Immigration

Issues ››› Immigration
  • The Daily Mail's Xenophobic Pseudo-Journalism Is Fueling The “Alt-Right”

    “Alt-Right” Outlets Infowars and Breitbart Regularly Cite Its Content

    Blog ››› ››› NINA MAST

    The U.K. tabloid the Daily Mail is mounting a crusade against refugees and immigrants in Europe. The tabloid’s fearmongering, xenophobic claims of immigrant criminality -- which are often completely false and unsourced -- have positioned the outlet as a favorite among American conspiracy theorists and white nationalists.

    The Daily Mail, which is the U.K.’s most popular online and print newspaper, is known for peddling junk science, led the latest right-wing assault on climate change science, and has been accused of racism, sexism, and xenophobia. Even the open-sourced encyclopedia Wikipedia has banned its editors from using articles from the Mail to source its pages, calling the publication “generally unreliable.”

    The Daily Mail’s Katie Hopkins is one of the paper's writers pushing xenophobic misinformation. Hopkins, who is currently being sued for libel, has called migrants “cockroaches” and falsely accused Muslim travelers of being terrorists. In a recent report from Sweden, she claimed without evidence that the country’s news is filled with reports of rape and assault of young women, discussed an unsourced alleged rape of a 12-year-old by an unaccompanied minor immigrant, and told the impossible-to-substantiate story of a girl “terrified of going out alone” because she lives “near a busy shopping centre which draws migrants from no-go zones,” which do not exist in Sweden. Hopkins went on to discuss an “unexploded hand grenade [found] in a bin outside the police station of a no-go area of town, near a mosque.” But Swedish police would not confirm whether the object found was a bomb, and they described the location where it was found as a town square, not as near a mosque.

    After the Mail published Hopkins’ piece, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ Infowars reprinted her report with the title “KATIE HOPKINS REPORTS FROM HELLACIOUS SWEDEN, ‘WHERE FEMALES FEAR TO TREAD.’” The anti-immigration hate website VDare.com also amplified her report. In the past week, Infowars has reprinted at least two Daily Mail articles -- the Hopkins piece, along with one about a Swedish policeman who allegedly blamed immigrants for the majority of the country’s rapes and shootings.

    Breitbart.com’s London bureau, which regularly traffics in anti-immigrant sentiment, has similarly found a kindred spirit in the Mail’s xenophobic bent. On March 1, Breitbart London cited the Daily Mail in an article about a “Muslim convert” who allegedly “planned to buy a nine-year-old virgin slave girl after he joined [the] Islamic State.” According to The Guardian, the U.K. citizen the article mentions, Patrick Kabele, was in fact arrested in August 2016 for attempting to travel to Syria, but the Daily Mail 's claim that he wrote in his diary that he “wanted to buy a nine-year-old slave girl” can be found only on other tabloid news sites and the blog Jihad Watch, which the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as “Muslim-bashing.” It has not been confirmed by mainstream outlets.

    Duncan Gardham, who wrote the piece about Kabele, is another of the Daily Mail authors creating xenophobic content, along with contributor Julian Robinson. The paper's website also has a dedicated tag for news related to the “European Migrant And Refugee Crisis,” which boasts headlines like:

    The Mail’s unsourced, misleading, and sometimes completely fabricated claims about supposed immigrant criminality in Sweden do not exist in a vacuum. After President Donald Trump on February 18 mentioned “what’s happening last night in Sweden” before listing cities hit by terrorist attacks, his media cronies defended him by perpetuating the myth of “no-go zones” in Sweden. While no-go zones in Europe are a discredited construct frequently used for anti-immigrant fearmongering, the Daily Mail “reports” on them regularly. Further, Trump’s claims that the United States’ current immigration system threatens jobs and lowers wages, drains government benefits, and makes communities less safe come straight from nativist groups and fringe right-wing media outlets like Breitbart and Infowars, the same outlets that regularly cite anti-immigrant content from the Daily Mail.

    These false stories are damaging not only to immigrant communities, which are then unfairly viewed with suspicion, but also to actual victims of sexual assault who are seeking justice -- and to members of the general public on both sides of the Atlantic, who often remember only the first headlines they see, even if they’re not true.

    Image by Sarah Wasko.

