Bill O'Reilly and Fox News legal analysts Kimberly Guilfoyle and Lis Wiehl dismissed and mischaracterized a lawsuit alleging that a citizenship question on certain Michigan ballot applications illegally burdens the right to vote. But the "citizenship checkbox" may keep citizens from voting, as the state's Republican Governor anticipated when he vetoed an earlier attempt to implement the practice.
The ACLU of Michigan has filed a lawsuit accusing Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson (R) of once again violating state and federal law by including a checkbox to re-determine a voter's citizenship on absentee and election-day ballot applications. Although supporters defend the practice as a means to prevent noncitizens from voting, election experts have pointed out redundant citizenship verification is a solution to an almost non-existent problem, contrary to the claims of Johnson and Fox's Guilfoyle.
O'Reilly characterized the ACLU lawsuit seeking to eliminate the citizenship checkbox as "madness and stupidity," and threatened that if a "crazy judge" granted the injunction, he would "put the judge's face on the screen and then send [Fox's Jesse] Watters out to see him." Fox's legal analysts not only agreed with O'Reilly's evaluation of the facts and law, but also his unsupported allegation regarding the motive behind the lawsuit:
What the ACLU wants is they don't want people committing perjury when they register. They do want people voting, who are not American citizens, to advance. They believe that most of those people would vote for the Democratic candidate in Michigan. That's exactly what's going on here.
No one acknowledged the actual arguments behind the lawsuit, namely that including a checkbox for citizenship affirmation on these ballot applications violates state and federal law and suppressed voters in Michigan's most recent primary election. It was this concern that led Governor Rick Snyder (R) to veto the proposed citizenship checkbox law in July. In his veto message, Snyder, a conservative Republican, stated the citizenship question could impermissibly "create voter confusion."
Voting by noncitizens is not a problem nationally or in Michigan. Indeed, according to the authoritative and exhaustive News21 study of thousands of alleged instances of voter fraud in the U.S., voter fraud such as noncitizen voting is "virtually non-existent." With respect to Michigan, an analysis by Wayne State University Law Professor Jocelyn Benson of the Michigan Center for Election Law demonstrates that:
[Secretary of State] Johnson has irresponsibly declared that 4,000 noncitizens vote in Michigan's elections, falsely claiming that the federal government is forcing her employees to register ineligible voters.
Her data is incomplete and unverified. The 4,000 number is no more than a general estimate of how many of Michigan's 7.5 million registered voters are not citizens.
In reality, she claims to have discovered 54 noncitizens who may have voted in Michigan's elections in the past decade, and as many as 900 others who are registered but have not voted. Yet the secretary of state is able to provide details on only two noncitizens who have recently voted. That's a far cry from 4,000.
State efforts, such as Michigan's, duplicate federal law that already prohibits and punishes ineligible voting and place excessive burdens on eligible voters. A recent Advancement Project report indicates that the Latino vote in particular is susceptible to the low turnout caused by redundant citizenship screens. According to the Michigan Election Coalition, this sort of unconstitutional burden was precisely what occurred during the 2012 Michigan primary election when poll workers across the state gave contradictory and erroneous instructions to eligible voters about the voluntary nature of the checkbox. It was this inconsistent treatment of voters across the state that led the ACLU to challenge the checkbox as a violation of the federal equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution, not the due process clause as Fox's Wiehl incorrectly stated.
Furthermore, Johnson may not even have the power to place the citizenship question on the ballot. The state legislature originally tried to pass the election change in a bill, and Michigan law does not appear to allow the Secretary to unilaterally adopt this failed legislation. Even if it did, there does not appear any justification for the Secretary to then ignore the standard administrative notice and comment procedure behind the introduction of new state rules. Finally, the Secretary appears to have passed an election practice change statewide, despite the fact that the federal Voting Rights Act -- in order to prevent illegal racial or national origin discrimination -- requires certain townships in Michigan to pre-clear any such changes with the U.S. Department of Justice before they are put into effect.
From the September 18 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
Loading the player ...
