Right-wing media are using a new government report showing that there are a million visitors in the United States who have overstayed their visas to argue that the news will negatively impact immigration reform. However, what these media outlets are missing is that passing a comprehensive immigration bill, like the one that recently cleared the Senate, would largely fix the problem of such overstays as the bill mandates the implementation of a biometric entry-exit data system.
On July 30, the Government Accountability Office released a study reporting that as of June 2013, more than one million visitors in the United States have overstayed their visas -- thus the term overstays. GAO defines an overstay as a "nonimmigrant who is legally admitted to the United States for an authorized period but remains in the country illegally after that period expired without obtaining an extension of stay or a change of status or meeting other specific conditions, such as claiming asylum."
In a segment highlighting the report, Fox News host Heather Nauert claimed that the "news could hurt the debate over that sweeping immigration bill that we've heard so much about."
A July 30 Washington Times article similarly asserted that "the report could hurt immigration deal" and falsely claimed that the Senate immigration bill "waters down" requirements for a biometric system. The Times wrote that the bill "say[s] only that there must be a biographic-based system, which means using a photo, and that it be limited to air and sea ports."
While the number of immigrants who overstay their visas has reportedly sharply declined in the last decade, passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill would greatly alleviate the problem. According to a February 2013 study, overstays declined by 73 percent between 2000 and 2009, thanks to enhanced security measures by DHS in the years following the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The immigration bill that passed the Senate on June 27 mandates the implementation of an exit system that will monitor when foreigners leave the country. It also mandates establishing a mandatory biometric exit data system that would require that all foreigners be fingerprinted when exiting the country." The system would have to be implemented at the 10 United States airports that support the highest volume of international air travel" within two years of the bill's passage. Such a system would then be expanded to 30 airports and major sea and land entry and exit points within six years.
A fact sheet of the bill by Sen. Bob Corker's (R-TN) office stated that the "underlying bill improves the identification of overstays through a fully implemented entry/exit system," and that Corker's amendment "goes a step further by mandating the initiation of removal proceedings for at least 90% of visa overstays - holding DHS accountable for failing to enforce the law and targeting an issue that is at the core of a policy of de facto amnesty."
According to an analysis of the bill as passed by the Senate, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill would not only reduce the flow of illegal immigration, it would also greatly impact overstays. CBO concluded that the security measures in the bill would cut illegal immigration and overstays by "between one-third and one-half compared with the projected net inflow under current law."
CBS' Face the Nation reinforced conservative arguments that the Senate immigration bill doesn't strenghten the border, but ignored the Congressional Budget Office report's finding that the Senate bill could cut illegal immigration in half as a result of the bill's border surge amendment.
Fox News used a dishonest graph to distort the Obama administration's record on border enforcement and claim that the border is less secure. Fox's chart painted a misleading picture of Southwest border apprehensions by using an arbitrary time period and an improper scale -- even as illegal border crossings under President Obama are at historic lows.
In several segments on Fox News, correspondent William La Jeunesse highlighted the graph to claim that the Southwest border "is actually less secure," pointing to what he called the "double-digit surge" in border apprehensions from 2011 to 2013 to make his point:
La Jeunesse reported that the numbers for October-April 2013 were released exclusively to Fox News from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
In a report on Happening Now, La Jeunesse touted the graph and highlighted the fact that apprehensions of Central American nationals have risen 13 percent -- leading him to claim that by this standard more people are getting into the United States illegally.
La Jeunesse gave a similar report on Your World using the same graph.
However, the graph La Jeunesse used suffers from several misleading characteristics. First, it depicts an arbitrary time period: October through April, though we're only a few days into the month, for the years 2011 to 2013 -- which takes into account only half of Obama's first term. Moreover, the graph has a skewed scale -- making the 27,000 jump from 2011 to 2013 seem more dramatic than it actually is.