  • Fox News Caught Lying: Sweden Reinstated Draft Because Of Russia, Not Refugees

    Fox News Continues To Lie About Sweden And Refugees

    Blog ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP

    Fox News’ Fox & Friends falsely claimed that Sweden’s reintroduction of the draft was due to violence in the country precipitated by refugees, when in fact the draft is being reintroduced to counter Russian aggression in the region.

    Despite Fox’s assertion, Sweden’s government is reintroducing the draft for men and women in the country “because of what its defense minister called a deteriorating security environment in Europe and around Sweden” according to a March 2 report from the Washington Post. Sweden ended the draft in 2010, but is reactivating conscription due to “increasing pressure” by Russia on the Baltic region. From the Washington Post:

    Sweden’s left-leaning government instituted a military draft for both men and women Thursday because of what its defense minister called a deteriorating security environment in Europe and around Sweden.

    [...]

    In September, non-NATO-member Sweden stationed permanent troops on the Baltic Sea island of Gotland. Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist described the move as sending a signal after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and its “increasing pressure” on the neighboring Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

    There have also been reports of airspace violations by Russia’s military aircraft in the Baltics and a military buildup in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, which sits across the Baltic Sea from Sweden.

    Fox News, which has demonized and criticized western countries accepting Muslims, reported the Swedish draft was a response to the violence in the country allegedly perpetrated by refugees. During a March 3 segment on Fox & Friends, anchor Heather Nauert said the draft was a “sign that President Trump may be right about Sweden,” claiming that the move is “to combat the brewing terrorism problem in Europe”:

    Since Trump’s statement claiming Muslim refugees have sparked violence in Sweden, Fox News has attempted to cover for his false claim by launching a campaign of misinformation which has included defending Trump by pushing anti-Muslim myths and using deceptive practices to fabricate claims that the Swedish government is downplaying refugee violence in the country. Host Bill O’Reilly was forced to admit on his show that he lied about a guest he claimed to be a “Swedish Defense advisor,” when in fact the man had no affiliation with the Swedish government, and didn’t even live in the country.

  • Crime Reporters And Experts Rip Misleading Trump Immigrant Crime Office

    “Always Be Weary Of Policy That Is Made By Anecdote”

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    Crime reporters and criminologists say President Donald Trump’s new federal office devoted to crimes committed by immigrants is unnecessary and that creating such an entity is misleading since foreign-born residents actually commit fewer crimes than most native citizens.

    They also urged journalists covering the issue and the president’s claims that immigrant crime is a major issue to go beyond just reporting Trump’s anecdotal allegations and present the data that continue to prove his theories wrong.

    During his Tuesday address to Congress, Trump announced that his administration is creating “an office to serve American victims,” dubbed VOICE (Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement). He announced the new office while claiming that cracking down on immigration will "make our communities safer" and characterizing those who will be deported as "gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our very innocent citizens."

    He punctuated his claims by inviting several guests impacted by crimes committed by undocumented immigrants to attend the speech.

    But those who have covered and researched crime say Trump's approach to the issue wrongly paints immigrants broadly as criminals when the facts don't support that generalization.

    “The general picture, as we have noted many times, is that immigrants commit fewer crimes than nonimmigrants and that is well-documented,” said Ted Gest, co-founder of Criminal Justice Journalists and a former crime reporter at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and U.S. News & World Report. “He is obviously cherry-picking these cases where they have committed crimes.”

    “He has made many more misstatements on crime, through the whole campaign, and it seems to me that, like a lot of people, he tries to pick out things that favor his views,” said Gest, who is also the author of the books Crime and Politics: Big Government's Erratic Campaign for Law and Order and Understanding Crime and Justice Statistics (the latter a guide for journalists written with Daniel Lathrop). “I cannot understand myself how he can keep making these misstatements.”

    Gest urged reporters on the story to “point out the total picture. I don’t know that a lot of journalists know that.”

    Conservative media figures and nativist groups have fearmongered for years about a supposed undocumented immigrant “crime wave” that is not supported by data.

    David J. Krajicek, another board member of Criminal Justice Journalists and a crime reporter since the 1970s -- whose work includes writing for the New York Daily News -- echoed Gest’s view.

    “It’s statistically not true that immigrants commit more crimes than legal native residents of the U.S.,” he said. “I think journalists are having some difficulty trying to report the facts that countermand the many, many assertions that [Trump] and [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions are making about crime.”