While guest hosting The O'Reilly Factor on August 24, Monica Crowley praised SB 1070 architect Kris Kobach's filing suit against the Obama administration's "deferred action" policy, which allows young undocumented immigrants to temporarily remain in the United States. But Crowley failed to mention that the deportation policy is the continuation of long-standing prosecutorial discretion, and also neglected to report the lawsuit's basic procedural flaws.
Instead, Crowley ignored the weaknesses of the lawsuit and alleged the policy is "illegal," accused the administration of acting "extra-constitutionally," and finally commended Kobach for "fighting the good fight" against a "banana republic."
The lawsuit was filed in district court by Kobach on August 23 on behalf of 10 disgruntled Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and is underwritten by controversial "immigration-restriction" group NumbersUSA, despite the Supreme Court's recent reminder that "[a] principal feature of the removal system is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials." Nevertheless, the lawsuit challenges the administration's policy of deferred action in deportation proceedings for undocumented youth - a continuation of standard immigration discretion also practiced by George W. Bush - and further undermines its credibility through its choice of plaintiffs.
Fox Business anchor Stuart Varney debunked the theory that rounding up and deporting immigrants is a solution to economic problems -- a notion that is widespread throughout the conservative media.
During an appearance on Fox & Friends to discuss Greece's efforts to round up and deport undocumented immigrants, co-host Brian Kilmeade asked Varney if deporting immigrants would help Greece's economy and whether America should "follow suit."
Varney said that rounding up and deporting immigrants wouldn't help Greece with its economic problems and denied that they were taking jobs from Greek citizens. He also said that we shouldn't round up immigrants in the United States either:
VARNEY: Should America follow suit, a round up of illegals here? I would say absolutely not. We're not in financial crisis, and we're a very different country. We have a very strong tradition of acceptance of people from all over the world, legal or illegal, we don't round them up and throw them out. We don't do that, thank heavens.
Economists agree that immigration is beneficial to the American economy and that immigrants don't have a negative impact on the jobs of American-born workers. And studies have shown that comprehensive immigration reform could lead to a boost to the economy.
But the myth that undocumented immigrants harm the economy is very common in the right-wing media.
Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of Fox News' parent company News Corp., plans to join New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg today for a forum on immigration policy. Despite Fox News' history of demonizing immigrants and their constant use of anti-immigrant rhetoric, Murdoch plans to highlight the role of immigrants in American economic successes.
The Daily Caller is using a new report from the Migration Policy Institute, which estimates that about 1.8 million undocumented immigrants could benefit from the Obama administration's deferred action on deportation, to revive the spurious myth that immigration depresses employment. But economists have long maintained that immigrants don't take away American jobs and that, in fact, immigration has a positive impact on the economy.
In June, the Department of Homeland Security announced its decision to allow some young undocumented immigrants to apply to stay and work legally in the country without fear of deportation. DHS said the policy was aimed at:
"certain young people who were brought to the United States as young children, do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria will be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings. Those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization."
On Tuesday, MPI released an analysis showing that upwards of 1.76 million undocumented immigrants under the age of 31 could benefit from the deferment, which lasts only two years, and is contingent on approval. MPI found:
Right-wing media are stirring up outrage over a UCLA online learning program that will offer students, regardless of legal status, the chance to study immigrant and labor rights. The one-year program, which is open to any student who has graduated from a U.S. high school, will cost the same for all students. But Fox News claimed the program would be a "much better deal" if "you are an illegal alien" than a legal resident or American citizen.
UCLA recently launched the National Dream University as a joint effort with the National Labor College. The program is a one-year, accredited program which does not offer a degree, and is comparable to 18 academic credits that are "transferrable to other institutions of higher education." The program offers six courses to be completed in trimesters over the course of 2013 on topics related to labor and immigration policy.
On Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade said that if you are "illegal and qualify for this program, it will cost you $2,400. If you made the foolish mistake of becoming a resident and belong here, then you'll get punished and be paying $6,642." Fox & Friends aired the following on-screen graphic:
But Fox's numbers are wrong. The cost of the program, which is "open to everyone regardless of their immigration status," is the same. An extensive search of the UCLA website Fox cited as a source provided no tuition figures that match the "Legal Student" costs projected during the Fox & Friends segment. Further, in an email to Media Matters, Kent Wong, director of the UCLA Labor Center, confirmed that tuition for the program does not change based on the student's status:
Fox News is using a new report about the Obama administration's deportation of immigrants (legal and undocumented) to reinforce their narrative that President Obama is not committed to enforcing illegal immigration. In fact, the Congressional Research Service report proves the opposite: that the Obama administration has prioritized the removal of undocumented immigrants who are a danger to society, increasing the number of deportations by nearly 90 percent.