Fox News hosts speculated that uniforms made in Mexico for the U.S. Border Patrol could end up in the wrong hands and ultimately fuel situations similar to those in Afghanistan -- where Taliban fighters wearing Afghan security or coalition uniforms have launched attacks on U.S. soldiers. In fact, no such attack related to Border Patrol uniforms has yet to be reported. Moreover, these uniforms have been manufactured in Mexican factories by an American company for nearly a decade.
In six different instances over two hours, Fox & Friends hosts suggested that Mexicans would be able to use the uniforms to cross the border illegally without notice. Though Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham acknowledged that factories in Mexico manufacture a host of uniforms for American companies, she went on to say of the Border Patrol uniforms:
INGRAHAM: If they're made down there, presumably they could be stolen down there. And we know what happens in insider attacks in Afghanistan where we've lost incredible men who have donated and served this country so proudly.
But as a June 2004 Washington Times report explained, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) contract allowed VF Solutions, an American company now known as VF Imagewear, to subcontract its work to Mexico, Canada and the Dominican Republic:
The new uniforms were supplied through a contract with VF Solutions of Nashville, Tenn., which agreed to produce 30,000 shirts and pants for CBP agents and inspectors for the 2003-04 fiscal year that began Oct. 1. But the contract allows the company to subcontract its work to other facilities in the United States, Mexico, Canada and the Dominican Republic.
During their significant coverage of his stand against the Obama administration's drone policy, the media have failed to examine Republican Sen. Rand Paul's support for surveillance drones in border states. Now that Paul has come out in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, media outlets have an opportunity to highlight this dichotomy -- especially in light of the fact that his immigration framework requires that drones be used to target immigrants.
In a February 11 Washington Times op-ed announcing his support for immigration reform, Paul wrote:
As a matter of both national security and immigration policy, though, it is absolutely essential that we both secure our border and modernize our visa system so we know who comes and who goes on travel, student and other temporary visas. It is vital all other reforms be conditioned on this goal being met.
Border security, including drones, satellite and physical barriers, vigilant deportation of criminals and increased patrols would begin immediately and would be assessed at the end of one year by an investigator general from the Government Accountability Office.
During an interview on Sean Hannity's radio show, Paul similarly stated that border enforcement should include "a combination of a lot of things," such as satellite imagery and drones. He then went on to dismiss his earlier stance against drones, adding that "for border security, you can use drones for surveillance. That's protecting our country." Hannity did not question Paul over the disconnect between these positions.
Similarly, media have largely ignored Paul's comments calling for drones to target immigrants, even though his stance is not new.
From the March 4 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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From the January 30 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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From the January 29 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
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Fox News contributor Monica Crowley attacked an immigration reform proposal by claiming the federal government has failed to protect the U.S.-Mexico border. However, recent reports show that undocumented migration from Mexico has come to a halt, and border security is at an all-time high.
After a bipartisan group of senators announced a proposal to overhaul the U.S. immigration system that will focus on -- among other initiatives -- border security and opening a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently in the country, Crowley blasted the federal government for failing to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, causing states like Arizona to take matters of border security into their own hands. Crowley said drastic measures are needed because "the federal government either has not or will not enforce [the U.S.-Mexico] border."
However, Crowley's suggestion that current border security is not capable of enforcing our laws is wrong. An April 2012 report by the Pew Hispanic Center explained that net migration flow from Mexico to the U.S. has been reduced to zero and may be headed in the other direction:
After four decades that brought 12 million current immigrants--most of whom came illegally--the net migration flow from Mexico to the United States has stopped and may have reversed, according to a new analysis of government data from both countries by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.
Among the causes for lower undocumented immigration, the report points to heightened border enforcement, increased amount of deportations, and the growing danger of illegal border crossings.
On The O'Reilly Factor, guest host Laura Ingraham discussed the June 25 Supreme Court ruling striking down several parts of Arizona's immigration law. While talking to Chuck Rocha of the American Worker Latino Project, Ingraham used phony statistics to smear immigrants as criminals and fearmongered about an immigrant invasion that isn't happening.
