Immigration Myths

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  • WSJ: Steve King's Anti-Immigrant Claim "Is Not Politically Incorrect. It's Simply Incorrect"

    Blog ››› ››› SOLANGE UWIMANA

    During a radio interview with Rep. Steve King -- the Republican congressman from Iowa whose comments likening undocumented immigrants to drug smugglers continue to draw fire -- Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham said she understood what he was saying but that he "could've worded it differently." She added: "I think you have to be smarter in the way you use your language."

    Ingraham went on to accuse media outlets of refusing to cover crimes committed by undocumented immigrants and cited a number of such cases to suggest a link between violent crime and immigrants in the country illegally.

    Following the interview, she addressed calls for him to apologize and asked: "Is he right in refusing to back down on this and give in to the PC pressure from the left and right? Is Steve King right on this or not -- to apologize?"

    In fact, as The Wall Street Journal reported, King's suggestion that most undocumented immigrants are drug smugglers "is not politically incorrect. It's simply incorrect."

    In a July 18 interview with Newsmax, King attacked undocumented youths known as DREAMers -- those who were brought into the country illegally and are younger than 35 -- claiming that for every one who's a valedictorian, there are another 100 who "weigh 130 pounds and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert."

    While the comments have received widespread condemnation from congressional Republicans, some in the conservative media have defended King, saying that "the facts back King up," in the words of Breitbart.com's Matthew Boyle.

    But as the Journal noted, the facts do not back King up:

  • Key Differences Right-Wing Media Ignore Between The Senate Immigration Bill And 1986 Law

    ››› ››› SAMANTHA WYATT

    Right-wing media have cited the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 as a reason to oppose the bipartisan immigration reform bill that passed the Senate June 27. However, the Senate immigration bill learns from and corrects the mistakes of the IRCA through increased border and interior enforcement and the creation of a legal channel for low-skilled workers.

  • What The Media Should Know About The Anti-Immigrant "DC March For Jobs"

    ››› ››› SOLANGE UWIMANA & SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    The Black American Leadership Alliance (BALA), an anti-immigrant coalition that has ties to nativist hate groups, is hosting a rally in Washington, D.C., on July 15 with the purported mission to "preserve economic opportunity for American workers" by opposing immigration reform. Here is what the media should know about the group and its effort.

  • National Review's Lowry Piles On The Immigration Lies On Meet The Press

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Appearing on Meet the PressNational Review editor Rich Lowry presented several falsehoods about the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill, misinterpreting and misstating the contents of the Congressional Budget Office's assessment of the legislation.

    On July 8, Lowry co-wrote an editorial with Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol calling on congressional Republicans to "kill the bill." On Meet the Press on July 14, Lowry called for the passage of "incremental" immigration legislation in the House instead of comprehensive reform.

    Rich LowryLowry claimed that "we're still going to have, depending on your estimates, 6, 7, 8 million more illegal immigrants here in 10years."

    In fact, the CBO forecasts that by 2023 there will be 8.1 million less undocumented immigrants in the country.

    Later, Lowry said that "according to the CBO, unemployment will be higher" between 2014 and 2020 if the bill passes and that wages "will be lower."

    But the CBO report notes that slight reductions in average wages "for the much of the next two decades" caused by the bill's passage would mostly be felt by "the additional people who would become residents under the legislation" who will "earn lower wages," and is not likely to impact current U.S. residents.

    The report also notes that the bill would have "no effect on the unemployment rate after 2020."

    Lowry also said "the CBO says there's no deficit reduction in the first 10 years," which directly contradicts the report's contents. The CBO explains that "the legislation would decrease federal budget deficits by $197 billion over the 2014-2023 period and by roughly $700 billion over the 2024-2033 period."

    Conservative media figures have repeatedly distorted the data surrounding immigration reform, while also demanding that Republican elected officials refuse to pass the pending legislation.

  • Fox News Amplifies Fabricated Link Between Immigrants And Crime

    ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    Fox News is reviving the pernicious smear that undocumented immigrants are criminals in order to attack the comprehensive immigration reform proposal being debated in the Senate. In fact, the legislation toughens provisions against those immigrants who have been convicted of crimes and bars them from gaining legal status; moreover, studies show that immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than native-born Americans.

  • Right-Wing Media Find Another Flawed Immigration Study To Highlight

    Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    Photo credit: Larry Downing/ReutersRight-wing media outlets are hyping a new study by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) -- a Southern Poverty Law Center-labeled nativist organization -- which claims that the Senate's immigration bill would double the number of guest workers admitted into the country each year. The study, however, is just the latest in a series of flawed, debunked studies that CIS has released.

    The outlets - including the Daily Caller, NewsmaxThe Washington Times, Breitbart.com, and Drudge Report -- have all highlighted the study which claims that in the first year of the Senate's proposed comprehensive immigration reform bill, "nearly 1.6 million more temporary workers than currently allowed" will be admitted to the United States. The study also claims that the bill would double the number of temporary workers admitted each year compared to current levels.