According to the study, which analyzed records from October 2008 -- before Obama was in office -- to July 2011, 46,734 undocumented immigrants were released within that three-year span. Of those, 7,283 or 15.9 percent, recommitted crimes within three years of their initial arrest and release. To put it in context, Americans' recidivism rate is about 40 percent.
But Fox News anchor Rick Folbaum described those findings as "revealing that illegal immigrants are more likely to return to jail after being arrested than citizens or even legal residents" -- which is the exact opposite of what the report concluded. According to the report, legal immigrants' recidivism rate was 16.5 percent. When taken together, the report found that 17 percent of legal and undocumented immigrants recommitted crimes within three years of their release.
Still, host Bill Hemmer stated that the report cast "fresh doubt on the president's immigration policy." Host Lou Dobbs promoted the findings, suggesting the Obama administration has an "anti-enforcement agenda."
Nothing is further from the truth. The Obama administration has prioritized the removal of dangerous undocumented immigrants. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director John Morton made this clear:
Over the past three and a half years, ICE has established clear priorities that focus our enforcement resources on aliens that pose a threat to public safety or national security, repeatedly violate our immigration laws or recently crossed our borders.
Right-wing media figures are fearmongering over the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) newly announced decision to shut down several Border Patrol stations. In fact, the CBP's decision is a strategic one, aimed at focusing efforts on high-priority areas closer to the border.
Within the next six months, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will close nine Border Patrol stations to move forty-one agents closer to the southern and northern borders, media outlets are reporting, citing CBP spokesman Bill Brooks. Brooks said that some of stations that will be closed are hundreds of miles from a border and that the decision is part of a strategy to use resources wisely and "increasingly concentrate our resources on the border."
In a statement to Fox News, Brooks likewise said, "These deactivations are consistent with the strategic goal of securing America's borders, and our objective of increasing and sustaining the certainty of arrest of those trying to enter our country illegally." He continued:
By redeploying and reallocating resources at or near the border, CBP will maximize the effectiveness of its enforcement mandate and align our investments with our mission.
Nevertheless, right-wing media seized on the announcement to fearmonger about border security. The Drudge Report posted the following headline:
Drudge's headline linked to a FoxNews.com article, which has the same headline. However, FoxNews.com's article clearly explains that the CBP is closing the stations to "reassign agents to high-priority areas closer to the border."
Fox News Radio reporter Todd Starnes, in a post to his Twitter feed, wrote: "Obama is shutting down 9 border patrol stations ... and the invasion continues." (Following the June 25 Supreme Court ruling striking down several parts of Arizona's immigration law, Starnes similarly warned of "Mexican Invaders.")
Starnes also wrote: "Obama wants to close 9 border stations ... Maybe he's turning them into voting stations instead?"
Attacking a Department of Justice hotline for potential civil rights abuses in Arizona, Rush Limbaugh declared that reporters of such abuses are merely "tattle-tales" or "criminals" who "can now snitch out law enforcement." But the potential civil rights concerns over the law - especially concerns about racial profiling - are very real.
Although the Supreme Court struck down most of SB1070, Arizona's controversial immigration law, it allowed the so-called "show me your papers" provision to go into effect. In an effort to keep tabs on potential racial profiling abuses, the federal government launched a hotline and email address where people can report potential civil rights concerns.
Limbaugh labeled the hotline a "tattle-tale line," created so that "ticked-off, sniveling little liberals" "can call and rat out Arizona law-enforcement officials to Barack Obama." He went on to address Arizona residents:
LIMBAUGH: When your police and your sheriff departments try to do their jobs, left-wing lawyers stand ready to bury your bogus law suits, at the request and the behest of Barack Obama. This hotline, this email address, is criminalizing the enforcement of the law.
