal record. Here there is not a mass deportation, here they are not seeking to deport people who are do not have criminal records. Please stop scaring our community.

    SILVA: In this moment, we have seen that ICE is arresting people without criminal records. And you can’t lie to me, Alfonso, please. You have seen it.

    AGUILAR: I am not lying.

    SILVA: They are arresting and deporting people without criminal records.

    AGUILAR: But it’s not the vast majority. It is a minority and this also happened under the Obama administration.

    SILVA: In the Obama administration, there was a prioritization for people who had violent criminal records.

    Aguilar’s assertion that ICE is not notified when an undocumented immigrant is arrested is false. According to The Washington Post, when a person is arrested, local authorities send his or her fingerprints “to the FBI, which sends the inmates’ information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.” ICE may then issue a detainer request for local authorities to hold the person in custody for 48 hours. In many “sanctuary” jurisdictions, local authorities do not honor the 48-hour detainer request due to Fourth Amendment concerns. Sanctuary cities typically honor detainer requests for violent criminals but neglect to hold people past their sentences if they do not pose a threat to public safety.

    Aguilar’s false equivalency between Trump’s and Obama’s immigration policies also is not consistent with facts. Border patrol and ICE agents are “newly emboldened” to detain all undocumented immigrants under Trump, whereas they were required to “concentrate on deporting gang members and other violent and serious criminals” under Obama.

    Lies about sanctuary cities and immigration in general run rampant in the right-wing media echo chamber, but they can easily spread to mainstream media when hosts fail to push back on right-wing myths.