While talking to Rocha, Ingraham implied immigrants commit more crimes than native-born Americans, citing anecdotes about crimes committed by undocumented immigrants and concluding with the dubious claim that "13 or 12 people a day" "are killed under DUIs by illegals":
INGRAHAM: A lot of these people just say, you know, look, my kids' school has crowded classrooms. Our health care costs are still ballooning. We just had this case just a few months ago in Chicago -- this guy wasn't deported. He ended up running over a 66-year-old insurance salesman -- 66-year-old man dead because this illegal immigrant was not reported to ICE, and he was never deported. We have people killed all over this country. Girls raped, little baby girls raped in Escondido, horrible story over the last six months. What do you say to those families?
ROCHA: I say to those families that you are talking about just a small portion of the immigrants who are here.
INGRAHAM: Doesn't feel small to the mother whose daughter was raped by an illegal immigrant, does it?
ROCHA: That's right. That person should be deported and should be dealt with by every extent of the law.
ROCHA: Let's be clear that we have 12 million immigrants that are in this nation. There's going to be a small portion of that just like a small portion who are here legally, who were born here --
INGRAHAM: Right, but the point is, they were born here. And crime is crime. But when people weren't supposed to be here in the first place, that crime would have never been committed. Isn't that the case?
ROCHA: That is the case to a certain extent.
INGRAHAM: No. To a -- that is the case. Is it not?
ROCHA: No, no. No, it's not the case. We have a broken system.
INGRAHAM: So the people -- the 13 or 12 people a day who are killed under DUIs by illegals -- those people would be alive if our immigration laws were enforced.
This would be indeed be shocking if true, since it would mean that almost half of DUI fatalities in the United States were caused by undocumented immigrants, who make up an estimated 4 percent of the population.
From the May 21 edition of Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight:
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This Wednesday the U.S. Supreme Court will decide if portions of Arizona's controversial immigration enforcement law, Senate Bill 1070, are inconsistent with federal law and therefore must be struck down. Fox has taken this opportunity to push misleading talking points about Arizona's immigration enforcement law and to continue to fearmonger about crime in Arizona.
Fox News' Fox & Friends made considerable contributions to the field of conservative of misinformation throughout 2011. The efforts of co-hosts Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson, and Brian Kilmeade -- as well as their rotating cast of fill-in hosts and Curvy Couch guests -- have made Fox & Friends the top misinformer on Fox News in 2011.
Over the weekend, Matt Drudge tried to inflame passions with a headline blaring "FEDS PLAN UNMANNED BORDER CROSSING WITH MEX. . ." The actual story Drudge hyped, however, should not induce panic in anyone. According to the Associated Press article to which Drudge linked, the crossing will allow access between a national park in Texas and a small Mexican town. Campers in the park used to regularly cross over to the town for supplies, but such crossings were discouraged after the 9-11 attacks.
Furthermore, the article reported: "If the crossing is approved, Border Patrol would have eight agents living in the park in addition to the park's 23 law enforcement rangers. 'I think it's actually going to end up making security better,' CBP spokesman William Brooks said. 'Once you've crossed you're still not anywhere. You've got a long ways to go and we've got agents who are in the area. We have agents who patrol. We have checkpoints on the paved roads leading away from the park.' "
But with a headline and graphic like this from Drudge, it was only a matter of time before someone from Fox took the bait:
The winner was Greta Van Susteren. Luckily for viewers, rather than turn to Fox's usual stable of anti-immigrant commentators, Van Susteren hosted Nathan Thornburgh, a contributing writer for Time, who shot down every attempt by Van Susteren to inflame her viewers with suggestions that the checkpoint could allow people to "just walk through" into America, "inflame a lot of people," cause a "drug smuggler in Juarez to move" to the checkpoint, and "enrage" local residents.
On his Fox Business show, Eric Bolling claimed that "President Obama has cut spending on the border in half." In reality, the Customs and Border Patrol budget has increased under Obama, the number of Border Patrol personnel has increased, and spending on immigration enforcement is greater under his administration than under the Bush administration.