On October 18, an ad by NumbersUSA, the anti-immigration group with white nationalist ties run by Roy Beck, aired during CNN's coverage of the Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas. In the ad, NumbersUSA pitted immigrants against Americans, blaming legal immigrants for high unemployment among Americans, especially minorities. It featured a diverse group of people taking turns saying:
The immigration debate should not be about the color of people's skin, or their country of origin, or their religion, or where their grandparents were born. The debate should be about the numbers. Should Congress give work permits to 1 million new legal immigrants again this year when 20 million Americans of all colors, national origins, and religions are having trouble finding jobs? Immigration, it's about the numbers. The numbers. The numbers. Tell Congress at NumbersUSA.org.
In a post at National Review Online touting the ad, Mark Krikorian asked: "Is the issuance of green cards to more than 1 million legal immigrants per year (plus hundreds of thousands of 'temporary' workers) a good idea when we have 9 percent unemployment?"
A similar ad by anti-immigration group Californians for Population Stabilization aired during MSNBC's coverage of the September 7 Republican presidential debate. It also blamed immigrants for the fact that millions of Americans "are unable to find a job." This claim is still not true, as we noted at the time. Yet anti-immigrants persist in using it to stoke xenophobic sentiment.
And that's the message behind this ad campaign.
Writing for the Daily Caller, nativist crank Tom Tancredo argues that we're missing the big picture regarding the U.S. government's killing of terrorism suspect -- and U.S. citizen -- Anwar al-Awlaki:
Lost in this debate is whether al-Awlaki was ever really an American citizen.
Al-Awlaki was born in New Mexico in 1971. Both of his parents were Yemeni citizens in the United States on student visas. As a child, he moved to Yemen along with his parents. He returned to the U.S. as an adult on a foreign student visa.
Under the current interpretation of the 14th Amendment, al-Awlaki is considered an American citizen. Section 1 of the amendment opens, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." The operative phrase is "subject to the jurisdiction thereof." During the ratification debates in 1866, Senator Lyman Trumbull, who was the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said that the phrase meant "not owing allegiance to anybody else" and that "partial allegiance if you please, to some other government" is disqualifying. It goes without saying that neither al-Awlaki nor his parents had any allegiance to America.
Anwar al-Awlaki was born in the United States. His parents were not in the service of a foreign government. Therefore, as laid out in the Constitution, he was an American citizen. Period. Full stop. QED.
What Tancredo describes as "the current interpretation of the 14th Amendment" is actually the historical interpretation going all the way back to Reconstruction and reaffirmed many times over by the courts. The only people who dissent from this established concept of American citizenship are post-birthers who refuse to give up the ghost regarding President Obama's citizenship, and anti-immigrant bigots (like Tancredo) who deliberately misunderstand the "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" phraseology in order to argue against conferring citizenship on the children of undocumented immigrants.
From the September 28 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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During Thursday's Republican presidential debate hosted by Fox News and Google, moderators looked to anti-immigrant group the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) to ask the first question on immigration. Nearly 20,000 questions were reportedly submitted on a variety of topics, but for immigration, Fox chose one by FAIR spokeswoman Kristen Williamson. From the debate:
WILLIAMSON: Struggling U.S. workers continue to compete with millions of illegal aliens. Do you support legislation to require all employers to use E-Verify in order to insure that the people that they hire are actually legally authorized to work in the U.S., and will you impose penalties against employers who continue to hire illegal workers?
FAIR is an anti-immigrant organization considered a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center. It not only has a history of using extreme, violent, and offensive language directed at undocumented immigrants, but it has extremist ties as well.
The second and last question about immigration submitted by a viewer that Fox chose asked: "Are you going to exert an effort to stop the abuse of U.S. citizens by illegals?"
It's hardly surprising Fox would choose a question on immigration from an extremist group in light of the negative tone it has set in framing the immigration debate. Moreover, considering Fox has a history of advocating for the error-prone and potentially racist E-Verify program, it's also not shocking that the network chose a question that advanced the common anti-immigrant sentiment that undocumented immigrants "compete" with "struggling U.S. workers" -- a sentiment that is simply misplaced.
Fox News' Laura Ingraham took time away from her favorite pastime of attacking President Obama and his policies to demean undocumented immigrants today and attack Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Ingraham wrote on her Twitter feed:
It is not clear to what Ingraham was referring or why she singled out undocumented immigrants in her post.
However, Fox News has a decidedly anti-immigrant bias. And it has continued to refer to undocumented immigrants as "illegals," even after several news organizations urged the media to stop using the racially charged and dehumanizing slur. Indeed, just two days ago, Fox host Eric Bolling used the epithet while accusing the Obama administration of pushing "backdoor amnesty."