    Krajicek said one of the problems with Trump's claims about immigrants and crime is that the far-right media pick them up without verifying that they're true.

    “We are living in a world where there are two media echo chambers,” he said. “Fox News, Breitbart and the like, and those of us who have a broader diet of news.”

    He said reporters should “always be weary of policy that is made by anecdote. You can go out and find an anecdote to fit any policy narrative that you like. I hope that journalists ask the question of whether it is based in fact or just the worst-case example.”

    Marisa Lagos, a criminal justice reporter at KQED Public Radio and TV in San Francisco, said that “there’s no evidence that shows immigrants commit as much crime as citizens.”

    Her advice to reporters on the story: “Remind folks that the immigration system is a civil system, not a criminal system. Given the data and research, it is a dangerous narrative that there is more crime perpetrated by people who are immigrants, and we know it is not true.”

    James Lynch, president of the American Society of Criminology and a professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Maryland, also said Trump’s plan misrepresents the truth.

    “The work I’ve done on immigrants and crime is pretty clear. … By and large the evidence in the last 20 years is that they have lower incidences of crime compared to the public at large,” Lynch said. “The immigrant population does nothing but good -- they pay taxes, they do the work. It is pretty clear that immigrants are a positive force and a very low production of crime on their part.”

    Asked how the media should cover the story, he said, “They should do due diligence. … I would be skeptical of anything that comes out of a political speech.”

    Christina DeJong, an associate professor of criminal justice at Michigan State University, said one of the reasons for the lower crime rate among immigrants is that many came to the U.S. for a better life, leaving behind persecution or economic problems.

    “When immigration goes up, crime goes down,” she said. “The reason that most immigrants end up in jail is related to their immigration status, not some other crime. They tend to come here looking for safety.”

    Mai Fernandez, executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime, said Trump’s new office is unnecessary because victims already have many options.

    “I’m not really sure how this office is going to help victims of immigrant crime,” she said. “If someone is attacked, is hurt, is robbed by someone who is undocumented, they go to the police. If it evolves to federal crime, they go to the FBI.”

    She also said there is already a federal Office for Victims of Crime at the Department of Justice.

    “I don’t understand the need,” Fernandez added. “If you are a victim of a crime, you are a victim regardless of who the perpetrator is.”

    She also urged reporters to take into account all of the data when reporting on the issue: 

    “There is no real data to say this is an enormous problem. You are taking resources that don’t need to be placed there. I have not seen data that says there is an overrepresentation of victims of crime by immigrants.”

  • Trump's Bogus Immigration Claims Come Straight From Nativist Groups And Fringe Right-Wing Media

    ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    President Donald Trump spent part of his February 28 speech to Congress fearmongering about immigrants. His claims that today’s immigration system threatens jobs and lowers wages, drains government benefits, and makes communities less safe come straight from nativist groups and fringe right-wing media outlets that present distorted research as fact and discredit credible studies that undercut their anti-immigrant agenda.

  • Study Finds Right-Wing Media Routinely Criminalize Immigrants In Coverage

    Skewed Portrayals Have Dangerous Effects In Politics

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    The nonprofit Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) surveyed coverage of immigration detention -- or stories about immigrants detained by the U.S. government -- in “a variety of media outlets” from 2009 to 2016 and found evidence that right-wing outlets routinely criminalize immigrants in their coverage. The study also found that the nativist Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) is cited more than other data sources.

    CIVIC’s report demonstrates that while issues surrounding immigration detention are increasingly visible in the media, coverage in right-wing media outlets like Breitbart.com, The Washington Times, and FoxNews.com is more likely than reports in mainstream media to focus on immigrant criminality.

    The survey also found that Breitbart.com reports on immigration detentions at a higher rate than other “new media” outlets do.

    While it’s positive that immigration stories are now more visible in the press, the routine criminalization of immigrants in right-wing media narratives has long been a problem and has dangerous consequences. As a paper from Harvard University’s Kennedy School demonstrated, conservative media portrayals of immigrants have had a profound impact on Republican politics, leaving no room for "compassionate conservatism" and creating a space in which anti-immigrant sentiment can be exploited for political gain.