    What these outlets fail to mention is that, like many of CIS' previous studies -- and others they have latched on to in order to undermine immigration reform -- this study is flawed and its conclusions are bogus.

    Philip Wolgin, senior policy analyst for immigration at the Center for American Progress, emphasized the top five reasons the CIS study "misses the mark," including its lack of methodology, double-counting temporary and permanent immigrants, misrepresenting who will actually compete with American workers, and the miscounting of visa categories. Wolgin explained that CIS makes significant statistical errors, including what he calls the "absurd" idea that 950,000 people would apply for and be granted the V Visa in the first year after the immigration reform bill's passage.

    The V visa is a temporary visa that allows the family members of legal permanent residents to remain in the country legally until they are granted permanent residency as well. As the Center for American Progress explained, even though 75 percent of spouses and children of permanent residents are exempted from per-country quotas, some families still face up to 19 years apart due to backlogs in the immigration system.

    Wolgin also pointed out that among the three visa categories that make up 83 percent of the increases in the CIS study, CIS over-counted by more than 255,000 people.

  • Laura Ingraham Hosts Nativist Group Director To Push Debunked Immigration Myth

    Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    Radio host Laura Ingraham hosted the executive director of Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR), Leah Durant, to push the debunked myth that the immigration reform bill would hurt the African-American unemployment rate, despite studies which show the opposite is true.

    On the June 4 edition of The Laura Ingraham Show, Ingraham introduced Durant as a "progressive" voice on the issue and not a "right-wing bomb thrower." Durant explained that her group is against the immigration bill because it would have "devastating consequences" on low-skilled workers, specifically in the black community:

    However, Durant's organization is a pretty far cry from a "progressive" group. Progressives for Immigration Reform was set up as part of the John Tanton network of anti-immigrant nativists after they failed to take over the Sierra Club, which the Southern Poverty Law Center called "greenwashing" -- a tactic used by nativist groups to appeal to environmentalists in order to mainstream their nativist viewpoints in a more respectable venue. In another attempt at "greenwashing" right-wing groups established Progressives for Immigration Reform "as a purported group of 'liberals' " in the latest attempt "by nativist forces to appear as something they are not."

    Imagine 2050, an organization that promotes a multiracial democracy, highlighted some of PFIR's links to the anti-immigrant movement, including the fact that nativist Roy Beck, head of NumbersUSA, helped recruit the executive director of PFIR. In addition, several of the group's members, including Durant, have close ties to Tanton's other groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform and the Center for Immigration Studies -- groups labeled nativist by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    In fact, as the Anti-Defamation League pointed out, at a recent conference run by PFIR, several notable anti-immigrant nativists were in attendance, including VDARE's Peter Brimelow, Wayne Lutton, editor of The Social Contract, an anti-immigrant pro-white publication, and K.C. McAlpin, president of U.S., Inc. who once defended banning Muslim immigrants as similar to banning communists or Nazis in the past.

    While the group's ties are problematic enough, the claim that immigration would hurt African-Americans' job prospects is also false and has been called a "pernicious myth" by Daniel Griswold of the Cato Institute. Several comprehensive studies have shown that there is no evidence to support the claim. In fact, wages for native-born Americans tend to increase as a result of immigration -- including one estimate which found that due to immigration native-born African-American workers saw a wage increase of .4 percent from 1994 to 2007.

  • Media Take Note: Heritage Study Is Not An Analysis Of Immigration Proposal

    ››› ››› SOLANGE UWIMANA

    Media outlets are reporting that a new immigration report from the conservative Heritage Foundation found that passing the proposed Senate comprehensive immigration bill will cost $6.3 trillion. In fact, the Heritage report is not an analysis of the entire Senate's "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act," and does not take into account costs or savings of the proposal's broader reforms.

  • Anti-Immigrant Fox Guest Falsely Ties Boston Bombings To Deferred Action Program

    Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    Fox News guest Michael Cutler, a former agent with the now-defunct Immigration and Naturalization Services and also a fellow at the nativist organization the Center for Immigration Studies, used the Boston Marathon bombing investigation to attack the deferred action program for undocumented students. In reality, the program, which is intended to provide deportation relief to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, is unrelated to the circumstances of the suspects' immigration status

    During a discussion with Fox News host Megyn Kelly about recent arrests in the Boston Marathon bombings, Cutler used the fact that one of the suspects reportedly was here on a student visa to attack the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. After casting doubt on the process by which asylum is granted, Cutler brought up DACA and suggested the program had similar security lapses. He asked: "Do you really think anyone is scrutinizing anything?" He also claimed that the program approves 99.5 percent of applicants: 

    In fact, those who qualify for deferred action are undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States before age 16. While the Boston bombings suspects' current immigration status is in dispute, they were reportedly in the United States under student visas and were legal non-immigrants.

    Currently, there is not a mandatory in-person screening process for DACA applicants. However, in-person interviews may be requested for applicants who are suspected of fraud and for quality assurance purposes. But the process to apply is so arduous that these applicants are heavily scrutinized. Other than the several pieces of identifying documentation needed to begin the process as well as the $465 in fees, each applicant must go through a biographic and biometric background test.