Immigration Myths

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  • CNN Fact-Checks Trump's False Claim That America Is Full Of Criminal Immigrants

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From the September 1 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360:

    DON LEMON (HOST): Donald Trump laying out his immigration plan in a speech tonight in Phoenix. Now, our CNN Reality Check team takes a look, here is our Tom Foreman. What do you have for us, Tom?

    TOM FOREMAN: Hey Don, you know the central theme of all of this, a big theme, was that among all the undocumented people in this country, there are a lot of dangerous criminals.

    [...]

    FOREMAN: 2 million. That is a whopping number, but analysts say to get to that number of criminals among this population, you basically have to count every possible infraction including traffic tickets. Maybe it is more realistic to look at this number from the Migration Policy Institute.

    1.4 million people on the priority list for apprehension for more serious offenses, or maybe you should even look at this number, 690,000 convicted of felonies or serious misdemeanors. That's another estimate that is out there. That seems credible in all of this. Still a big number, but only about a third of what Trump says.

    Nonetheless, he says he wants to go after them, he wants a task force to really crackdown on this population out there. The problem is one started just a year ago under the immigration office there. Priority Enforcement Program, that is what they call it, and it is aimed at getting the worst criminals off of the street.

    It's a big job. Maybe he will make it better. Maybe he will put more agents out there as he promised. Maybe he will do that on day one in terms of getting that started, so we can't say otherwise. That that part of the claim is true, but to the extent that none of this is going to produce immediate results, it simply can't. It is too big of a job. It is also misleading.

    Previously:

    White Nationalist Media Cheers Trump’s “Almost Perfect” Immigration Speech

    Media Reactions To Trump’s Immigration Speech: Same Extremist Trump

    CNN's Corey Lewandowski: Trump Immigration Speech Was A Tactical Decision To Appeal To White Males
     

  • Latinos: A New Immigration Plan From Donald Trump Won't Magically Erase His Previous Bigotry

    ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Latino media figures are calling Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s “possible reversal” over immigration policy “too late,” noting that “Trump based his campaign on attacking immigrants,” and that the vague reports about a shifting stance on immigration come only a day after “Trump aired [a] xenophobic, anti-immigrant ad,” which “overtly” cites the anti-immigration group Center for Immigration Studies, whose founder “drifts in and out of overt white supremacist circles.” 

  • Politico Gives Anti-Immigrant Advocate A Platform To Justify Trump’s “Extreme Vetting” Proposal

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Politico Magazine published an article written by anti-immigrant economist George Borjas, who defended Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s proposal to implement “extreme, extreme vetting” for immigrants, including temporarily banning refugees from an undisclosed list of countries. Borjas is linked to anti-immigrant think tanks known for shoddy research and himself has skewed information in a crusade against immigrants.

    In an August 17 Politico op-ed republished from his blog, Borjas slammed media figures for criticizing Trump’s proposals, citing a number of discriminatory policies throughout history that have blocked, deported, or discouraged certain immigrants from coming to the United States, and defending Trump’s extreme proposal by arguing that “immigration vetting is as American as apple pie.” He also refers to the 1917 Immigration Act, “which, in addition to effectively barring immigration from Asia, listed the many traits that would make potential immigrants inadmissible” as one of his “favorite examples” of “extreme vetting.”

    A 2006 New York Times profile of Borjas stated that his approach to immigration “carries an overtone of ethnic selectivity that was a staple of the immigration debates a century ago,” which “makes many of Borjas’s colleagues uncomfortable.” He also has ties to conservative think tanks known for expounding false information about immigrants, including the nativist Center for Immigration Studies and the hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which have both been described as organizations that “stand at the nexis of the American nativist movement.” Borjas continued to express these attitudes in his Politico op-ed, despite acknowledging that some immigration restrictions were rolled back “for good reason”:

    As early as 1645, the Massachusetts Bay Colony prohibited the entry of poor or indigent persons. By the early 20th century, the country was filtering out people who had “undesirable” traits, such as epileptics, alcoholics and polygamists. Today, the naturalization oath demands that immigrants renounce allegiance to any foreign state. Even our Favorite Founding Father du jour, Alexander Hamilton (himself an immigrant), thought it was important to scrutinize whoever came to the United States.

    [...]

    In other words, immigration vetting is as American as apple pie.

    [...]

    In 1882, Congress suspended the immigration of Chinese laborers, and added idiots, lunatics and persons likely to become public charges to the list for good measure.

    One of my favorite examples of the extreme vetting is the 1917 Immigration Act, which, in addition to effectively barring immigration from Asia, listed the many traits that would make potential immigrants inadmissible.

    [...]

    In other words, even a century ago we had put in place ideological filters against anarchists, persons who advocate the destruction of property, and persons who believe in overthrowing the government of the United States.

    Of course, some of these filters, such as those restricting the entry of epileptics or Asians, have long since been rolled back—and for good reason. But many of them—especially those pertaining to criminals, and people who are likely to work against U.S. interests—remain in current law, with additions that reflect the changing security landscape.