    Additionally, the study showed that the nativist group CIS outpaces other immigration data sources in terms of press citations, which is problematic given its perspective. CIS, which has been categorized a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), was founded by John Tanton, whose record includes advocating for a “European-American majority, and a clear one at that.” CIS has pushed white-nationalist literature, and, according to the SPLC, in 2016 “the group hit a new low” by commissioning Jason Richwine, whose doctoral dissertation “endorses the idea of IQ differences between the races,” to write reports and blog pieces. The reliance on CIS shows that media are helping to sanitize the group by elevating its voice and providing its leaders with platforms to spew anti-immigrant narratives based on shoddy research

    The study’s authors also pointed out to a “lack of first-hand migrant accounts in media narratives,” an issue Media Matters has documented in the past.

    Find a press release with the CIVIC survey results here, and the full report here.

  • The Nativist Group That Is Going All Out To Sell Trump's Border Wall Proposal

    Right-Wing Media And CIS Are Behind A Major Push For The Wall

    ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Nativist group Center for Immigration Studies and right-wing media outlets touted a deeply flawed and misleading study in order to corroborate top Trump adviser Stephen Miller’s claim that President Donald Trump’s proposal for the construction of a wall along the U.S. southern border would “pay for itself.” Right-wing media's promotion of the flawed study was an attempt to legitimize the Trump administration’s misinformation about undocumented immigrants while also lifting up an anti-immigrant nativist group.

  • Nativists And White Supremacists Love Trump’s New Immigration Executive Orders

    ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    The Department of Homeland Security on February 21 rolled out a pair of memos meant to set internal guidelines for the implementation of President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant executive orders. The flagship policies of those executive orders are unpopular with a majority of Americans, but they have been a cause for celebration among nativists and white supremacists. 

  • On CNN, Hate Group Leader Praises Efforts To “Reclaim Our Schools” With Mass Deportations

    FAIR President: “If You Enforce These Laws, We Can Reclaim Our Schools, Our Hospitals, And Our Communities”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    CNN’s New Day hosted Dan Stein, president of the anti-immigrant hate group the Federation for Immigration Reform (FAIR), to discuss President Donald Trump’s planned mass deportations, which he characterized as a move to “reclaim our schools, our hospitals, and our communities once again for the American people.” Co-host Alisyn Camerota introduced Stein simply as “the president of the Federation for Immigration Reform” and as someone who supports Mr. Trump’s moves on immigration,” without mentioning FAIR’s track record of nativist bigotry. 

    FAIR, which helped influence Trump’s approach to immigration, including his planned mass deportations and Muslim registry, has ties to white supremacy through its founder, who also founded the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). FAIR has been described as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for its “ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists.” FAIR uses a veneer of impartiality to inject absurd myths into the immigration debate, assisted in large part by the media outlets that regularly cite them without mentioning their extremism. In the Trump era, it is more important than ever for media to properly label these hate groups and not afford them presumed respectability. From the February 22 edition of CNN’s New Day, which also featured Andre Segura of the American Civil Liberties Union:

    ALISYN CAMEROTA (CO-HOST): What is your biggest concern about the new guidelines as Mr. Trump has laid them out?

    ANDRE SEGURA: Where do we start? This is bringing to life President Trump's worst and most divisive campaign rhetoric. Like I’ve said before on this program, we have to take the president at his word, and he's going to bring these things to life. 10,000 new ICE agents throughout the interior. I think people have a misconception that this is not going to affect them in their daily lives. But when you have more ICE agents throughout the country, when you have more state and local officers doing immigration enforcement, you're going to see an uptick in racial profiling. Communities are going to become less safe. 

    CAMEROTA: Dan, what do you like about it? 

    DAN STEIN: Look, people come here illegally, that doesn't mean they just have the right to stay. You take a look at all of these orders, if you're here illegally, you need to be thinking about going out and buying some luggage. Because as Spicer made it clear, Trump administration says if you're here illegally you remain deportable with the exception of the so-called DACA group, and that's a dramatic change. Look, nobody ever decided in this country that immigration was unlimited, that you can break the immigration law and then demand to stay. That you could jump in front of the line, in front of millions of people who respect our laws all over the world and just come in and say, “OK, I'm here, I don't have to go.” If we -- if you enforce these laws, we can reclaim our schools, our hospitals, and our communities once again for the American people.