The National Association of Hispanic Journalists has condemned Fox News for smearing the American children of undocumented immigrants as "Children of the Corn." In a post on the association's website, NAHJ president Hugo Balta wrote that the segment was not only "disappointing" but that there "were many things wrong" with it.
In a September 19 segment on Fox News' Special Report, guest host Chris Wallace discussed new data from Los Angeles County officials showing that an "estimated 100,000 children of 60,000 undocumented parents receive aid" in the county. The total aid is projected to cost about $650 million by year's end.
During the segment, several graphics bearing the image of a man appearing to vault over a border fence lined with barbed wire flashed on-screen. Text accompanying the graphic read "Children of the Corn" and "Alien Nation."
In his post criticizing the segment, Balta stated:
There were many things wrong with this segment, beginning with the use of the derogatory term "illegal immigrant" and undocumented in the same breath as if these terms are interchangeable -- of course they're not. That inaccuracy was compounded by the use of a graphic that read "Children of the Corn". There have been many speculations as to what this meant -- but one thing is certain it invoked a negative image.
Balta further stated that NAHJ has reached out to Fox "in an effort to get a better understanding of how this segment, riddled with basic misinformation and disdainful images made air." He then asked which journalists had allowed such a derogatory segment to appear on air, writing, "Experience has shown that most likely none were representative of the Latino community."
After noting the economic impact of the Latino community, Balta concluded: "Stick to the facts."
As The Huffington Post noted, NAHJ has campaigned against the media's use of the term "illegal immigrant" for years. In an October 2012 op-ed for Fox News Latino arguing that "human beings are not illegal," Balta wrote that the term, along with "illegal aliens" and "illegals," are "demeaning titles" that "are not only inaccurate and disrespectful, but a propaganda tool used to dehumanize a group of people and instill fear in the general population in order to establish policy."
Fox News has a long history of inflammatory attacks on immigrants. In fact, a Media Matters analysis of Fox News prime-time coverage found that, between November 2012 and February 2013, hosts and guests repeatedly used anti-immigrant terms to discuss immigrants.
In May 2012, Fox News host Geraldo Rivera called on media to stop using dehumanizing terms for undocumented immigrants. He told Media Matters at the time that he had made his opposition to such phrases "very, very clear" to Fox employees "from top to bottom," but stopped short of any further direct criticism of the network.