What this is all about is the presumption that law enforcement does nothing but profile. And they're gonna profile. And who gets to decide whether it's profiling or not? A former ACLU lawyer, former La Raza lawyer at the Department of Justice?
Criminals can now snitch out law enforcement, folks. Barack Obama has sided with people who are on the other side of the law.
In reality, racial profiling concerns over Arizona's immigration law are legitimate.
From the June 23 edition of Fox News' America's News Headquarters:
Loading the player ...
Rush Limbaugh, who has been busy complaining about the Department of Homeland Security's new immigration policy for young undocumented immigrants, today tried to support his views by claiming that Americans "are diametrically opposed" to a plan that would provide undocumented immigrants with an opportunity to legalize their status. Limbaugh stated:
LIMBAUGH: The people of this country are diametrically opposed to amnesty. They don't want any part of it. Obama announced it, and I said, it's not going to help him. Everybody thinks it's gonna -- what he's doing, folks, he has given up on mainstream America. His bet is that his electoral chances are better coalescing all these disparate, extreme fringe groups into one voting block, and he thinks that bunch will outnumber mainstream America. That's what he's counting on.
In reality, not only do a majority of Americans support the new immigration policy, they also favor allowing undocumented immigrants who meet certain conditions to stay here legally.
A December 2011 National Journal poll found that "a substantial majority of Americans say they would prefer to allow some or all illegal immigrants to remain in the United States":
When asked what should be done with the roughly 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, just 25 percent of those polled said that they should all be deported "no matter how long they have been in the U.S."
Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed said that ill illegal immigrants should be allowed "to stay, provided they have broken no other laws and commit to learning English and U.S. history." The largest group, at 39 percent, said that the United States should "deport some, but allow those who have been here for many years and have broken no other laws to stay here legally."
Right-wing media are reacting to the Obama administration's decision to allow some young undocumented immigrants to stay and work in America by suggesting immigration takes jobs away from American workers. In fact, economists agree that more immigration does not take away jobs from Americans and is a net plus for the economy.
Geraldo Rivera called himself "the conscience of Fox and the rest of the cable news world" when asked Tuesday about his objections to the use of the terms "illegals" and "aliens" in reference to undocumented immigrants.
He also added that he has 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.
"If I'm going to be the conscience of Fox and the rest of the cable news world, then it is a role that I enthusiastically embrace," he told Media Matters during an appearance at a WABC Radio job fair in New York City.
His comments came in response to a question about a May 4 online column Rivera wrote for Fox News Latino, in which he denounced the use of certain terms to describe immigrants, especially "aliens" and "illegals."
In the column, Rivera took news outlets, including Fox, to task for using such terms, writing:
Like the words 'Jew' or 'slob' or 'slut', the phrase 'illegal alien' has the elegance of being harsh, but defensible, if accurate. Although it can be used as a cutting reference, it can still be uttered in polite company without fear of raising many eyebrows, especially among those who feel similarly negative about the individual being described.
Asked Tuesday if he had raised the issue with Fox executives, Rivera said, "I've talked to all my colleagues, everyone knows my feelings, from top to bottom. I think the combination of those two pejoratives, 'illegal' and 'aliens,' is really a way to demean people, to separate people. I've made my feelings very, very clear to my colleagues at Fox."
Rivera's complaints have as yet fallen on deaf ears. The "illegals" slur is regularly used on Fox's "straight news" and opinion programming and websites. The week before Rivera published his column, his Fox colleagues Bill O'Reilly, Tucker Carlson, and Mike Huckabee all defended such rhetoric in separate segments criticizing what O'Reilly termed the "crazy" opposition to the term by the "far left."
In fact, the same day Rivera published his column, The O'Reilly Factor guest host Laura Ingraham re-aired the segment in which O'Reilly was "taking on that far left campaign that wants to ban the word "illegal" when it comes to -- I'm saying it, wait - illegal aliens." Earlier in that same broadcast, Ingraham hosted Rivera to discuss a woman who brought her child into a tanning salon with her and a lethal hazing case at a Florida college.
Rivera credited Fox for letting him make his views clear on the air, even if the network would not ban the use of such phrases.
"And the great thing though, in fairness to Fox, they let me say and they let me publish that and, you know, I say it on the air as well."
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.