Last summer, Minuteman Project co-founder Jim Gilchrist appeared on CNN's Larry King Live to defend Arizona's notorious immigration crackdown law, SB 1070.
The law requires that local and state police officers check the immigration status of any individual they encounter in the course of their law enforcement duties who the officer reasonably suspects to be an immigrant in the country illegally.
Pressed by CNN host Larry King to explain what sort of criteria officers might legitimately use, Gilchrist said, "Responding to an officer, 'No hablo English, Gringo go back to Europe.' Obviously there's an issue there that probably the person may be illegal and perhaps the officer should pursue that."
King identified Gilchrist as the founder and president of the Minuteman Project. That's half-true. Gilchrist is co-founder of the Minuteman Project, the nativist group that popularized the concept of placing armed but untrained civilian volunteers on the U.S.-Mexico border to discourage immigrants from entering the country illegally. But he's not been the group's president since February 2007 when the Minuteman Project board of directors fired Gilchrist for allegedly stealing donations.
Gilchrist promptly launched a new organization called Jim Gilchrist's Minuteman Project, which is little more than a website promoting Gilchrist.
Long after he was being drummed out of the civilian border patrol movement he played a major role in creating and despite repeated revelations of the white supremacist ties of his followers, including murderer Shawna Forde, Gilchrist continued to be invited to speak at universities and appear on major cable news shows. He's been treated by the media as a legitimate authority on immigration issues and often misidentified as the current president of the Minuteman Project.
Last campaign season, Gilchrist further raised his profile by endorsing and stumping for at least ten Republican state and national candidates who sought his help in burnishing their tough-on-immigration credentials. Through all this, Gilchrist has continued to deny that he misappropriated funds. On the issue of white supremacists involving themselves in the movement he played a major role in creating, however, Gilchrist expresses regret.
"Racial supremacists have been a thorn in my side from day one," he told me earlier this year. "They existed in the Minuteman movement, but they had no legitimate reason for being there, because they do nothing to promote equal treatment under the law for all, which after all was our main goal."
"I've said it before, and I'll say it again, that I am very, very disappointed and saddened at the outcome of the Minuteman Project and the citizen border watch movement," Gilchrist said. "All these different organizations and groups just started calling themselves Minuteman this or Minuteman that and unfortunately it turned out that some of the people involved in them had sinister intentions."
In June, Fox News repeatedly promoted the accusation that undocumented immigrants had set the Monument wildfire that was raging in Arizona at the time. However, the Justice Department recently announced that it has charged two U.S. citizens in connection with the state's worst-ever wildfire.
Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) leader William Gheen has frequently presented himself as a moderate within the American nativist movement since founding ALIPAC in 2005.
Last May, for example, Gheen yanked ALIPAC's backing of a major rally for Arizona's notorious immigration crackdown law, S.B. 1070, after learning that one of its organizers was linked to racist skinhead groups.
Such anti-extremist posturing has lent Gheen mainstream media credibility. He's been quoted often, nearly two dozen times by mainstream papers in the last six months, according to a Nexis search. Even The New York Times included his comments in a story on border security published August 9.
Earlier this week, however, Gheen appeared to relinquish his mainstream legitimacy in favor of predicting race war and endorsing violence in response to the immigration policies of "Dictator Barack Obama."
As first reported by Right Wing Watch, Gheen argued on the air that the Obama administration is preparing for "conflict with White America" by allowing millions of non-white immigrants into the U.S. to "back them up."
Gheen advocated for "illegal and violent" actions in response.
GHEEN: What Janet Napolitano has spent most of her time doing in the last couple of months has been, one, preparing the new spy network that's available now, the new data-collecting, see everything you do online, beyond the normal terrorist list that they're creating, they're creating a much larger list now of people who might be troublesome here in the country. And putting out videos and propaganda telegraphing what I believe to be a conflict with White America they're preparing for after they get another 10 or 15 million people in the country to back them up.
We're no longer referring to him as President Barack Obama, our national organization has made the decision and made the announcement we now refer to him as Dictator Barack Obama. That's what he is. And basically at this point, if you're looking for a peaceful, political recourse there really isn't one that we can think of, and I'm really not sure what to tell people out there other than I guess they need to make decisions soon to just accept whatever comes next or some type of extra-political activities that I can't really even talk about because they're all illegal and violent.
The Southern Poverty Law Center notes that while open expressions of racial radicalism are new for Gheen, the ALIPAC leader is "no stranger to more more garden-variety bigotry and fear-mongering":
He has accused Mexican immigrants of carrying infectious diseases and plotting to take over the Southwest. In April 2010, he targeted Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), claiming that the 56-year-old bachelor is gay and saying he should come out to avoid being blackmailed into working with Democrats on immigration reform. In July 2010, Gheen told revisionist "historian" David Barton that LGBT people secretly want to import undocumented immigrants as a way of "replacing many core Americans and American values," part of an overall "war" against Americans.