  • Miami Herald Praises Humanitarian Approach To Immigration In Stark Contrast To Conservative Media’s Routine Demonization Of Immigrants

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    The Miami Herald editorial board praised recent efforts by the Obama administration to address immigration by those fleeing violence from Central American countries, providing important context that right-wing media often ignore in attempts to demonize immigrants.

    The board pointed out that the administration’s expansion of its “Central American refugee program” is an attempt to live “up to this country’s humanitarian values,” underscoring that “seeking shelter from gang violence in Central America” is what has caused increases in the number of immigrants. This context draws a stark contrast to conservative media’s routine demonization of immigrants, which includes blaming them for diseases, terrorism, or stealing American jobs or misrepresenting government immigration policies as “lawlessness.” Fox News recently mischaracterized the new government immigration policy that protects “sensitive locations” by failing to explain its objective of improving “public understanding and trust.” Conservative media misinformation and demonization of immigrants has inspired the harsh anti-immigrant tone in right-wing politics.

    In the August 2 editorial, the Herald noted that “the administration deserves credit for acknowledging that more needs to be done” and explained that the new initiative provides incentives for Central American refugees to avoid the perilous journey to the United States, prioritizes opportunities for those in urgent need of refugee assistance, works to keep more families together, and undermines migrant smuggling activities:

    The Obama administration substantially expanded its Central American refugee program last week by making entire families eligible for approval, expanding refugee processing in Central America and offering immediate protection for some in Costa Rica.

    This will not put an end to the border crisis caused by the dramatic increase in migrants seeking shelter from gang violence in Central America, but the administration deserves credit for acknowledging that more needs to be done.

    For years, the administration has been under pressure from Congress and the public to devise a program that can deal with the crisis in a way that meets the often conflicting goals of living up to this country’s humanitarian values while keeping our borders from being overrun.

    This is a tall order, particularly in an election year in which immigration is a hot-button issue. It is important to declare plainly that the “expansion” is no open door for new waves of migrants. It will be limited, administration officials say, to those who have legitimate claims of asylum because of the violence they face in their home countries and communities.

    [...]

    The most welcome aspect of the program consists of the reassurance that the administration remains committed to finding a way to tackle immigration in a safe and responsible manner despite criticism from all sides that it is either doing too much (deportations) or not enough (by failing to protect the border, or turning back migrants who deserve to have their asylum claims heard).

    The expansion announced last week cannot possibly accommodate all those individuals in Central America, young and old, who are desperate to flee, but it creates priorities and speeds up the review of legitimate claims. It also undermines the activities of “coyotes” who charge exorbitant fees for smuggling migrants across the border.

  • Hispanic Media Silent On Dangerous Bills Targeting Undocumented Immigrants

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Major Hispanic media news shows were silent on the Senate’s anticipated vote on two Republican-sponsored bills that could present a threat to undocumented immigrants. The proposed measures -- Kate’s Law and the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act -- echo anti-immigrant talking points previously spewed by conservative media, which paint undocumented immigrants as violent criminals and sanctuary cities as places that foster violent crime.

    The July 5 editions of some of the most highly viewed Hispanic media news shows -- Univision’s Noticiero Univision, Univision’s Noticiero Univision: Edición Nocturna, and Telemundo’s Noticiero Telemundo -- failed to report on the Senate’s vote on these bills, scheduled for July 6. Both bills, which failed to pass in the Senate, presented serious threats to undocumented immigrants and could in fact undermine crime deterrence capacities in some cities. 

    Senate Bill 2193, dubbed Kate’s Law by Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, proposed a mandatory minimum prison sentence on undocumented immigrants attempting to re-enter the country. The Fox News host devoted plenty of airtime to fearmongering about undocumented immigrants and repeatedly lobbied to advance the bill through the legislative process. From the June 30 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

    Similarly, conservative news outlets hyped the need to pass Sen. Pat Toomey’s Senate Bill 3100, the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act, which would have cut federal funding to “sanctuary cities,” or cities that do not necessarily report undocumented immigrants to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency if they have not committed a serious crime.

    But both bills would have had negative consequences for human rights and the federal budget. The Daily Beast said Kate’s Law “might do more harm than good” by potentially undoing previous successes in criminal justice reform and increasing America’s overlarge prison population. The Atlantic reported last year that the impact of Kate’s Law would be “dramatic,” and “cost the U.S. Bureau of Prisons an estimated $2 billion per year,” similarly noting that it would be counterintuitive to attempts to reform mass incarceration.

    Additionally, the basis for the failed Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act was that “sanctuary cities” threaten public safety, yet the American Immigration Lawyers Association and California’s attorney general have both argued that defunding “sanctuary cities” would not hurt public safety and that these types of cities might actually deter crime.

  • Editorial Boards Blame Republican Obstruction For Supreme Court's Immigration Impasse

    ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Numerous editorial boards slammed the Supreme Court’s “maddening” and “depressing” “nondecision” in United States v. Texas that upheld a federal court’s decision to block President Obama’s executive action on immigration that temporarily relieved millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. The editorial boards blamed the impasse -- which “condemned” millions to “live in the shadows” -- on congressional Republicans’ obstruction of Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, as well as their failure to pass immigration reform.