In his August 23 Washington Times column, Charles Hurt fearmongered over the Obama administration's new immigration policy prioritizing the deportation of criminals by claiming that "you can bet some of these illegals who had been headed for deportation will manage to sneak in a few votes. Maybe even enough to swing the election." Hurt further compared Obama to a "dictator currying favor by releasing political prisoners just before an 'election.' " From the Times:
The surest sign yet that President Obama will cashier his "hope" and "change" gimmicks from the last campaign in favor of a switchblade and brass knuckles for the next one was the stunning landmark decision he quietly made last week before hightailing it up to Martha's Vineyard for a trip to Luxuryville.
Like a dictator currying favor by releasing political prisoners just before an "election," Mr. Obama decided to reject the repeatedly expressed wishes of Congress and halt deportations of illegal immigrants.
[W]ith all the skeezy Election Day tactics we see with same-day registration and a refusal to require voters to actually prove they are legal residents who should be voting in the election, you can bet some of these illegals who had been headed for deportation will manage to sneak in a few votes.
Maybe even enough to swing the election.
In an August 23 Washington Times op-ed titled, "Obama's immigration shake-up, White House grants amnesty to anyone but convicted felons," Emily Miller wrote:
President Obama is using his executive authority to grant backdoor amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. In a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that the administration's immigration-enforcement efforts would ignore "low-priority cases." That means most criminal aliens can stay, and only convicted felons will get the boot.
This new case-by-case-basis interpretation of immigration laws will give illegals a work permit to stick around in the United States, taking jobs away from the 9.1 percent of Americans looking for work. Congressional Democrats, who couldn't get their laissez-faire immigration bill passed last year, applauded the White House move.
Basically, it's a free pass as long as you don't get convicted of a serious crime.
Mr. Obama might as well stand at the border with a sign saying, "Come on in. Do whatever you want, just don't get caught."
Fox News has chosen to ignore the specific instruction of the Associated Press Style Book, which urges journalists not to shorten the phrase to exclude the word "immigrant," and calls by several news associations to stop using the word because it "pollutes" and can "skew public debate" on immigration.
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) explained why the term is problematic:
NAHJ is concerned with the increasing use of pejorative terms to describe the estimated 11 million undocumented people living in the United States. NAHJ is particularly troubled with the growing trend of the news media to use the word "illegals" as a noun, shorthand for "illegal aliens". Using the word in this way is grammatically incorrect and crosses the line by criminalizing the person, not the action they are purported to have committed. NAHJ calls on the media to never use "illegals" in headlines.
Shortening the term in this way also stereotypes undocumented people who are in the United States as having committed a crime. Under current U.S. immigration law, being an undocumented immigrant is not a crime, it is a civil violation. Furthermore, an estimated 40 percent of all undocumented people living in the U.S. are visa overstayers, meaning they did not illegally cross the U.S. border.
Tonight, immigration attorney Susan Church took that case directly to Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor (emphasis added):
CROWLEY: Susan, we're either a nation of laws or we're not. So why is this administration, then, rewarding the illegal act of entering the country in violation of our laws?
SUSAN CHURCH, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY: Well, first of all, it's funny that you say the term 2 million, because there's only 300,000 immigrants currently in deportation proceedings, and believe it or not, sometimes it's actually difficult to get into deportation proceedings. So this only applies to an extremely small number of immigrants. Within that subset of 300,000, no one with any criminal history whatsoever will be included. The categories are even more narrow for people -
CROWLEY: But Susan -
CHURCH: If I could finish, the categories are even -
CROWLEY: If they entered the country illegally, doesn't that make them a criminal?
CHURCH: No, that's a misnomer of Fox News, it's a civil violation.
CROWLEY: Oh, so entering the country illegally is not a criminal act?
CHURCH: So as I was saying -
CROWLEY: Wow, that's news on The Factor.
Conservative blogs have responded to the Obama administration's announcement of a new immigration policy by claiming that the president is "cancel[ing]" or "end[ing]" deportation of undocumented immigrants. In fact, the new policy prioritizes the deportation of criminals, and cases that are postponed can be reopened "at any given time."
From the August 15 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Fox News' The Five seized on Alabama's controversial new immigration law to repeat the myths that the Obama administration is not enforcing immigration law; that illegal immigration is increasing; and that the E-Verify program, which allows employers to automatically check the immigration status of newly hired employees through government databases, works.
From the August 2 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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